In response “to an urgent appeal from the WHO,” Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said on Monday that the country’s government is releasing $143 million “in frozen funds from Moammar Qaddafi’s regime and sending the money to the World Health Organization to buy medicine for the Libyan population,” according to Associated Press/Forbes. “Rosenthal said Monday he was able to free up the money only after [the] United Nations approved the plan, which will see medicines distributed to civilians in towns and cities held by both rebels and forces loyal to Qaddafi,” the AP writes (8/15).
Access to Health Services
The East African profiles Seth Berkley, the new CEO of the GAVI Alliance and founder and former CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. “‘In my time at GAVI, I would like to see the vision of polio eradication and measles elimination come to pass. We want all the existing childhood immunizations and new generation vaccines, including those for malaria, TB and HIV, to be available to all children that need them,’ Dr. Berkley said,” the newspaper writes (Mwangi, 8/14).
“A shortage of health facilities and health workers, frequent drug shortages and a weak government policy mean HIV-positive pregnant women in Burundi often give birth without taking any precautions to prevent transmission of the virus to their children,” PlusNews reports.
The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) on Saturday endorsed a new National Health Council policy to expand the country’s AIDS program “to allow people living with HIV to start antiretroviral [ARV] treatment earlier” by raising the CD4 count necessary to access treatment from 200 to 350, Agence France-Presse reports (8/14). Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi “said the plan would be integrated into the proposed National Health Insurance system,” SAPA/News24 writes (8/13).
“This week the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launches a global campaign â€“ ‘It’s a matter of life and death’ â€“ which aims to improve security and delivery of effective and impartial health care in situations of armed conflict and other contexts of widespread violence,” Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the British Medical Association, writes in a BMJ editorial.
“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.
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).