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Russian NGOs Fear Fate Of HIV Harm-Reduction Programs As Planned Exit Of Global Fund Occurs

The Moscow Times examines a potential shift in Russia’s public health priorities as programs funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria begin to phase out. “While the Global Fund’s eight-year presence in Russia was long expected to end, officials with regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) largely dependent on the group’s financing say the country is now turning its back on widely accepted harm-reduction strategies and will let independent HIV-prevention groups wither and die,” the newspaper writes.

Ensure Future For Global Fund Or ‘Forfeit’ Chance At ‘AIDS-Free Generation’

In this New York Times opinion piece, Paul Farmer, chair of the department of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-founder of Partners in Health, examines the importance of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as it faces a “serious financial shortfall,” writing, “Beyond AIDS, the Global Fund is currently the largest donor in the world for tuberculosis and malaria programs. … The question is not whether the Global Fund works, but how to ensure it keeps working for years to come.”

Media Outlets Examine Global Fund’s Future As It Enters Second Decade

The Guardian examines the future of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as it enters its second decade, writing, “Despite its staggering successes — including helping put 3.3 million people on AIDS treatment, 8.6 million on anti-tuberculosis treatment and providing 230 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria — the fund’s recent troubles had threatened to overshadow its accomplishments as it prepared to mark a decade as the world’s main financier of programs to fight these three global epidemics.” The news service highlights a $750 million pledge to the Fund by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses recent managerial changes within the Fund, and quotes a number of experts about future challenges (Kelly, 2/2).

Burma Unable To Expand HIV, TB Treatment Programs Without More Donor Support, MSF Report Says

Approximately 85,000 HIV-positive people in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are in need of antiretroviral treatment (ART) and cannot access it “due to a lack of funding, despite renewed international engagement with the government amid a wave of political reform, according to a report released Wednesday” by the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Associated Press/CBS News reports (2/22). “At the launch of a new report called ‘Lives in the Balance,’ MSF said that only a quarter of the estimated 120,000 people living with HIV and AIDS were receiving treatment, and that it was turning people away from its clinics,” BBC News writes. While plans were made last year among MSF and its partners to scale up treatment for HIV and tuberculosis (TB), “those proposals were shelved after the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria cancelled its Round 11 grants, according to the news agency. “The money was expected to provide HIV drugs for 46,500 people in Myanmar, along with treatment for another 10,000 people sicken[ed] by drug-resistant tuberculosis in the country, [the report] said,” BBC writes (Fisher, 2/22).

Sustainable Funding Needed To Reduce Burma’s HIV, TB Treatment Gap

“While international attention focuses on Burma, [also known as Myanmar,] a health crisis in the country looms large,” Joe Billiveau, operations manager of Medecins Sans Frontieres’ (MSF) operational center in Amsterdam, writes in this opinion piece in Bangkok’s Nation. He continues, “An estimated 85,000 people infected with HIV in Burma are not receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART). This is an improvement on previous years, with new momentum in the country to tackle the crisis,” but the cancellation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Round 11 grants “threatens to undo improvements” and prevent the planned scale-up of ART for an additional 46,500 patients and treatment for another 10,000 tuberculosis (TB) patients.

Despite Economic Downturn, Global Fund ‘Needs And Deserves’ International Support

In recognition of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s 10th anniversary, Sisonke Msimang, executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, recounts the Fund’s history and development in this Project Syndicate opinion piece, stating that the organization is “driven by the idea that people need not die of preventable and treatable diseases simply because they are poor.” She continues, “And yet today, despite the Global Fund’s effectiveness and its strong anti-corruption track record, donors have cited ‘bad governance’ as an excuse for withholding further committed resources. Others have blamed the global financial crisis. The irony of this has not been lost on activists, who deal with the drivers of AIDS, TB, and malaria — corruption and poverty — on a daily basis.”

Recognizing Global Fund’s Integration Of Reproductive Health Into Focus On AIDS, TB, Malaria

Noting the successes of the first 10 years of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as the funding challenges it faces moving forward, Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, vice president of advocacy at Population Action International, writes in an opinion piece in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog that the Fund “has always upheld the idea that their work contributes to achievement of all of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” and “always accepted and considered proposals that include reproductive, maternal, and child health interventions, when countries could demonstrate that they would have an impact on AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.”

Donor Fatigue, Funding Cutbacks Could Mean Another 50 Years Of AIDS Epidemic, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Says

“With enough money spent in the right way, the world could soon reduce new HIV infections to zero, but global apathy and the financial crisis mean it might take another 50 years to stop the AIDS epidemic, a U.N. expert has said,” AlertNet reports. “At a time when HIV/AIDS efforts face an unprecedented decline in funding, Paul De Lay, deputy executive director of UNAIDS …, called on developing states to take more responsibility for tackling HIV in their own countries rather than relying on international assistance,” the news service notes.

Collapse Of Global Fund Would Stall Global Health Efforts

“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.”

All Players Involved With Global Fund Must Take Responsibility For Future Success

“The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has proved to be one of the world’s most important and innovative multilateral funding agencies,” a Financial Times editorial states. Therefore, “[t]he abrupt reshuffle of top management last week” – with the resignation of Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine and the appointment of General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo – “must not distract attention from its achievements over the past decade, which on their own justify further donor support,” the editorial continues. “[T]here is a need to re-examine the agency’s management and operations, particularly when squeezed donors are seeking better value for money,” and that involves “scrutinizing grant applications to ensure its stretched finances go to the neediest: those with fewest resources, the highest disease burden, and policies that do most to prevent and treat infection,” the editorial states.