Aiming High at the GBCHealth Conference

By Colin Smith, Friends of the Global Fight

There are just 959 days left to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). That’s the reminder health and business leaders heard yesterday morning at GBCHealth’s annual conference. Kicking off the day’s many presentations was someone who lives and breathes these goals: Ray Chambers, UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and for Malaria.

How can we get closer to reaching the health MDGs? Recalling the old saying about real estate, Chambers said, “Global Fund, Global Fund, Global Fund.”

Throughout the morning, speaker after speaker chimed in to reinforce Chambers’ call to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world’s largest health financier. When the Global Fund’s Executive Director, Dr. Mark Dybul, took the stage, he focused on one of the day’s other unofficial themes—“partnership, partnership, partnership.”

In a panel together, Dybul; U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, who leads the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); and Dr. Brian Brink, leader of the Private Sector Delegation to the Global Fund Board and Chief Medical Officer at Anglo American, a mining and natural resources company, emphasized the pivotal role of partnerships in the Global Fund’s work and success, including vital partnerships with the private sector.

In controlling these three diseases, with partnership as the model and the Global Fund as the vehicle, the missing piece is the resources. As the Global Fund’s fourth replenishment approaches later this year, Brink said to his colleagues in the private sector, “It’s now or never.” He then set another goal for global business leaders in the room: a total contribution of $1.5 billion to the Global Fund over the next three years.

It’s an ambitious target, but it’s one with a return on investment measured not just on balance sheets but in millions of lives saved around the world.