On 2nd October, STOPAIDS, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Malaria No More UK, RESULTS UK and ONE held an event ‘UK leadership at the Global Fund’ at Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. The event aimed to demonstrate the scope of the challenge remaining to reach the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending AIDS, TB and Malaria by 2030, position the Global Fund as a key mechanism to make progress towards the SDG target, and mobilise support within the Conservative Party for the UK to continue to play a leading role within the Global Fund.
The Minister of State for International Development, Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, opened the reception by highlighting the UK’s impressive £1.2 billion pledge to the Global Fund in 2016. The Minister reflected on attending the International AIDS Conference in July, alongside UK youth delegate Becky Kroger, describing his experience as ‘heart-warming and heart-breaking’.
The Minister also outlined the Department for International Development’s (DFID) priorities on global health including to work through national health systems and support countries as they work towards Universal Health Coverage. He acknowledged the links between health, access to education and a country’s overall productivity and economic growth.
Alistair concluded by highlighting the important role the UK public plays in international development and acknowledged that DFID is only able to do the work it does because it is sustained by public support and tax payers’ contributions. He assured the audience that,
‘Wherever you look… whether it’s people working in emergencies, whether its people building health systems, whether it’s us working multilaterally with other agencies and other states around the world to deal with challenges we all face… you will find the UK there’
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, spoke next highlighting the valuable role the UK plays on the Global Fund Board in holding the Global Fund to account and challenging it to deliver value for money. Peter highlighted the Global Fund’s recently published 2018 Results Report which showed that Global Fund supported programmes have contributed to 27 million lives saved since 2002. Despite these impressive results, Peter warned that significant financial and political commitment is still needed to reach the SDG of ending the epidemics by 2030.
Peter cautioned that we will not reach the SDGs if we simply continue business as usual. If levels of investment remain static – we will simply be in a holding pattern and will not make progress towards ending the epidemics. Instead Peter suggested we must increase investment and embrace technology and new partnerships. He highlighted the Global Fund’s upcoming Replenishment in October 2019 and presented this as an opportunity for the UK to continue its impressive leadership in global health.
We were fortunate to have Clara Banya, A Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) Speaker, travel from Malawi to speak at this event. In her speech, Clara described testing positive for HIV at the age of 24 and how she was first denied access to HIV treatment as she did not ‘appear sick’. Clara travelled over 400km to get her CD4 count, which measures how strong a person’s immune system is, tested. After this test revealed her immune system was very weak she was able to start treatment. Clara also highlighted the challenges her husband and daughter, who are also HIV positive, faced when they developed Drug Resistant TB and her constant fear that she might be next. Clara and her family were able to access free HIV and TB treatment through programmes funded by Global Fund. Global Fund programmes also supported her to have a second child who is HIV negative. Today Clara is the National Coordinator for the Malawi Chapter of the International Community of Women Living With HIV.
In her speech, Clara outlined her key message to the UK Government;
‘I am the living testimony of what Global Fund has achieved over the years, without it I could have been dead long, long time ago. Continue to support the Global Fund so that the gains we have made over the past 18 years do not go down the drain’.
STOPAIDS were at both Conservative and Labour Party Conference this year asking parliamentarians to show their support for the Global Fund, and the global HIV response more widely. We created an online tool that enables MPs, or any tax payer, to work out how their constituency has contributed towards saving lives through the Global Fund. If you’d like to work with us on Global Fund Replenishment advocacy, please email email@example.com.