As we gather in Yokohama this week for the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on how far we have come.
Just 10 years ago, the African continent was plagued by a terrifying spread of HIV and AIDS, at the same time that malaria was still killing millions of children under the age of 5, and tuberculosis was threatening as well. With life expectancy falling, and education and economy taking a tremendous hit, these diseases were having a terrible impact.
The Global Fund was created to respond to the emergency, demanding innovation in how we responded to the diseases. Not only because the cost of treatment for these diseases was very expensive, but because we needed advances in science and implementation to figure out how to defeat these three major killers.
Today, we have those scientific tools and that implementation experience, and it gives us an historic opportunity to completely control these three major killers. We have succeeded in turning the tide of these epidemics, and now, new investments can have a transformative impact. We must seize this opportunity.
Japan needs to play a critical role, if we are to succeed in defeating AIDS, TB and malaria. Only with global support, and with Japan’s leadership, can this cause succeed.
Japan has consistently contributed to the development of Africa. The first Tokyo International Conference on African Development was held in 1993, promoting global partnership and country ownership, two concepts that are at the core of the Global Fund’s work.
Japan was instrumental in the creation of the Global Fund, with the summit of G8 nations in Okinawa in 2000 that called for the creation of this global financing organization, strong technical support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, tireless participation on the Global Fund Board and consistently strong financial support.
In the ten years that Japan has supported the Global Fund, we have achieved a great deal. Global Fund-supported programs now provide AIDS treatment for 4.2 million people, out of a total of 8 million people that are receiving treatment worldwide. These programs have also provided treatment to 1.7 million pregnant women to prevent the transmission of HIV to their unborn children.
At the African Union summit in Addis Ababa last week, people talked about how AIDS-related deaths are continuing to fall. UNAIDS cited a decline in AIDS-related deaths by 32 percent from 2005 to 2011, and that new HIV infections fell by 33 percent from 2001 to 2011.
The Global Fund’s modern, 21st century approach to partnership — which Japan played a key role in creating — engages partners from every sector, involves partners in the decision-making process, and shares the success of our common cause. Through our efforts and the work of our partners across the globe, global health initiatives are now transforming the world.
We have a historic opportunity to get HIV, tuberculosis and malaria under control. We are immensely grateful to the Japanese people allowing us to play a role in saving and dramatically improving the lives of millions of people, their families, communities and countries. Together, we can defeat these diseases.
Follow Dr. Mark Dybul on Twitter:
Making a Difference in Africa – Huffington Post