“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).
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Thursday published Issue 199 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue features an article on a diagnostic review of Global Fund grants in Peru; a commentary by Aidspan’s David Garmaise on language used in the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General reports; an article looking at Global Fund grants to Nigeria, which include $50 million in “new” money to purchase bed nets; as well as several other articles (10/18).
On its website, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance describes a new publication, titled “Of Spices and Silk: Sharing Stories of Technical Support to Global Fund Grants in Asia,” which presents 11 case stories showing how the Alliance’s regional Technical Support Hubs have provided assistance to Global Fund grant recipients (9/27). “The case stories were written during a writeshop held in Bangkok in August 2012 where participants were invited to use a narrative structure to reflect on and draw out their experiences working as consultants providing technical support for Global Fund grants,” the report homepage states (9/25).
The Associated Press examines the debate over the future of the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), after the recent release of two papers evaluating the program’s effectiveness. AMFm was established in 2010 as “a pilot project to subsidize artemesinin combination drugs, the most effective malaria treatment,” the AP writes, noting the $460 million program is managed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “Last week, a report by Oxfam, an international charity, labeled the program a failure and said there was no proof it had saved lives because officials didn’t track who received the drugs,” the news service writes, adding, “But in another paper published Wednesday in the journal Lancet, experts insisted the program was ‘an effective mechanism’ to lower the price of preferred malaria drugs and make them widely available.” The Global Fund is scheduled to discuss the future of the program at a meeting next month, according to the AP (Cheng, 10/31).
In a BMJ Group Blogs post, Caroline Robinson, global health advocacy manager for Results U.K., discusses the prevalence and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB in Europe and provides the example of Romania. She writes, “[E]vidence brought to light in a new report [.pdf] released recently outlining the effect funding shortages will have on HIV and TB, including drug-resistant TB, in the European region suggests that Romania does not have the institutional capacity to ensure its citizens have the basic right to health. The country relies on grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which look set to end in 2013.” She continues, “[Global Fund] Board members should ensure that middle-income countries with epidemics among key populations can access critical Global Fund contributions and the E.U. and its member states must continue to provide the resources the fund requires to meet demand. Unless such support is given, countries like Romania will continue to fall further down the league tables in terms of treatment for this curable disease” (10/10).
According to a press release from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the fund’s Board on Friday “voted to adopt a new approach to funding grants that will enable the organization to invest the world’s money more strategically and for greater impact.” The press release notes “the new funding model will change the way implementers apply for financing, get approval of their proposals and then manage their grants,” and it describes the changes in more detail. “In its decision, the Board agreed that the new model should enhance participation by all stakeholders, including civil society and will support continued funding for the needs of most-at-risk populations, so that concentrated epidemics are taken into consideration,” the press release states, adding, “The Board also requested a regular evaluation of the new funding model, and asked the Board’s Strategy Investment and Impact Committee to continue working out the details of the funding model so that implementation can begin in 2013” (9/14).
UNICEF has released its 2012 partnership profiles, “short case studies which highlight specific partnership initiatives at global, regional and country levels” and “illustrate how partnerships have contributed to results, either the creation of innovation, policy advocacy, evidence generation, or provision of essential services,” according to UNICEF’s Partnerships webpage. Some of the organizations highlighted include the GAVI Alliance (.pdf), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (.pdf), and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (.pdf) (9/17).
Global Health Funding Cuts Threatening Fight Against HIV, TB In Eastern Europe, Central Asia, NGO Report Says
The fight against HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is being threatened by cuts in global health funding, according to “a report [.pdf] by leading European non-governmental health organizations,” Reuters reports. In the report, “experts called on the European Union to step in to fill the gaps left by global donors to countries within and neighboring its borders,” the news service notes. According to Reuters, “[c]ountries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have some of the world’s fastest growing HIV epidemics,” and “Europe is also home to the world’s highest documented rates of drug-resistant TB” (Kelland, 9/18).
In this New York Times opinion piece, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes that people’s willingness to donate billions of dollars for humanitarian relief efforts “is a testament to human beings’ generosity. But that fact of our generosity also explains why I am so frustrated by the increasing opposition in many rich countries to foreign aid.” Gates examines the underlying reasons keeping people “from supporting government investment to alleviate extreme suffering” and counters “the argument that aid doesn’t work even when it gets to its intended recipients” by providing a number of examples of advancements made in global health in recent years “due in large part to aid-funded programs.”
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine on Tuesday announced he will “step down in mid-March after leading the organization for five years,” according to a Global Fund press release (1/24). In a message to staff, Kazatchkine said he “concluded that I should not continue as executive director” following a November decision by the Global Fund Board to “appoint a general manager to oversee implementation of the Consolidated Transformation Plan who will report directly to the Board.” The statement continues, “I respect this decision and trust that it was made in the best interests of the Global Fund. … I am committed to an orderly transition, and I will do all that I can to ensure that the Global Fund emerges from it as a stronger organization” (1/24). In a statement, Board Chair Simon Bland said, “I thank Michel for his remarkable contribution and I look forward to working with him to ensure an efficient transition” (1/24).