Why GGML Kili Challenge 1.6bn/- fund vital in HIV fight

Fear, stigma and ignorance. That is what defined the HIV epidemic that raged through the world in the 1980s, killing thousands of people who may only have had a few weeks or months from diagnosis to death – if they even managed to be diagnosed before they died.

But with a new dawn in science, there have been unprecedented expansion of access to HIV treatment in the early 2010s including the launch of the “90-90-90” approach as target to galvanise further action.

By 2020, the targets were that: 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will achieve viral suppression.

To support the goal in Tanzania, last week a total of 700,000 US dollar (about 1.6bn/-) was fundraised in Dar es Salaam to support the government’s efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In the campaign engineered by Geita Gold Mining Ltd (GGM) in collaboration with the Tanzania AIDS Control Commission (TACAIDS) dubbed GGML Kili Challenge, this year’s drive as usual would involve climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on 14th July to 20th July to raise 2.3bn/-.

At the start, former President Jakaya Kikwete launch gala of GGML in collaboration with TACAIDS in Dar es Salaam, where he commended them for supporting the government to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.

Adding: “To the management of GGML…keep up promoting the GGM Kili Challenge as well as working with various ambassadors and celebrities to raise funds to fight the scourge.”

Elaborating, he noted that the government alone cannot eradicate HIV/AIDS, and hence, require the support of other stakeholders to ensure that there were no more deaths caused by the disease by 2030 as per the targets.

“We have come a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS and have managed to reduce the number of annual HIV-related deaths from 72,000 in 2016 to 54,000 in 2021.

“The problem is still big and the most important thing is that the money raised through the GGM Kili Challenge should reach the intended beneficiaries,” he pointed out. In response, GGML Executive Director, Terry Strong thanked the government for supporting the campaign, adding that it has now become an international fund.

He said that the GGML has received support that has enabled it to involve climbers and cyclists from about 20 countries from different continents volunteering to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to encourage donations from the public that will go towards the HIV and AIDs response fund.

On his part, AngloGold Ashanti’s Vice-President of Sustainability in Ghana and Tanzania, Simon Shayo said various groups have benefited from the campaign, including the establishment of an orphanage center called Moyo wa Huruma in Geita, which also cares for other vulnerable children.

FORMER President Jakaya Kikwete (centre) and Deputy Minister, Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament and Coordination), Ummy Hamis Nderiananga handover 100m/- cheque of GGM Kili Challenge Campaign to Trust Fund to control AIDS -ATF Chairperson, Caroline Mdundo (third left) in Dar es Salaam, recently. Presiding over are Permanent Secretary in Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Policy, Parliamentary Affairs and Coordination, Dr Jim Yonazi (second right), Vice-President of AngloGold Ashanti- GGML who handles sustainable projects in Ghana and Tanzania, Simon Shayo (left) and the CEO of GGML, Terry Strong among others.

He added: “The first group of children who grew up at the centre are now studying at university, including two who are studying medical subjects.”

He said the campaign has also enabled the establishment of HIV awareness centres in high-risk areas such as Manyoni and Segera, where lorry drivers also benefit from the awareness programmes.

“Whatever you donate or have donated today will help achieve three zeros, which means zero infections, zero stigma and zero deaths from HIV,” he said.

Executive Director of TACAIDS, Dr Leonard Maboko, said the money collected will be disbursed to private institutions engaged in the fight against HIV.

He cited a case study from the 2019/2020 financial year, where 550m/- was distributed to 20 organisations, including eight led by people living with HIV.

According to him, the fight against HIV needs more support from locals, especially at this time when foreign donations are declining

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