RESULTS International Conference: Uniting advocates to fight global poverty

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2016 RESULTS International Conference here in Washington, DC, as a member of the event’s Social Media Corps. RESULTS is a grassroots organization that brings together advocates from around the country to work toward ending poverty both nationally and globally. The annual conference serves as a platform to allow advocates to interact with political leaders in the fight to end poverty. This year, the conference also served as an opportunity to take stock of where we are in this fight.

Taking place between the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS (HLM) and the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), the speakers at RESULTS’ conference sought to make sure that remaining work does not overshadow the incredible progress that we have made. The conference emphasized to the nearly 600 attendees the impact that programs to date have had on global progress – without downplaying the need for greater equality in access to services and the continued importance of working to achieve greater equity in outcomes. This sentiment was captured best in a comment made by the Global Fund’s Linda Mafu, who said: “Don’t just share the story that people are dying, share the story that people are alive!”

As part of the conference, I had the opportunity to talk with people from Global Fund implementing countries, including GFAN speaker Loyce Maturu. Friends has had the opportunity to speak with Loyce before, and each time her story serves to put a name and a face to the incredible work the Global Fund does.

We hear the stats often: 9.2 million people are currently receiving ARV therapy, 15.1 million people have been tested and treated for tuberculosis, 659 million insecticide treated nets have been distributed, and 17 million lives have been saved through the Global Fund Partnership. These numbers are impressive, and demonstrate that U.S.-led investments in global health have significant impact, but speaking with someone like Loyce or other RESULTS advocates from across the globe gives those numbers a name and face. And that is where the true value of the RESULTS International Conference lies – in providing the opportunity to listen to the stories of people most affected by these diseases, whose lives have been personally touched by the Global Fund and its supporters.