U.S.-Canadian Leadership’s Global Fight For Better Health

The following post was originally published at The Huffington Post Canada on September 1, 2016.

“This is an historic opportunity for Canada and the world. By fast-tracking investments and building global solidarity, we can bring an end to three devastating epidemics — AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria — that have tragic and far-reaching impacts on the world’s most vulnerable people.” — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

When it comes to ensuring health and well-being around the globe, no one can be left behind.

This ambitious goal — a pillar of the globally adopted Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) — is at stake as global leaders come together in Montreal this month to pledge commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) for the organization’s 2017-2019 funding cycle.

Known as Replenishment, this gathering sets the stage for the future of the world’s health, and the global health community’s ability to reach people most vulnerable to deadly epidemics. The world is extremely grateful to the people of Canada and their government for hosting this important event.

Hosting Replenishment demonstrates robust support for the Global Fund partnership, as well as solidarity with the United States and other major donors who are fighting to end these epidemics for good. This generosity also dovetails with Canada’s core value of prioritizing the health and wellness of the global community. In addition to hosting the Replenishment Conference, Prime Minister Trudeau announced in May that Canada will increase its pledge to the Global Fund to CAN $785 million for 2017-2019, a 20 per cent increase over the country’s 2014-2016 pledge. Canada’s leadership in the fight against devastating diseases has never been stronger.

Fortunately, the U.S. has also been a resilient partner. As the leading contributor to the Global Fund, the U.S. government is a vital leader in the fight against the three diseases. U.S. commitments to the Global Fund have demonstrated steady support for health initiatives that save and improve millions of lives. To date, Global Fund programs have provided lifesaving HIV treatment to 9.2 million people, detected and treated 15.1 million cases of tuberculosis, and distributed 659 million insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria.

These investments don’t just ensure the health of populations worldwide; global health investments significantly impact national security and global economies. Just last month at the White House Summit on Global Development, President Obama reaffirmed that, “Development isn’t charity. It’s one of the smartest investments we can make in our shared future, our security, our prosperity.”

As we are currently seeing with the transmission of the Zika virus, disease knows no borders, and investment in the prevention and containment of epidemics is a national security matter we cannot afford to underfund. Furthermore, investing in global health makes good business sense. The return on investment for the Global Fund is particularly striking — for every $100 million contributed to the Global Fund, $2.2 billion will be spurred in long-term economic gains.

These impacts show why fully funding the Global Fund is absolutely critical. During the Replenishment Conference next month, Global Fund officials aim to raise international pledges of $13 billion — a contribution that is projected to save up to 8 million more lives, avert up to 300 million new infections, and support partners in domestic investment of $41 billion in the fight against the three diseases.

To achieve these goals and keep momentum going on the lifesaving work of the Global Fund partnership, we’ll need steady teamwork. We must encourage governments across the globe to join major donors, both public and private, in stepping up to the plate with robust pledges to the Global Fund’s Fifth Replenishment, and we must reinforce domestic investments in health. Only by securing international commitments to global health can we build global solidarity, save millions of lives, and ensure no one is left behind.