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KANCO lobbies for HIV & TB funds in Washington



Representatives of the Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO) travelled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the RESULTS/RESULTS Education Fund International Conference to End Poverty on 20-25 June.

More than two hundred RESULTS campaigners gathered to meet with decision makers from the World Bank, IMF and the US Congress, and to develop skills, strategize and connect with partners from around the world.

Rosemary Mburu, KANCO Policy Development and Advocacy Manager and Evaline Kibuchi, TB Programme Manager attended with support from the RESULTS Educational Fund.

“Perhaps the highlights of this conference were the congressional meetings for health funding,” says Rosemary Mburu. “Grassroots campaigners are enabled to visit congressional and senate offices to make requests.”

This year the key appeal to Representatives was to support a floor amendment to the appropriations bill to increase funding to combat global tuberculosis and support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Senators were requested to sign the FY 2010 Global Fund appropriations letter initiated by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Snowe (R-ME). The letter asks Senators Leahy and Gregg to appropriate $2 billion for the Global Fund.

The most influential of these meetings, says Mburu, was with House majority leader Senator Harry Reid, who expressed great interest and enthusiasm for scaling up critical efforts to control tuberculosis and for providing more money for the Global Fund.

Senator Reid heard accounts of the impact of tuberculosis in Kenya, where this curable disease kills an estimated 200 people every day. Worldwide, TB causes 1.7 million deaths annually, and the emergence of drug resistant strains poses a grave risk to global health.

The KANCO representatives highlighted what has been achieved by programmes financed by the Global Fund and bilateral funding, including the detection and treatment of 4.6 million additional cases of infectious tuberculosis worldwide, and stressed the importance of continuing support.

For fiscal year 2010, the Global Fund projects a need for $6 billion for new and existing programmes, but the US and others have not increased funding to match the rise in high quality grant proposals. The House State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee has requested only $1 billion for next year – just half of America’s “fair share” of needed funding.

The Subcommittee’s appropriation for bilateral tuberculosis funding is only $202 million – less than one third of the $650 million “fair share”.

As a panelist at a congressional briefing on 25 June, Rosemary Mburu joined leading disease experts to call on President Obama and Congress to mount a concerted and comprehensive response to the deadly alliance of HIV/AIDS and TB. Mburu shared personal accounts drawn from her work with KANCO as an AIDS advocate.

The call to action from America’s top scientists and physicians comes in the wake of a new report, “Deadly Duo: The Synergy Between HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis” from the Center for Global Health Policy.

The report details steps that the US government should take to aggressively lead the response to the worldwide threat of HIV/AIDS and TB co-infection.

Key recommendations include:

  • Providing $6.5 billion in funding for bilateral HIV/AIDS programmes, consistent with the Lantos-Hyde Act, to ensure the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy
  • Greatly increasing funding for research and development to battle co-infection, including doubling spending at the National Institutes of Health to $320 million for TB research
  • Ensuring that TB control funding levels through various programmes match the seriousness of the co-infection epidemic.
  • The document also calls on the White House to launch a Presidential Initiative on Tuberculosis to ensure a concerted, comprehensive response to the disease. It calls on the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator to ensure that HIV patients are screened for TB and treated for TB disease or with TB preventive therapy in settings with appropriate infection control measures in place.

KANCO is partnering with REF in an IMF advocacy campaign and a project called Action to Control TB Internationally.

    Rosemary Mburu called on President Obama and Congress to mount a concerted response to HIV/AIDS and TB