Welcome friends. It is a pleasure to see so many familiar faces gathered together.
Tonight, I invite you to imagine a world without HIV/AIDs. Incredible, right? More than that, imagine a world without health epidemics that threaten communities, countries, and regions with economic and social collapse. This world is the vision of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Together with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund has played a significant role in the progress made in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. The Global Fund is truly a 21st century partnership, connecting affected communities with the research and resources available in the United States, in Australia, and around the world. Through the Global Fund, we are working together to use funding most efficiently, develop strategies that work, and save lives. And we have seen some real success.
The Global Fund has saved 17 million lives since 2002; prevented millions of new infections; and recouped billions of dollars in economic productivity. Here in the Asia Pacific, Burma, India, Thailand, and Vietnam have seen a decline of 50 percent or more in AIDS morbidity and mortality since 2000. In Papua New Guinea, thousands of people living with HIV now have access to treatment.
Importantly, the Global Fund recognizes the critical role of innovation in ending devastating epidemics. Lessons learned on the front lines for over a decade were successfully applied to last year’s battle against Ebola. The Fund’s new Innovation Hub harnesses the partnership’s wealth of creativity and expertise. Innovation will lead to a more efficient and more effective use of resources. Innovation will lead us to new vaccines. Innovation will save even more lives.
The United States and Australia, both Top 20 donors to the Global Fund, know that our investment is both smart policy and the right thing to do. The Fund must raise $13 billion every three years to continue and grow its success. Pledges are already coming in for the 2017-2019 funding cycle, including nearly $40 million from the private and nonprofit sectors. Now is the time for all contributors to increase their commitments to help meet that $13 billion goal.
Remember, we have wrought miracles. The dedication of governments, activists, and healthcare practitioners, along with important scientific advances, has brought the world to a critical moment in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The rate of new HIV infections worldwide continues to fall. More than one million HIV-free children have been born to HIV-positive mothers. And, most importantly, AIDS is no longer a death sentence.
But, we cannot afford to be complacent. An AIDS-free generation is within our reach by 2030. It is up to us to get there.
Please join me in a toast to our success and to boldly meeting the challenge that lies ahead.
A toast to not just an entire generation spared the horrors of HIV and AIDS, but a generation free of the epidemics of the past and living healthier, happier lives in a bright future.
My guest of honor tonight – Dr. Mark Dybul – is no stranger to any of us. He has worked on HIV and public health for more than 25 years as a clinician, scientist, teacher, and administrator. He is one of the architects of PEPFAR, which he headed from 2006-2009, and in 2012 he was appointed Executive Director of the Global Fund. Earlier this evening he gave the Harold Mitchell Lecture at the Australian National University; a great honor for a leading voice on global health.
Ladies and gentleman, Dr. Mark Dybul.