There can be no doubting the enormous difference that this will make to the lives of millions of disadvantaged and vulnerable people around the world. Last year the Alliance was able to reach 4.4 million people directly with HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes thanks in large part to UK aid.
As we head closer towards 2015 and the expiry of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), such an affirmation of political will to combat global poverty is good news indeed. We very much hope that the UK’s leadership in this arena will inspire renewed international efforts to increase the levels of Official Development Assistance, meet the MDGs and in particular MDG 6 to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
There was more good news earlier this week when the Department for International Development announced that Malawi will receive £37 million to help tackle HIV and boost the supply of vital medications. The International Development Secretary Justine Greening said that £21 million has been earmarked for projects to reduce the number of HIV infections. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Malawi and with nearly a million people living with HIV, the country has long been bearing the brunt of the epidemic.
Going forward, it’s crucial to ensure that UK aid is channelled through the most effective methods of saving lives and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is one such mechanism. In the past, UK pledges to the Global Fund have helped to get 4.2 million people in developing countries onto life-saving HIV medicines and reached 1.7 million pregnant women with treatment to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies.
We know that it is possible to bring an end to the HIV pandemic if we invest in interventions that are proven to work and that respond directly to the epidemic in each locality. The Investment Framework for HIV indicates that if we scale up the HIV response and reach the right populations, we could achieve a tipping point as early as 2020. The Global Fund has a strong track record in fighting the three diseases and saving lives, and we would urge the UK government to use some of the increased overseas development assistance announced today to double its Global Fund contribution in advance of the Global Fund replenishment conference later this year.
According to Fionnuala Murphy, the Alliance’s policy manager: “British people can feel proud that the government has kept its promise to the world’s poor in the face of vociferous criticism. Now it’s time for us all to redouble our efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals and, in doing so, get closer to ending AIDS.”
With the G8 summit looming large, host David Cameron and the UK government now have an important opportunity to leverage the international commitment needed to finally meet this global health challenge.