“Uganda has sometimes been considered a success story in fighting HIV and has been a darling of international donors,” including the U.S., which “has poured over $1 billion into the country for AIDS programs. But throughout Uganda there are people â€¦ who are passed over, denied treatment, or simply invisible to the country’s HIV prevention and treatment programs. Groups such as gay men, migrants, drug users, sex workers, and people with disabilities, as well as prisoners, are commonly left out,” Kathryn Todrys, a researcher with Human Rights Watch writes in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog.
Access to Health Services
With the new knowledge that providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to people living with HIV “contribut[es] to a sharp slowdown in the spread of the virus,” “scaling up treatment now may prove to be the least expensive option if we want to bring this deadly pandemic, which still infects 1.8 million people every year, under control,” Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”
“Children of depressed mothers in developing countries are 40 percent more likely to be underweight or stunted than those with mothers in good mental health,” according to a report published in the August edition of the WHO Bulletin, Reuters reports. “The analysis was based on 17 studies of nearly 14,000 mothers and their small children carried out in Africa, Asia, and South America and the Caribbean,” according to the news agency.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece that “amid all the good news” about HIV prevention recently presented at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, “one stubborn fact was hard to ignore: AIDS remains a metaphor for inequality.” With discrepancies in access to HIV treatment and prevention between developed and developing countries, “[i]t is hard not to conclude from all this that life is not valued equally across the world. This is morally wrong and unacceptable,” he writes.
The Wall Street Journal and the newspaper’s “India Real Time” blog published stories on Saturday examining India’s health care system. “Indian government officials say the country’s public health infrastructure is sorely deficient, but they argue it is improving because of several initiatives underway,” the blog reports. “They acknowledge the government has spent too little â€“ around 1 percent of gross domestic product â€“ on public health. But they say India will likely double that proportion to at least 2 percent in the five-year plan beginning in 2012,” the blog notes (Anand/Sahni/Sharma, 7/30).
“The first field trial for a ‘lab on a chip’ accurately detected both HIV and syphilis among a Rwandan population, researchers reported Sunday” in an online report published by Nature Medicine, the Washington Post reports (Torres, 7/31).
“Half of the 340,000 deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes each year occur in Africa, almost all in anonymity,” the New York Times writes in an article profiling several cases of women who have died during childbirth in Ugandan hospitals.
In a guest post on the GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, describes the Malawian government’s “plans to launch a ‘test and treat’ program in which all HIV-infected pregnant women will immediately be put on antiretroviral treatment (ART) drugs for life.” But she adds that “[t]he growing political and economic crisis in Malawi, highlighted by the government’s use of force against peaceful demonstrators last week, could also imperil the groundbreaking expansion of Malawi’s national HIV/AIDS program.”
More than 3,000 demonstrators gathered across Swaziland on Thursday for a second day of protests over the king’s handling of an economic crisis that they say is causing a shortage of medical supplies, including antiretroviral therapy (ART), the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (7/28).
In her latest piece on the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, author and journalist Tina Rosenberg argues that the terms of Gilead’s recent agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool is “confirmation of a dangerous new trend: middle-income countries as a target market for drug makers.” “The new strategy is to treat people in Egypt, Paraguay, Turkmenistan or China â€“ middle-income countries, all â€“ as if they or their governments could pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year each for AIDS drugs. This low-volume high-profit strategy might make business sense. But in terms of the war against AIDS, it means surrender,” she writes.