UNITAID at 10: Innovation in Global Health

The role of UNITAID and why it matters


Deaths from HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria have halved from 6 million in 2000.

This turnaround was no accident. It was spurred by visionary political leadership, galvanising a big increase in funding over two decades and a surge of innovation that have brought about a dramatic increase in availability of effective new treatments.

UNITAID, often working behind the scenes with its partners since its creation 10 years ago, has been at the centre of this success story. Innovation is written into UNITAID’s genetic code. More than half of its funding comes from a tax on airline tickets levied by 10 countries. The leap in fundraising has given the countries more resources to invest in health. Falling drug prices, better diagnostic tools and a steady improvement in delivery systems, all driven by a laser-like focus on innovation, have done the rest.

Learn more about UNITAID at 10 in this brochure; English [PDF: 276 KB], [HTML5]; Français [PDF, 100 KB], [HTML5]; Japanese [PDF, 900 KB].


ELYX celebrates 10 years of Innovation with #UNITAIDat10


  • 22 May 2016, High-Level Dinner. "UNITAID AT 10: INNOVATING FOR PUBLIC HEALTH ; How We Can End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria By 2030" 
    (Invite only event - Follow #UNITAIDat10 for panel discussion
    Or check out the programme here.).
  • 24 May 2016, Innovations in HIV. Everything you wanted to know about PrEP and HIV self-testing. Geneva. Switzerland [Flyer, PDF 400 KB].
  • 24 May 2016, Confronting resistance: innovation and access to end tuberculosis. Geneva. Switzerland [Flyer, PDF 750 KB].

Ten ways UNITAID makes a difference

1. Making HIV medicines more affordable

Thanks to UNITAID’s investment in the Medicines Patent Pool, a key HIV medicine has become more widely available and is used by most of the 15.8 million people on HIV treatment. It has also become more affordable, resulting in savings of US $194 million. With licenses and agreements for 12 other HIV medicines, future impact will be larger still.

Lead Grantee: Medicines Patent Pool
Photo © Momcilo Orlovic / UNITAID

2. Better tuberculosis medicines for children

UNITAID invested in the world’s first appropriate tuberculosis medicines for children, following WHO guidelines that made older formulations obsolete.

Lead Grantee: TB Alliance
Photo © TB Alliance


3. Expanding HIV treatment for children

By 2014, approximately 750,000 children worldwide received HIV treatment specially adapted to their needs - a tenfold increase since 2006.

Lead Grantee: Clinton Health Access Initiative
Photo © Eric Gauss / UNITAID


4. Effective treatment for severe malaria

UNITAID helped to introduce injectable artesunate, a treatment for severe malaria that is safer and more effective than quinine. As a result, an estimated 100,000 additional lives will be saved in six African countries. In the future, approximately 200,000 lives could be saved per year once the treatment is available on a larger scale.

Lead Grantee: Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)
Photo © MMV

5. Better treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis

UNITAID has invested US $60 million to speed access to better, shorter treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis - including combinations that use the first new TB drugs to be developed in nearly 50 years.

Lead Grantee: Partners in Health
Photo © Mulugeta Ayene / UNITAID


6. Combatting insecticide resistance to fight malaria

UNITAID is creating a market for new anti-malarial insecticides that can be sprayed inside homes. These insecticides are needed urgently to prevent widespread resistance of mosquitoes to older insecticides. By 2020, the US $61.1 million initiative is expected to reduce the price of new insecticides by at least one third and protect 37 million people. This will make the new insecticides cheaper and drive larger-scale adoption.

Lead Grantee: Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC)
Photo © Shutterstock

 7. Making HIV self-testing a reality

UNITAID is funding the largest ever effort to kick-start wider use of HIV self-testing. The US $23 million project will distribute 750,000 HIV self-test kits and evaluate the best ways to enable self-testing in rural areas. Since only 50 per cent of adults living with HIV know their status, this pilot could help reach global testing and treatment targets.

Lead Grantee: Population Services International (PSI)
Photo © Eric Gauss / UNITAID

8. Preventing malaria in the SAHEL

UNITAID is investing US $67 million to deliver anti-malaria medicines to the hardest-to-reach children in rural areas of Africa’s SAHEL region. The children will be provided with medicines during the most difficult time of the year when infections peak and rain makes it challenging to travel to local health centres. Better access to these medicines could prevent an estimated 50,000 deaths.

Lead Grantee: Malaria Consortium
Photo © Sylvain Charkaoui for CRS

9. Simpler diagnostics for rural communities

Making new technologies available where people seek help in villages and communities can be a game changer. UNITAID is bringing simplified diagnostics that will ensure same-day test results for a wide variety of people, including newborns and infants born to HIV-positive mothers. These diagnostics will also help people on HIV treatment who need to know if it is effective, by measuring their viral loads.

Lead Grantee: EGPAF, Clinton Health Access Initiative, UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières
Photo © Mulugeta Ayene / UNITAID

10. Quality drugs and diagnostics for the needy

More than 200 quality-assured medicines and 60 diagnostics for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are now available, due to UNITAID’s support for WHO’s Prequalification programme.

Lead Grantee: World Health Organization
Photo © Momcilo Orlovic / UNITAID