Stephen Lewis Challenges Donors to Match $1m Pledge to TAC

The Stephen Lewis Foundation today challenged donors to match its pledge of a one million dollar donation to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). The pledge was announced by the Canadian politician, diplomat, broadcaster and leading activist in the global response to AIDS, Stephen Lewis. This was announced at a press conference in Toronto, Canada on Friday morning. It forms part of a concerted effort to ensure TAC’s sustainability for the next five years.

TAC welcomes and thanks Stephen Lewis and the Stephen Lewis Foundation for this unprecedented pledge. We are thankful for the trust the organisation shows in TAC and for the recognition that AIDS is not over. “We are very grateful for the confidence our friends in Canada have shown in our ability to continue the struggle against HIV and TB,” said Anele Yawa, General Secretary of the TAC. “There is a lot of urgent work to be done to save lives and to make progress against these epidemics.”

The pledge comes at a time when the global response to HIV is threatening to unravel, as governments and donors fail to provide the levels of funding and political will required to bring an end to AIDS. It also comes shortly before the International AIDS Conference, which will return to Durban in July 2016. This comes 16 years after the 2000 conference, which was widely recognised as a turning point in the global AIDS response.

“We appeal to donors to take up the challenge from Stephen Lewis and to match the $1m pledge. We especially call on local donors and local business to find ways to support TAC. We must own our epidemic,” says Yawa. “If donors heed our call then we will be in a position to focus all of our energies on the work at hand. We will be ready to make the 2016 AIDS conference another turning point in the AIDS response just as we did in 2000. We will ensure that the conference is not just a talking-shop about the end of AIDS, but a reality check of what it will take to bring about an end to AIDS in dysfunctional healthcare systems and an atmosphere of austerity.”

The pledge provides recognition of the ongoing importance of TAC’s work in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and the dysfunction across various provincial healthcare systems in South Africa. Even though TAC has gone through a difficult time financially, the work has continued and TAC still has 180 branches and over 8,000 paid up members across South Africa. TAC is keeping the pressure on the severe dysfunction and mismanagement in the Free State healthcare system, on stockouts of essential medicines across South Africa, on the poor state of emergency medical services in the Eastern Cape, and much more in the seven provinces where it is active.

The pledge from the Stephen Lewis Foundation is for ‘core funding’, which means that TAC does not have to spend the funds on specific programmes or budget lines. Such unrestricted funding is extremely valuable given that it can be spent where it is most needed. As with all funds though, TAC will account for every Rand spent.

“Our struggle against AIDS, TB and collapsing healthcare services in South Africa is far from over,” says Yawa. “We appeal to donors out there to match this pledge so that we can turn all our attention to the real and urgent work ahead of us.”

Read the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s media statement here.


  • For media comment, please contact TAC’s General Secretary, Anele Yawa, on 079 328 1215.

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