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Investing in a future for Africa's women

Source: Tue, 24 Sep 2013 12:08 GMT
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A nurse (R) returns from work on a bicycle along the Mchinji road-the highway linking Malawi to Zambia's eastern province, April 21, 2008. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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The seeds of success in every nation on earth are best planted in women and children. If we provide the young with a strong foundation, we can leave behind a legacy substantially greater than most are able to bequeath. As for the women, the old adage that you invest in a woman, you invest in a generation, still rings true today.

I am tremendously inspired by many women around the world who work under dire circumstances to make a difference for their families. One critical constituent of these women are those living with HIV. These women have to take care of their health conditions even as they ensure that they bear healthy children who can live to make a difference in the world.

I am motivated by these mothers to do my best to make a difference in the fight against HIV and other infectious diseases. My country is determined to make a difference in this regard especially by ensuring that no more children are born with HIV. In the last few years, tremendous gains have been made in prevention of mother to child transmission. In July this year, the global health community welcomed the one millionth baby born free from HIV. This milestone is indicative of the far that the world has come in its determination to ensure that babies are not born with this terminal condition.

The milestone taught us that the collective efforts and shared responsibilities by different players around the world can be transformative. This historic milestone is symbolic of other remarkable achievements in the fight against disease that have been recorded around the world in the last decade. Millions of women in malaria-endemic areas in Africa become pregnant every year. Malaria is a threat to these women and their babies, with up to 200,000 newborn deaths each year as a result of malaria. Through tools such as insecticide-treated nets and effective case management of malarial illness, the world has gotten much better in saving the lives of these women and children.

The tide is turning against the world's deadliest and most infectious diseases - HIV tuberculosis and malaria. Today, data across the world tells us that the three diseases are in retreat. Fewer people are dying, fewer and fewer infections are occurring. In the fight against prevention of mother to child transmission, far fewer children are being born with HIV.

The advances recorded in the fight against these diseases can be attributed to better advances in science, better implementation and better investments in health. Investments through bilateral and multilateral initiatives are saving millions of lives around of the world. Today, more than ever before there is solidarity and a shared responsibility in the belief that the world should do all it can to avoid needless deaths. The leading multilateral initiative in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

This year the Global Fund announced an appeal to government and private sector donors for US$15 Billion for the next three years. While this appeal represents a substantial financial commitment during these times of economic austerity, it also presents a significant opportunity to completely control these diseases once and for all.

Just a few years ago no one could ever have predicted that we would be this close. It is why we strongly urge all public and private donors to commit more finances towards The Global Fund replenishment this year. If we do this, we would make a tremendous difference to millions of women and children around the world, as a well as to millions of men who have to suffer and die from these preventable and treatable diseases.

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