26 September 2019
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria pays tribute to the memory of Jacques Chirac, former President of France, who passed away on 26 September 2019.
Jacques Chirac was a strong advocate for access to treatment for all and an extraordinarily committed and effective international political leader who mobilized the international community around the need to combat AIDS, as one of the three deadliest pandemics in the early 2000s.
On 9 December 1997, at an AIDS conference in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, he said, "It would be shocking, unacceptable and contrary to the most basic principles of solidarity to stand by and watch as a two-speed epidemic unfolds. How could we continue to invoke human rights and human dignity in international forums if, at the same time, without any valid reason, we accepted that millions of patients would always be deprived of the most effective therapies?"
This was followed by the creation of an International Therapeutic Solidarity Fund (ITSF), the first step toward raising the international community's awareness of the need to create the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Like Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac believed in what was generally considered utopian at the beginning of the 21st century – providing access to antiretroviral therapy for the millions of people living with HIV worldwide without exception – and offered crucial support to the creation of the Global Fund.
In 2006, he would also become known as the man behind the tax on airline tickets to support health programs, dubbed the "Chirac Tax." The tax helps finance the Global Fund and our partner Unitaid, which invests in finding faster, more effective and cheaper ways to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
Without his visionary commitment, leadership and repeated calls to the international community to step up the fight against pandemics, the progress made to date – 32 million lives saved – would not have been possible.
The Global Fund partnership, countries and communities affected by pandemics, the research community, civil society actors and the millions of people around the world who benefit from antiretroviral therapy today will never forget his work.