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Here I Am: Momentum Is On Our Side; It Is Time for Donors to Step Up

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Next week, on December 3rd world leaders will meet in Washington DC for the replenishment conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria whose theme, "No time to lose: Sharing the responsibility to save lives," reflects the historic opportunity that we have to begin to end the three diseases. World leaders have been on notice since April that in order to fund the fight against AIDS and HIV, tuberculosis and malaria more resources are needed: the incredible advances of the past few years will be lost if we do not act decisively and scale-up our response.

Momentum is key: we don't have every tool we need to end the diseases, but we do have good tools that can help us break the back of the 3 diseases. Tools that we didn't have 10 or even a few years ago. An understanding of the key drivers of the diseases, key populations who are affected so that we know where to focus our efforts to have a ripple effect. And research continues -- for treatments and vaccines that can break the backs of these epidemics down the road, especially if we can push them further on a downward trend through investing now.

Feature Video: Be the Generation -- Seize the Momentum on AIDS

This great animation by STOP AIDS in the UK shows why momentum and this replenishment is so criticial.

In a report that I helped launch back in September, the Cost of Inaction is quite clear.

If we do not find the capacity -- collectively -- to fully fund the fight against the 3 diseases, there will be 2.6 million new HIV infections each year: 1.3 million of which could be averted if we have the resources to scale up. 3 million fewer people will be treated for tuberculosis and 1 million lives would be lost unnecessarily if we do not raise the alarm bells -- if we do not scale up, this curable disease will not be eliminated as a public health threat until 2170. 430 million more people -- most of them children under five -- will get malaria unnecessarily and 196,000 people will lose their lives if we do not fully fund the fight against malaria.

The Global Fund has pegged $15 billion USD as the investment it needs to scale-up its investments. While not all of that 15 billion will be raised next week, it is important to be well on the way.

A number of donors have already recognized that it really is the time to pay or risk setback and paying more for even longer. Last week, the Republic of Korea doubled its commitment to the Global Fund. In September, the United Kingdom indicated it would double its commitment -- but requires that other countries step up to the plate to unlock up to one billion pounds over the next 3 years.

The United States currently has a 1.65 billion commitment to the Global Fund for 2014 alone going through its legislative processes which could put the US on track to raise close to 5 billion over the next 3 if the rest of the world can raise the other 10 billion needed (the US has a law preventing it from contributing more than 1/3 of the funds raised). Private individuals, like Dr Tahir from Indonesia who announced a 65 million commitment in October are seeing their contributions matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, dollar for dollar.

There are others who have also already pledged, but there are some who have remained silent on the issue and I know that on behalf of the more than 150 individuals who shared their story with the Here I Am campaign, we are eager to know what they can bring to the table.

It is fair to say that in 2010, at the last replenishment we -- advocates and people living with the diseases -- were disappointed by what donors brought to the table. Not because raising 9.2 billion dollars is easy in any context: as an advocate, I recognize that there are many difficult choices that governments and other private sector or individual donors make with their limited resources. However, we were disappointed in 2010 because we knew then that we were only going to be able to reach the tip of the iceberg with that level of funding.

Scientific progress and our understanding of how to most effectively fight and treat these 3 diseases on the ground have dramatically improved in recent years: this is our chance to invest and get even greater results, have much bigger impact and set us on the path towards eliminating both the diseases and the large-scale investments needed currently to address them.

We have the chance to really fight these diseases, save more lives and really turn the tide if we invest now.

Next Tuesday is what has become known as "Giving Tuesday" in the United States -- the same day as the replenishment conference. This first Tuesday after Thanksgiving is meant to encourage a spirit of giving -- I can't think of a better day in the calendar year to be holding this critical replenishment of the Global Fund than on a day focused on giving.

I hope that next Tuesday the world comes to the United States for the Global Fund replenishment prepared to give -- and give big -- so that we can take advantage of the momentum that has brought us to this historic opportunity where we have the tools and know-how to reach those most vulnerable and affected and put the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in our sights.

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Lucy Chesire: TB-HIV advocate from Kenya and Board Member of the Global Fund Board Communities Delegation.

About the Here I Am campaign:The Here I Am campaign is a global call on world leaders to save millions of lives by supporting a fully funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Here I Am brings the voices of people that are directly affected by AIDS, TB and malaria into dialogue about decisions that affect their lives and the lives of millions of others in their countries. Through video testimonies from all over the world, campaign ambassador advocacy, online actions and on-the-ground mobilizations, the Here I Am campaign is building collective power to end three of the world's most deadly diseases. www.hereiamcampaign.org