A young boy hands a bundle to a woman in the streets of Nairobi. Amazingly, it contains his baby sister. Both of his parents have died of AIDS. He is afraid his sister will die because he is also not feeling well.
I heard this story as a part of a conference call with Jeffrey Sachs, one of the founders of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The story illustrates the desperate need for health care in Africa, which the Global Fund has been striving to provide for the last 10 years.
The Global Fund has seen many successes. Among its accomplishments: It estimates that 100,000 lives are saved every month. It provides 3.3 million AIDS patients with treatment along with testing and counseling to millions more. It treated 8.6 million cases of tuberculosis. It distributed 300 million insecticide-treated bed nets in the last three years. It has reduced the number of malaria deaths by 40 percent.
All these successes are threatened by a recent vote in Congress to stop funding this vital program. Note that all these diseases are infectious. Without persistent, diligent treatment, these epidemics will worsen. It is a travesty to allow progress like this to be lost.
The United States must do its part to continue funding this program, and other countries must also step up and follow our lead. The children cannot wait.