Global Fund uses star power to help raise $13B to fight infectious diseases
Conference takes aim at HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in developing countries
U2 frontman and activist Bono praised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "personal commitment to equality" and Canada's support of global health initiatives during a keynote speech at a two-day summit held in Montreal to raise money to fight three deadly diseases in developing countries.
Money raised by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has had "extraordinary success" with saving 20 million lives since 2002 with antiviral drugs, but the fight is not over and there is a search for "leadership anywhere we can find it," Bono told the conference on Saturday.
"At a time when these kinds of multilateral initiatives are receiving so much chill, it's just great to see Canada leading on this. You've always been ahead of the curve in realizing we can do more if the international community works together."
Bono also noted Trudeau's comment on the opening day of the Global Fund conference that "poverty is sexist," as he urged help for the world's poorest women and children.
"You say it loud, And that is why I am here, and that is why I am your friend and a friend of Canada's," he said.
"In the past few years, I've spent a lot of time here and in Canada, rehearsing with U2, wandering around, indeed hitch-hiking on a few occasions. The more time I spend, the more I agree with my younger self — that world needs more Canada, the world needs more Canadas."
The conference has attracted a long list of wealthy donors and decision-makers — from Bill and Melinda Gates to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
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Gates, another keynote speaker, said the Global Fund will help save the lives of two million people this year alone.
The Canadian government has pledged $785 million to battle the three big infectious diseases for the 2017-19 funding period.
The conference is designed to show Canadian leadership on the international stage ahead of what is expected to be Trudeau's first address to the United Nations General Assembly next week.
"Over the next 15 years we must all work together to achieve the sustainable developing goals," the UN secretary general told the conference on Saturday.
Later Saturday, the Global Citizen concert supporting the cause will be held Montreal's Bell Centre, featuring Usher, Half Moon Run, Metric, Grimes and Charlotte Cardin.
With files from The Canadian Press