Efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015 got a boost from The Coca-Cola Company recently when it committed $5 million to the cause. The money is part of a multiyear partnership with (RED) and The Global Fund to deliver medicine and information. This initiative complements an existing program between Coca-Cola and The Global Fund to strengthen health systems in Africa and ensure that medicines get to where they're really needed.
According to Avert.org, mother-to-child transmission occurs when an HIV-infected woman passes the virus to her baby, which can occur during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding. In countries with high incomes, it has been virtually eliminated by voluntary testing, counseling, access to antiviral drugs, safe delivery practices and availability of safe breast milk substitutes. Such interventions in developing countries could save the lives of thousands of children each year.
Over the next four years, as part of this $5 million commitment, The Coca-Cola Company will donate $3 million directly to The Global Fund to purchase anti-retroviral medicine and distribute literature. The Company will also fund marketing awareness campaigns activated through global Coca-Cola music initiatives and programs.
"It's encouraging to think that we could witness an AIDS-free generation during our lifetime," says Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. "We're proud to help this effort and believe it complements the current work we're doing in many parts of the world to educate and prevent HIV/AIDS as well as provide support to people affected by this preventable and treatable disease."
The Coca-Cola Company operates in 206 countries and employs nearly 70,000 people in Africa, which is home to more than 60 percent of the world's HIV-infected population, according to The World Factbook, maintained by the CIA. Sub-Saharan Africa carries the greatest burden of the epidemic.
Tapping Into Coca-Cola’s Expertise
This new initiative goes hand-in-hand with the work The Coca-Cola Company and The Global Fund have already partnered on in Africa.
Dr. Christoph Benn, director of resource mobilization at The Global Fund has asked, “Why is it that in every single village in the most remote, rural areas in Africa you can always find a bottle of Coca-Cola and you may not find the essential medicines?"
The answer is that Coca-Cola has expertise in distribution that other organizations and governments simply don’t have. Which is why the two organizations are leveraging insights from the Coca-Cola supply chain and route-to-market system to improve access to critical medicines.
Here is a video explaining more about this program in Tanzania.
More Work To Be Done
Despite advances in awareness, diagnosis and treatment in the past decades, 34 million people worldwide have HIV. Approximately 50 percent are women. Children living with HIV/AIDS in 2010 was estimated at 3.4 million; the number of children newly infected with HIV in 2010 was 390,000. AIDS deaths in 2010 were 1.8 million.
To learn more about Coca-Cola's efforts to fight AIDS, go to http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/citizenship/hiv_aids.html.