We are at a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS and related diseases. This December, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria will host a replenishment conference in Washington in order to raise $15 Billion USD in funding for 2014-16. Several countries including the US, the UK, France, Germany and the Nordic Countries have already announced their pledges in advance of the Fund’s conference. The world is watching and waiting for Canada to step up and make its commitment. Meanwhile, the lives of millions hang in the balance.
In developing countries like Malawi, the Global Fund is the primary mechanism for financing essential HIV medicines and thus enables the work of organizations like Dignitas International in scaling up HIV treatment and care. Without a replenished Global Fund, our life-saving work would simply not be possible.
The 2013 UNAIDS Global Report tells us that the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy has enabled nearly 10 million people to gain access to life-saving medicines globally. While this is an important milestone, it is much too early to celebrate. Last year alone, 2.3 million people were newly infected with HIV – of these 260,000 were children. According to the Global Fund, full replenishment would result in averting more than 1 million new HIV infections annually through rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy.
Along with civil society groups, Dignitas International is asking the Canadian government to make a commitment of at least $750 million over three years (or $250 million per year). This represents 5% of the total replenishment ask. It’s important to note that the UK’s landmark pledge of £1 Billion to the Global Fund (which represents over 10% of the total goal) comes with an important caveat – that the overall $15 Billion goal is achieved. Now more than ever, the Canadian government must galvanize its commitment to help achieve this target.
We’ve come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We have the experience and scientific evidence to fight the epidemic effectively. Despite this, 18 million people, who are eligible for treatment, remain without access to HIV medicines. This treatment gap is appalling. As Canadians, the right to health is integral to our national identity and pride. We now have the chance to tangibly help people in developing countries gain access to life-saving treatment. More than an opportunity, it is a moral obligation.
Let’s take action and send a message to Prime Minister Harper to support an increased Canadian commitment to the Global Fund. Doing so will save millions of lives and enable us to collectively turn the corner on HIV/AIDS and related diseases. Please sign the petition today.