The Swedish Government has recently reduced its contribution to the Global Fund from $102 million to $66 million, citing the country’s migrant crisis as the reason for the cut in funding for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria prevention and treatment programs.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation and other activists around the world condemn Sweden’s decision, saying the cut should not come at the expense of lifesaving AIDS treatment.
LOS ANGELES (March 28, 2016) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization that currently serves over 605,000 patients around the world, today urged the government of Sweden to reverse its $36 million cut in funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for 2016 as the spring budget heads for Parliamentary deliberation in April. The cut was originally approved late last year.
According to the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), the Swedish Government reduced its contribution from $102 million to $66 million for 2016 in an effort to redirect funds toward managing the migrant crisis. The move triggered a vociferous response by civil society in Sweden and abroad, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the cut “counter-productive.”
“As a global AIDS organization that operates in five EU countries, we are acutely aware of the challenges associated with the migrant crisis in the region. However, the developing world can’t afford to have stalwart supporters of the Global Fund, like Sweden and other Nordic countries, retreat on their commitments at this critical time,” said Zoya Shabarova, AHF Europe Bureau Chief. “Addressing the migrant crisis should not come at the expense of the global response to the world’s deadliest infectious disease epidemics. There will always be competing priorities, but the donors must take a longsighted view: without a fully funded Global Fund, future costs will be orders of magnitude higher in terms of human lives and resources.”
If the cut is not overturned in April, it will reduce Sweden’s overall commitment to the Global Fund for the 2014-2016 funding period. While this does not necessarily indicate that Sweden’s pledge at the Global Fund Replenishment Conference for the 2017-2019 grant cycle in the Fall will be lower than that from the current funding period, other donors might use it to justify their own reduced pledges.
“We stand in solidarity with activists and providers of healthcare from around the world– MSF, RFSU and everyone who has called on the Swedish Parliament– to reverse the cut. The Spring budget approval process is a perfect opportunity to do so in time to fully fulfill Sweden’s original pledge for 2014-2016, before the replenishment for 2017-2019 begins,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AHF. “We urge Sweden to maintain its traditional position as one of the leading supporters of humanitarian causes, and specifically of the Global Fund. In line with a recent announcement by the European Commission (EC) to scale up its contribution to the Global Fund, we hope Sweden will decide to do so as well to inspire other donor countries to follow suit.”
Recently, AHF re-launched the “Fund the Fund” campaign in an effort to rally civil society and advocates in calling on the donor countries to ensure that the Global Fund meets or exceeds its fundraising target for the Fifth Replenishment.
Earlier this month, AHF issued a statement praising the EC for increasing its contribution to the Global Fund. In November 2015, AHF condemned Denmark for announcing that it would cut its contribution to the Global Fund by $20 million.