On Tuesday night we held our September conference call. You can now listen to a recording of the call on our website.
On this call, we had three speakers – TB activist Winstone Zulu from Zambia who talked about his personal story of TB and HIV/AIDS and the achievement of MDG 6 on fighting HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases; Louise Holly, RESULTS Deputy Director, who discussed the MDG review summit coming up in New York this month; and Julia Modern our Campaigns Officer who spoke about progress towards MDG 2 on Universal Primary Education in Kenya.
Winstone Zulu was one of the few African activists involved in the global health movement on AIDS from its earliest stages. He learned firsthand about the links between TB and HIV when he was diagnosed with TB. Unlike many Zambians with HIV and TB, Winstone was fortunate enough to receive proper treatment and medications, and was cured. But over the next several years, he watched four of his brothers die of the same disease. Winstone’s personal experience has made him a passionate advocate at home and abroad for stronger prevention and TB treatment programs.
On the call, Winstone praised the Global Fund for achieving good results in combating multiple contagious diseases in Zambia and expressed his hope that donors would continue their support through increased funding for the Global Fund in Zambia.
During the call we discussed the upcoming Millennium Development Goal Summit, which will be held in New York on the 20-22 September. Our action this month is to write letters or opinion pieces for our local or national newspapers, calling on the UK government to make specific financial commitments towards achieving the goals in health and education at the summit. Louise addressed questions about the upcoming summit in New York and why it is so important to take action ahead of it. For in-depth information, please see our earlier blog post on the summit.
One of the main concerns with regards to the achievement of MDGs is that the progress has been uneven across the world. Even with good progress in some regions, most of the MDGs remain off-track on current trends. So, the summit will be a call to world leaders for renewed political commitment, increased financial investments and focus on outcomes and action.
As Prime Minister David Cameroon is on paternity leave, the UK will be represented at the summit by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Andrew Mitchell Secretary of State for International Development. In the UK, public opinion about overseas aid is mixed at a time when other departments are facing huge funding cuts. The government, therefore is wary of making public commitments. But if the UK goes to the summit empty-handed, it will send a negative message to other countries that it is ok for them to do the same. The government have already committed to achieving the UN target of 0.7% of GDP to aid by 2013, and should use the summit to demonstrate that they’re serious about this.
We encourage you to listen to a recording of the call to learn more about the MDGs and how you can help by taking action in the local media. Two relevant articles have been published in national newspapers during the past week – the first is an opinion piece by Philippe Douste-Blazy the former French Foreign Minister, which appeared in the Guardian website on Sunday, and the second was an opinion editorial in the Independent yesterday. These two articles provide ideal ‘hooks’ if you are interested in trying to get published in the national press – but don’t forget that your local newspaper is likely to be read carefully by your MP and is an ideal place to raise your concerns as well.