The difference is made on the ground

in Voices on 25 October 2012

How important is it for donors to the Global Fund to witness first-hand the impact of their contributions? How important can it be to meet face to face with those people that we help every day through our work, but that we have never met?

Participants from different private sector companies that contribute to (RED), an initiative that mobilizes resources from the private sector for the Global Fund, travelled to southern Africa nations Zambia and Lesotho to see the work done on the ground, where the difference is made, where Global Fund-supported programs save lives.

Members of this delegation were able to confirm how insightful it is to be able to meet beneficiaries of Global Fund-supported programs, people that among the millions worldwide who receive ARV treatment and are able to work and live healthy lives. Currently there are 400.000 people on treatment in Zambia and 81,000 in Lesotho, which amounts to 83% and 62% of people in need respectively.

One of the highlights during the visits was the opportunity to meet with patients from the Lazarus Effect Campaign. Created by (RED) in 2008, the campaign shows the incredible effect that ARV treatment can have on HIV-positive people in as little as 40 days.

Tlotliso is a 5 year-old that lives in Lesotho and was first met by the (RED) team when he was 19 months. At this time the baby boy was in critical malnourishment condition which was immediately addressed so he could start ARV treatment.

Tlotliso at 19 months before starting treatment. And 90 days after. Copyright (RED)/Jonx Pillemer.

During the past years, Tlotliso's mother has been struggling to provide for him and at times his treatment has been interrupted. Whereas today Tlotliso is doing better and recovering, his case also stresses the importance of receiving ARV treatment in an adequate framework where proper nutrition, follow-up and counselling are also provided.

Tlotliso today, visited by the (RED) delegation and staff from the Global Fund.

Community health workers play a key role in this work, and in Lesotho Global Fund-supported programs support around 1800 out of the existing 7000, under the HIV program. The national TB program will also start funding community health workers starting next year.

Zambia and Lesotho have done incredible work in the fight against AIDS, and impressive results have been achieved in the past ten years through different innovative initiatives. However, challenges remain and much more needs to be done. Progress can be reversed if we do not strengthen our efforts in this fight.

An AIDS free generation is possible. We can't stop now.