Canada's Justin Trudeau pledges $785M over 3 years to fight AIDS, TB and malaria

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $785 million over three years for the Global Fund – a 20 per cent increase in Canada’s contributions – and said Montreal would host the fund’s fifth replenishment conference in September. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Canada is pledging an additional $785 million over three years the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in Ottawa today.

Trudeau said the new financial commitment represents a 20 per cent increase from Canada’s previous contribution level.

He also announced that Canada will host the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund in Montreal on Sept.16, 2016.

The prime minister made the announcements during a town hall on global health

“Thankfully,” Trudeau said, “organizations like the Global Fund exist to make a real difference. It works hard each and every day to deliver help to those who need it most.”

“They truly do save lives each and every day.”

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From left, Melinda Gates, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul and Loyce Maturu listen to speakers during a Global Fund town hall on AIDS and malaria prevention in Ottawa on Monday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Trudeau also announced Canada will promote the Global Fund’s social media campaign known as “End It For Good.”

“This campaign encourages the public, and particularly young people, to raise awareness about these three diseases through social media,” he said in Ottawa on Monday.

Canada’s support for the fund, which was created in 2002, has focused on fighting three of the world’s most devastating diseases, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

AIDS, tuberculosis survivor speaks out

Trudeau was joined on stage by Loyce Maturu, a young woman from Zimbabwe, who recounted for the crowd her personal experience living with HIV.

Maturu, 23, said that she lost her mother and younger brother to AIDS and tuberculosis in 2002.

“This was the most depressing moment for me as I was only 10 years old,” she said.

Two years later, Maturu learned she too had contracted HIV and tuberculosis.

“It was really the most painful thing to know. I really got depressed and I cried and I thought I was going to die, and that was the end of me just like my mother and my younger brother had died.”

Maturu said that thanks to a clinic supported by the Global Fund she managed to receive treatment for her tuberculosis.

“However, mentally, it was really difficult for me to accept that I had HIV, for I was 12 years-old,” said Maturu.

Despite seeking psychological help, Maturu said she also suffered verbal and emotional abuse from a family member in 2010. That’s when she attempted to commit suicide.

“I tried killing myself… and I took all of the medication that I had and I said I just want to die.”

With support from the Global Fund, Maturu is a survivor and a global spokesperson in support of the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

“We have a come a long way…,” Maturu said adding that, “we still have a long way to go in making sure that people like me, in sub-Saharan Africa, have the access to treatment, care and support services for them to live a confident, healthy life…”

Maturu thanked Canada for the additional financial support today.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was also in Ottawa in support for the Global Fund initiative.

Gates thanked Canada for its continued support and for hosting the upcoming conference in Montreal later this fall.

Harper government’s maternal health efforts praised

Under the previous Conservative government, Canada’s efforts on maternal health won praise from the international community including the World Health Organization which urged other countries to follow Canada’s lead.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper told the UN in 2014 that saving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable mothers and their children was not only a global priority, but an issue “closest to his heart.”

The new Liberal government announced in March that Canada would contribute $76 million to the United Nations Population Fund to increase access to maternal, newborn and reproductive health services in developing countries and add $5 million for contraceptive supplies.

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