Statement from Friends of the Global Fund Europe’s Board members
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Ukraine: a dramatic public health crisis over Eastern Europe and beyond
Prioritizing access to health services and protecting all populations from health consequences of the war
Shocked by the bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine and by its disastrous consequences, Friends of the Global Fund Europe wishes to express its solidarity to the Ukrainian people and is joining its voice for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of the Russian military forces from the Ukrainian territory.
We fear a profound and durable health crisis in Ukraine – and in Europe – since health services and medical supplies, and in particular HIV, tuberculosis and Covid-19 treatment and care, are more and more difficult to sustain in the country. Ukraine, which had 250,000 people living with HIV in 2019 and 32,000 people with TB in 2020, has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world, the second largest HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the region is the epicenter of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). Moreover, Covid-19 still affects 25,000 new people every day in Ukraine, where less than half the population is vaccinated.
We welcome the Global Fund for reinforcing its actions in Ukraine by deploying emergency assistance to ensure continued access to HIV and TB prevention and treatment services to patients affected by the conflict. The Global Fund has approved USD 15 million to support the continuity of HIV and TB services in Ukraine, in addition to the already existing 2020-2022 allocation that Ukraine is receiving (USD 119 million) to support the fight against HIV and TB in the country, and to the special grant of USD 46.6 million for the COVID-19 response.
We would also like to express our greatest admiration and support for the continuing work of the Global Fund’s partners on the ground and for all the healthcare workers who operate in extremely dangerous conditions to ensure as much care as possible for people in Ukraine.
As humanitarian aid is being implemented, Friends of the Global Fund Europe calls for unfailing solidarity and for a stronger multilateral cooperation to support the Ukrainian population, on its territory or having already fled to neighboring countries, with the health services essential to avoid an uncontrollable resurgence of infectious diseases.
We must make access to health services a priority for Ukraine and neighboring countries, even more so in times of war, and already envision interventions to rebuild health systems. Only an immediate withdrawal of the Russian military troops from Ukraine will enable to start mitigating the disastrous health effects that are already being felt.