By Binta Diallo, Global Health Issue Analyst

Recently, the Obama Administration announced that they were going to be allocating $4 billion to the Global Fund.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Global Fund, it is an international “bank” that distributes funds and appropriate resources to the fight against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.  The Global Fund is currently contributing to about 144 countries around the world.  During a recent meeting with the donors in New York, it was announced that countries will be contributing a total of $11.7 billion USD for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years. Note that this is less than what they previously said would be the worst case scenario of $13 billion. $4 billion of the total amount comes from the U.S, which the biggest contribution from any country, and would be a 38 percent increase of US contributions from the last three years. Although the pledge of $4 billion from the US increased from previous years, it is still not enough. Since the Global Fund works to fight against the spread of AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis throughout the world, the financial need is extremely high. Based on the projected needs ($13 billion to keep treatment at current levels) and failed commitments by other nations, the US pledge ends up being very small.

Questions about the management and accountability of the Global Fund seem to have affected the magnitude of countries’ monetary commitments. An U.S official said that the US pledge could potentially increase if the Global Fund and participating countries “improve their management of grants, work to avoid duplication of efforts, improve accountability and monitoring.”

This brings up the question: why should the administration pledge more funds if their money is not being used efficiently?  AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis are all very important and dangerous conditions that must be attended to.  Immediate attention is needed from the medical and humanitarian standpoint, however, from the business and investment standpoint it is a very risky thing to do when not all is transparent, efficient and/or effective.

Although it is very easy and simple to just expect the government to provide for all of the financial allocations, it is a lot more complicated and harder than what one may think.  Many believe that if the President just decides to allocate more money to the Global Fund then everything will be alright.  And of course they are right in some sense; however, the President has so many other things to worry about when it comes to budgeting especially since the country, not to mention the world, has been going into a financial downward spiral for a few years now.  I am not saying that this is not important enough to be on the top of the list, I am simply saying that we need to find other effective ways of making this happen.   There are many students, schools, and advocacy groups that are involved in finding ways to help in the fight against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis around the world, however, the involvement and financial fundraising must increase.  Writing to senators and asking them to push for more money in congress for this issue is a wonderful idea, but when it comes down to it, it takes a lot more time and hassle to get something through congress.  Finding the money ourselves is also not the easiest thing to do; however, it is a lot more proactive and maybe even more effective.

We, the people that sincerely care about this issue, should act upon this issue.  There are hundreds of different international as well as domestic organizations that work specifically on creating independent cycles such on raising money, providing hundreds of useful resources and getting the people directly affected by these pandemics involved, which eventually leads to sustainable change.

Of course, there is always the question about corrupt governments and not knowing exactly if the funds are being directed to the actual cause.  Generally, there are a few ways that organizations have been able to bypass theses issues such as setting up physical offices within these countries and having local people take responsibility.  Not only does this allow the funds to go directly to the cause but it also allows the people that are being affected help in process of fixing the struggle.  Now the questions that remain are: How are you going to get involved?  How are you going to get your community involved?  Are you ready to face the challenge that millions are already battling every day?  Remember that financial commitment is not the only way to get involved.  What are your live changing ideas? What are your “Do-It-Yourself” foreign aid methods?

Let me leave you with a quote, “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows that it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” –African Proverb