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.”
Access to Health Services
“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).
In the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Prosperity Wonkcast,” Lawrence MacDonald this week interviews Amanda Glassman, a CGD research fellow and director of the center’s global health policy program. Glassman “offers four recommendations for how major health donors — mainly the GAVI Alliance and the Global Fund — could better-target aid to poor people,” including “dropping country-income thresholds as the main criteria for allocating global health funding”; “setting up regional pooled procurement or pricing mechanisms”; “building evidence-based priority-setting institutions”; and “establishing increased accountability mechanisms,” according to the blog (1/23).
This post in the Ministerial Leadership Initiative’s (MLI) “Leading Global Health” blog “is the fourth of a series of perspective pieces on country ownership from the ‘Advancing Country Ownership for Greater Results’ roundtable organized recently by MLI, a program of Aspen Global Health and Development.” “This fourth piece covers the comments made by several senior U.S. government officials,” including Ariel Pablos-MÃ©ndez, USAID assistant administrator; Katherine “Kemy” Monahan, deputy executive director of the Global Health Initiative (GHI); and Amie Batson, USAID deputy assistant administrator for global health (Donnelly, 1/20).
“A total of 28,000 people died of HIV/AIDS in China in 2011, and another 48,000 in the country were found newly infected by the virus, according to an official publication” released on Saturday by China’s Ministry of Health, UNAIDS, and the WHO, Xinhua/China Daily reports. “With about 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS nationwide, including 154,000 AIDS patients, the total infection rate of the country stands at 0.058 percent, the report said,” according to the news service. “The report added that more than 136,000 AIDS patients had received anti-virus treatments by September 2011, bringing the treatment coverage rate to 73.5 percent, an increase of 11.5 percentage points compared to 2009,” Xinhua writes (1/21).
Discussing the recent reports of so-called “totally drug-resistant” tuberculosis (TDR-TB) in India, journalist John Donnelly in this GlobalPost “Global Voices” blog entry writes, “Overall, the world is treating drug-resistant TB extraordinarily poorly, and that creates more and more cases of resistant TB that aren’t being cured.” Donnelly describes his experience in Peru, where he and photographer Riccardo Venturi recently traveled at the invitation of the Japanese company Otsuka Pharmaceutical and “met with local scientists, doctors and patients to explore the scope of the struggle to fight drug-resistant TB” (1/19).
Speaking at a media briefing in Geneva on Thursday, Sheila Tlou, UNAIDS director of the regional support team for Eastern and Southern Africa, said the region is making progress in scaling up access to prevention and treatment services, including behavior change and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs, the U.N. News Centre reports. “We have to now focus on making sure that we scale up voluntary medical male circumcision, behavior change, and all those [interventions] to make sure that we reduce infections,” she said, adding that improving access to treatment also is critical, according to the news service (1/19). “‘There has been quite a lot of progress since 1997 with a 25 percent reduction in new infections in our region,’ said Tlou,” Agence France-Presse notes (1/19).