The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Wednesday said an investigation by the group’s Inspector General into grants in Cambodia “uncovered credible and substantive evidence of serious financial wrongdoing, on procurement and other issues,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/15). In a statement, the organization said, “Immediate action has been taken to protect the health of people supported by Global Fund grants in Cambodia, by adopting safeguards in procurement, financing and management” and added it “is committed to maintaining its grants in Cambodia and to expanding safeguards to protect its investments.” The statement adds, “An investigation report by the Office of the Inspector General is being finalized, and is expected to be publicly released once it is completed in the coming weeks” (11/14). According to AFP, “The mismanaged money amounts to under $1 million and was allocated to Cambodian officials to spend on anti-malaria programs, said a source with knowledge of the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity” (11/15).
Access to Health Services
USAID Announces Awards To 7 Universities To Help Innovate, Design Low-Cost Solutions To Health, Poverty, Conflict
“In a further move to bolster the role of science and technology in foreign aid, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) [on Thursday] announced major awards at seven universities in the United States and abroad to support ‘development labs’ that will design innovative, low-cost approaches to improving health and reducing poverty and conflicts,” ScienceInsider reports. The new program, called the Higher Education Solutions Network, is set to provide up to $130 million over five years, with the universities expected to provide at least a 60 percent match, according to the news service, which notes, “Each of the seven institutions will receive grants of up to $5 million a year for projects aimed at developing useful technologies” (Stokstad, 11/8).
In a post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan and Heather Lanthorn from the CGD examine the controversy surrounding the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), writing, “No doubt, the debate on the AMFm has devolved into bickering and accusations from many sides. But the overstated rhetoric obscures genuine differences of opinion on how best to move forward with an evidence-based decision-making process, and what counts as ‘evidence’ sufficient to approve, modify, or scrap the program.” They continue, “Evidence needs to be at the core of these discussions. Ultimately, all malaria advocates share the same goal: to reduce the burden of malaria and the burden it places on human and economic development” (11/8).
The New York Times’ “India Ink” blog examines how “a growing number of ‘affordable health care’ entrepreneurs are focused on developing new solutions for the rural and remote parts of the country.” According to the blog, “Across India, access to health care remains a pressing problem, exacerbated by the country’s large population and shortage of doctors. Nowhere is this challenge more acute than in rural India, which is experiencing a severe shortage of qualified health care practitioners.” But one pilot program in Tamil Nadu is training and certifying traditional medical doctors “to serve as ‘independent care providers’ in a rural setting,” the blog states, noting the program was developed in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Lavakare, 11/29).
“HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age,” and without HIV, “maternal mortality worldwide would be 20 percent lower,” Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the Board of the TB ACTION Group, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. She says that women “often face barriers accessing HIV treatment and care,” adding she recently “was struck with the significant role the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] has played in reducing women’s barriers to treatment.”
Recognizing World AIDS Day is December 1, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe David Bruce Wharton writes in a Herald opinion piece, “Ending AIDS is a shared responsibility. … Everyone has a role to play — government leaders, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society, media, faith-based organizations, and each one of us.” Noting the U.S. has invested nearly $300 million in the fight against HIV in Zimbabwe since 2000 and plans to contribute $92 million more to the country through PEPFAR over the next year, Wharton says, “Through PEPFAR, the United States is working closely with Zimbabwe to build the country’s capacity to lead an effective national response” and increase “country ownership.”
Leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1, the AIDS.gov blog published several pieces discussing progress in reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation. The pieces are summarized below.
In the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, writer Marianne Schnall interviews Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “about why she considers family planning such a vital issue, how she views the role of philanthropy, her excitement over a new crowdfunding platform she helped launch called Catapult, and the many ways she says giving has enriched her life.” Schnall writes, “Controversy over reproductive rights has been at the forefront of our national conversation, but philanthropist Melinda Gates would like to take the controversy out and transform the narrative into a global one through education and advocacy.”
Advocates In Sri Lanka Call For Change To Laws That Criminalize, Stigmatize Sex Work, Same-Sex Relationships
“Sri Lanka has long enjoyed a low 0.1 percent HIV prevalence but, as the number of fresh infections rises steadily, experts are calling for a change in the country’s archaic laws that make sex work illegal and criminalizes homosexual activity,” Inter Press Service reports. “In the first quarter of the current year there were 40 new cases of HIV compared to 32 and 27 in the first quarters of 2011 and 2010 respectively, according to the National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP),” the news service notes, adding “an estimated 41,000 commercial sex workers (CSWs) and 30,000 men who have sex with men (MSMs)” live in Sri Lanka. “‘In the past two years new infections are seen to be rising among those below 24 years, and 50 percent of them are MSMs,’ says NSACP director Nimal Edirisinghe,” IPS writes.
“A year after independence, South Sudan is still battling a lack of staff and resources as it tries to end its distinction of having the highest maternal mortality rate in the world,” VOA News reports. “[M]ore than 90 percent of births in South Sudan happen without the help of a skilled birth attendant, and more than 2,000 women die for every 100,000 live births,” the news service notes, adding, “This makes South Sudan one of the most dangerous places in the world to have a baby.”