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Simplistic Reacivity of Advocacy
Advocacy groups often mislead us to thinking that dollars alone will fix the problems. We have already seen for the last 15 years that this is not so, but they continue, as this e-mail (received 9/30/10) indicates:
Ten years ago, world leaders came together to make commitments to address poverty in developing countries, including to halt and begin to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. They pledged to achieve these goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by 2015. Ten years later, how do you think we're doing? Right now, government officials are debating this question, in anticipation of the UN General Assembly High Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs in late September. They'll go back and forth with draft upon draft of a document stating where we are, and where we need to go, to reach the MDGs. *The thing is that we don't need countless drafts of a document to end AIDS. We know how to do it. It's as simple as full funding (emhasis added) to achieve universal access to evidence-based prevention, treatment and care.*
HIV is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide, and that it contributes an additional 62,000 maternal deaths annually; in Eastern and Southern Africa in particular, the epidemic of untreated HIV among pregnant women means the goals around child and maternal health won't be reached without universal access to AIDS treatment. So it is critical that the US invest in fighting HIV around the world. *Can you call Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today and ask her to use the MDG Summit to announce a plan for achieving universal access to AIDS treatment? *I just called, and it couldn't be easier! You can reach her office directly at 202-647-5291. When you call, you can leave a message that says: "My name is ______ and I'm calling from ________. I would like Secretary Clinton to use the Millennium Development Goals Summit in late September to announce a plan to achieve universal access to AIDS treatment, including a pledge of $6 billion over the next three years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria from the US. The US has committed multiple times to achieving this goal by 2010, but still only 30% of people have access to life-saving AIDS treatment. The MDG summit is a chance for the US to recommit to ending AIDS." Once you've called, let us know how your call went!"
This kind of advocacy is not educational at all. Notice that the "*" does not lead to more information, but to a scripted message Nor does it acknowledge the complexity of the issues. It claims to "know" what to do, but based on what evidence? All we have to go on is what got us here, and that's not good enough. Short-term results do not mean long-term sustainability. Where is the call to get tested as well? I do think there is a place for this kind of advocacy, but it has to really follow transformational community work, otherwise we will just need more dollars next year.