THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to expand access to healthcare in the Asia-Pacific mainly for sufferers of infectious diseases.

The partnership aims to boost healthcare access, as well as control the spread of major infectious diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

“The cooperation arrangement will develop financing to boost on-budget domestic resources and (bring in) additional financing for increased concessionality, additional technical assistance, and robust monitoring of health program delivery,” the ADB said in a statement on Wednesday.

This would be done in the form of joint investments through loan buy-downs or the co-financing of existing or new health-related projects, it said.

“We must further develop and deploy innovative financing mechanisms to help the most vulnerable countries access the resources they need to tackle health inequities and accelerate the fight to end the epidemics for good,” Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands said.

Global Fund aims to raise and invest more than $5 billion yearly to contain the spread of deadly infectious diseases in more than 100 of the most affected countries. It also focuses on strengthening health systems and pandemic preparedness among its beneficiaries.

“To support a planned, phased transition away from Global Fund grants toward sustainable domestic health financing, the ADB can strengthen policy and financial capacity to achieve UHC (universal health coverage), which will ensure primary health service provision and build increased country capacity for efficient use of scarce domestic resources for health,” ADB Human Social Development Sectors Group Senior Director Ayako Inagaki said.

There were a total of 612,534 recorded cases of tuberculosis and 6,248 cases of malaria in the Philippines last year, the Department of Health said last month. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz