A report released today has called on the EU to demonstrate its potential for leadership and help fill the funding gap in tackling TB and HIV that has been left by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria’s funding shortfall.

The report outlines the burden of disease on the region:

«The European region is home to some of the highest rates of MDR-TB in the world (…) Although the global rate of new HIV cases has stabilised and is beginning to decline in many countries, EECA is one of two regions where the number of new HIV cases continues to rise.»

The report makes evident that more work needs to be done in the EECA region to combat both HIV and TB. Due to the Global Fund funding shortages and changes in the eligibility criteria, current efforts to tackle the problem are in jeopardy and the region faces the risk of undermining the progress that has been made in the past decade.

The report details the cases of Belarus, Romania and Russia as examples to highlight the impact of the funding shortfall in EECA countries. In Belarus, the Government was relying on the Global Fund for a grant to help scale up its MDR-TB services and disease surveys found much higher rates of drug resistant TB than previously thought. However, because the Global Fund crisis resulted in funding restrictions that prevent any form of scale up in services, Belarus is now not eligible to apply. The report paints a similar picture in Romania where the critical supply of second-line TB drugs to combat MDR-TB is at risk due to the funding shortfall.

While some suggest that wealthier countries should pay for their own health programmes, there is still considerable work to be done to create the political will for this to happen. The report urges the EU to adopt several recommendations, including honouring existing pledges and scaling up support for the Global Fund and, as a member of the Global Fund Board, revising eligibility criteria to ease restrictions on middle-income countries.

With the increase in drug-resistant strains of TB and the ongoing loss of life, it is critical that the EU takes action and recognises its unique role in combating TB in the region. We urge you to read the report and to get in touch with your MEP to encourage them to take action.