Fund the Global Fund to save lives from AIDS, TB, Malaria: "Here I Am" ambassador

Since its inception in 2001, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM/ The Global Fund) has saved approximately 5.7 million lives, and another 4000 deaths are averted each day of people dealing with AIDS, TB and malaria. In order to continue its existing programmes and rapidly scale up towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, The Global Fund would need its donors to pledge at least USD 20 billion for the period 2011-2013 during its Replenishment conference 4-5 October 2010 in New York. With the HERE I AM campaign, civil society advocates support the resource mobilization for the Global Fund by showing its incredible impact on the ground. Read more

The Global Fund has a very positive impact on thousands of people’s lives. It saves about 4,000 lives every day – of people dealing with HIV, TB and malaria” said Michael Gwaba, an Ambassador of HERE I AM Campaign, who lives in Zambia and works with Community Initiative for Tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS and Malaria Plus related diseases (CITAM+).

“When it comes to HIV treatment, 10 years ago, before the Global Fund was started, people were dying, and because of the Global Fund, we have reduced mortality and morbidity related to HIV because governments were putting in money in the Global Fund basket. If governments don’t fund the Global Fund now, we will go back to the position where we were ten years ago! Death rates associated with AIDS, TB and malaria will increase, sickness will increase” said HERE I AM Campaign ambassador Michael Gwaba.

“When people begin taking the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) they are told that ART medications are for life, the promise has been made that these medications will be given for free and for life” said Michael. “Countries like South Africa, where not only the disease burden is high, but also unemployment, poverty and conditions that put people at risk of contracting AIDS, TB and malaria are raging high, have the very communities that cannot afford to buy medications that the Global Fund is providing” said Michael.

“If governments don’t fund the Global Fund, then we will have almost genocide because all those people currently on treatment might die” said Michael.

“HERE I AM Campaign came about because we are now in the replenishment year for the Global Fund, governments are supposed to be putting more money. The scenario that has been presented to the Global Fund board, we need at least USD 20 billion for this replenishment period (2011-2013) which will enable us to meet the MDG goals in 2015. Without the USD 20 billion there is no way we are going to meet MDGs because death rates and disease burden is going to increase” said Michael.

“Our leaders had promised universal access by 2010 – we have failed! What makes us so sure that we are going to meet MDGs if the Global Fund is not funded?” ponders Michael Gwaba, and raises key concerns around mobilizing resources for the Global Fund.

The Global Fund is very instrumental in helping us move towards achieving the universal access to treatment. “In Zambia the Global Fund has helped support PPTCT programmes, ART programmes, for both the public and the private sector – police, prisons, defence forces - and they have also provided funds for prevention programmes for the churches which has significantly reduced HIV infection rates that have helped put 400,000 people on ART through the Global Fund and PEPFAR funding” shares Michael Gwaba.

“With the Global Fund, the programmes are country-driven and the mechanism too is country driven where the country decides what interventions it wants to implement in order to move towards achieving the MDGs. Whereas with PEPFAR and other such funding mechanisms usually dictate to the countries on what they want implement” said Michael Gwaba.

Hope funders are listening to the voices of millions of people benefited by prevention, treatment, care and support programmes on AIDS, TB and malaria supported by the Global Fund over the years, and do fund the Fund in coming October 2010 Replenishment meeting!

Bobby Ramakant - CNS 

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