Global fund allocates $4.7 million for health services to Afghan returnees

A group of Afghan migrants in border near Pakistan. November 2023. File Photo.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has allocated over $4.7 million in emergency funding to provide health services for HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria to the 1.3 million Afghans returning from Pakistan in the coming year.

This emergency funding supplements a $66 million grant that began on Jan. 1, 2024, spanning three years and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Annelise Hirschmann, Head of Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean Department at the Global Fund, noted the significance of the influx: “The anticipated 1.3 million people represent over 3% of Afghanistan’s population. This increase, particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas bordering Pakistan, poses an epidemiological risk and necessitates reinforced HIV, TB, and malaria services.”

The emergency funds will be utilized for:

Malaria: Diagnostic services, distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) in high-risk areas, and training for residents in low-risk provinces to prevent the spread from high-risk areas in Pakistan.

TB: Creation of point-of-care facilities at the border with testing equipment, expansion of active case finding, integrated sample transportation, and treatment.

HIV: Voluntary testing at border entry points, counseling, and continued treatment for displaced individuals.

Stephen Rodriques, UNDP Afghanistan Resident Representative, expressed confidence in the existing systems to meet the returnees’ immediate health needs. “With this emergency funding from the Global Fund, we can further minimize health risks for the returnees, who are in a precarious situation. We welcome this decision and anticipate continued collaboration with the Global Fund,” he said.