“Urbanization leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services, UNICEF warns in ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World,'” released on Tuesday, the agency reports in a press release (2/28). “Children in slums and poor urban communities lack access to clean water, sanitation and education, as services struggle to keep up with fast urban growth, says” the agency’s flagship report, according to AlertNet (Caspani, 2/28). The report “calls attention to the lack of data on conditions in slums, particularly as it relates to children, and it calls for a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding poverty and inequality in cities and increased political will to improve the lives of the most marginalized,” UNICEF writes in an accompanying article (2/28).
Access to Health Services
U.S. Funding To Address Basic Health In Ghana ‘Noble’ But Improving Access To Health Care Still Imperative
A joint agreement recently signed by the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the U.S. Government’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) to carry out collaborative initiatives targeted at “bringing quality health care to Ugandans” is “a significant effort that should, with proper implementation, improve health care services, particularly by reducing pregnancy-related deaths,” a Daily Monitor editorial states.
“Cash-strapped Swaziland is struggling to fund its HIV programs, and experts are warning of long-term damage to treatment and prevention schemes if steps are not taken to ring-fence funding and supplies,” the Mail & Guardian reports. About 200,000 people are living with HIV in Swaziland, nearly one quarter of the population, the newspaper notes, adding, “Until now the government has done well in terms of providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment — achieving 78 percent coverage, just under the World Health Organization’s ‘universal coverage’ rate of 80 percent. But there are fears that uncertainty about funding streams and weak supply-chain management could result in a reversal of this progress.” The article discusses funding from the government, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; antiretroviral drug and testing supply problems; and the epidemic’s effect on children and life expectancy in the country (Redvers, 2/27).
A new project developed and launched by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) aims “to address the debilitating effects of neglected tropical diseases [NTDs] in Ghana,” the Global Network for NTDs’ “End the Neglect” blog reports. The primary objective of the project, called “End in Africa — Ghana and 2012 MDAs for NTDs,” is to implement mass drug administration (MDA) to treat NTDs and clinical management of the diseases across Ghana, the blog notes, adding that the “initiative will also provide public health education to all targeted endemic NTD communities” (2/24).
In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Living” blog, Mannasseh Phiri, PSI’s country representative in Zambia, examines HIV/AIDS in Zambian prisons. Phiri reports the findings of a survey recently conducted by the IN BUT FREE (IBF) Prisons Project “to determine the extent and magnitude of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Zambia’s prisons.” He concludes, “The high prevalence of HIV in our prisons cannot and should not be ignored. We cannot hope to be able to tackle our HIV epidemic in Zambian society outside of the prisons, unless we face up to the reality of the HIV epidemic inside the prisons” (2/24).
In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, Benoy Peter, senior manager for knowledge management at Project Connect in India, reports that the government of India will cover HIV care under insurance in the country beginning in October 2012. Peter recounts the advocacy efforts that went into convincing the Indian government to make the change and writes, “We are excited about the maiden policy change facilitated by PSI/India. Much deserved credit goes to [the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO)], USAID, our partners and a few activists who enlightened by our conference did their parallel lobbying” (2/22).
In this post in the Results for Development Institute’s “Center for Global Health R&D Policy Assessment” blog, Project Director Jean Arkedis and Program Associate Edith Han interview Megumi Gordon, deputy director for malaria at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), “to take an exclusive look into the [Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm)] and its innovative mechanism to increase access to antimalarials.” Megumi discusses “AMFm’s current status, early lessons, and the latest in the ongoing — and sometimes contentious — debate about whether to subsidize [artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)] in the private sector” (2/22).
Trade Officials, Public Health Advocates To Discuss Intellectual Property, Access To Medicines At Open Hearing
“The U.S. government has an unfortunate history of pressuring low- and middle-income countries to observe strong intellectual property protection on medicines …, block[ing] access to generics in countries unable to afford expensive brand name drugs sold by American drug companies,” a post on infojustice.org reports. “[Thursday], trade officials will hear from public…
“More than seven months overdue, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant will finally be released to key South African AIDS organizations that have been struggling to survive,” PlusNews writes, adding, “Some were on the verge of shutting down.” According to the news service, “The Global Fund released US$7,106,426.91 to the South African National Treasury on February 6, the same day seven of the grant’s sub-recipients delivered an open letter to Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, pleading for intervention.”
This post in the UHC Forward blog describes the second meeting of the Universal Health Coverage Roundtable Series, “Toward Sustainable Universal Health Coverage,” which was hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City on February 9. The panelists “examined the possibilities, challenges, and paths toward achieving Universal Health Coverage in different resource settings by exploring the methods for expanding and supporting coverage worldwide” and discussed issues such as how to define UHC, the importance of quality in health care, improving cost-effectiveness, and how to increase utilization of existing services, according to the blog (Wellington, 2/20).