On 20 September, the Global Fund and UNDP have signed an agreement to provide interim and emergency funding to sustain the delivery of essential health services to the people of Afghanistan.
This agreement seeks to provide the resources needed to bridge the current gap in funding from international donors, prevent the country’s healthcare system from collapsing and protect millions of vulnerable Afghans at risk of losing access to primary health care.
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said: “Our duty is to step up cooperation and increase funding to ensure the most vulnerable populations – particularly women and girls – continue to have safe access to essential health services. The Global Fund remains committed to supporting Afghanistan in the fight against HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 and strengthening overall systems for health. We look forward to our continued efforts with UNDP in Afghanistan and call on other international donors to urgently join us to ensure the continuity of lifesaving programmes.”
Under this agreement, the Global Fund has provided US $15 million, which UNDP will manage and disburse to ensure the continuity of critical health services in more than 2,200 health facilities in 31 provinces. Funds will be made available to implementing partners of the Sehatmandi project which was previously funded by the World Bank.
The objective of the agreement is to protect the backbone of the Afghan health system from collapse. The Global Fund and UNDP initiative is based on a six-year partnership working with Afghanistan’s health system for the provision of HIV, TB and malaria services.
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator,said: “Our priority is to be there for the Afghan people in their hour of greatest need. The UNDP-Global Fund partnership is providing an essential bridge to ensure the continuity of the Afghan primary care system and prevent the imminent collapse of essential health services. Importantly, it will also ensure direct support to essential healthcare workers to keep services going at this time.”
The Global Fund and UNDP have been working together in Afghanistan since 2015 to support Afghanistan’s response to HIV, TB and malaria and strengthen systems for health across the country.
In 2020 alone, with the support of the Global Fund and UNDP, the Sehatmandi project has provided antiretroviral therapy to 1,094 people, treated 45,667 people for tuberculosis and distributed more than 3 million long-lasting insecticide nets to protect people from malaria.
In July 2021, the Global Fund approved US $14.9 million to support Afghanistan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigate the impact of the pandemic on HIV, TB and malaria programmes, provide critical tests, treatments and medical supplies, protect front-line health workers and strengthen systems for health.