It’s been one of our better days at ONE. Actually, probably one of the best.
For the last couple of years our members have been asking the UK government, along with many others, to make a bigger contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The Global Fund has been doing great work for more than ten years and, because of it, millions of people are living full lives today who would not otherwise be here.
Two weeks ago I delivered our 150,000 name petition to the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, representing members from the UK – and around the world – who wanted Britain to be bold on this issue. Earlier this year the UK government finally achieved the historic target of investing 0.7% of national income in aid. But as I blogged last week, that was never an end in itself – it was a means to an end. The Global Fund decision was the first big chance to make that 0.7% figure meaning something.
Well, yesterday at the United Nations in New York, Justine Greening made an announcement: Britain will give a potential £1 billion ($1.5 billion) to the Global Fund to support its work in the next three years.
This is exactly the number that ONE members, and friends including Stop AIDS, Results and Malaria No More, asked her for. It’s a big number – but it breaks down as just £5 per person in Britain each year.
And what will we get for that money? If the UK delivers in full, it will ensure that 760,000 people with HIV get life-saving antiretroviral medicine, 33 million families get insecticide-treated bed nets to stop malaria and 1.1 million people are treated for TB. All for a fiver a year from each of us, through money we’ve already paid in our taxes. I can’t think of a better investment for that £5.
But… (there had to be a but) there’s a catch. The UK has said it will only deliver the £1 billion IF other wealthy countries do their part and the overall funding request from the Global Fund is fully met.
The £1 billion from the UK is about 10% of the total to be raised. The US has already said it will contribute up to 33% – again, IF others do their part. So we’re well on the way, but we’ve got our work cut out – and the spotlight is now on newly-re-elected Angela Merkel in Germany, the Canadians, Australians and others. All of these pledges should come together at a replenishment conference later in the year. That’s when we’ll see how much we’ve raised collectively and how many lives can actually be saved.
But for now, I want to say thank you – if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of ONE members in the UK and the millions around the world, your voice has been heard today. And thanks to Justine Greening too – we rightly give politicians a hard time when we think they’ve got it wrong, but we asked her to do a bold and smart thing, and she did it. As Bono said yesterday, that’s given us a billion reasons for hope.
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