Despite claims that some countries are winning their battles against HIV and with global AIDS funding in decline, the G20 must do all it can to ensure the Global Fund is fully funded and hard-won progress is preserved.
Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA (November 29, 2018). As Argentina is set to host this year’s G20 summit, which happens to coincide with the commemoration of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges world leaders to address global public health’s most urgent priorities and fully commit to winning the war on AIDS.
Even though HIV is a chronic condition that is now 100% treatable and preventable, an estimated 940,000 people still die from AIDS-related causes every year, almost 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV—and less than 60% of them are receiving treatment. Additionally, there were almost 2 million new infections last year alone. To exacerbate the situation, global AIDS funding has declined by 3 billion USD since 2012, and it is estimated the world will need double the funds by 2030 than what is currently being allocated for HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
The funding decline is the result of several factors but the main reason is two-fold: Governments are not prioritizing HIV/AIDS, and many G20 nations are not contributing their fair share to fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Countries like China, with the world’s second largest economy, pledged only 18 million USD to the Global Fund’s Fifth Replenishment. China must do more to eradicate infectious diseases, particularly in places where it is reaping the benefits of human capital and natural resources. Regrettably, in Latin America, G20 states such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico do not contribute to the Global Fund, even though they had benefited from its support in the past.
“The G20 has all the power to ensure that future global health policy is established to address and overcome the world’s most challenging healthcare issues,” said Terri Ford, AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy. “It represents 85% of the entire world economy, 75% of global trade and 66% of the world’s population. Given its economic power and influence, we urge the G20 to reignite the fire that is urgently needed to stamp out HIV and other infectious diseases. The world cannot afford to lose the ground its gained fighting thus far.”
With all of the economic clout carried by G20 countries, the amount of money required to bolster global health and assist those in need is minuscule compared to what many nations are spending in other areas, such as defense.
“With the summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina has an opportunity to direct the world’s attention to urgent global public health issues, such as HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases and humanitarian crises. Millions of people are dying of preventable causes – we all have an obligation to do everything in our power to stop this tragedy,” said Dr. Miguel Pedrola, AHF Argentina Country Program Manager and Scientific Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau. “In our global and interconnected society, we have a moral obligation to support each other, because as we know all too well, diseases and disasters do not confine themselves to political borders on a map. The G20 is in a unique position to improve the lives of millions by investing in global public health.”
With that in mind, AHF urges G20 world leaders to consider the following pressing public health challenges:
- Financing: G20 countries should increase their contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and demand strong bilateral and multilateral commitments to external aid for public health.
- Drug accessibility: G20 countries should remove barriers to pharmaceutical imports and the domestic production of affordable generic drugs, which are essential to public health, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
- HIV testing and treatment: Governments should generate policies that broaden the scope of HIV testing programs. In the absence of a cure or an effective HIV vaccine, the most effective way to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic is by providing HIV testing and treatment to as many people as possible.
- Antimicrobial resistance: Antimicrobial resistance represents a dangerous threat to global public health. With the appearance of many drug-resistant pathogens, such as gonorrhoea, tuberculosis and others, the risk of unstoppable pandemics is constantly growing. The world should address this issue by significantly increasing investment in research and preparing for outbreaks.
- Neglected tropical diseases: As shown by the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and two this year alone—including an ongoing outbreak in the Congo that has so far killed 191 people—we ignore neglected tropical diseases at our own peril. The cost of not being prepared for an inevitable outbreak in an interconnected world could mean the loss of millions of lives, disruption of travel and global trade, and long-lasting costs for the reconstruction of the affected communities.
These priorities are by no means all that is required, but they are a starting point that will set us on the right course towards a healthier and more equitable society. Without proactive measures, the crises spawned by instability, social conflict and economic insecurity will continue to arise. But by putting global public health high on the agenda, the G20 can enjoy substantial benefits to the world economy in terms of equity, reduced economic distress and a healthier world for everyone.
Interviews are available upon request.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1 million people in 41 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.
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