(Ethiopian Observer) “Where is the money?” asked hundreds of activists at the December 2011 International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia through demonstrations, speeches and a petition handed over to the African Union.
The campaign is still well under way. HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria activists hold emergency meeting, in Cape Town, ahead of World TB Day as global leaders bail out banks but block progress in combating life-threatening diseases by not paying what they have promised
There are approximately 46 million people living in the world with HIV or TB and more than 200 million cases of malaria annually.
The Abuja Declaration adopted in April 2001 by African leaders declared the response to HIV/AIDS, TB and other related infections as the highest priority issue in their respective national development plans, committing 15% of their national budgetary allocations to health.
Now, 11 years down the line only a handful of countries have achieved this target, with the regional average remaining at 7%, and much of this amount actually coming from international donor countries.
In addition to African governments failure to achieve the target , some countries including Italy, Spain, and Ireland have also failed to pay in their pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), which provides about two-thirds of total international funding for TB and malaria services, and one-fifth for HIV services.
The Global Fund‘s recent announcement to cancel Round 11 funding due to unfulfilled pledges and budget shortfalls came as a crippling blow to Africa’s health sector. Amongst other things, it means that the Global Fund will not fund the expansion of HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria programmes until 2014, said the activists on a press release sent to Ethiopian Observer .
According to them, reducing fund for the HIV response in difficult economic times is short-sighted and counterproductive and will put the world in a position where the financial burden of disease gets exponentially heavier instead of lighter.
“The new research suggests that if we invest more in treatment, we not only save the lives of those living with HIV, but we also prevent new infections by almost eliminating transmission,” says Rosemary Mburu, the Regional Civil Society Platform Coordinator of the World Aids Campaign. “We can actually now envision a world where HIV is no longer the enormous threat it is today, but in order to do so, we need increased investment now.”
Unless the global community commits an additional $2 billion now towards the Global Fund, people who contract these diseases will be turned away from life-saving treatment. Preventing transmission of HIV (through treatment (ARTs) as well as other prevention mechanisms including condom use) is essential to reducing rates of TB illness and deaths.
In this health environment, pulling dollars means pushing death, said the statement. It is for this reason that this week’s emergency meeting to coordinate activist efforts around health financing has been called with the goal to develop a unified voice around the three greatest threats (HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria) to the health of African people.
Activists from across the African continent attended this meeting, convened by AfriCASO, Aids Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), The Eastern Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organisations (EANNASO), The International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the World Aids Campaign (WAC). UNAIDS, Global Fund, International Civil Society Support (ICSS), Open Society Foundations, Stop TB NOW, The Roll Back Malaria Campaign and RESULTS will also participate.
World TB Day is going to be held on March 24, 2012.