July 12, 2016 / 5:41 PM / 3 years ago

Singer Annie Lennox urges governments to step up funding for AIDS, malaria and TB

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ending some of the world’s deadliest diseases is within reach but only if donor governments dig deeper into their pockets to fund the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, singer and activist Annie Lennox said on Tuesday.

Lennox was among activists calling on Britain to pledge 1.2 billion pounds ($1.58 billion) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ahead of its summit in September to urge governments to commit more money to fighting the diseases.

“Right now is the critical time to invest further in the global response, it is a unique opportunity in history and we cannot let it slip by,” said Lennox, an award winning singer-songwriter turned AIDS activist, at an event in parliament.

The Global Fund, a public-private partnership established in 2002, has asked donors for a total of $13 billion for the next three years, starting in 2017.

The Global Fund says it has already saved 17 million lives by providing access to treatment, prevention and care services, and is on track to save 22 million by the end of the year.

Lennox, who shot to fame in the 1980s with the Eurythmics pop band, said her work as an AIDS campaigner had shown her first-hand the extent of the “human catastrophe” unleashed by the disease.

The call for an increase in funding coincided with a warning from the United Nations AIDS agency UNAIDS on Tuesday that global efforts to prevent the spread of HIV infection must be stepped up after a long-term decline in the number of new cases in adults has stalled.

Less than half of the 36.7 million people diagnosed with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS have access to live-saving drugs, UNAIDS said in a report.

“Business as usual by any donor therefore cannot be an option,” Lennox said.

Britain, which is due to form a new government under Theresa May, its incoming prime minister, has been the Global Fund’s third largest donor after the United States and France, with contributions of more than 2 billion pounds so far.

A 1.2 billion pound pledge from Britain would represent a 20 percent increase on its commitment in the previous funding cycle.

Other donors have already stepped up their contributions, including Canada, which increased its pledge by 20 percent and the European Commission by 27 percent, according to a statement by the One Campaign, Malaria No More UK and other charities.

Reporting by Astrid Zweynert; Editing by Jo Griffin; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories

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