Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) Africa, Africa Civil Society Platform on Health and partners penned a letter to Minister Ploumen of the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation acknowledging the leadership role played by the Dutch government in sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV efforts over the years, noting their concern of the serious implications of decreasing funding levels and calling upon the Netherlands’ continued leadership through the upcoming Global Fund replenishment.
We, representatives of Africa Civil Society Organizations, are greatly inspired by The Netherlands, which has been a proven leader in the fight against HIV. The Netherlands and its investments in sexual and reproductive health rights and HIV, has greatly contributed in investing strongly to advance the efforts to end AIDS. Last week, thousands of activists, policymakers and researchers gathered for the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. In Durban, we acknowledged the huge progress made in the AIDS response since the 2000 AIDS conference in Durban.
However, Durban 2016 was also a sobering moment, which underscored the fact that a lot remains to be done to end AIDS as public health threat. New data shows increased rates of infections in many countries – especially affecting young women and girls and key populations. Additionally, a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS issued ahead AIDS2016 shows that donor government funding to support HIV efforts in low- and middle-income countries fell for the first time in five years in 2015.
For us, civil society organizations in several African countries, the Global Fund is a beacon of hope, as it offers one of the best and effective approaches in the fight against AIDS. Since its inception in 2002, the Global Fund has helped save 17 million lives and prevented the spread of the three epidemics. With its work to support women and girls and key populations, it has proven to be one of the most successful funding mechanisms in the history of global health.
The Global Fund has set a goal for raising US$13 billion to be invested during the three-year period that begins in 2017. However, it appears that there is no guarantee that the Global Fund will achieve this minimum required level of funding to allow it to continue its work in the next three years. This is of extreme concern to us, because one thing is clear: the time to invest vigorously is now, so as to stem new infections in HIV and advance treatment to hit the global target of putting 30 million people on treatment by 2020. If we do not invest now, we will pay more later, as diseases will resurge.
As civil society representatives from Africa we regard the Dutch government as one of our strongest supporters and allies in the fight against diseases on our continent and beyond. As a longtime supporter of our efforts and of the Global Fund, we call on you to demonstrate your leadership and increase your contribution to the Global Fund.
At a time when the world seems to be retreating inward and the funding landscape is becoming increasingly insecure we look to the leadership of the Dutch government in global health.