A great thing happened in Africa civil society circles in 2009 with the formation of CISPHA – the Civil Society Platform for Health in Africa. In seven short years, the group has covered a lot of ground, uniting many civil society organizations working in global health in Africa, demanding a space at the table, and articulating issues that nudge governments and other authorities to do more for the health of the people of the continent.

With remarkable experience forged in the trenches of global health advocacy, CISPHA has spent the last year firmly focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched in New York in September 2015.

The framing of the SDGs was greatly successful in its eloquent capturing of the fact that all issues of development are interconnected.  While CISPHA has chosen to focus its work on SDG3 – ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages – it recognizes that to attain that goal there are many other fundamental factors covered in other SDGs that must come to play. Issues of poverty, education, gender equality, human rights, climate change, among others. As such, CISPHA seeks to build broader and richer partnerships for development.

In 2016, CISPHA focused much of its energy on GFAN Africa in supporting the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – a partnership that has saved more than 20 million lives in the last 15 years of its operations. CISPHA regards the Global Fund as one of the most successful partnerships for development.

In 2016, the Global Fund held its replenishment to raise US$ 13 billion to accelerate the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and to build resilient and sustainable systems for health. A strong Fifth Replenishment for the Global Fund’s was one of CISPHA’s top objectives in 2016. The network lobbied and advocated for more support for the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, reminding governments of the impressive gains made against these diseases because of the work of the Global Fund partnership. It was time to accelerate that progress and end these diseases for good. CISPHA also mapped out reasons why the gains were fragile and why the world could not stop investing in the Global Fund.

It was exciting when we gathered in Montreal in September — in a meeting hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to see partners raise US$ 12.91 billion for the Global Fund. The amount raised — nearly meeting the US$ 13 billion goal — was the biggest commitment of funds to fight diseases in history. It was a remarkable feat especially in a time of many competing global priorities.

The African civil societies were especially gratified by the fact that for the first time African countries were front and center in galvanizing the world to invest more in the Global Fund. Beyond calling on the world to commit more resources to the Global Fund, African countries also made strong pledges themselves. Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, and Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa each made their contributions. The money raised will save 8 million lives, avert 300 million infections – most of them in Africa – and help build resilient and sustainable systems for health.

For CISPHA, which has committed itself to calling on Africa to invest more in the health of its people, this was a remarkable achievement. Nevertheless, we are not there yet. CISPHA now calls on African governments to commit more of their annual expenditures to health as demanded by Africa Scorecard on Domestic Financing for Health launched in July this year.

For now, CISPHA is thankful for the remarkable achievement in raising funds for the Global Fund, now expected to go beyond the US$ 13 billion. Above all, CISPHA is tremendously thankful for the strong showing of African countries in the Replenishment. For every, civil society group or partner that advocated to make this possible we thank you. We are looking forward to more such successes in 2017 and beyond.

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