This post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines the use of stavudine, “also known as d4T, an antiretroviral treatment that was dropped in wealthy countries years ago and that the World Health Organization has recommended stop being included in treatment programs,” to treat HIV in Malawi. “[W]hile children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as tuberculosis patients have access to less toxic treatments, stavudine continues to be the first treatment supplied to most Malawi patients under the terms of the country’s grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” the blog writes, adding, “In a letter [.pdf] to Global Fund General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo and [U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador] Eric Goosby, the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), Health GAP (Global Access Project), and the Malawi Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MANET+) are asking the Global Fund to find a way to switch to first line treatment in Malawi that is acceptable to patients and World Health Organization standards” (8/15).
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund, on Wednesday published Issue 192 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue features an article examining new reports released by the Office of the Inspector General on three audits and four diagnostic reviews; an article highlighting two reports on the impact of the cancellation of Round 11 by the Global Fund; and an article discussing the reaction to Spain’s Global Fund contribution, among others (8/15).
“Two years after some $22 million in donor funds were pumped into malaria control along the Cambodia-Thailand border to fight off suspected resistance to treatment, health workers say the battle is not over,” IRIN reports, adding, “The government reported 103,000 malaria infections and 151 deaths nationwide in 2010. A year later, 85,000 reported infections led to 93 deaths — a 38-percent decline in mortality.” “‘If you take your foot off the â€¦ [accelerator] we can lose everything we have done in the past two to three years,’ Steven Bjorge, anti-malaria team leader in Cambodia for the [WHO], told IRIN in February 2012,” the news service writes.
“Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, has inherited an unenviable to-do list from former president Bingu wa Mutharika, and AIDS activists are hoping that bolstering the donor-dependent AIDS response will be one of her most urgent priorities,” PlusNews reports. “An estimated 10 percent of the adult population is HIV-positive, with about 70,000 Malawians newly infected with HIV every year,” the news service writes, adding, “Yet the country is almost entirely dependent on external funding for its AIDS programs, and ambitious plans to scale up treatment have been derailed after the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria rejected a succession of funding proposals.”
Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the largest provider of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are calling for the gap between the need for and access to ART in the country to be closed, the Guardian reports. Approximately 240,000 people live with HIV in Burma, and doctors say half are in need of “urgent” ART, but national data estimates less than 30,000 were receiving ART in 2010, the newspaper writes, adding, “In a country where nearly 33 percent of people live below the poverty line, thousands of Burmese are unlikely ever to be able to afford ART, which, according to [MSF], cost $30 a month.”
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “expects to have an additional $1.6 billion to fund projects in 2012-2014, [the fund’s General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo] said on Wednesday, a turnaround from a funding freeze last year,” Reuters reports (Miles, 5/9). “The new funds are a result of ‘strategic decisions made by the Board, freeing up funds that can be invested in countries where there is the most pressing demand,’ a statement by the fund said,” according to PlusNews (5/10). “The money includes funds from new donors, from traditional donors who are advancing their payments or increasing contributions and from some donors, such as China, that have offered to support projects in their own country to free up cash for more pressing needs elsewhere, Jaramillo said,” Reuters notes (5/9). “This forecast is better than expected, and it comes from the fantastic response we are getting to our transformation,” Jaramillo said, adding, “But we need more to get the job done. Countries that implement our grants are saving more and more people, but demand for services is still enormous,” according to the statement (5/9).
“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world’s most powerful tool in the fight against the three pandemics,” Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images, Inc., writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog, adding, “Since 2002, the Global Fund has saved and improved millions of lives.” Klein notes the Board of the Global Fund convened in Geneva, Switzerland, for its 26th meeting last week, where Board members “discussed progress to date on the current transformation of the Global Fund from emergency response to long-term sustainability.”
In a report released last week, Members of Parliament (MPs) on the International Development Committee urged the U.K. to increase its donation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to a Committee press release (5/22). “Ministers have said they will increase the commitment, but the MPs are concerned that this money” — pledged by ministers over a year ago — “has not yet been delivered, nor the amount of the increase confirmed,” BBC News writes (Dreaper, 5/22).
President Barack Obama’s December 1 World AIDS Day speech “could be pivotal, but only if it is followed by changes in how we tackle global AIDS,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. “Obama signaled a renewed U.S. commitment to funding for global AIDS programs at a time when resources at home are constrained and other countries are backing away from the fight,” he writes, adding, “Now it’s time to plot a course for implementing the president’s vision.”