A class of medical students from around the world recently concluded a course in northern Uganda by producing a short video calling for renewed support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM). The course in social medicine was organized by Dr. Michael Westerhaus, a graduate of the PIH-affiliated Residency in Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital who is now on on the Global Health Faculty at the University of Minnesota; Dr. Amy Finnegan of the University of Minnesota - Rochester; and Ugandan physician Dr. Phyllis Kisa.
“We had an amazing group of students, and are inspired by the possibilities of fundamentally changing medical education to have a socially oriented foundation,” said Westerhaus. “It was extraordinary.”
In their video, the medical students asked governments from around the world to support the fight against AID, tuberculosis, and malaria.
“In the wake of global financial crisis, many government donors to the Global Fund turned back on previously promised pledges," they said. "This gap in funding caused the Global Fund to cancel disbursement of funds for the first times since its creation... This work cannot stop.”
Since it was launched in 2002, the Fund has distributed 230 million insecticide-treated bednets to prevent malaria, has treated 8.6 million cases of TB, and has provided antiretroviral treatment for 3.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS. But now, just as hopes have been raised that the HIV epidemic can be halted and as enormous but fragile progress has been made against TB and malaria, the Global Fund has been forced to halt funding for new grants through 2014.
The lack of new programs for two years could mean a death sentence for millions. The Global Fund provides 83 percent of the international funding for TB treatment. And nearly half of all people currently on AIDS treatment in low- and middle-income countries depend on the Global Fund to stay alive. Unless international donors take urgent and coordinated action to address the Global Fund’s funding gaps, progress made in the last decade could be lost. Learn more.
Read PIH cofounder Paul Farmer’s New York Times editorial “Why the Global Fund Matters.”