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Budget Cuts Threaten Global Health Progress, Advocacy Group Warns In Report

The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) — consisting of 40 global health research and advocacy organizations — on Tuesday held a congressional briefing to launch its third annual policy report, titled “Sustaining Progress: Creating U.S. policies to spur global health innovation,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports (Donnelly, 2/28). The group is “warning deep cuts in the U.S. federal budget could reverse progress made on many diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” VOA News writes (DeCapua, 2/28).

Ugandan Official Expresses Concern Over Rise In TB, Emergence Of Drug-Resistant Strains

In an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Francis Adatu, head of the national leprosy and tuberculosis (TB) program in Uganda, warned that TB “remains a major public health problem” and that multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has emerged in the country, the news service writes. “‘According to our prevalence survey we found MDR-TB in 1.3 percent among new cases and 12.3 percent among people who have been exposed to drugs or treated over and over again,’ Adatu said,” Xinhua writes, noting that Adatu said treatment for MDR-TB was much more expensive than for drug-susceptible TB.

CSIS Report Recounts Adversities Faced By Global Fund In 2011, Suggests Strategies For Moving Forward

This report (.pdf), published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Monday and titled “Righting the Global Fund,” recounts the adversity faced by the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria over the course of 2011 and suggests potential strategies for addressing these challenges going forward (2/27). “Aside from the major challenges of ensuring adequate funding from donors, there are five critical areas where the Global Fund will need to concentrate its repair efforts this year” — grant oversight, management, governance, program inefficiencies, financial forecasting and donor reliability — and “five priorities that should guide the U.S. government’s approach to the fund” — fund management, operational integration, diplomacy, consistent messaging to Congress, and the integration of science data and innovation, the authors write in the report (Morrison/Summers, 2/27).

Global Health Community Should Save AMFm Because It Saves Lives

The Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria began as a pilot program in 2010 to “provide a ‘co-payment’ to the manufacturers of [artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)], thereby allowing commercial wholesalers and private or government health services to purchase the drugs at a fraction of the already low negotiated price,” Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel laureate in economic sciences in 1972 and an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. The program subsidized ACTs — a newer, more effective malaria treatment — to “sell [them] as cheaply as [less-effective] chloroquine in Africa’s private pharmacies and shops, where half of all patients first seek treatment for malaria-like fevers,” he states. “Strikingly, it has worked,” Arrow writes, noting a recent independent review of the program published in the Lancet.

International Community Must Allocate Resources To Fund ‘Ambitious’ Global Fund Strategy Against TB

Noting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria met last week to discuss progress in fighting the three diseases, Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the board of the TB ACTION Group, interviews Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, about the global response to tuberculosis (TB) in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. In the blog, Ditiu summarizes the state of the global TB response, discusses the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), and addresses the Global Fund’s role in the response to TB and the future of these efforts. “The Global Fund has an ambitious strategy that includes important milestones for anti-TB efforts,” Ditiu said, adding, “The international community must find a way to fund that strategy and to ensure that resources are allocated in a way that achieves the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” according to the blog (11/16).

January Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

The January issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on non-communicable diseases and post-conflict countries; a public health round-up; an article on Arab health professionals; a research paper on caesarean section rates in China; and a series of round table articles on the Global Fund and the interaction of public and private interests (January 2011).

Supporting Foreign Aid Programs

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 Executive Director Kazatchkine Steps Down; Board Appoints General Manager

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).

Celebrating The Global Fund As It Turns 10

“As the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] turns 10 on January 26, 2012, Nigerian families should join in the celebration of this innovative initiative that has saved the lives of millions here in Nigeria and across the globe,” Bello Bissalla, project manager for private sector and government partnerships at Friends of the Global Fund Africa, writes in Nigeria’s BusinessDay. “Much of the Global Fund’s success could be attributed to its performance-based financing mechanism, which creates room for transparency in the purchase, distribution and administration of drugs for these three diseases,” Bissalla continues, noting the grant review process “ensures that grant recipients show verified evidence of performance before receiving the next tranche of funding, thus ensuring transparency and implementation of the grant according to the plan.”

Global Fund Completes Reorganization Of Workforce, Tightens Focus To 20 ‘High-Impact Countries’

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “is cutting its workforce and tightening its focus on 20 countries hardest hit by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” Reuters reports. Gabriel Jaramillo, who took over as general manager of the fund in February, “said in a statement that the fund had completed a reorganization that would rebalance its workforce with 39 percent more people managing grants and 38 percent fewer in support roles,” the news service notes.