In the weeks leading up to World AIDS Day (December 1) and the fourth replenishment conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (December 3), medical students have been advocating for the U.S. to make bold investments in fighting these three diseases.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is the main multilateral funder in global health. It successfully channels 82% of the financing to fight TB, 50% of financing to combat malaria, and 21% of financing for HIV/AIDS. On December 3rd, 2013 in Washington, DC, world leaders will make new commitments to replenish the Global Fund. These pledges will determine the amount of funding that will be available to fight AIDS, TB and malaria globally between 2014-2106.
Last week, a group of students from Harvard Medical School held meetings with staff members of Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). They asked the Senators to urge President Obama to make a $5 billion pledge to the Global Fund over the next three years. Just a few weeks earlier, students from Michigan State University had a meeting with staffers of Representative Benishek (R-MI) to discuss the Global Fund and ask Rep. Benishek to sign on to a letter in support of global AIDS funding.
Photo: Students from Harvard meet with a staffer in Sen. Warren’s office to advocate for the Global Fund.
In addition to conducting legislative visits, medical students have been successfully generating media attention on the Global Fund replenishment. Students from the Medical College of Virginia/VCU recently published an op-ed in their local newspaper, as did students from the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (article unavailable online).
Medical students have also continued to advocate for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), asking their members of Congress to sign a bipartisan letter in support of PEPFAR. Thirty-eight Senators and Representatives signed the letter initiated by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), calling for President Obama to double the number of people on antiretroviral treatment through PEPFAR from 6 million to 12 million by 2016. In a remarkable show of support, on November 19th the U.S. Congress unanimously passed legislation to extend PEPFAR’s authorization for another 5 years.
For the first time in history, we have the scientific advances to effectively fight HIV, TB, and malaria. Now we need the political will. If you would like help organizing advocacy events at your school, please reach out to the AMSA AIDS Advocacy Network at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul noted, we can be the generation to defeat these diseases. Are you in?