Loyce Maturu, Africaid Zvandiri, Global Fund Advocacy Network Speaker
When l was 12 years old, l realized l had HIV and tuberculosis. This was after my mom and younger brother both died from AIDS-related illnesses. I am fortunate that l was able to access treatment from a clinic in Zimbabwe, which was supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. l am proud to say l am one of the 27 million people whose lives have been saved by this fund.
Three years ago, l met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when Canada hosted the Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Montreal. Mr. Trudeau said, “Canada will continue to champion the important work being done to end these epidemics. We can end these epidemics for good, if we accelerate our efforts.”
These words inspired those suffering in Zimbabwe and throughout Africa.
Over the years Mr. Trudeau has shown true leadership in the response to HIV, TB and malaria and has kept his promise of saving lives. However, he is about to break that promise. l am afraid he will stop the acceleration and stall Canada’s efforts in the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The Global Fund asked Canada to commit $925-million to help support the fight against these diseases for the next three years. If Canada meets that request, they will be able to help save 16 million lives.
But now, we hear that Mr. Trudeau and Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Minister of International Development, are considering giving $804-million, a so-called “flat pledge.” The same investment as in 2016 is not enough. Canada should not let its efforts stall now. There are lives on the line. I was saved by the Global Fund, but other young women are still dying as every day over 1,000 adolescent girls and young women are being infected with HIV. We need Canada to keep its promise to champion this issue and accelerate the financial support.
Stepping up the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria should not be seen as a choice, but as the fulfilment of a promise.
The UN, through their AIDS organization, recently released a report showing that funding to support the fight against this disease is starting to dry up. This trend is a problem. If Canada shortchanges this request, it will be leading a global retreat from the AIDS crisis. Around the world, women and girls are at risk.
Women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, TB, and malaria. Gender inequality, discrimination, violence, limited access to education, and a lack of services stop them from having access to health care and increase the number of new HIV infections.
The Global Fund’s programs are designed to help make sure that girls can continue their education, can access the services they need to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, can access maternal, newborn, and pediatric health care, and will fully understand their own medical needs.
I am so grateful to Canada for its past leadership and investment in the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria. We are at a critical moment when the minimum will not be enough to prevent us from sliding back deeper into crisis.
We need Canada to increase its investment, like other countries have already done, so that we can help avert 234 million infections of HIV, TB and malaria and cut the mortality rate from these diseases in half by 2023.
Mr. Trudeau, we must indeed “accelerate our efforts” – and keep our promises.
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