Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lowy Institute for International Policy join influential Pacific regional leaders and others in fight against the three major pandemics in our region
The fight against the increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria among Australia’s neighbouring countries is being boosted with the help of some good friends.
Leading business, community, political figures and medical experts have made a commitment to become ‘Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’. To be launched on February 23 and chaired by Ms Wendy McCarthy AO, influential ‘Pacific Friends’ include Mr Andrew Forrest, Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Ms Heather Ridout, Prof Tony Cunningham, Ms Lucy Turnbull, Mr Ian Clarke and more.
The launch will also announce that Australian sporting sensation, Matthew Mitcham OAM, has been invited to be the Pacific Friends’ Youth Ambassador. Last year at the Beijing Olympic Games Matthew won the Gold Medal in the Men’s 10m Platform Diving with the highest score ever awarded in Olympic history.
Pacific Friends was made possible by a grant of close to $US1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This diverse group will mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by the three pandemics to societies and economies in the region. Pacific Friends will also mobilise support for the Geneva-based Global Fund that plays a vital role in resourcing effective country-based plans to reduce the impact and spread of the diseases.
Since 2002, the Global Fund has raised $US19 billion to be used against the three pandemics worldwide. Already, it provides a quarter of all international financing to combat HIV/AIDS, two-thirds for tuberculosis and three-quarters for malaria.
Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of Australia, will be the inaugural patron of Pacific Friends. She will join Global Fund Executive Director, Dr Michel Kazatchkine, in launching Pacific Friends in Sydney. The Governor-General has a deep interest in community-based responses to health challenges and especially in encouraging the role of women and girls in promoting healthier societies.
Pacific Friends joins similar organisations in Africa, the United States of America, Japan, Europe, Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East as non-governmental advocates of the Global Fund. The inaugural Executive Director of Pacific Friends will be Mr Bill Bowtell, Director of the HIV/AIDS Project at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, where Pacific Friends will be based.
“The Global Fund benefits enormously from the work of Friends organisations, through their efforts to promote understanding and to mobilise regional support for our work in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” said DrMichel Kazatchkine, the Global Fund’s Executive Director. “Pacific Friends of the Global Fund will no doubt be one of the strong voices communicating to donors the importance of financing the future of so many people living in the Pacific region.”
“The Global Fund is one of the best and kindest things people have ever done for one another,” said Dr Tachi Yamada, President of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. “It is a fantastic vehicle for scaling up access to effective tools, and it has already helped prevent millions of unnecessary deaths.”
The Global Fund works with maximum transparency and its commitment to performance-based funding and local implementation has won the confidence of both public and private sector donors.
Pacific Friends is a new advocacy organisation founded in order to create awareness for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria across the Pacific region. It aims to build political and financial support for the Global Fund’s fight against the three diseases. Countries in our region receiving support from the Global Fund so far are Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The Global Fund is a not-for-profit organisation which provides a quarter of all international financing to combat HIV/AIDS, two-thirds for tuberculosis and three-quarters for malaria. The Global Fund, created in 2002, has committed more than US$15 billion in 140 countries to support large-scale prevention, treatment and care programs against the three diseases. Programs it supports are estimated to have averted more than 2.5 million deaths by providing HIV/AIDS treatment for 2 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 4.6 million people, and by distributing 70 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria worldwide – visit www.theglobalfund.org.