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Letter: Action crucial in fight against pandemics


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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Gene Arnholt

Columbus

Received: Nov. 3

The U.S. and the world are at a historic crossroads, although the media have given it little attention. This is a now-or-never moment in the war against three pandemics: AIDS, TB and malaria.

Since its founding in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has proven itself an amazingly effective weapon.

It has provided AIDS treatment for 11 million people, anti-TB treatment for 11 million people and 340 million insecticide-treated bednets. These efforts are saving over 100,000 lives per month.

 

Donor governments are meeting in Washington in December to consider their pledges for the Global Fund’s Fourth Replenishment.

We have arrived at a point where, if the Fund meets its three-year funding targets, we can actually end AIDS and completely control TB and malaria.

We have the science, and we have in the Global Fund a proven, transparent, cost-effective mechanism.

If we do not take this opportunity while we have it, the last decade’s impressive but fragile gains will be reversed, and the long-term cost is likely to be prohibitive.

For example, drug-resistant TB is spreading and costs an average of $50,000 per patient to treat.

The U.S. needs to pledge its proportionate share, $5 billion over three years.

This would maintain our current contribution level. Some donor countries have already pledged, and the others have traditionally followed our lead.

As the Executive Director of the Global Fund has said, “We have a choice: we can invest now, or pay forever.”

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