Several GFAN Speakers participated in the Preparatory Meeting for the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment in India earlier this month. The participating Speakers: Maurine Murenga, Timur Abdullaev, Resty Nalwanga, and Erika Castellanos all had different roles during the meeting. With Timur speaking on a panel on sustainable financing for health, Erika speaking to attendees about mobilizing communities and young people to end the epidemics and achieve Sustainable Development Goals, and both Maurine and Erika participating as part of their roles as Board Member and Alternate Board Member for the Communities Delegation to the Global Fund. Finally, Resty addressed the Global Fund Board and guests to share her story and to highlight the importance of the Global Fund.
Resty was kind enough to share with us her speech.
My name is Nalwanga Resty from Uganda.
I am an advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights, GFAN speaker, and I am a founder of Tendo’s world a grassroots mentoring group for adolescent girls and young women living with HIV. We aim to empower them in economic skills development, mentorship, treatment literacy and human rights.
At the age of 6, my mom died and my whole life changed. I became an outcast as everyone suspected that I was born with HIV virus. I was taken to different members of family who never welcomed me and showed me very little affection. And then soon after my mother’s death, I contracted tuberculosis of lungs.
It should have been a simple case that could have been easily cured but for many years, I didn’t do well as I moved from one relatives house to another and I simply didn’t always have access to medicine and I wasn’t always supported.
At 17yrs, it all fell on top of me when I was diagnosed with HIV and again tuberculosis. But this time it was much more serious it was multi-drug resistant TB. By that time however, I had a more stable home life and my stepmother gave me support and loved me.
Doctors again prescribed me other drugs and they were so effective. I received these drugs courtesy of the Global Fund: I am one of the 27 million lives saved since 2002. After 12 months of treatment, I was cured from MDR tuberculosis. I am also on HIV treatment which is still partially funded by the Global Fund.
There is still, however, so much work we have to do.
Last year the world came together at the TB High Level Meeting and we must re-double our efforts and investments. Every year we are missing 4 million people who have TB. We need people-centred, rights-based efforts that are led in and by communities so that we can find and treat all those who are infected with TB.
In my country Uganda, approximately 50-60% of TB patients are also co-infected with HIV meaning tuberculosis and HIV remain a major public health problem in Uganda.
Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. People living with HIV with no TB symptoms need TB preventative therapy, which lessens the risk of developing TB and reduces TB/HIV death rates by around 40%.
In the time I have here today to speak with you, 7 minutes, 21 people will die from TB.
I call upon all the governments including the government of India which is hosting this 6th replenishment meeting to invest in tuberculosis, HIV and malaria through the Global Fund and in our own countries. This is not just for me. It is also so important for many young people, women, girls and boys, key populations, vulnerable communities and low-income countries like Uganda and everyone at risk of T.B, HIV and Malaria.
We are able to peruse our dreams thanks to the life-saving medications and services provided by the Global Fund.
In its Investment Case, the Global Fund is asking for at least 14 billion for the 6th Replenishment: I am asking you to dig deep. Find the collective will to fully fund the Global Fund so we can get back on track to end the epidemics.
As I conclude:
- 3 people die each minute of TB
- We ask for people centered, rights-based approaches
- We need health workers at community level that can reach out to find everyone affected by TB including those currently missed.
With much we can do more.
Thanks for listening.