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In this issue:
Message from Stephen Lewis
The Child & Youth Treatment Gap
South Africa Grandmothers Gathering
South Africa Grandmothers Statement
A Different Kind of Partnership
The Grandmothers Campaign
A Message from Stephen Lewis
The following is adapted from a speech Stephen Lewis gave during the Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Montreal this past September. The Global Fund, a multi-lateral organization, is the world’s largest funder of AIDS, TB and malaria programmes.
The Global Fund is a tale that starts well, but ends not so well.
I vividly remember sitting in a little ante-chamber in New York in early 2002, with Kofi Annan and Richard Feachem, the first Executive Director of the Global Fund. We were fantasizing at the prospective triumphs of the Fund in confounding HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. History now shows that the fantasies became realities: the Global Fund has made a monumental contribution to the fight against the pandemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It was a brave, unique, astonishingly inspired creation.
But the Global Fund is now at a crossroads, only partly of its own making. Take HIV & AIDS. The grand plan for 90-90-90 by 2020 is faltering. The chanted slogan “The End of AIDS” by 2030 is attracting as much derision as it evokes applause. Further, in 2015, there was more than a billion-dollar drop in funding for AIDS from donor nations, and we need a minimum of nine billion dollars more than we currently have between now and 2020. Where is the money to come from?
Something, somewhere, has gone wrong. Very wrong. International institutional donors started losing interest. Extravagant claims of success were counterproductive. The world turned its hearts and budgets to terrorism and refugees and climate change, and the most debilitating infectious disease on the planet is in danger of making a comeback.
Something has to give. I’m not going to dwell on the arithmetic, but you’ll never put an end to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria unless the international community pulls its weight… unless the international community decides that expenditure on public health is as important as expenditure on drones or armoured vehicles.
This poses a huge challenge for the Global Fund. And that leads, organically, to one other matter I must address. Financial cut-backs by the largest foundation and bilateral donors are playing havoc at the grassroots. Community-based organizations are struggling, are starving, are closing. It’s crazy that at this most crucial moment in time, the grassroots organizations are under financial siege. It almost feels conspiratorial that we would shred superb community-based initiatives when they’re most needed.
It’s as though vulnerable human beings no longer matter in the equation of geopolitics; that lives are gratuitously expendable. And the greatest number of those expendable lives are women and girls. Misogyny and AIDS go hand in hand.
The Global Fund Replenishment Conference was meant to be a celebratory jamboree. And there is a lot to celebrate. But when you remember the countries that resembled cavernous graveyards just ten years ago, the thought of even one more unnecessary death scars the soul.
Chair of the Board
Stephen Lewis Foundation
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