Who we are
Unitaid is a global health agency engaged in finding innovative solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases more quickly, cheaply and effectively, in low- and middle-income countries. Our work includes funding initiatives to address major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as HIV co-infections and co-morbidities such as cervical cancer and hepatitis C, and cross-cutting areas, such as fever management.
Unitaid is now applying its expertise to address challenges in advancing new therapies and diagnostics for the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a key member of the Access to COVID Tools Accelerator. Unitaid is hosted by the World Health Organization.
What we do
Our work targets one of the biggest challenges in innovation – closing the gap between late-stage development of health products and their widespread adoption at scale. This is often a difficult process for low and middle-income countries, which face financial and logistical barriers to accessing treatments for life-threatening diseases.
We provide health partners with short-term financial grants, targeted to achieve maximum impact. Vital medicines and tools that form the backbone of global health responses today would not exist without Unitaid putting funding behind novel ideas and working with partners to scale them up.
Unitaid has directly contributed to the introduction of game-changing medicines and tools for diagnosing disease, including:
- All the HIV anti-retroviral drugs currently used in Africa, via the Medicines Patent Pool
- New paediatric medicine formulations for tuberculosis, malaria and HIV
- Specialist medication to treat or prevent malaria in children and pregnant women
- New bed nets and spray against insecticide-resistant mosquitoes
- All the medicines used to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis and all tests to detect TB viral load
We are now on a pathway to delivering groundbreaking diagnostics and treatment for cervical cancer for less that £1 per woman, pioneering innovative solutions to fever management for childhood pneumonia – the largest cause of child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa – and access to oxygen in remote health centres. We are also a key player in accelerating solutions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
By 2028, work funded by Unitaid has the potential to save 1.2 million lives and achieve £2.6 billion in cost savings.
How we work
Unitaid researches and identifies new health solutions with potential to alleviate the burden of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as co-infections including hepatitis C. We also work in the fields of cervical cancer, fever management and reproductive, maternal and child health (RMNCH).
Through calls for proposals, Unitaid finds partners best qualified to put key innovations into practice.
These partners receive grants from us to fast-track access and reduce the costs of more effective medicines, technologies and systems.
In this way, Unitaid’s investments establish the viability of health innovations, allowing partner organisations to make them widely available.
Working in partnership with other organisations, we are able to amplify their impact. The Global Fund, for example, estimates that without innovations enabled by both organisations, it would take an extra three years for their programmes to achieve their intended impact.
Who pays for it
Since its establishment in 2006, Unitaid has received about US $3 billion in contributions from donors. Unitaid’s main donors are France, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Brazil, Spain, the Republic of Korea, and Chile.
A key source of income has been innovative financing, specifically the solidarity levy on airline tickets implemented by France, which was later adopted by a number of other countries (including Cameroon, Chile, Congo, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, and the Republic of Korea).