Civil society organisations in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana will support a global call to fully finance the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria for the next three years through a day of action on 28 September 2010. Several public demonstrations, press conferences and other community actions are being organised (see below for further details) in support of the Third Voluntary Global Fund Replenishment Meeting to be held on the 4th and 5th October 2010 in New York City, USA at which governments and donors will signal their financial commitment towards the Global Fund.
The day of action is a final push by activists to pressurize world leaders into collectively contributing to get the Global Fund replenished with at least USD 20 billion to sustain and accelerate the gains made in reducing HIV, TB and Malaria prevalence. If adequately resourced, the Global Fund can eliminate malaria in endemic areas, prevent millions of new HIV infections, virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV from a mother to her child, and achieve significant declines in TB prevalence and mortality by 2015.
In the wake of a major Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) Summit in New York, where global leaders reiterated their commitment to the MDG’s, African activists highlight that meeting the health MDG’s, and therefore all MDG’s is under threat unless the 20 billion US$ gap, faced by the Global Fund is filled.
“We want to emphasise that there is a need for increased financing in all areas of health, which are clearly inter-related,” said Paula Akugizibwe, Advocacy Co-ordinator of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA). “But we need to recognise that the upcoming pledges towards Global Fund replenishment represent watershed political decisions, with far-reaching implications for attainment of all Millennium Development Goals.”
Akugizibwe will address the United States of America’s (USA) Congress on 29 September to speak about USA HIV/AIDS funding, with the aim of ensuring that the USA meets their fair share contribution to the Global Fund. She will also convey the key demands of the activists in the countries that are supporting the Global Day of Action.
The establishment of the Global Fund is widely recognised as an unprecedented show of unified political will to responding to pressing global health crises. Akugizibwe warned that,“If governments turn their backs on their own commitments now, after all the progress that has been made, they are sending the clear message that they view health – and hence, basic human development – as optional, depending on the price tag.”
Nine years ago, African heads of state pledged to spend a minimum of 15% of national budgets on health. In July 2010 the African Union issued a call to accelerated action on this target – its second such call, following the 2006 call to accelerated action.
Despite this, to date only 6 countries have met the target. AIDS activists have described this as self-defeating to economic progress in the African region, emphasising that “health is wealth”–in that it is a critical pre-requisite for sustainable socio-economic development.
In 2009, ARASA launched a ‘Funding for Health’ campaign , which consists of social and media mobilisation activities as well as an online campaign entitled “Lords of the Bling”, which uses satirical music videos to highlight how much TB and HIV treatment could be funded with the amounts of money that African governments waste on luxuries for politicians.
Allan Maleche, a human rights lawyer from the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues in HIV/AIDS Network, who is coordinating a march in Nairobi on the 28th of September that will take place alongside the World Health Organisation’s launch of its 2010 report on HIV, said that “African governments need to put their money where their mouths are, by meeting the Abuja target; and cracking down on corruption, which wastes money that could be used to save lives. But the urgent priority right now is to replenish the Global Fund to put the world on track to meet the health MDGs.”