Mitigating Covid-19 impact on other health challenges
A Global Fund report says COVID-19 could wipe out progress achieved in fighting against HIV, TB and malaria.
A recent report by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria shows widespread disruptions to efforts aimed at eradicating the three epidemics of HIV, TB and malaria due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, diversion of healthcare workforce to COVID-19 response, lockdowns in several countries, disruption of travel and supply chains, among other reasons, are affecting the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the three diseases.
For the poorest and most vulnerable communities already suffering the brunt of these diseases, the new coronavirus disease represents a major threat, compounded by the economic impact of the pandemic. This would worsen nutritional deficiencies and exacerbate the susceptibility of the affected communities to COVID-19 infection. The Global Fund, thus, has estimated that countries affected by HIV, TB and malaria urgently need $28.5 billion in the next 12 months to ensure progress that was achieved in fighting against the three diseases in the past two decades is not wiped out.
Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on countries affected by HIV, TB and malaria would prevent deaths caused by the epidemics from nearly doubling over the next one year, according to the Global Fund, the world’s largest multilateral provider of grants for health interventions. The funding is expected to provide training and protection for health workers, reinforcement of health systems, and response to COVID-19 itself.
To address these urgent needs, Access Bank Plc joined other stakeholders last month to strategise on maintaining the progress that has been achieved in the fight against the epidemics of HIV, TB and malaria. The bank took part in a webinar that was organised by GBCHealth – a private sector coalition focused on improving health outcomes – on July 16 to catalyse private sector commitment and support. The online event was held in partnership with the Global Fund Private Sector Constituency (PSC) and the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa CAMA) – a GBCHealth-led initiative.
The webinar, themed “Reimagining Commitment to Fighting HIV, TB and Malaria During COVID-19: Focus on the Private Sector,” sought to examine, among other things, ways that companies can harness their core business strategy, including marketing, communication, innovation as well as philanthropy, to respond to the potential increases in malaria, HIV and TB cases.
Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Head of Sustainability at Access Bank, stressed the importance of private sector partnerships to fight diseases such as HIV and malaria during the pandemic, as well as the deadly COVID-19. "We cannot afford to ignore malaria and HIV amid COVID-19," Ms. Victor-Laniyan said.
"WHO (World Health Organisation) and UNAIDS (United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) have reported that COVID-19 disruptions to HIV treatment could cause more than 500,000 additional deaths from AIDS-related diseases," she added.
She also discussed the bank’s response to COVID-19, and how committed Access Bank was to safeguarding public health in communities where it operates. As part of Access Bank's COVID-19 response, the Head of Sustainability at the bank highlighted a private sector initiative spearheaded by the bank, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) and other participants. The Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has helped to increase the testing, isolation and treatment capacity in Nigeria.
"At Access Bank, our commitment to improving the health space remains unwavering. Therefore, we have renewed our efforts to address and provide support for the implementation of HIV and malaria programmes,” Ms. Victor-Laniyan remarked.
Keynote speakers at the event were Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, Ethiopian Minister of Heath; and Peter Sands, Executive Director at the Global Fund. Other speakers included Elisabeth Medou Badang, Senior Vice President Africa and India Ocean and Spokesperson at Orange; Renuka Gadde, Vice President of BD Global Health; and Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director and CEO of ADF.
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