The Global Fund Advocates Network Speakers Bureau welcomes our three new tuberculosis-focused Global Fund champions who will be sharing their stories over the next few years with decision-makers around the world to advocate for Global Fund resource mobilization. The GFAN Speakers Bureau is relaunching in the coming weeks with 5 new and 5 returning champions.
With the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on TB scheduled for 2018, TB will be a key issue on policy agendas and we expect our speakers to be active in promoting the Global Fund’s importance in the fight to end this epidemic and to bring the voices of those affected to the highest levels.
Timur Abdullaev is from Uzbekistan and works as a human rights lawyer and public health consultant. Both the machine that was used to test him for TB and his TB medication were provided by a Global Fund grant. Not long after his diagnosis, he moved into TB activism. “We are the lucky survivors. Still every year the bacteria is killing 1.8 million people. It’s one person dying every 20 second,” Timur explains. “And still, ending TB is possible. We have the tools, we have the know-how, we just need more resources. We are at the tipping point, indeed. Now it’s time to move forward and make sure tuberculosis is part of history.”
Resty Nalwanga is from Uganda and works as a sexual reproductive health and rights officer and has set up a charity for teenage mothers. Resty contracted TB at 17 and, after discovering she has HIV, it developed into multidrug-resistant TB after she found it difficult to adhere to her anti-retroviral treatment during that challenging time in her life. Her MDR-TB medication was supported by the Global Fund. “Thanks to my good health, I have been able to pursue my career and I am employed,” affirms Resty.
Maura Elaripe is from Papua New Guinea and works extensively with national and regional HIV and TB advocacy groups and the country’s Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism. Maura contracted TB in 2001 and, while her TB treatment was through a government-supported clinic, she has routine checks for TB via Global Fund-funded services.
A returning speaker, Loyce, shared her TB story and message widely during the 5th replenishment campaign and we are happy to have her back as we work towards the next replenishment.
That all three of them, as well as Loyce, had first contracted HIV shows how much more at risk people living with HIV are to an opportunistic infection like TB and how important it is to have the collaboration of HIV and TB services: the Global Fund promotes this by encouraging joint TB-HIV grant applications from recipient countries and mandates this where co-infections are high.
As Loyce shares, “Our and others’ success stories are because of the Global Fund and they can only be sustainable and can continue if countries continue investing within the Global Fund so that we save more lives today. This means hope for us!” GFAN plans to work closely with its TB partners to support this effort over the coming year.
 The risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) is estimated to be between 26 and 31 times greater in people living with HIV (PLHIV) than among those without HIV infection. http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/tb/about_tb/en/