Although the Here I Am campaign launched last year, this week has been a momentous week in Global Fund advocacy. In Brussels, the Global Fund gathered representatives from donor and implementing countries all around the world to formally launch its' replenishment process at the European Parliament. It released a series of paper that document its results and impact, the new funding model, pledge conversion and, getting the most attention, its' Needs Assessment in which it determined the Fund needs US $15 billion for 2014-2016 to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
I have been in Brussels this week to sit in on the formal replenishment meetings, but also to meet with partners from NGOs from all over the world who gathered in Brussels to meet in parallel to the formal meetings. On Monday at the European Parliament, I participated in a panel alongside Here I Am Ambassador from Moldova Oxana Rucsineanu, the ED of the Global Fund Mark Dybul, MEP Charles Goerens and Dr Victor Makwenge Kaput, Board Chair of Roll Back Malaria to discuss how the Global Fund can make the difference in defeating AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Advocates took to the streets to march in support of the Global Fund and issued a Call to Action to try and raise the $USD15 billion.
One of the key points for me coming out of the last few days and the panel in particular is that in Brussels, the Global Fund is seen as a success story. The clear message coming from my fellow panelists was that we cannot afford to be complacent, we pay now or we pay forever. It left me looking at the future with more hope and faith, since we have the evidence, and with additional resources we can end TB, AIDS and Malaria.
I am someone who works with communities affected by all 3 diseases and have survived TB-HIV co-infection so it was really important to me to see that this meeting was not just about donors giving money, but about the impact the Fund has had over the last decade. An updated report issued earlier this week shows how far we have come and how important new investments are. It's not just about "scale-up" or "fighting the 3 diseases": we have actually come to a point where we have the tools to begin to defeat the diseases and if we invest now, we have the opportunity to see real, transformative changes. This week, advocates have been calling this "the tipping point".
The Fund's Needs Assessment paper has determined a total need globally of US$87 billion for the 3 diseases in 2014-2016 and of that they propose a Global Fund share of US $15 billion. To get to this figure, the Fund sets out a number of other things that need to happen, namely, other bilateral and multilateral investments have to increase at least slightly and domestic resources in implementing countries need to increase (in some cases dramatically). The Needs Assessment is full of assumptions - as it has to be - and I don't necessarily agree with all of the assumptions as I believe some of them are a little rosy at best. However, what I do know is that the elements the Fund sets out in its Needs Assessment need to be realized alongside mobilizing at least US $15 billion for the Global Fund and we need to chart the path now for on-going and complementary resource mobilization through other international and domestic channels if we are truly going to take advantage of being at the "tipping" point.
This "tipping point" is described by advocates in a paper released this week in response to the Fund's Needs Assessment paper. We describe the "tipping point" as being this moment in time where we see both the promise of defeating AIDS, TB and malaria related deaths while also avoiding new infections. But this can only be achieved with sufficient funding, more effective and targeted prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions alongside stronger health systems.
We can either stay where we have been, which has achieved a significant amount but still not reached everybody - and certainly not those who are hardest to reach - or we can find the resources needed now to capitalize on the gains we have made and tip the balance toward the other side. The other side being where we can dramatically increase impact and reach those who haven't been reached yet, those who are hardest to reach and those who are most at risk.
The Here I Am campaign brings the voices of those who are affected and infected by the 3 diseases into dialogue about why it is important to fund the Global Fund. If you take the time to watch our videos - whether its' one of our feature stories, one of the self-filmed stories or even the one highlighted this week that was produced in partnership with the Global Fund Secretariat there is one common theme: the Global Fund has had tremendous impact, has saved millions of lives and, fully-funded, can help tip the balance in favour of defeating AIDS, TB and malaria.
It is on behalf of the millions of voices these videos represent that I joined advocates in calling on the world's leaders to find the political will to help the Fund raise at least US $15 billion this year.
Lucy Chesire: TB-HIV advocate from Kenya, Alternate Board Member of the Global Fund Board (Communities Delegation).
About the Here I Am campaign: The Here I Am campaign is a global call on world leaders to save millions of lives by supporting a fully funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Here I Am brings the voices of people that are directly affected by AIDS, TB and malaria into dialogue about decisions that affect their lives and the lives of millions of others in their countries. Through video testimonies from all over the world, campaign ambassador advocacy, online actions and on-the-ground mobilizations, the Here I Am campaign is building collective power to end three of the world's most deadly diseases. www.hereiamcampaign.org