President Biya yesterday October 09, 2019 joined other Heads of State, governments and delegates at the Lyon Convention Centre to step up the fight against the three killer diseases.
The Global Fund's sixth Replenishment Conference taking place in Lyon, France enters a decisive phase today, Oct. 10 with Heads of State, governments and delegates of international organisations assembling at the Convention Centre to pledge their contribution to the package aimed at boosting the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. President Paul Biya accompanied by wife Chantal features among five of the African Presidents invited to participate in the conference. His presence is in response to an invitation from the French leader, President Emmanuel Macron within the framework of the good relations between Paris and Yaounde. The invitation is equally in recognition of the satisfactory results registered by Cameroon in the fight against the three diseases as testified by the significant drop in the prevalence rate for HIV and others. Cameroon has equally proven its ability to deploy the funds allocated by the Global Fund where the First Lady has been actively involved in the fight with registered positive results. As the conference enters higher gear with pledges from various contributors, President Biya is equally expected to have discussions with his colleagues on how best to intensify the fight. In effect, ten Heads of State are expected to take part in the conference, five of whom are from Africa considering the continent's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. Today's fund raising ceremony will be presided over by President Macron as the whole exercise since yesterday is focusing on one magic theme; "Step up the Fight." Deliberations will epitomise with messages from the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, Chair of the Global Fund Board, Donald Kaberuka and the co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates. These, of course will follow the remarks of President Macron with focus on stepping up efforts to achieve health for all. Expectations remain high on the fundraising considering the growing challenges that are being identified by experts in the sector. These include: the emergence of new threats said to have pushed researchers and other actors off track, wavering political commitment marked by shortfalls in funding, insecticide and drug resistance which are slowing down progress and risk of these diseases regaining ground. Whereas the Lyon Conference has as target to raise at least 14 billion US dollars (about FCFA 8,000 billion) the chances are that all the pledges might not be announced on the spot. In effect, the conference marks the beginning of a three-year fundraising campaign from 2020 to 2022. Pledges may be announced before, during or after the conference. About 14 countries, the European Union and ten private sector partners already announced their pledges well ahead of the Lyon confab. The presence of Cameroon at these meetings is a strong signal that demonstrates the commitment of President Biya to position himself in his overall policy to eradicate these diseases. In spite of the progress, Cameroon still has one of the highest HIV prevalence in West and Central Africa, with very significant peaks in at-risk populations (26 per cent among sex workers, 20 per cent among homosexuals, girls and other adults). Tuberculosis- HIV coincidence remains high, at 40 per cent. Malaria accounts for 48 per cent of all deaths of children under five. The participation of Cameroon in this Conference is an opportunity to recognise the support of the Global Fund since 2003, with a global value of CFA 315,327,841,225 according to credible sources.