17 September 2010
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Visit of UNAIDS Executive Director

Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, visited Australia on 27-31 August. Mr Sidibé spoke at the Lowy Institute for International Policy on the challenges and responses to the global HIV epidemic, addressed the plenary at the UN DPI/NGO conference in Melbourne, opened The Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Monash University, and spoke to several government officials in Canberra.

Michel Sidibé addressing the Lowy Institute on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic:

Prior to visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra Mr Sidibé spent two days in Papua New Guinea where he discussed the just released HIV estimates and the country’s declining HIV rates.

In Sydney Mr Sidibé started the day with radio and television interviews (see ABC media coverage below). After that he addressed the Lowy Institute as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series on the challenges and responses to the global HIV epidemic and participated in a lunch roundtable hosted by the Lowy Institute. After that Mr Sidibé visited Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross, where the centre’s Director Dr. Marianne Jauncey showed him around. At the end of the day Michel was welcomed by the community at a reception in Darlinghurst.

8 March 2010
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Strengthening Relationships

Executive Director of the Global Fund, Dr Michel Kazatchkine, visited Australia and New Zealand on 22-24 February to discuss the upcoming replenishment round of the Global Fund later this year. On Monday morning the 22nd Dr Kazatchkine met with Bob McMullan, Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance. After that Dr Kazatchkine was interviewed for two ABC radio programs, and he addressed meetings of the Parliamentary Liaison Group for HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and STIs, and the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development. Later that day meetings took place with the Hon Julie Bishop, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Peter Baxter, Acting Director General of AusAID, and various AusAID officials to discuss the issues in Papua New Guinea. After an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Kazatchkine attended a high-level meeting with the executive officers of development NGOs.

On Tuesday the 23rd, after an early radio interview, Dr Kazatchkine met with Stephen Smith – Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, after which he made its way to Sydney where the Governor-General hosted a luncheon in Admiralty House.

At the end of the day the Global Fund delegation departed for Wellington where on Wednesday meetings had place at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. After a working lunch with NZAID staff the Global Fund Director attended a meeting at the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs where he met with Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Ms Dominica Abo, Temo Sasau, and the Hon Misa Telefoni.

The visit of the Global Fund’s Executive Director has strengthened its relationship with Australia and New Zealand, and hopefully paved the way for commitments of both countries in the upcoming replenishment round of the Fund later this year.

28 October 2009
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Bill & Melinda Gates: Impatient Optimists

Bill and Melinda Gates explained on 27 October 2009 why they are Impatient Optimists in a speech from Sidney Harmon Hall in Washington, D.C. screened live at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

The speech launches the Living Proof Project which highlights the extraordinary successes that have resulted from the greatly increased support of global public health programs by the United States government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Living Proof Project demonstrates that initiatives to fight malaria, AIDS, and other diseases are saving and improving the lives of millions of people in poor and developing countries – and as a result, empowering them to lead more productive lives. The launch of Living Proof comes at a time when the global financial crisis may impose severe constraints on the capacity of the United States and other traditional large donor countries to increase their development assistance and global health budgets. It is therefore a decisive and welcome intervention in the emerging public debate about the future funding and direction of development assistance that will have a significant impact not only in the United States but in Australia and globally.

Bill and Melinda are optimists since there have been some major improvements in global public health over the last decades due to the greatly increased support from the United States government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill showed that child mortality has gone down from 20 million deaths a year in 1960 to less than 9 million in 2008. Focusing on the world’s most killing diseases they presented some striking global facts: smallpox is eradicated, polio is reduced by 99%, measles by 93%, and in the fight against HIV and AIDS there is a significant increase in mothers that are on preventive drugs, while since 2004 some 190 million bednets have been delivered world wide to fight malaria.

Yet, Bill and Melinda are also impatient because so much more can be done, right now. Why are there still many people dying of malaria while the disease is preventable and treatable? Fortunately, as Bill said “we got great science and more resources”, and that is what makes them impatient optimists. The key message Bill and Melinda thus offered is that “spending on global health is the best investment we make for saving lives”.

In this important multimedia presentation, Bill and Melinda Gates personally addressed senior policy-makers and opinion leaders in Washington, DC and around the globe to highlight opportunities to build on global health successes, and to develop the main themes of the Living Proof project.

The Lowy Institute for International Policy enjoys a close relationship with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria within the Lowy Institute.

Supporting the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is imperative, and the Lowy Institute was therefore pleased to facilitate the direct screening of this influential presentation.

Watch the “Why We Are Impatient Optimists” presentation below:

27 October 2009
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

3rd Forum of the Pacific Alliance on HIV and AIDS

From 14 October to 16 October 2009 Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom attended the 3rd Forum of the Pacific Alliance on HIV and AIDS in Suva, Fiji as a delegate for Pacific Friends.

The Pacific Alliance on HIV and AIDS (the Pacific Alliance) is a network of national civil society organizations (CSOs) and people living with HIV (PLWHIV), supported by regional nongovernment organizations (NGOs). The formalisation of this regional network of CSOs first began in 2003 through the establishment of the Pacific Islands Regional Country Coordinated Mechanism (PIRCCM).

The purpose of the Pacific Alliance is to ensure that CSOs and PLWHIV are able to participate in the decision-making processes and have effective resources and capacity to respond to HIV. The annual Forum provides all members with an opportunity to meet, share experiences, increase knowledge and learn additional skills to effectively respond to HIV and AIDS at local and/or regional levels.

The Pacific Alliance Forum brings together CSOs and PLWHIV and therefore provides an excellent opportunity for Pacific Friends to engage and participate in discussing the capacity of the Pacific Region to respond to HIV and AIDS. The participation of Pacific Friends in the Forum presented an opportunity to gain high-quality insights into the regional capacity of the Pacific to respond through CSOs and NGOs to the threat posed by HIV.

The three day Forum was organised by the Pacific Islands Aids Foundation (PIAF) which hosts the Secretariat of the Pacific Alliance, and attended by some 45 delegates from all over the Pacific (including the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu). Presentations and workshops were facilitated by a number of delegates as well as several representatives from UNAIDS, ILO, Australian Red Cross and SPC.

7 September 2009
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Pacific Friends Website

The website of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund will go live on 1 October 2009. The official launch will take place at the Lowy Institute for International Policy and is planned for late November.

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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