Stephen Lewis


When we reached the end of the 1990's, and the AIDS pandemic had been in place for virtually two decades, a great many people began to understand cumulatively that there was a profound moral default occurring in the world. The absence of resources was crippling the response to this global epidemic. The willingness to abandon, for example, the entire continent of Africa and to lose millions upon millions of lives unnecessarily had become one of the most repugnant and odious manifestations of western policy that could possibly be imagined. There was an intensive scurrying about to see whether something could be fashioned by way of a legitimate response. The amount of money coming from the western world as late as the final years of the 1990's was somewhere in the vicinity of two to three hundred million dollars a year - an amount so microscopic in terms of the need as to challenge levels of moral propriety.

Then, in April 2001, Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, floated an idea at the Abuja Summit on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which seemed to have real promise. He recommended establishing a fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) which would attempt to gather somewhere between seven and ten billion dollars a year in order to address the priorities of the pandemic. In the subsequent eighteen months, the Global Fund raised a total of $2.1 billion spread over four years from the major donor nations, drastically short of the goal. We were failing. The inability to gather the consciousness and resources of the developed world, given the possibilities of the Global Fund, was a dreadful shock to everyone