Leaders from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland got together this week to meet President Obama in Stockholm. With many important issues before them, they took time to focus on the threat of HIV, TB and malaria, and everyone affected by these diseases can celebrate and thank these leaders for taking decisive action to provide support and relief.
Infectious disease knows no borders. When diseases transform healthy and vibrant people into those who can't go to work, feed or send their kids to school, then families, communities and nations can be destabilized and lose economic power. It is imperative that we work together to stop diseases that can be prevented with the right collective action.
With impressive vision, Nordic leaders are pointing the way forward. On Wednesday evening, they announced a significant increase in funding to fight these three diseases, together pledging US$750 million, a 25 percent increase. Here’s what they also said: “This funding will leverage $375 million from the U.S. challenge pledge of $1 for every $2 donated.” That means the Nordic investment will go even farther, and can have a multiplier effect.
We are at a critical moment with these three diseases. So I find this kind of joint action really inspiring, because it captures an essential piece of the complex puzzle of global health challenges: working together. If there is one crystal clear fact we have learned in the past decade of fighting these deadly diseases, it is that we can only win by coordinating our actions. The sum of our efforts far exceeds what we can do individually.
While Nordic leaders have acted decisively, it also takes ministers and dedicated staff to put something like this together. These are the people we work with every day, people who really have driven the transformation to achieve greater impact.
Now that we have scientific advances that enable to really defeat these diseases and remove them as threats to public health, we have to align our efforts in overarching partnership. When I see the leaders of Nordic countries partnering together with President Obama, I know that chain of partnership extends to the leaders of countries that implement the programs that fight AIDS, TB and malaria, to technical partners, to civil society and all the way to health workers who actually save lives of people in communities all over the world.
I am also glad to see that the Nordic announcement singled out the reforms and results achieved by the Global Fund, because it recognizes the very hard work that my colleagues have achieved. But the bigger picture is what counts. We are all in this together. Our common goal is to defeat these three deadly diseases. With the kind of leadership we saw in Stockholm this week, we will get there.
There is still more to do. We are strongly encouraging all partners to commit more to the Global Fund as we raise funds for our next three-year period. We commend the Nordic leaders for their foresight on this front. We encourage others to join them in this cause. Doing so will make a tremendous difference to millions of women and children around the world, as well as to millions of men, by preventing and treating these diseases.