“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).
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.”
“More than seven months overdue, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant will finally be released to key South African AIDS organizations that have been struggling to survive,” PlusNews writes, adding, “Some were on the verge of shutting down.” According to the news service, “The Global Fund released US$7,106,426.91 to the South African National Treasury on February 6, the same day seven of the grant’s sub-recipients delivered an open letter to Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, pleading for intervention.”
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).
“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.
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at CGD, and Denizhan Duran, a research assistant at CGD, note that while the decreases in funding for the Global Health Initiative (GHI) and PEPFAR in President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request are “alarming,” the “bright spot” is that multilateral programs, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance, would get increases in their funding. “Multilateral aid is more efficient. … In the case of U.S. global health aid, potential gains from a shift to multilaterals may be large,” they write (2/15).
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.
“Burkina Faso’s Network for Access to Essential Medicines (RAME) has called on the BurkinabÃ¨ government to increase the budget allocation to the health sector to avoid interruptions to AIDS treatment,” Inter Press Service reports. “Despite an emergency plan announced in January, which will see the government spend around one billion CFA francs — two million dollars — to procure AIDS drugs in this West African country, patients and civil society groups are demanding permanent measures to ensure the availability of antiretrovirals (ARVs) and reagents,” the news service notes.
“President Barack Obama [on Monday] proposed a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2013 that aims to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years,” the Associated Press reports, and provides an agency-by-agency breakdown of the proposed budget (2/13). “Making up just one percent of the U.S. Government’s overall budget, the Department of State/USAID budget totals $51.6 billion,” a U.S. Department of State fact sheet notes (2/13). “Overall, funding for the Global Health Initiative (GHI) is down in the FY 2013 request, with most of the reduction coming from HIV/AIDS bilateral amounts,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Policy Tracker. “Most other areas saw decreases as well, except for family planning and funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance, which increased,” the resource adds. The budget plan proposes a total of approximately $8.5 billion for GHI, down more than $300 million from FY 2012, the resource notes, adding that $6.4 billion of that funding would go to PEPFAR, including about $4.5 billion for HIV and $224 million for tuberculosis. The Global Fund receives $1.65 billion in the request, according to the resource (2/13).
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.”