New Year, Great Progress, Enormous Opportunity
A Message from Deb Derrick, President of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Feb. 20, 2013 — Although the new year is well under way, this is my first opportunity in 2013 to speak directly to all of you, the great supporters of Friends and the Global Fund. And there are many exciting updates to share. Certainly, one of the most exciting announcements is Dr. Mark Dybul’s official arrival as the Global Fund’s Executive Director.
Dr. Dybul has declared this a “magical moment” in public health. With tremendous scientific advances in combination with existing interventions we can make the containment of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria a reality. But the window of opportunity is not likely to remain open for long. We must take action now or risk these three diseases becoming even deadlier — and far costlier a threat — with increased drug resistance, and a potential rebound of infection rates.
As we consider where our investments will have the most impact, it is worth remembering the adage of “working smarter, not harder.” With March and World Tuberculosis Day quickly approaching, I’m reminded of the relationship between this centuries-old scourge and HIV. I have heard Dr. Dybul say of these pandemics in Africa, “If you take care of AIDS, you take care of tuberculosis.”
Tuberculosis is the leading infectious killer of people with HIV/AIDS, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the cause of as many as 50% of AIDS-related deaths. The Global Fund places a high value on co-infection services and there is an urgent need to further strengthen these programs in order to maximize impact, especially in hard hit regions. As we head into the new year, it is worth considering the interconnectedness between these two diseases and the approaches needed to address them.
“There is an urgent need to further strengthen co-infection services in order to maximize impact, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.”
— Investments for Impact, Global Fund Results Report 2012
The possibilities for the coming year look bright. But I would temper that with the need
for continued focus and, of course, funding. It is a year when we, together with our global partners, will seek to replenish the resources of the Global Fund. So I would reiterate Mark Dybul’s comments that the window will not remain open for long. To defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, we must not let up on the fight, even for an instant, until we have reached our goal.
A Life Saved: Zandile in South Africa
Zandile, a young mother in Cape Town, South Africa, was losing her appetite, losing weight and feeling cold. She turned to the Khayelitsha Youth Clinic — a Global Fund partner in the fight against disease — to find out what was wrong. There she was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
“When I got tuberculosis, [my mom] was worried because she was thinking ‘oh, my baby is HIV-positive, now it’s tuberculosis, maybe she’s going to die.’” Zandile said that in the condition she was in, many people, much like her own mother, assumed the worst.
Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death for people living with HIV/AIDS. Due to their compromised immune systems, HIV-positive people are especially vulnerable to the effects of tuberculosis. Over the past decade, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria through its partners has supported tuberculosis treatment for 9.7 million people, and provide ARV treatment to 4.2 million people, in an effort to treat and control the spread of this dual epidemic.
After being on tuberculosis treatment for four months, Zandile is realizing her dream. She used to watch parents taking their children to and from school and hoped to, one day, do the same with her son. Now she can make that dream a reality.
View from the Hill
Fiscal Year 2013 Funding
Recently, Friends has been working closely with Dr. Mark Dybul to maintain strong U.S. support for the Global Fund. Under the six-month Continuing Resolution (signed in late September of 2012 to maintain funding for many programs at fiscal year [FY] 2012 levels), the Global Fund is being supported at $1.05 billion for FY2013. This number is significantly less than the President’s and both chambers’ of Congress FY2013 requests. Friends will continue to work with the U.S. government to ensure robust contributions to the Global Fund’s lifesaving work for the remainder of FY2013.
Fiscal Year 2014 Funding
Of course, also on the horizon is the release of the President’s budget for FY2014. Friends has been working closely with our network to make sure that support for the Global Fund is maintained. The budget is expected to be released in the next several weeks.
Washington D.C. Welcomes Global Fund’s New Executive Director
In early February, Dr. Mark Dybul traveled to D.C. for his first set of U.S. meetings in an official capacity as the Global Fund’s Executive Director.
Dr. Dybul began his visit by speaking with more than 140 members of the NGO community about the future of the Global Fund, answering questions about the ongoing improvements. This meeting — an enormous success, by all accounts — was followed by a D.C. advocacy partners meeting, a discussion with faith-based organizations and an intimate dinner hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. These meetings are a clear illustration of Dr. Dybul’s deep commitment to partnership.
Also while in D.C., the Executive Director had meetings with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress and spoke at an event for the HIV/AIDS Caucus, hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. In all of his meetings, Dr. Dybul reiterated that this was a pivotal moment in time and that, with continued support, we can make real progress
against the three diseases. His message was very well received by those he met with, and Friends looks forward to hosting him again in the near future.
Highlights from the Fight
Only a few weeks into the New Year, there are many milestones to note from the Global Fund. In addition to Dr. Mark Dybul’s appointment as the new Executive Director, Germany announced a €1 billion contribution (approximately $1.3 billion) to the Global Fund over the next five years.
“I have had the great pleasure and honor of working with Dr. Dybul over the years. I cannot think of a more appropriate and engaging individual to lead the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”
— Deb Derrick
Other highlights from early 2013 include:
- Dr. Dybul talks about “The Big Push to Defeat AIDS, TB and
Malaria,” in the Huffington Post.
- Friends’ President looks at the future of the Global Fund under Dr. Dybul’s leadership on AIDS.gov.
- The Atlantic sat down with Dr. Dybul to talk about his optimism in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
- The progress of the last ten years, and how bright the future looks is discussed in Deb Derrick’s recent piece on the Huffington Post.
Investing in Health: Seize the Moment
“If we seize this moment, we have the opportunity to do something radical. But it’s going to take the right resources and partnership to achieve our goals.”
— Dr. Mark Dybul
In a recent meeting with a group of Global Fund partners, Dr. Mark Dybul spoke about the unique opportunity we have at this particular moment in time. Between the great advances in scientific innovation, and implementation “know how,” the containment of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria can be a reality. And this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Which makes 2013 a critically important year; it is a perfect convergence of progress, hope and resource mobilization.
Every three years, the Global Fund holds its annual Replenishment meeting, where donors:
- pledge contributions;
- exchange views on the operations and effectiveness of the organization; and
- consider funding needs.
One of the most critical goals of the next several months will be ensuring that donor countries, businesses and others prepare to make generous pledges. The first meeting in preparation for the Fourth Replenishment will be held soon in Brussels. Traditionally, this provides donors with an opportunity to discuss the Global Fund’s performance and results achieved as well as resource needs and cost projections. Friends has initiated conversations to ensure a continued, strong U.S. commitment — leading up to the Fourth Replenishment meeting, which will take place in the fall of this year.
Dr. Dybul explained the importance of this process eloquently when he said: “We are still, generally, a wealthy world. We can afford to do this. We can’t afford not to do this.” As we embark upon a months-long lead-up to Replenishment, it will be worth calling to mind these words. Because failing to invest is not an option.
This post was originally published in February 2013.