We all know Bono. And most of us know about his product (RED) campaign to prevent deaths from AIDS in Africa. But until yesterday, I didn't really know what The Global Fund was and how it was related to Bono, (RED), AIDS or the cool shoe laces that the European football stars are now wearing. I had no idea that such a significant organization existed and was saving so many lives. Thanks though to an introduction by my friends Sheryl Sandberg and David Goldberg, I had the opportunity to meet The Global Fund's Exectutive Director, Dr. Michel Kazatchkine (photo below) and I now have a better understanding of how his powerful organization is making the world a better place.
The Global Fund was created in 2002 to help fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. To date it has committed $19.3 billion in 144 countries to support large-scale prevention, treatment and care programs against the three diseases. Most of it is government funding although there is some funding from the private sector (Chevron for example has made a sizable donation).
Today in the National Post, Kazatchkine announced they have saved almost 6 million lives since the organization's inception. That is a huge number that doesn't really mean much until you think about it in terms of a single child who is now able to live beyond two years old and lead a productive life. Or parents who, instead of leaving their children orphaned, are now living and thriving.
There has been amazing progress in the prevention and treatment of these diseases. For example, The Global Fund expects to eliminate transmission of HIV from mother to child by 2015 and has launched The Born HIV Free campaign which is supported by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (see photo below) to help make that happen. In addition, break throughs in HIV and tuberculosis medications and lowered costs of bed nets for the prevention of malaria are helping The Global Fund come closer to eradicating these diseases for good. The problem is funding. Although it seems like they are doing fine with billions in the bank, if not consistently supported by governments (especially the US), they run the risk of having to stop their work in which case all of the progress they have made to date will quickly disintegrate.
President George W. Bush was a big supporter of the Global Fund and in my opinion that was his most important contribution while in office. Unfortunately, President Obama, is wanting to steer clear from duplicating his predecessor's moves and has not been a big supporter of The Global Fund, opting instead to help address the issue in his own way. While admirable that he still cares to help, there is not a more efficient way to get treatment to those in need than The Global Fund. Every dollar given goes to preventing or treating one of the big three diseases. If you, like me, helped get Obama in office, then it is our job to let him know what is important to us. If you have his or his staff's ear, let them know how important it is to renew funding this fall so that millions of children do not suffer or die needlessly.
In the US, the organization, Friends of The Global Fight (Friends) is a non profit that focuses mainly on policy issues and communications with people in Washington D.C. that make the funding decisions. They are doing a great job talking with staffers and the likes of Nancy Pelosi who has been a Global Fund supporter in the past. Operating on a relatively small budget, Friends has helped raise billions of dollars for The Global Fund.
So how is Bono involved? Bono founded ONE.org because he cares about fighting against extreme poverty and preventable disease particularly in Africa. The Global Fund works with One.org and the poor in Africa to prevent the spread of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. Last month, Bono launched this video called the Lazarus Effect (click here to watch) to show just how amazing the antiretroviral drugs provided by the Global Fund can be at bringing AIDS patients back to life.
And how do cool shoe laces 'tie' in? Well, Nike and Bono's Product (RED) have teamed up and are offering (RED) shoe laces for $4.00 per pair. 100% of the money from the 'Lace Up Save Lives' campaign will benefit The Global Fund and other AIDS fighting organizations in Africa. I myself have just ordered 15 pair online for friends and family as soon they will be all the rage with the world cup right around the corner. To date the sales of (RED) products have raised over $150 million for The Global Fund. Let's help them keep the momentum going! Buy (RED) and put pressure on your politicians to support The Global Fund.
Image via Wikipedia