Pacific Leaders Launch Friends of the Global Fund Group To Increase Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria
Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce on Monday launched the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to increase awareness of Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria programs in the Pacific region, the AAP/Sydney Morning Herald reports. Business, political and community leaders from the Pacific region met Monday in Sydney, Australia, for the launch of the group, which aims to increase efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria throughout the region.
According to the AAP/Morning Herald, there are about 500,000 new TB cases annually in the Pacific country Indonesia alone, and about 350,000 people in the region are living with HIV/AIDS. Wendy McCarthy, chair of Pacific Friends, said the people involved in the group are "all individually committed" to fighting the three diseases, adding that the group is "a way of putting the Pacific back on the agenda ... to grow it again and try to get the infrastructure back and build awareness of the work that can be done." Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham will serve as the group's youth ambassador. Mitcham said he wants to support efforts to fight HIV, TB and malaria. "I will be visiting communities when I can and learning as much as I can so I can educate as much as I can," Mitcham said.
According to Bryce, the Global Fund has awarded $1 billion in grants in the region. "For the first time ever, we are poised to make a significant and enduring impact" in fighting HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, Bryce said, adding, "In our region, in our generation, not only treatment but eradication is within our grasp." Pacific Friends was founded with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will receive support from the Lowy Institute for International Policy, the AAP/Morning Herald reports (Davis, AAP/Sydney Morning Herald, 2/23).