PIH co-founder Paul Farmer explains in an op-ed posted on the New York Times website why it is vital to fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
Why does the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria matter? PIH co-founder Paul Farmer penned an op-ed laying out four reasons in the International Herald Tribune published on February 2. The piece was also featured on the New York Times website.
Ten years ago, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created to be a funding mechanism that increased resources available to fight preventable, treatable diseases stalking the poor and depleting developing economies around the globe, Dr. Farmer explains.
"In 2001, very few people — almost none, really — living with H.I.V. in Africa had access to antiretroviral medicines," writes Dr. Farmer. "Today, more than 3.3 million people — more than half of those on treatment worldwide — are on treatment supported by the Global Fund: A true victory for the global community."
Today, the Global Fund is facing a serious financial shortfall, and the fund’s board voted recently not to accept new grant requests until at least 2014, writes Dr. Farmer. He adds that Bill Gates’ announcement of a $750 million contribution to the fund in Davos last week was welcome news, but will not change the board’s decision, as they knew of Gates’ donation before they canceled the current round of grant-making.
"This funding deficit hit right when the end of AIDS became plausible: Last year, scientific breakthroughs provided conclusive evidence that putting more people on treatment earlier can significantly reduce incidence of H.I.V. Treatment is prevention," writes Dr. Farmer
In addition to HIV/AIDS, the Global Fund is also the largest donor in the world for tuberculosis and malaria programs. Overall, it has saved an estimated 8.6 million lives over the past ten years. "The question is not whether the Global Fund works, but how to ensure it keeps working for years to come," writes Dr. Farmer.
He explains that there are four reasons this is imperative:
- The world needs to expand, not contract, access to health care because of the sheer burden of disease.
- The Fund doesn’t simply give handouts; it takes the longer road of investing in and working with health ministries.
- The Global Fund proves how much multilateral organizations can accomplish.
- A recession is a lousy excuse to starve one of the best (and only) instruments we have for helping people who live on a few dollars a day.
"Simply put, if we allow the fund to fail, many people will die, and we will forfeit the chance at the 'AIDS-free generation' that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for in November," Dr. Farmer conclundes. "This is no time to step back."
Read the full text of Dr. Farmer's op-ed, which was published on the New York Times website and in the International Herald Tribune.