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3 October 2012
Guest Contributor

Australian Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria

We are delighted to congratulate Mr. James Gilling on his appointment as the incoming Australian Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Mr Gilling brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in the address of communicable diseases within the Asia-Pacific Region, having served as the First Assistant Director General in the Policy and Sector Division of AusAID, where he was responsible for policy coordination on HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB issues.

Following Mr Gilling’s appointment earlier today, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the role has been expanded to cover tuberculosis (TB) and malaria to reflect the major health challenges facing Australia’s region.

“This role shows Australia’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria” Senator Carr said. “Millions of people continue to be affected by these life-threatening diseases, which in 2010 alone claimed more than 3.5 million lives. Unfortunately, those suffering the most tend to be the poorest people in the poorest parts of the world.”

Senator Carr’s office noted that with more than 25 years experience in development and social research, Mr Gilling will represent Australia in promoting effective responses to HIV/AIDS and other global health challenges. This work will include continuing the Australian Government’s strong support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which through AusAID, has committed $210 million over the years 2011-2013.

We wish him every success in his new role.

27 September 2012
Guest Contributor

Australian PM joins UN Secretary General in prioritising malaria

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York today, the Australian Prime Minister lent her support of addressing the global burden of malaria. In her speech which detailed the practical progress necessary towards realising global goals  in the world, Julia Gillard announced that Australia would support the global fight against drug resistant malaria, stating “the Secretary-General has made malaria one of his key priorities for his second term. It is a priority we share.”

The Prime Minster also identified the clear relationship between addressing malaria, and the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals in the next three years. She described 2015 as both a goal and new point of departure for much new work. “Where the world has fallen short of ambitious goals, our response must be action, not disillusion,” said Ms Gillard. “This is what Australia will do. We will act.”

Earlier this year, the Australian Prime Minister accepted Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s invitation to co-chair the Millennium Development Goal Advocacy Group and to continue to advocate for practical progress in the coming three years. These goals include the eradication of extreme poverty, halving the incidence of malarial infections, cutting child-related mortality rated by two-thirds, and reversing the spread of HIV & AIDS.

Ms Gillard pledged Australia’s contribution towards the important work of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, affirming Australia considerable national experience in working with least developed countries – especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Later this year, Sydney will host Malaria 2012, bringing together political leaders, civil society and the private sector to accelerate efforts to control and eliminate malaria and combat climbing rates of drug resistance. Since 2000, the world has cut the number of deaths from malaria by 26 per cent. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2010 there were over 30 million malaria cases and 42,000 deaths in the Asia-Pacific Region.

27 August 2012
Guest Contributor

Pacific Friends hosts Global Fund visit of General Manager

Bill Bowtell AO, Executive Director of Pacific Friends with Gabriel Jaramillo, General Manager of the Global Fund © Pacific Friends

Last week, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund hosted an Australian visit from the Executive Management Team of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In a trip visiting Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, the Global Fund’s delegation included the General Manager, Mr Gabriel Jaramillo, Director of External Relations and Partnerships, Dr Christoph Benn, and Board Vice-Chair, Dr Mphu Ramatlapeng. With the assistance of AusAID, the Global Fund team was involved in a series of high level-meetings including those with Director General of AusAID, Peter Baxter, and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Bob Carr.

The Global Fund visit to Australia included a roundtable event  in Melbourne hosted by Pacific Friends and Oxfam Australia, which welcomed guests such as Victorian Minister for Health, The Hon. David Davis, and chair of the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism in Papua New Guinea, Lady Roslyn Morata. General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo explained the increasing need for Australian support for the life-saving work of the Global Fund in the region, particularly in countries such as Papua New Guinea, whose current success against communicable diseases has been threatened by the effects of the European Financial Crisis.

Gabriel Jaramillo mentioned that the Global fund offers cost-effective and evidence-based solutions to these diseases in the region, and that the implementation of these solutions should be seen as an investment in countries in which the Global Fund operates.

The Global Fund plays an important role in advancing Australia’s objectives of more efficient and coordinated international development assistance in the health sector. Since 2004, Australia has provided $240 million to the Global Fund in core contributions. As part of its current three-year pledge, Australia has committed to provide an additional $180 million by 2013. In the 2012-13 Budget, Australia allocated $70 million towards the Global Fund. By 2015, the Australian contribution to the Global Fund will help approximately 70,000 people receive HIV treatment; 60,000 people receive tuberculosis treatment and the distribution of over 1,700,000 bed nets annually to prevent malaria.

Mr Jaramillo highlighted the significant relationship with regional partners like AusAID, whose commendable work has been instrumental in the support of the Global Fund and its address of health issues within the Asia-Pacific Region. In late October this year, AusAID will host the 2012 International Malaria Summit in Sydney, where international leaders will address the Australian response to malaria in the region. The 2012 Malaria Summit comes at an opportune  time, with partnerships between AusAID and the Global Fund aimed to collectively combat the disease in the region by strengthening advocacy efforts and regional health networks.

14 August 2012
Guest Contributor

Battle against HIV being won?

Bill Bowtell, Executive Director of Pacific Friends, speaks live from the 2012 International AIDS Conference to David Weber on ABC’s Pacific Beat about successes in the global battle against the HIV.

6 August 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Australia pushed on AIDS funding

As the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC draws to a close, Executive Director of Pacific Friends, Bill Bowtell spoke to Nancy Notzon on ABC Radio AM to discuss the future of Australia’s response to HIV & AIDS — both domestically and internationally.

ABC Radio AM Transcript

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Australia is being urged to double its financial contribution to the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

A leading advocacy group called the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund says enormous gains have been made in the fight against AIDS, with the number of deaths and new infections falling.

But the group’s executive director, Bill Bowtell, says the Global Financial Crisis is threatening billions of dollars in AIDS research funds.

He’s told Nancy Notzon, that it’s time for countries like Australia to make up the shortfall.

BILL BOWTELL: The problem that looks serious is the problem in Europe and in America where we have real pressures on development budgets and therefore the amounts of money that are needed to put more people on treatment and to get on top of this epidemic are really – it’s a real matter of concern.

But we have to get on top of it, we have to get more people on treatment and we have to find ways around this, what we hope is a temporary budget problem in Europe.

NANCY NOTZON: Now is this pressure on government budgets that would be donating to countries or to HIV research or is it also from private donors?

BILL BOWTELL: No the big donors have been governments, and particularly the European governments. France and Italy, Spain, the European Union and so on have been very generous donors to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, but they are in trouble and therefore their ability to fund this response is declining.

Now what that really means is that countries in Asia, countries like Australia, countries in the Middle East that are doing well, that are doing well and that have robust economies, really have to step up to the plate and assume some responsibility for funding the international response to HIV and AIDS.

NANCY NOTZON: How much money would you say you’ve lost with the lack of donors?

BILL BOWTELL: Well I think in the last few years several billion dollars, the equivalent of several billion American dollars have been under threat. And this really has to be made good in the next year or so when the Global Fund goes to the donors to support the ability to put antiretroviral therapies and pills in the mouths of the people who need them around the world in the poorest countries in the world.

NANCY NOTZON: What will it mean if this work can’t continue? What will it mean in terms of the epidemic?

BILL BOWTELL: It will mean that more people will die. At the moment about 8 million people in the world are receiving antiretroviral therapies, which is the difference between life and death. But there’s another 8 million or so who don’t receive anything at all. And those people face a very painful and grim short life, because we do not fund them to get the antiretroviral therapies that would save their lives.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Bill Bowtell, executive director of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund speaking there to Nancy Notzon.

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Pacific Friends operates as a program within the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

Pacific Friends

Professor Janice Reid AC
Chair
Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director

Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.

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