New funding collaboration aims to fill Asia Pacific health financing gap

A new funding partnership has been announced between the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The new collaboration, captured in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) exchanged between the two organizations, aims to increase overall levels of health sector financing, helping to build more resilient health systems.

In his Malaria Week presentation, Günther Maté, Principal Specialist at the ADB, highlighted the funding dilemma many countries face: Despite domestic health budgets, loans and grants, health systems are ailing or underfunded, and unable to cope with anticipated future demands. The new collaboration aims to address health funding gaps by allowing countries to ‘leverage’ additional funding alongside Global Fund grants. The overall aim is to allow countries to move towards more reliable and sustainable health funding approaches.

In addition to increasing funding, closer cooperation and sharing of health system-related knowledge are predicted to improve alignment of objectives and operational plans, as well as create opportunities for enhancing procurement systems, program delivery, streamlined reporting and data collection.

Through a system of increased ‘blended’ financing – which brings together ADB loans and Global Fund grants – countries will also benefit through lower administration and interest costs, and should be able to use the pooled resources to attract additional funding.

2017–2020 Global Fund Asia Pacific grants already amount to more than $2 billion to countries. The new collaboration will provide access to significant additional financing. The current ADB strategy commits to health sector investments to between 3% AND 5% of the bank’s total operations, or about $1 billion in health investments by 2020.

The Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) applauded the new regional health financing health financing initiative.

“We know that for countries in our region there is a funding gap between what is needed to eliminate malaria and what is available,” said Dr Ben Rolfe CEO of APLMA. “This MOU will make it easier for countries to access new funding sources that are critical as we work towards elimination by 2030.”

The Global Fund/ADB agreement supports the financing, design, and implementation of country-led programs to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and build resilient health systems in ADB member countries eligible for Global Fund financing.