Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
The life of Nelson Mandela, whose exceptional courage and forbearance led to tremendous change and inspired people all over the world, is being honored everywhere following his death on 5 December. The Global Fund joins those celebrations. Mandela’s fight against injustice, his determination to right the wrongs of his society, and his insistence on forgiveness over vengeance established him as a leader of unparalleled moral stature. He is widely recognized for his great contributions to his native country, South Africa, and also for his universal values of dignity and fairness that have served as a model for political leaders everywhere.
Mandela played a special role in the fight against AIDS. On World AIDS Day, 1 December 1998, when he was serving as President of South Africa, he spoke in a televised address to his nation. “We admire the brave who are with us here today to say: We are the human face of AIDS! We are breaking the silence!” While other political leaders denied or ignored the spread of HIV, causing severe damage by hindering the implementation of effective treatment, Mandela spoke openly. In 2000, when South Africa hosted an International AIDS Conference in Durban, he closed the conference, calling on the world to join forces to provide HIV treatment.
Nelson Mandela showed us all that personal sacrifice in the pursuit of greater good can be a powerful weapon. He demonstrated what one man’s courage can achieve, even when facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge. He led by example. He found the best in people, and he relentlessly strived for a better future.
A Replenishment of Hope
Partners in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria gathered in Washington D.C. this week to launch the Global Fund’s Fourth Replenishment and pledged US$12 billion for the next three years, the largest amount ever committed in this mission. People affected by the three diseases across the world can express gratitude as emerging economies, implementing countries, traditional donors and the private sector effectively spoke with a single voice to say: Through shared responsibility, we can beat these epidemics.
Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, called it “a replenishment of hope.” He spoke about a lifting of the human spirit, about working hard to extend treatment to the most vulnerable – women and girls, sex workers, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people, people in prison and migrants. Scientific research shows that to reach the tipping point of defeating these infectious diseases, the global community must tackle concentrated pockets to keep bringing down infection levels, with a comprehensive response in prevention, treatment and care. It also means investing wisely in areas with high potential for impact and strong value for money. And it means working closely with partners. In 2014, the Global Fund will fully implement the new funding model, the centerpiece of its transformation, which will allow partners to reach more people, expand country dialogue, and support country-owned approaches. The successful Replenishment makes that possible.
Africa Gives Back
During the Replenishment launch, several African countries that implement grants from the Global Fund also pledged to contribute funds as well, as a way to share responsibility and to signal global commitment. Nigeria led with the largest pledge of US$30 million. Kenya agreed to contribute US$2 million, while Zimbabwe gave US$ 1 million and Malawi pledged US$500,000. At the same time, Cote d’Ivoire will contribute US$6.4 million through the debt-swap Debt2Health initiative.
“These pledges represent the commitment of African countries to fight the diseases globally,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “Through these pledges, Africa demonstrates that it is not only high-income countries that contribute. No amount is too small. They showed us that we are all in this together.”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan served as a co-chair of the Global Fund Replenishment, at a time when Nigeria is making significant new investments in health. In fact, there is a broader trend across Africa of increased domestic investment. This year, as UNAIDS reported, low and middle income countries are for the first time providing more funding themselves for HIV than they are getting from external sources.
Since the principal vehicle for investing in health is domestic, contributing to the Global Fund is a way to show broader solidarity, to commit to funding programs all over the world, and not just in one’s own country. It is also a way to thank donors, and to set an example to others to do the same. When people talk about “shared responsibility,” they often refer to plans to increase government investments in health. In this case, shared responsibility can mean much more.