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Here I Am: Targeting Health in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

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In a little more than 2 years, the world will hit an important target: the date by which the Millennium Development Goals are meant to be achieved. These eight goals have been a blueprint for action for countries around the world and have focused attention and action on goals like universal primary education, reducing extreme poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS , TB Malaria and other diseases. Some of the goals have been met. Some are halfway there. Some are nowhere close to being achieved. And yet, we are already talking about what will come next: what will the post-2015 development agenda be?

As an advocate for people living with HIV and having lived through TB-HIV Co-infection personally that was almost fatal, I know how personal the impact of these broad, global goals can be. I've been using this blog to showcase the personal stories of people all around the world, who are getting treatment or helping others get treatment for the worlds' deadliest infectious diseases thanks to the efforts of one of the most successful development institutions ever, the Global Fund.

In his Here I Am video below, Albert Kalonji from the Congo talks about his work with HIV orphans and vulnerable people. In a population of 2.6 million people, nearly 77,000 are infected with HIV -- nearly 3% of the population. Between 2001 to 2009, there was a 111.594% change in the rate of infection among the population: each year in the Congo an estimated 5,100 people die from HIV/AIDS . Albert shares the words of one woman, who said his organization helped to "bring back her smile". The woman says she had stopped smiling because she was widowed because of HIV and felt abandoned by her community because of the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Yet, she adopted a child orphaned by AIDS and thanks to a small microcredit grant made possible by the Global Fund through Albert's organization, she is able to support herself and her adopted child and send them to school. There are approximately 51,000 orphans living in Congo because of HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund focuses on AIDS, TB and malaria and its success has been evaluated on benchmarks and targets related to those diseases, but in reality it has accomplished so much more.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Video in french

Success has not meant perfection, but without a doubt the specificity of the Millennium Development Goal on combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB has helped keep up the pressure and generate the political will to continue funding the Global Fund.

In preparation for the upcoming high-level health meetings, organizations working in the field of HIV, TB and Malaria and other MDGs-related issues, are advocating for strong recognition of health and the unmet targets and indicators in the post-2015 development framework.

The high-level dialogue in Botswana on health in the post-2015 Development Framework taking place on March 5 and 6, 2013, and the High-Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda (HLP) meeting in Bali at the end of March --which involves British Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyo-- are crucial opportunities to make our voices heard and to work towards the development of a new framework that includes health and the unmet health MDGs as a key priority, so that people like those Albert works with can be assured of uninterrupted treatment for the rest of their lives.

One of the key criticisms of the suggestions in the discussions so far has been that the current discussion has been too broad -- the focus has been on "universal health coverage for all" or "health for all": an important, but broad concept that needs targets, benchmarks and specific interventions to be successful. Albert's story shows that it's not just AIDS treatment that put the smile back on the woman's face, it was the health and community systems through treatment and microcredit that enabled her to live happily and send her child to school. It is hope for the future that started with the Global Fund that put the smile back on her face.

As the authors of a petition gathering signatures to demand that the unmet health MDGs are prioritized in the post-2015 development framework put it:

Political and financial leadership and increased investments, including through the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, have also helped to reduce poverty and to promote economic development, human rights, access to education, social protection, community mobilization and engagement and stronger mutual accountability and global solidarity.

Despite the incredible success of the Global Fund in making strides towards the MDG on AIDS, TB and malaria and successes in other areas, there is still important work to do. The important strides that I talk so much about here in this blog -- the millions and millions of people receiving prevention or treatment for HIV, TB and malaria thanks to the Global Fund -- could be lost if we don't keep up the pressure post-2015 to have real targets and benchmarks to focus on to achieve health for all.

The development agenda post-2015 should be about accelerating our work to finish the job and eliminate the 3 diseases. It needs to be an equity agenda that builds on the lessons and successes of the last decade and reaches all those who weren't reached by the Millennium Development Goals.

Consider supporting the petition calling for the prioritization of unmet health MDGs in the post-2015 development framework at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/healthmdgsbotswanapost2015/ and follow the discussions on the health related post-2015 agenda at: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/health

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Lucy Chesire: TB-HIV advocate from Kenya, Alternate 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