“The Global Fund’s drive to ensure sustainability and efficiency means that it may not be able to meet its commitments to combat disease, says Laurie Garrett,” a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, in Nature’s “World View” column. Citing his resignation letter, Garrett discusses the “the political struggle” that led Michel Kazatchkine to step down as executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last week and writes, “It is a classic battle of titans, pitting urgency against long-term sustainability. … Kazatchkine essentially conceded victory to the forces for sustainability.”
Access to Health Services
Pharmaceutical company heads and global health leaders gathered at a conference on Monday in London to announce the formation of a large public-private partnership to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and endorse the “London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases” (.pdf), in which they pledged to work together and track progress. The following is a summary of two opinion pieces and a blog post in response to the news.
“Hundreds of HIV-positive Kenyans protested outside the European Union’s Nairobi office on Monday, accusing the E.U. of causing unnecessary deaths by cutting funding to” the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, AlertNet reports. Late last year, the Global Fund announced it would not hold a new round of grants until 2014, the news service notes, adding, “The demonstrators called on the Global Fund to hold an emergency donor conference to raise $2 billion so developing countries can apply for grants this year” (Migiro, 1/30). Though no new grants will be awarded before 2014, the Global Fund “has set up what it calls a ‘transitional funding mechanism,’ which covers the continuation of essential services” of existing grants, VOA News writes (Majtenyi, 1/30).
Speaking on Saturday at the African Union Summit, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said huge advances in HIV treatment and prevention have been made over the past decade in Africa, “[b]ut these gains ‘are not sustainable,’ … because they are heavily dependent on foreign aid,” the Zimbabwean reports (1/30). “An estimated two-thirds of AIDS expenditures in Africa come from international funding sources, according to a new UNAIDS issues brief titled “AIDS dependency crisis: sourcing African solutions” (.pdf), Xinhua writes (1/29).
In this post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Christina Lau, USAID health officer for Central Asia, discusses tackling tuberculosis (TB) in migrant populations, writing, “Most migrants are unable to access the health care system because they are undocumented laborers, who lack proper identification documents required for health care treatment, and who fear deportation if their documentation status becomes known.” She notes, “USAID is working in coalition with government and international partners in order to improve access to TB services and treatment for this crucial population” (1/26).
IRIN reports that Cote d’Ivoire is abandoning its free health care for all scheme after a period of nine months, noting, “Theft, poor management and rising costs have made the service — introduced by President Alassane Ouattara’s government at the end of civil conflict to ease a dire public health situation — unaffordable.” According to the news service, “As of February, the free service will only be available to mothers and their children,” meaning “free care for deliveries and free treatment for diseases affecting children under six years old.”
“Eighty-six percent of HIV-positive people in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] have no access to antiretrovirals, medical charity Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday,” calling the “conditions of access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS … catastrophic,” Agence France-Presse reports (1/25). Approximately 15,000 people living with HIV in the DRC “likely will die waiting for lifesaving drugs in the next three years,” the organization, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said, the Associated Press reports. A statement from the organization “called for Congo’s government to meet its commitment to provide free treatment to people living with HIV and AIDS, and for donors to immediately mobilize resources ‘to ensure that patients waiting for ARV treatment are not condemned to die,'” according to the AP. Of an estimated 350,000 people in need of antiretroviral treatment, only 44,000 are receiving therapy, the AP notes (Mwanamilongo, 1/25).
“There would be more than 4.4 million more people in South Africa if it were not for the AIDS pandemic, according to a survey released on Monday” by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), SAPA/News 24 reports (1/23). Without AIDS-related deaths, the population would have been 55 million today, instead of 50.6 million, where it currently stands, and “[b]y 2040 the population would have reached 77.5 million — a whopping 24 million people more than is currently projected,” according to the study, GlobalPost notes (Conway-Smith, 1/23). “The survey is based on data sourced from the Actuarial Society of South Africa and the Institute for Futures Research,” SAPA/News 24 writes (1/23).
“Thirty years after AIDS made its deadly debut, a future without the disease is finally within reach,” a Boston Globe editorial states, adding, “But just as science is on the verge of winning the battle, financial resources and political will are flagging.” The editorial details reductions in HIV spending, a Congressional stipulation that U.S. funds cannot be spent on needle-exchange programs, and new science showing how HIV treatment can help people living with the disease live longer and reduce the risk of them spreading the virus.
The Results for Development Institute has launched a new website on universal health coverage, UHC Forward, “that features news, events, and publications related to the global UHC movement,” an institute press release states (1/17). Visitors to the site can “stay informed of health coverage efforts in countries around the world, better understand how to translate available research into pragmatic action, apply an analytic eye to reform experiences, exchange ideas with others, and find links to additional resources,” according to the website (1/24).