Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) announced this week that donors pledged a total of US $12 billion to save lives through prevention and treatment of these three diseases.
The $12 billion represents the largest amount pledged to the Global Fund to date, as shown in the figure below. Many celebrated this milestone while others, as Humanosphere reported earlier this week, emphasized that it fell short of the goal of $15 billion, an amount advocates said was needed to continue to make progress against these killers.
Significant progress has been made in reducing deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria worldwide. The video below charts the decline in deaths from HIV/AIDS worldwide from 1990 to 2010 using the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) data visualization tools:
The video shows how deaths from HIV/AIDS increased in most age groups through 2005 but started to drop by 2010. The decline in HIV/AIDS deaths has occurred alongside increases in donor funding for HIV/AIDS, as shown in the figure below taken from IHME’s report Financing Global Health.
The massive investments over the past decade or so translate into major improvements in reducing AIDS deaths:
Similar declines in deaths from tuberculosis and malaria have also occurred amid growing funding for these diseases, as illustrated below. For tuberculosis, here are two graphs showing the investment and the pay-off so far:
Here are the same assessments, of funding and mortality trends, for malaria:
Can the global health community declare victory? No—HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria continue to kill vast numbers of people every year. In 2010 alone, 1.5 million people died from HIV/AIDS, 1.2 million died from tuberculosis, and 1.2 million died from malaria globally according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010).
In countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, many of which are some of the poorest countries in the world, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis were among the top ten causes of death in 2010 (see screen grab below). Malaria was one of the top 3 killers in countries including Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
“HIV/AIDS can have profound implications for economic growth as it affects some of the most productive age groups in society,” says Katrina Ortblad, a Global Burden of Disease Researcher at the IHME. For example, in South Africa, HIV/AIDS accounted for 75% of deaths among people ages 30 to 34 (see screen grab). Ortblad’s recent paper examining trends in HIV/AIDS mortality found the disease accounted for more than 10% of all deaths in that age group in 78 countries worldwide in 2010.
Adding further urgency to the call for continued funding to fight HIV/AIDS is the news mentioned in a past Humanosphere article that death rates are increasing in 98 countries such as China, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. You can use IHME’s visualization tools online to explore these trends.
These data show that the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria isn’t over. At the same time, global health advocacy groups are worried about signs of donors’ wavering support to continue investing in prevention and treatment for these three diseases. While increases in funding to combat these diseases are encouraging, it’s clear that much more progress must be made before the world can declare victory against these killers.
(Editor’s note. Explore the data yourself. Check out a step-by-step guide for exploring trends in HIV/AIDS using IHME’s data visualization tools.)