23 February 2009
Sydney – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria warmly welcomes the launch of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund, a new advocacy organization founded in order to create and sustain visibility and awareness for the Global Fund across the Pacific region, as well as to build political and financial support for the organization and the fight against the three diseases.
Pacific Friends joins Friends organizations in Africa, the U.S., Japan, Europe, Latin America and South and West Asia as nongovernmental advocates on behalf of the Global Fund. A similar organization is planned for the Middle East as well.
“The Global Fund benefits enormously by the work of Friends organizations, through their efforts to promote understanding and to mobilize regional support for the work of the Global Fund and the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” said Dr Michel Kazatchkine, the Global Fund’s Executive Director. “Pacific Friends of the Global Fund will no doubt be one of the strong voices communicating to donors the importance of financing to the future of so many people living in the Pacific region.”
Countries and territories receiving support from the Global Fund so far, in the region covered by Pacific Friends are Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. To date, the Global Fund has approved 28 grants to fight the three diseases in these countries and territories worth US$ 567 million.
Pacific Friends is receiving support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through a grant worth almost US$ 1 million. The Gates Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Global Fund, having already donated US$ 650 million to the organization to support its vital work to improve health and save lives across the globe.
“The Global Fund is one of the best and kindest things people have ever done for one another,“ said Dr Tachi Yamada, President of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. “It is a fantastic vehicle for scaling up access to effective tools, and it has already helped prevent millions of unnecessary deaths.”
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund will be led by Dr Bill Bowtell, Director of the HIV/AIDS Project at the Lowy Institute, an independent international policy think tank based in Sydney. Dr Bowtell was an architect of Australia’s highly-regarded and effective response to HIV/AIDS.
“The spread of these preventable diseases poses increasing problems among our nearest neighbors, “said Dr Bowtell. “Yet efforts and funds have already shown the tide can be turned. Pacific Friends of the Global Fund will play a key role in the region to build the political and financial support needed to scale up the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria”.