The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved funding worth more than US$ 21 million over three years for a regional malaria program.

The grant approval allows continued funding for the region's successful malaria efforts which have been funded by the Global Fund over the past five years. The program is worth US$ 39 million over six years.

Global Fund Deputy Executive Director Helen Evans, made the announcement in during her visit to Fiji 20-22 July.

Ms. Evans commended the Pacific Region's collaborative approach with all partners in addressing all three diseases in the region.

"Pacific Island Countries are working together in a proactive and strategic way in order to maintain the region's current low prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis The Global Fund Board's decision providing significant additional funding for prevention and treatment of malaria in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands will enable both countries to dramatically scale up efforts against this disease."

She added that prevention efforts were necessary to prevent a growth in the three diseases which otherwise would pose significant challenges to the capacity of the health sector in the short term and economic development in the medium and longer term.

The Global Fund is currently supporting programs fighting malaria, HIV and tuberculosis in the Pacific Region worth a total commitment of more than US$ 32 million.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Principal Recipient for all Pacific multi-country grants, has been responsible for implementing Global Fund supported programs battling the three diseases in 11 Pacific Island countries and territories since 2003. These countries include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Recently signed grants to fight tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS now also see the inclusion of Nauru and the Republic of Marshall Islands as beneficiary countries.

Ms. Evans met last week with Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and other key partners and stakeholders both in the Pacific region and Fiji.

While in Fiji, Ms. Evans also held discussions with Dr Jiko Luveni, Interim Minister for Health, Women & Social Welfare, development and implementation partners and members of the newly created Fiji Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), which is the entity responsible for organizing and submitting grant applications to the Global Fund and for monitoring their implementation.

Ms. Evans praised all stakeholders in Fiiji in moving together in a spirit of good will to form the CCM and the hard work undertaken in order to submit a Fiji national proposal for TB in Round 8.

"It is my hope that Fiji can demonstrate compliance with Global Fund CCM requirements, and that the proposal is sufficiently technically robust to enable Board approval."

During her trip, Ms. Evans addressed a meeting of the Pacific Plan Action Committee, the key regional mechanism oversighting initiatives to strengthen regional cooperation and integration as tasked by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders.

To date, the Global Fund has committed US$ 10.7 billion to more than 550 programs in 136 countries to support aggressive interventions against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Programs supported by the Global Fund have provided AIDS treatment for 1.75 million people, TB treatment for 3.9 million people, and by distributing 59 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria worldwide.