June 2019 conference call – The Global Fund’s Vital Work

This month we were joined by Resty Nalwanga from Uganda. Resty became an advocate for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria after she started receiving treatment for HIV and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), and currently works as a sexual and reproductive health and rights officer at the Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV & AIDS. After the usual updates from the network, Resty spoke to us about her lived experience of the diseases, the situation in Uganda more broadly, and gave us her take on what action is needed there. 

The Global Fund provides HIV treatment to 780,000 people in Uganda, about half of all people living with HIV in the country, and has detected and treated 248,000 cases of tuberculosis. But still, there is a long way to go when it comes to accessing treatment and educating people on these diseases. Resty told us that many Ugandan politicians are in denial about the extent of the epidemics, especially TB, and aren’t in touch with what’s happening in their own communities. Although it was sad to hear about their lack of interest, she made a passionate case for educating them on the reality of living with these diseases and “showing them what their money is doing”. 

“Lift them and lift them high”

Resty’s message to us was simple: people living with HIV, TB and malaria have a story to tell, and they must be empowered to tell it in order to affect change. Resty talked us through her personal journey of overcoming abuse and discrimination, driven by her desire to prove everyone who had doubted her wrong. By volunteering in health centres she gradually gained the confidence to become an advocate and insists on bringing other people, especially young women, with her; “If Resty can do anything, you can do anything”. I know the word ‘inspirational’ is a grossly overused, and I don’t use it lightly here to describe her story.

Listen to the full recording on Soundcloud

Links mentioned on, or relevant to the call:
June’s Global Fund action
GFAN speaker’s bureau
Corrine from the Stort Valley group’s highlight from the National Conference, hearing from Abha Thorat-Shah from the British Asian Trust
Brick by brick full report and blog
Rory Stewart in speaker’s corner last week, on the aid budget and his vision for the department
Global Fund Uganda profile