This month, the government of Cameroon announced it would distribute up to 12 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets starting in 2015 to provide every family in the country with protection against mosquitoes. Malaria is one of the leading causes of child deaths in Cameroon, accounting for around 16% of fatalities among children under five (according to the latest data from the World Health Organisation). More than 8 million nets were distributed during a campaign in 2011, but these will start to wear out in the next couple of years. The new distribution is being supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The Fund also approved a 20 million dollar grant in 2014 so that Cameroon can expand its HIV treatment programme. This doubles the annual budget for spending on anti-retroviral medicines, providing treatment for more than 122,000 people. On average, 1,400 new HIV patients come forward each month and currently less than half of people requiring anti-retroviral medication are receiving it. The extra spending on medicines is seen as vital to ensure everyone with the illness can be treated and to prevent transmission from mothers to children.
Worldwide, the Global Fund supports antiretroviral therapy programmes covering more than 5 million people living with HIV. Its new results for the first half of 2013 show this has increased the number of women being treated to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 21%. Countries which showed significant increases in the number of HIV-positive pregnant women receiving treatment included Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The number of cases of malaria treated worldwide by the Fund also grew by 13% in the same half-year period.
UK government backs Global Fund
In a separate announcement this week, the UK government pledged to commit 1 billion pounds to the Global Fund on the condition that other countries follow suit. This ‘push’ to gain substantial commitments from other donors will hopefully help the Fund raise the 15 billion dollars (9.3 billion pounds) it needs for its programmes from 2014–2016.
The UK’s international development secretary, Justine Greening, said the UK supported the Global Fund because it “really works”. At the announcement for the extra tranche of money and with her words reported by the Guardian, Ms Greening affirmed “we have the potential to ensure this is the first generation that could be AIDS free”. However, in reference to the conditional nature of the pledge, she added “we can’t do it all on our own, but if we all pitch together then we have a really good chance...of some incredible results on HIV, TB and malaria”.