Here I Am: The Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria - it's personal

Here I Am: The Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria - it's personal
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I'm far from home this week as I'm in Geneva to attend the last Board Meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria before the pledging conference on December 3rd 2013. After a series of side and pre-meetings aimed at discussing some of the important strategies, policy and governance issues of the Global Fund, I will be taking my seat for 2 days at the Board table with other civil society representatives, donors to the Global Fund and other interested parties like Foundations and the private sector.

This week, my days are filled with discussions about the New Funding Model, revision to the Eligibility Criteria, Counterpart financing requirements and prioritization, replenishment, how we create new Key Performance Indicators and yet what has been going through my head over and over again, is what a difference a year makes in the lives of the people who depend so greatly on the programs that the Global Fund supports.

At the global level, the Fund continues to demonstrate incredible results as well as a commitment to transparency, accountability and good governance. Recent updates to Global Fund results have shown that in less than one year - from the end of 2012 until the beginning of July 2013 - just over 1 million more people received ARV's under Global Fund supported programs for people living with HIV. Over 1 million more - from 9.7 million to 11 million - are receiving treatment for TB and 30 million more insecticide treated nets were distributed to people to prevent malaria while there was also a 13% increase in the number of people treated for malaria. All through Global Fund supported programs.

And through these blogs, you and I know some of these very people - some of the people whose lives were impacted positively by the Global Fund: The Here I Am Ambassadors - Thoko from Malawi, Maurine from Kenya, Laurindo from the Philippines and Oxana in Moldova.

Thoko's son was recently treated for malaria - he is well and back at school even though his hospitalization required her to cancel an important trip to Japan to talk to decision-makers about the Global Fund.

Oxana has brought her young baby David - who turns one next month - on her trips to the US and France to speak to elected officials and others about the Global Fund because her husband is still receiving treatment at the MDR-TB hospital where they met and fell in love.

Maurine just recently welcomed a healthy new baby son to the world - after being one of the 2.1 million pregnant women (up from 1.7 million at the end of 2012) receiving a complete course of ARV therapy to prevent transmission while she was carrying her beautiful new son.

And Laurindo, who speaks out regularly about his HIV+ status, recently had to start TB treatment as a preventative measure, an important tool in the fight against TB which is responsible for 1/4 of all deaths in people living with HIV.

That's just 4 people and these life changing stories could go on and on.

At the Here I Am campaign we have heard from over 150 people in 34 different countries about the impact of the Global Fund in their lives and their families and communities. The Global Fund has been doing this since 2002 and has had this kind of effect on more than 11 million people. 11 million people whose lives might look very different if they hadn't been able to get life-saving treatment for HIV, or good care for their child against malaria which still kills one child every 60 seconds or even drug resistant Tuberculosis treatment which costs a minimum $5000 USD over a two year period.

One of my favourite Here I Am stories is from a young Zambian boy named Floyd. In 2007, his picture was part of an installation piece called "The Shack" which was designed to show people what life for impoverished people living with TB is like. Floyd's photo and his words: "I am Floyd. I am 8 years old. I have HIV and TB. Here I Am." appeared in The Shack. Many of us saw "The Shack" as it toured the world - it was at the 2008 AIDS Conference in Mexico City and was even set up in the halls of the Australian Parliament and shown to politicians in the Netherlands among many other trips it made and continues to make.

Floyd, his story and words, were the inspiration for the Here I Am campaign. And this year we were able to catch up with Floyd and film his story. (click here for Floyd's video, featured in last week's blog) He's well, enjoys his school days, beat TB and he continues to receive ARV treatment for HIV.

All possible thanks to programs supported by the Global Fund.

And so, when I take my seat this week after all the pre-meetings at the Global Fund Board it is with the strength of those 150+ stories - those of our Ambassadors and of Floyd's that I will sit at the Board table and remind donors that, as Mark Dybul the Executive Director of the Global Fund has said: diseases don't understand budget cycles.

In a little less than a month all the donors at the Board Meeting will be asked to come to Washington and show their support and help get the Global Fund on its way to 15 billion dollars so it can continue providing funds for programs that have shown results like those mentioned here.

So it can continue saving the lives of millions of people like Floyd, Thoko, Maurine, Laurindo and Oxana.


Lucy Chesire: TB-HIV advocate from Kenya and 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.

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