Loyce Maturu’s mother and brother died within the same week of AIDS-related disease. A paternal aunt took the robust 10-year-old under her wing.

At age 12, Loyce began losing weight and developed a persistent cough. Her aunt took her to a local clinic established with backing from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Loyce had TB, and previously undetected HIV had become AIDS.

Both diseases carry a heavy stigma. She suffered rejection and abuse, even within her family, and considered suicide a reasonable choice.

Luckily, she became an early participant in Africaid’s Zvandiri program, with peer support for adolescents suffering from HIV. Now 27, she holds adult leadership roles in this and other similar organizations. In 2016, she was an opening speaker at the U.N. General Assembly’s High Level Meeting on AIDS. She has contributed to a variety of national policies, guidelines and training curricula in Zimbabwe, and is a member of the Communities Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund.

I had the privilege and delight of meeting Loyce on her recent visit to Cheyenne. It was a hoot shopping in dollar stores with her as her traveling companions teased her about needing to get another suitcase for the trip home!

But there is more to the Global Fund than care and treatment for sick people. When asked about the problem of corruption in the government of Zimbabwe, Loyce acknowledged the problem, but emphasized the Global Fund’s tight accountability requirements and community participation in its programs. The Health Ministry is responsible and responsive in ways some other ministries are not – yet.

Georgetown University researchers Dr. Matthew M. Kavanagh and Lixue Chen have found that countries receiving more aid from the Global Fund displayed better governance, even after controlling for other factors. The authors highlight key aspects of the Global Fund’s structure that include voices from and accountability to local communities.

Global Fund grants are awarded only after review by a panel that includes health, development and finance experts who may request changes to the proposal to ensure best practices – an important step in helping young governments learn those processes for developing their own programs. Where non-governmental organizations are better positioned to provide aid to marginalized and rural populations, the same sorts of accountability requirements apply to grants for their work.

Recipient governments must provide funding themselves, working to take over more and more of the responsibility for their countries. South Africa, for example, now fully funds purchase of antiretroviral treatment for its own population.

Our world will be a better place with more people like Loyce. Our country will be a safer place as struggling countries grow to meet the needs of their own citizens.

The Global Fund’s Replenishment Conference takes place in Lyon, France, in October. Donor countries, private and faith-based organizations, and recipient countries will pledge their support to meet the next three years’ goals (fiscal years 2020-22). Canada already plans a 20% increase in its pledge. The U.S. needs to increase its current pledge by 15% to $1.56 billion per year to meet its historic level of support. The House appropriations bill already includes this amount, while Senate appropriations are still in progress.

Final appropriations will likely be decided by the time of the Replenishment Conference, so now is the time to contact our congressional delegation. Tell them to support funding for a full pledge of $1.56 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It’s not just for AIDS; it’s not just for TB; it’s not just for malaria. It’s for a better, safer world.

Ann Erdmann is the group leader for RESULTS Cheyenne, a grassroots movement of people advocating for policies that will bring an end to poverty. Email: annerdmann291@gmail.com.

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