The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria yesterday opened its first business forum in Bangkok to encourage more private-sector support in combating the three epidemics.
“The continued and expanded engagement of private contributors is playing a critical role in ensuring the long-term success of the Global Fund and the fight against Aids, tuberculosis and malaria,” said Dr Christoph Benn, director for resource mobilisation and donor relations.
Under the theme “Investing in Asia-Pacific: Public Private Partnerships in Health”, the Global Fund Business Forum, which ends today, is discussing various topics including the role of business in global health and business engagement in sustainable value creation. Panel sessions on public-private partnerships are also being held in various areas.
Key speakers include Lyn Kok, president and chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank Thailand; Ken Shibusawa, president of the Japan Centre for International Exchange; Anita Wei, director of communications for Greater China at Becton, Dickinson and Co; and Koichi Kaneda, senior director for corporate communication at Takeda Pharmaceutical.
In Thailand, the Global Fund has been working closely with the Public Health Ministry, the Thailand Business Coalition on HIV & Aids and non-governmental organisations such as Raks Thai on several health programmes such as the campaign for condom use to prevent infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. Other programmes are the Directly Observed Treatment Short-course for TB control and partnerships to reduce malaria in areas affected by conflict or with a high concentration of migrant workers.
Anthony Pramualratana, executive director of the Thailand Business Coalition on Aids, said Aids, TB and malaria were among the top three neglected diseases that seriously affect people’s quality of life.
“What makes it worse is that the public is mostly not aware of these diseases and does not know how to tackle them. Every year, these diseases have taken many lives and caused huge economic losses to the country.”
According to the Public Health Ministry’s latest report, HIV patients total 1.15 million with about 10,000 new cases reported last year.
TB remains a problem, as Thailand is still one of the world’s top 22 countries with the highest disease burden, according to the World Health Organisation. Worst, the success rate for TB treatment is 74 per cent, well below the WHO’s 85-per-cent standard.
For malaria, 4,381 new cases were reported during the first five months this year, which is large although lower than in the same period last year.
“The situation remains critical in Thailand. We need to tackle this issue now if we need to have quality human resources. Together we can create a strong impact, and the Global Fund is committed to be the centre for mobilising the required resources and providing support to health development programmes,” he said.