Grassroots Example #1 for Generating and Leveraging Media

February 7, 2012
by Activists Marc Tolo and Phyllis AlRoy

Phyllis Alroy of Delaware Valley RESULTS recently had an oped published on the Global Fund in the Times of Trenton. Marc Tolo from the same Delaware Valley was not going to lose an opportunity to respond a great piece in his newspaper, so he wrote a letter to the editor that was also published. These two pieces can now be leveraged with decision makers by sending copies along with a request. They can also be leveraged by publishing them to Facebook, Twitter, the White House website, and other internet outlets.

We can generate our own media buzz by generating editorials and opeds, and having people in our group or network respond to these pieces. It’s a great technique.

Op Ed:  Funding crisis threatens effort to end AIDS

By Phyllis Alroy

January 28, 2012

This year the world marks the 10-year anniversary of the launch of the most successful global health effort in history– the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Nearly 8 million lives have been saved to date, and even greater progress is on the horizon, thanks to recent scientific breakthroughs and the achievements of the last decade.

Against the backdrop of success and future promise, however, the Global Fund’s mission is in jeopardy. During the economic downturn, a number of wealthy countries either cut their pledges to the Global Fund or have failed to deliver the money they promised. Without the necessary resources on hand, the Global Fund was forced to announce last November that it was canceling its next round of grant-making and would stop making new grants for at least two years.

Ten years ago, the future of the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria seemed bleak. An AIDS diagnosis was essentially a death sentence for those living in poor countries without access to anti-retroviral treatment. TB programs suffered from decades of neglect. Malaria was a largely unchecked killer of children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa.

In response to that emergency, donor countries and poor countries, together with civil society and the private sector, formed a unique partnership. What followed was one of the most extraordinary decades in the history of public health. The Global Fund has become the largest source of funding for AIDS, TB and malaria prevention and treatment, and fundamentally altered our ability to fight these diseases. The Global Fund now saves an estimated 100,000 lives each and every month.

The fund provides treatment for 3.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS and assures access to testing and counseling services for millions more. It has helped detect and treat 8.6 million cases of TB and distributed hundreds of millions of insecticide-treated bed nets, cutting malaria deaths by half in 11 African countries.

Proposals for disease prevention and treatment, designed by the countries and people that would implement them, are evaluated by independent experts. If approved, continuation of funding depends on performance, and the results — successes and failures– are transparently reported.

Last spring, researchers announced the results of a breakthrough study, HPTN 052, that proved conclusively what AIDS researchers had long suspected: AIDS treatment can prevent the spread of the virus. Treating HIV-positive people with anti-retroviral therapy early in the disease cycle produced a dramatic 96% decrease in transmission of the virus to uninfected partners. TB is the biggest killer of HIV-positive people, but early treatment for AIDS can also reduce their TB rates by 84%. These new findings, along with other break-throughs in prevention, mean that we now have the tools to end the AIDS epidemic.

This evidence, combined with recent economic modeling by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that investing more in AIDS treatment and prevention now will not only decrease deaths but will also reduce costly demands for medical interventions in the future.

When the op ed is published, another RESULTS partner can follow up with a letter to the editor like the one below.

Keep up the good fight against AIDS, TB, malaria

By Marc Tolo

January 31, 2012

The word about AIDS, TB and malaria is amazing: “The end of the AIDS epidemic is in sight” and “enormous, but fragile progress has been made against TB and malaria” (op-ed, “Funding crisis threatens effort to end AIDS,” give date).

This is huge. It’s an outlook so hopeful, yet, if we let the opportunity slip away, so grim. A decade ago, these three diseases caused up to 6 million deaths a year. Yet in the last few years, relatively small investments in prevention and treatment have been breathtakingly effective. Malaria is often deadly, particularly for children under 5, but recently, in Africa, the distribution of mosquito nets reduced malaria deaths by half. A new study reports that early treatment with anti-retroviral drugs cuts HIV transmission by an astounding 96 percent. That means far fewer deaths from AIDS, and also from tuberculosis, the No. 1 killer of people with immune systems compromised by HIV.

Much credit for this tenuous progress goes to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to countries like ours that support it. A nation’s budget is a moral document that needs to reflect the values of its people. Therefore, the U.S. cannot cut back on the financial support we pledged for the Global Fund’s highly successful and cost-effective work, and we must strongly urge other nations to follow our lead in sustaining the Global Fund and its life-saving impact on millions around the world.

Just as the end of the AIDS epidemic is in sight and enormous but fragile progress has been made against TB and malaria, donors are scaling back their contributions. This will be devastating to the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. The cessation of new programs for two years could mean a death sentence for the millions. Progress against all three diseases is not only in danger of being halted in its tracks, but actually being reversed.

Historically, every $1 the US contributes to the Global Fund has been matched with $2 from other donors.
The US is the largest single donor to the Global Fund and has been instrumental in its success over the past decade. In 2010 the US made a three year, $4 billion pledge to the Global Fund. Fulfilling this pledge will be critical to the Global Fund’s ability to continue to make progress against the diseases. The US can lead not only by meeting its commitment, but also by urging other donor countries to do more. Last month in a speech on World AIDS Day, President Obama called on other countries to keep their promises and urged countries that are not yet donors to pledge. The President should follow up this call by convening an emergency donors’ conference to encourage other donors to give more and new donors to come on board in order to fill the resource gap. US funding is essential, but so too is American leadership and diplomacy.

The US can lead in moving the world closer to eradicating these diseases by ensuring that the Global Fund has the resources it needs right now to continue to fund the expansion of effective, high-impact, life-saving programs. In fulfilling our pledge to the Global Fund and convening an emergency donors meeting this spring, US leadership will make a better future for millions of people.

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