Two decades ago, the world was in crisis dealing with diseases that know no borders: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria.

But the world fought back. 

Enter The Global Fund: a worldwide movement to defeat HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. It was a breakthrough for humanity, proving that these three diseases can and will be beaten. Since then, The Global Fund has saved upwards of 50 million lives

But the fight is far from over. In 2020, for the first time in history, the COVID-19 pandemic caused declines in testing and treatment across all three diseases in the countries where The Global Fund invests — and deaths from malaria and TB increased for the first time in years, while disruptions in access to HIV testing are reported to have contributed to a 17% decline in new diagnoses.

Now, The Global Fund is calling for urgent support from world leaders including Canada, France, the UK, the European Union (EU), Denmark, and Norway to commit $18 billion and help save 20 million lives from these three devastating but preventable diseases. You can help take action to urge world leaders to make this happen by signing our petition here

To help highlight the reality behind these big numbers, we asked Global Citizens worldwide to tell us how these diseases had impacted their lives. These moving personal messages go to show why it’s imperative that world leaders act now to eradicate these deadly diseases. In the words of Karabo from South Africa: “Even though death is where we are all headed, it shouldn't be caused by something that could've been fixed.”

This is what Global Citizens told us. 

Juliet, Ghana

“My uncle, who was the breadwinner of the family, died from AIDS leaving his 5-year-old daughter infected. World leaders must act to stop this terrible disease for good.”

Andrew, Brazil

“These diseases are destroying lives. All over the world people are dying. It's only wise for every one of us to step up and do what we can to put a stop to these illnesses, including world leaders. What affects one of us, affects all of us.”

Maka, South Africa

“My grandmother, who has always been one of my role models, died from AIDS when I was 10. Watching her get sicker and sicker was difficult. She is not the only person with AIDS in my family and I don't want to lose anyone else when there are resources available to save them.”

Leo, France

“This is not about fighting for your own country but for the world and the health of the world. No one deserves to be denied treatment because of where they are born.”

Anonymous Global Citizen, Malawi

“I have come across situations where pregnant mothers are easily affected by malaria, and situations where people with AIDS are refused opportunities to work, learn, or even do business. If leaders tackle these diseases they will help save lives and beat stigma so that people can live freely.”

Riviere, Côte d'Ivoire

“The African continent is affected by malaria and my country, Côte d'Ivoire, is no exception. I had malaria when I was younger, and it weakened me, preventing me from going to school. With prevention and treatment now possible, it is heartening to see the mortality rate falling. But what about from 2022 to 2030? I call on leaders to act now to save lives.”

Sserwadda, Germany

“Many of my relatives have been lost to TB and AIDS. I absolutely understand what it feels like and means to lose your loved ones. World leaders have the power to take action. It's more than urgent to have their attention and efforts directed towards defeating these deadly diseases before more of our relatives, family, and friends have their lives taken from them.”

Anonymous Global Citizen, Ghana

“My grandma was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2010. I saw her struggle through the disease up until the last day. I wouldn’t wish that for anyone else. I have also seen how malaria claims lives. The world will definitely be a much better place without these terrible illnesses.”

Karabo, South Africa

“Personally, losing a family member to TB has been tragic. Even though death is where we are all headed, it shouldn't be caused by something that could've been fixed.”

Mehul, India

“Many people in my city are affected by malaria, especially during monsoons. Leaders need to ensure better hygiene and prevent swamps and stagnant water that become breeding grounds for disease-causing mosquitoes.”

Philip, Ghana

"In Asenema, a small village in the Eastern Region of Ghana, my little brother had a severe case of malaria, and part of my school fees had to be allocated to the local doctor who was treating him. This made me miss school for a whole half a term.”

Amos, Nigeria

“I cannot forget the death of my younger brother due to complications from TB in 2009. If our world leaders were proactive enough, such needless death could have been prevented. There's an urgent need for world leaders to fund health care, especially for the most vulnerable.”

Florence, Kenya

“Malaria has taken our loved ones away from us for good, even our child under five years old. It’s a disease that kills within 24 hours. Leaders must help ensure we can sleep with our young ones inside a treated mosquito net, and that we can live in a clean environment where there's no stagnant water around.”

Victor, Brazil

“TB is an epidemic in my whole country. People still die from it, and even though there are effective treatments that exist we don’t see them. There is too little information and too much poverty.”

Christelle, Ghana

“It is sad to know that despite the advancement in technology, people still die from malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. My sister was affected by tuberculosis and even though her treatment was free, the pills often ran out. It's not fair. Governments should make treatment for these diseases free for everyone.”

Khanyisa, South Africa

“Seven of my family members are no longer with us because of HIV. Five children were left orphaned because of HIV. Our family line has been changed by this disease, forever.”

Sanya, Uganda

“For a safer world, we need a life free from AIDS, a life free from TB, and a life free from Malaria. So let's fight together as one, holding on to one another's shoulders. As Global Citizens, let our candles show a lighter life.” 

Global Citizen Festival is calling on  world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before to End Extreme Poverty NOW. Through our global campaign and with stages in two iconic locations — NYC’s Central Park and Accra’s Black Star Square — we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizens around the world on Sept. 24 to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates. Wherever you are in the world, you can join the campaign and take action right now by downloading the Global Citizen app.

Global Citizen Asks

Defeat Poverty

Why Must World Leaders Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria? We Asked Global Citizens.

By Tess Lowery