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(Washington DC) On July 26 activists from around the world attending the 19th International AIDS Conference protested moves by wealthy governments and the Secretariat of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) that, if implemented, will curtail life-saving scale up of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs.

At a panel discussion entitled “The Global Fund: the Next 5 Years” that included participation by US AIDS Ambassador Dr. Eric Goosby, French AIDS Ambassador Mireille Guigaz and Global Fund General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo, AIDS activists took the microphone during Gabriel Jaramillo’s speech, holding banners and signs and chanting “End AIDS, no caps on our lives!” They were rejecting attempts to undermine the core principles of the Global Fund with the introduction of arbitrary “caps” on how much funding a country may apply for, as part of the Global Fund’s new model of funding country programs.

“A country must be allowed to apply for the full amount it needs and can absorb,” said Nadia Rafif of ALCS-Morocco, a speaker on the panel. “If the Global Fnd imposes caps that are lower than that amount, then you’re telling countries to slam on the breaks when they should be pressing on the gas.”

Rosemary Mburu, of the World AIDS Campaign in Nairobi, delivered a statement from the stage, stating « Ending AIDS takes more than talk. It takes full funding, full ambition, and full scale up. Donors have proposals for a new Global Fund funding model that attack the core principle that real country expressions of demand for services drive proposals—rather than an arbitrary allocation determined based on how much money is available at a given point in time. We reject these proposals. »

At the protest, Fogue Foguito of Positive Generation, an organization demanding full funding from donors and the national government of Cameroon in the fight against AIDS, presented each panelist with a declaration of commitment for them to sign, pledging that they would oppose any funding model that would restrict countries from scaling up. Ambassador Goosby did not to sign, while Ambassador Guigaz and Gabriel Jaramillo did. “We congratulate Jaramillo and Ambassador Guigaz for doing the right thing and signing this pledge. We expect them to keep their promise,” said Foguito. “We are concerned that Ambassador Goosby has not yet committed—we urge him to review and endorse the pledge before the meeting of the Global Fund Strategy and Investment Committee.”

The activists noted that the Strategy Impact and Investment Committee (SIIC) of the Global Fund Board meets in August, and must develop new funding model design options for consideration by the Board in September. “We expect to see options considered by the SIIC and presented to the Board that contain no caps, no envelopes, and no restriction on expressions of demand from countries,” said Asia Russell of Health GAP.

The activists also noted that the Global Fund’s investments in high impact interventions, such as prevention and treatment services for key populations and marginalized and criminalized populations must improve as part of the new funding model.

Note: a video of the protest and pledge-signing is available here: http://bit.ly/NCnOWR and images from the protest and panel are available here: http://smu.gs/MYao4j