To end the worst epidemics, we must #StopTheClock

Our awesome Hobart advocates urging the Treasurer to #StopTheClock

by RESULTS Grassroots Engagement Manager Gina Olivieri

As an advocate, this year I have my sights set firmly on one goal. Just like the 100 RESULTS volunteers all over Australia, I’m counting down to the day Australia pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria at the end of 2016.

Our goal is this: $300 million in Australian aid pledged to the Global Fund for their 2017-2019 work.

Why? Because the Global Fund has saved 17 million lives since 2002 and is crucial  in accelerating progress against HIV, TB and Malaria, so we can achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 and end these epidemics that currently claim around 3 million lives each year.

But to accelerate progress, we first need to Stop the Clock.

Because Australian aid is in jeopardy.

In just 15 days, Australia will be the least generous we’ve ever been.

In just 15 days, $224 million in cuts to Australian aid are expected to be confirmed in the Federal Budget, bringing our spending on aid down to just 22 cents for every $100 of income in 2017-18.

RESULTS CEO, Maree Nutt, explaining why you should join us in Stopping the Clock

I’ve written before about the kids who are my reasons for supporting the Global Fund, and for being an advocate in the fight to end epidemics.

But recently the fight became personal, when a friend a met in Nairobi, Kenya was diagnosed with TB. She’s lucky in a way – she has been diagnosed, when it is estimated one in three people with TB are not diagnosed. Although the drugs she’ll take for the next 6 months will likely make her sick, she does not have to pay for them. And though she has to travel to a clinic to get medical care, it’s not too far away from home.

But it makes me mad that she has to face this disease in the first place. That the vaccine to prevent it is 100 years old and mostly ineffective. That the drugs to treat it take so long to work, and have such horrible side-effects. That the methods to diagnose it are dangerously slow. That in going about our daily lives, she risks TB infection and I do not, because she lives in Kenya and I live in Australia.

To me, cuts to Australian aid represent more than an effort to “balance the books”. They represent misplaced priorities and broken promises. They represent a betrayal of the ‘fair go’ that characterises our nation. And they impact Australia’s ability to help build a strong, prosperous and secure region where everyone has access to health, education and economic opportunity, through investments like the Global Fund.

So as well as writing letters to the editor, the Treasurer and our MPs, as well as meeting parliamentarians and getting opinion pieces published in the newspaper, we’re going to Stop the Clock and let our Treasurer know we don’t want to see us become the least generous we’ve ever been.

Not on our watch.

RESULTS International (Australia) is one of 65 organisations that are part of the Campaign for Australian Aid – a joint initiative of the Make Poverty History and Micah coalitions, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – for all Australians who believe we can and should do more as a nation to end extreme poverty around the world.

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