Friends on the Frontline Second Quarter 2015

Celebrating successes and setting the stage for future funding

A Message from Deb Derrick, President of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Friends has continued steady engagement this quarter with policymakers to help secure strong funding for the fights against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria for fiscal year (FY) 2016 and beyond. On June 11, the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2016 appropriations bill for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs. Title III of the bill contains language on funding for global health programs, including $5.67 billion for the prevention, treatment, control of, and research on HIV/AIDS. In so doing, the bill restores the $244 million in cuts to HIV/AIDS programs included in the President’s budget request and recommends up to $1.35 billion for the Global Fund. Additionally, the bill includes $4.32 billion for PEPFAR, $674 million for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and $236 million for bilateral programs that fight tuberculosis.

We are immensely grateful for the work of the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and particularly Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), for their ongoing leadership and support for these global health programs. Friends’ Policy staff continue to monitor the possibility of House Floor consideration, while simultaneously maintaining efforts to ensure similarly strong funding levels in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s FY 2016 State Department funding bill.

In advance of World Malaria Day, Friends hosted a Capitol Hill lunch in collaboration with the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Imagine No Malaria campaign to honor the critical role that faith-based organizations play in the fight against malaria. We were thrilled to be joined by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Co-Chair of the U.S. Senate Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases; Dr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund; Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator and leader of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI); and Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the United Methodist Church, who announced an unprecedented $9.6 million contribution to the Global Fund.

In May, Friends supported Dr. Dybul as he testified to the importance of continued U.S. leadership in global health and development in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. Dr. Dybul was joined by Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as well as Sir Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church.

Dr. Mark Dybul and Sir Elton John
Dr. Mark Dybul and Sir Elton John

Friends was honored to host a workshop in June at InterAction’s 2015 Forum, where I was joined by Daniella Ballou-Aares, Senior Advisor for Development to the U.S. Secretary of State; Dr. Stephen Resch, Deputy Director and Lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health; and Dr. Anna Shakarishvili, Senior Adviser at UNAIDS. The panel, “Shared Responsibility: Raising Domestic Investments in the Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” offered a timely opportunity to discuss efforts among international partners and implementing countries to support increased domestic resource mobilization efforts, ahead of July’s Financing for Development conference.

This quarter also brought good news from the Global Fund. At its 33rd Board Meeting, the Global Fund named Norbert Hauser as the next Board Chair. Mr. Hauser brings extensive experience in government and financial supervision to his new position, having served as a member of the German Parliament; Vice President of Germany’s supreme auditing institution; and External Auditor of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. His guidance will be particularly useful as the Global Fund heads into its Fifth Voluntary Replenishment Conference – a major event at which donors from around the world will make financial commitments to the Global Fund for 2017-2020.

As we look to the upcoming FY 2017 budget process and the 2016 replenishment launch, we are pushing full steam ahead in efforts to engage policymakers and underscore that the Global Fund, working in collaboration with bilateral, private sector, faith-based and in-country partners, will be key to long-term, sustainable financing of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs.

On the Ground in Senegal

On May 27-28, members of Friends’ Policy staff traveled to Senegal, where they visited several Global Fund-financed sites in Dakar and the surrounding region. The following is a snapshot of Senegal’s efforts to fight the malaria epidemic and highlights of the Policy team’s experience:

Malaria represents a significant public health problem in Senegal, but malaria-related interventions financed by the Global Fund, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and other international partners, combined with strong political commitment from the Senegalese government, have had a significant impact on malaria morbidity and mortality. The introduction of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) in 2006 had a significant impact on Senegal’s efforts; the malaria morbidity rate decreased from 34 percent in 2006 to just 3 percent in 2009 among the general population. Building off of this success, Global Fund-financed programs remain critically important to the country’s efforts to accelerate malaria control, achieve universal LLIN coverage, and strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of interventions.

Friends’ staff visited a variety of Global Fund-supported sites in May. These included the Military Hospital of Ouakam, regional health centers in the villages of Pout and Cayar, and a local clinic affiliated with the Catholic Church – the Center for the Promotion of Health. We were given the incredible opportunity to meet with a local volunteer health worker in the deeply impoverished, informal settlement of Bay Dek. Undoubtedly, Bay Dek gave us the most moving experience of our trip. We traveled by car and horse-drawn cart to reach the site – a single room that serves as both informal medical clinic and home to a volunteer health worker and his family. We were immediately struck by the overwhelming needs of the community. Children mingled with chickens and goats in the narrow, dusty streets, as adults did laundry or carried water.

Bay Dek's only volunteer health worker displays his box of test kits and medicines, which serves as the primary source of medical supplies available to a community of thousands.
Bay Dek’s only volunteer health worker displays his box of test kits and medicines, which serves as the primary source of medical supplies available to a community of thousands.

We met with the extraordinary man who, in addition to fishing as a means of providing for his family, has received basic health training and volunteers a majority of his time to providing the only healthcare services available to the thousands of people living in Bay Dek. We were shown the small wooden box where testing kits and medicines for malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory diseases are provided through support from the Global Fund, PMI and other international donors. The local volunteer and the regional doctor who accompanied us were also quick to point out the two bed nets hanging from the ceiling.

With help from international aid organizations like the Global Fund, Senegal is nearing its goal of universal LLIN coverage and Bay Dek is no exception. We were introduced to several of the village elders and the local Imam, all of whom expressed their gratitude for these essential supplies and medicines while urging us to continue providing additional resources. This site served as a particularly poignant reminder of the need for critical funding to continue the lifesaving work of the Global Fund.

Highlights from the Fight

  • On May 19, Friends co-sponsored, along with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other partners, a Capitol Hill reception to commemorate the first Red Nose Day USA. The star-studded television program, which aired live on NBC on May 21, raised more than $21 million in funding for the needs of young people living in poverty. The Global Fund was one of 12 organizations to benefit.
  • Also in May, Friends published a Q&A with Ully Ulwiyah of Indonesia, a survivor of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Ms. Ulwiyah shared her story of how suffering from MDR-TB and seeing friends struggle with the disease’s mental health impact encouraged her to found a peer education group.
  • Deb Derrick authored a piece in the May 6 edition of Aidspan, highlighting recent efforts by the Global Fund, global health partners and implementing countries to mobilize additional domestic resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
  • Friends collaborated with the United Methodist Church (UMC) and Imagine No Malaria to write an op-ed on faith-based organizations’ engagement with the Global Fund, which ran in The Hill the morning of the April 22 World Malaria Day event. The piece was cross-published in the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists and UMC’s blog. HuffPost Religion also published coverage of the event, including interviews with Mark Dybul and UMC Bishop Thomas Bickerton.
  • Also in April, Friends published a Q&A with John Ochero, Fund Portfolio Manager for Kenya at the Global Fund. Mr. Ochero highlighted the ways in which Kenya is working toward sustainable financing for the fight against HIV/AIDS.