Most political leaders seem to be abandoning AIDS and giving up on the drive for universal access. But last week, on 9 March, U.K. Minister of State for International Development Gareth Thomas stood up and said the U.K. wants to see action on the pledge to achieve universal access – a pledge the U.K. pressed for at Gleneagles when it had the G8 Presidency in 2005. And he called on other G8 and G20 members to recommit to moving forward.
Last week he chaired a high-level meeting in the impressive “Moses room” in the House of Lords in London to re-energize the political momentum for universal access – and he asked me to facilite the discussion among donors and the representatives of eight heavily affected African countries.
|Minister Gareth Thomas with Annie Lennox and Vuyiseka Dubula of Treatment Action Campaign.
Among those attending were cabinet ministers, heads of national AIDS commissions, and civil society representatives, including people living with HIV. And the global players were there too: U.S. Ambassador Eric Goosby who leads PEPFAR, the heads of the Global Fund and UNAIDS, Michel Kazatchkine and Michel Sidibé, and our own President, Julio Montaner. It was a small crowd, but a stellar one – and one made even more striking when Annie Lennox turned up to add her passion and zeal to the conversation.
In 2005, Lennox took part in BandAid, the massive fundraiser to “Make Poverty History”, where she sang and spoke movingly about the impact of AIDS on children – a campaign that she has dear to her heart. That same year, many of the rest of us had been around a table similar to the one we were at this past week. That meeting, called “Making The Money Work” and also hosted by DfID and occurring on 9 March, was convened to develop strategies for greater global cooperation as the level of resources for global AIDS initiatives was expanding dramatically. More...