Later this week in Montréal, Canada, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria will be hosting its 5th Replenishment Conference from September 16-17th. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host numerous other world leaders, donors, and representative who together will join forces to rally together to reach the goal of $13 billion to achieve their funding target until 2019. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria is a nearly 15-year old organization built on international collaboration by governments, civil society, and the private sector seeking to end 3 of mankind’s worst diseases.[i] Historically, by the organization’s bylaws, the United States could only contribute up to 1/3 of the total replenishment that occurs every three years.[ii]
On August 30th, the VCU School of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia, held their first AMSA event to kick-off the year. Led by student leaders Avanthi Jayaweera & Bret Clawson, VCU SOM AMSA reached out to the grassroots anti-poverty organization, RESULTS, to help speak to students about the Global Fund and ways to be active in pushing for change. Subsequently, VCU SOM students made phone calls to their members of Congress! Introducing themselves as medical students and AMSA members, students spoke with Congressional staffers over the phone and demanded their Representatives and Senators write to the Obama administration asking that the United States pledge the maximum amount to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
Subsequently, later that same week, the U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced that the United States would commit $4.3 billion out of the Global Fund’s $13 billion replenishment goal! What an empowering experience! Students helped play a part in leveraging this key decision.[iii]
Despite this encouraging news, there is no time for celebration. Other countries and donors will have to follow the United States’ lead to make sure they also pledge their full amounts to reach the full $13 billion without falling short. Moreover, the organization Health GAP issued a statement after the replenishment explaining the $13 billion was an insufficiently low target from the start, and that more robust resources are necessary to prevent losing the progress the global community has made in recent years. They call on the next U.S. President and Congress to fulfill the promise of working towards an AIDS-free generation by, “…restoring the cuts that they have made to other parts of the global AIDS budget, increasing the PEPFAR budget by $500 million in the current appropriations bill, and committing to a $2 billion increase per year by 2020.” [ii]
There is much work to still do! Learn how you can get involved by getting involved with your local AMSA chapter and emailing the AMSA AIDS Advocacy Network chairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ii] Health GAP Statement on the US Replenishment Pledge to the Global Fund: AIDS Activists Call on Congress, Next President to Tackle Looming AIDS Funding Crisis Not Addressed by Global Fund Pledge