MORE than US$12.9 billion was pledged by the governments and donors in the fight against epidemics such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, under the 2016 Global Fund’s Fifth Replenishment Conference. CITAM Plus Zambia policy and advocacy officer Nathan Nhlane said it was pleased with the recent global developments as shown in financial commitments in the fight to ending epidemics. “We are delighted because our call, as different organisations, to global leaders has yielded positive results as we have seen these governments and donors pledge over US$12.9 billion in the fight to ending these epidemics,” he said. Mr Nhlane said the pledges were made at Global Fund’s fifth replenishment conference in Montreal, Canada, in September 2016, saying it was for that reason they had hoped that more than 8 million more lives would be saved as the Global Fund averts 300 million new infections as well as help build sustainable health systems. He explained that the replenishment conference raised nearly $1 billion more than the previous replenishment conference in 2013, and benefitted from participation by leaders from countries all over the world. “Since 2002, the Global Fund has saved 20 million lives and averted 146 million new infections. In addition, the Global Fund has helped stimulate US$6 billion in domestic investments in health by low and middle income countries, Zambia inclusive, in the most recent three-year period. “In Zambia, we as CITAM Plus led a walk that was graced by renowned artist and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to Swedish Embassy in Lusaka, pressing our leaders to pledge towards funding the Global Fund and we are glad that ours and other organizations’ call has been heeded to. “We targeted US$13 and today we are happy that US$12.9 has been reached, which is a plus to us. We now call on all those that pledged to fulfill their pledges so that 20 million lives can be saved and we can end the epidemics by 2020,” he said. He said despite the Zambian Government not being part of the pledgers, it was important that leaders contemplated adding its pledge to the list, considering that Zambia, according to records from UNAIDS, had about 1,200,000 people living with HIV out of the 15 million population. “We feel Zambia having such a record, it has a noble duty to stand and make its pledge and save many lives not just locally but internationally too. “Our leaders should realize that 16,000 to 24,000 people die each year due to HIV/AIDS and this is a drain on the human resource which the country needs the most for its development in various spheres such as socially and economically,” he said. Mr Nhlane said CITAM Plus was hopeful that Zambia would end the epidemics, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria with these pledges by 2030. CITAM Plus is an organisation that focuses on policy advocacy and citizen-led grassroots advocacy among other things. It is a partner of ACTION which is a partnership of locally-rooted organisations around the world that advocate for life-saving care for millions of people that are threatened by preventable diseases.