THE BLOG
11/09/2012 10:30 am ET | Updated Jan 09, 2013

Bringing Everyone to the Table to Make the World a Healthier Place

There's a lot of talk lately about what's wrong in the world -- and the myriad ways we disagree on how to fix it. I feel fortunate to work in global health, a field where there is a lot going right. More than eight million people receive lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment today, up from only 100,000 a decade ago. Tuberculosis mortality has dropped more than 40 percent since 1990. Malaria deaths are falling dramatically thanks to prevention and treatment. We can count the number of lives saved from just these three diseases in the millions.

This success is thanks to the hard work and cooperation of people from many different walks of life: politicians of all stripes, business leaders, grassroots activists, clergy, health workers, government agencies and many more.

Central to the past decade's major global health accomplishments is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an innovative public-private partnership that depends on the collaboration of all sectors to reach the people most in need. The Global Fund supports lifesaving interventions in 150 countries, saving 100,000 lives every month.

The U.S. government has been a crucial leader in supporting international health and the Global Fund, with bipartisan commitment from Congress over many years. President George W. Bush's administration is to thank for the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which together have saved and transformed millions of lives across the globe. That legacy has continued under the leadership of President Barack Obama, and both of the past two administrations have made generous U.S. contributions to the Global Fund. Sustained commitment will ensure more lifesaving success.

On the front lines of the Global Fund's work are the doctors, nurses and community health workers who bring prevention, treatment and hope to their patients. They help HIV-positive mothers prevent transmission to their children in India. They teach families about sleeping under insecticide-treated nets in Ethiopia. And they administer treatment for tuberculosis in Ukraine that not only saves lives, but also stops the disease's spread to loved ones and neighbors.

Instead of applying a one-size-fits-all approach to health, the Global Fund supports local stakeholders in setting their own health care priorities and implementing the strategies that will save the most lives -- a principle that emphasizes partnership and country ownership. The Global Fund sets benchmarks and ensures accountability, but it also lets local leaders lead. With national health strategies guiding work on the ground, Global Fund resources build capacity, enabling countries to shape their own futures.

I recently met with patients and health workers at a clinic in rural Ndola, Zambia, supported by the Global Fund and PEPFAR. The clinic is run by the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), an ecumenical partnership that provided the country's first formal health care in 1970 and now runs over 140 facilities nationwide. CHAZ's vast reach, including presence in even the most rural areas, makes them central to national plans. And their faith-based leadership reduces stigma for people living with HIV/AIDS and encourages others to seek testing and treatment. Churches, synagogues, mosques and religious organizations of all kinds are key to Global Fund success the world over -- and their continued dedication will help save many more lives in the years to come.

Businesses can help improve health as well. Standard Bank, one of the top 10 employers on the African continent, offers pro bono bookkeeping and accounting training to Global Fund grant recipients in seven countries. And consumers can get involved through (RED), an innovative partnership that allows people to buy their favorite products, with a portion of proceeds going directly to the Global Fund's efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. With dozens of leading brands involved, (RED) is closing in on a landmark $200 million contribution to the Global Fund. These are but two examples of innovative contributions of the private sector.

Thanks to the Global Fund and global health programs such as PEPFAR and PMI, we have made great gains in the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Each day more babies are born HIV-free. Millions of families are sleeping under insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria. Parents are getting diagnosed and treated for tuberculosis so they can return to work and provide for their children.

Yet there is still so much left to be done. Responsibility for a healthier future lies with no one person or group but, rather, with all of us. Anyone can get involved through groups like (RED) or ONE, a nonpartisan grassroots campaign, to keep the world moving in the right direction. There are different roles to play, but none of us can afford to back down. As a global community we have accomplished so much over the past decade. With renewed dedication and ambition, just imagine what we might be able to accomplish together in the decade to come.

This blog is part of our #GivingTuesday series, produced by The Huffington Post and the teams at InterAction, 92nd Street Y, United Nations Foundation, and others. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday -- which takes place for the first time on Tuesday, November 27 -- is a movement intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note. Go to www.givingtuesday.org to learn more and get involved.