The purpose of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is to attract, manage and disburse additional resources for health through a new public-private partnership. It is hoped that this will make a sustainable and significant contribution to the reduction of infections, illness and death and thereby mitigate the impact caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in countries in need, and contribute to poverty reduction as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

There has been a growing recognition that ill health has the power to reverse decades of progress and that international action for health needs to be rapidly scaled up. At a series of UN meetings, including the UN Millennium Summit and the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in New York in 2001, Heads of State from developing and developed countries agreed to target the diseases most closely linked with people’s poverty.

To achieve this target requires an immense scaling up of resources. Aid to health remains low in relation to the contribution of health to increasing growth, and to reducing other manifestations of poverty. It remains even lower in relation to estimated needs. Total aid commitments for health averaged US$ 3.3 billion per year for the period 1996 to 1998 – yet it is estimated that tackling HIV/AIDS in low and middle-income countries will cost US$ 7-10 billion a year.

The Global Fund is designed as one way of meeting this challenge. The Fund was first proposed at the G8 Summit in Okinawa, Japan, in 2000. It will be run as a partnership between rich and poor countries, UN agencies including WHO and UNAIDS, civil society and the private sector.

It will build on the experience of other initiatives, including Roll Back Malaria, Stop TB, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the Global Environmental Facility, the campaign to eradicate Polio, and the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa.

It is hoped that the Global Fund will generate significant new resources for health from both governments and the private sector. To date it has received commitments of approximately US$ 1.5 billion.

The final form that the Fund will take – and how it will work – is being carefully negotiated. A Transitional Working Group (TWG) has been set up to shape the Fund and establish its governance structure. The TWG includes representatives drawn from over 40 developing and developed countries, UN agencies, the private sector, foundations, and NGOs. The Chair of the TWG is Dr Chrispus Kiyonga, former Minister of Health in Uganda.