As the Group of Eight (G8) meetings get underway on the 17th and 18th of this month, there are many issues of great magnitude that world leaders will be asked to examine and review.
Last week, the G8 released its' Accountability Report. It was a comprehensive examination of the record of its' members against the various promises in all sorts of areas that G8 governments have made over the last decade. While there are varying opinions on whether the Accountability Report will actually spur action in areas where countries have been found to have not fully lived up to their promises, it is a very important snapshot of the issues the G8 has focused on in recent years.
Health and the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases were front and centre in the report and while there were many pressures and efforts that created the Global Fund it is without doubt, the product of the G8 and G8 countries have provided nearly three-quarters of all its funding to date.
Various G8 meetings have been used to first launch the Global Fund and to re-commit and re-dedicate to the fight against the 3 diseases. This is the first G8 in the UK since the game-changing agreement at Gleneagles in 2005 to achieve "Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010" that led to 5.4 million more people on AIDS treatment and some believe, "changed the ambitions of many countries to believe that they really could deliver on AIDS." This weeks Here I Am feature video is a compilation of voices of people living with HIV and AIDS and the impact the Global Fund, which has been key in delivering on the Gleneagles promise, in their lives.
Here I Am: Feature Video
Despite the incredible support that the G8 has provided to the Global Fund and the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria over the years there is a sense that somehow, it is no longer as important. That governments may be "moving on". In The Guardian last week Elton John (whose 20 year old AIDS foundation has focused on reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS through prevention, treatment and care and eliminating stigma and discrimination) put it this way: "With each new priority we seem to leave former gains unfinished. That does not make sense. Development means being there for the long run, to see things through, to get the job done."
When it comes to the Global Fund, which Elton John was writing about, this could not be truer than at this particular moment in time. The costs of inaction are too high; we are accountable for the investments and gains we have made, if we stop or flatline our support to the Global Fund and indeed to all our efforts to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria now, we will pay more down the road.
We have the opportunity to start to defeat AIDS, TB and Malaria but if we do not fully replenish the Global Fund for 2014-16 we will not reach the tipping point, we will slide back on the scale to a point where we no longer have the tools to fight epidemics that are on an upswing. An appropriate, higher level of investment now will be offset by savings incurred from future HIV treatment costs (and this is true of TB and Malaria as well).
If we only manage to maintain current levels of funding for the Global Fund it will result in 1.3 million more HIV infections and 1 million more people dying from TB and resurgence will lead to renewed epidemics of malaria bringing us back to 1.2 million deaths per year.
The UK used the G8 as a game changer on AIDS last time round - some in civil society are encouraging them to be just as bold again to come out early in support of the Global Fund with an ambitious pledge to help generate large pledges from other existing and potential donors.
As a woman living with HIV who is alive twenty years since my own diagnosis , I encourage the leaders who will gather at Lough Erne to celebrate their success for supporting the Global Fund this far, and to realize that our tomorrow depends on their decisions at this critical moment . Let's not lose the opportunity that this decade has given us to end TB, AIDS and Malaria globally.
The world is watching now. The time to act G8 leaders, is now.
Lucy Chesire: TB-HIV advocate from Kenya 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