PlusNews examines challenges and concerns over an announcement by the Zimbabwean government that it plans to train nurses to prescribe and administer antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to people living with HIV in the country. “Previously, nurses were allowed only to administer the drugs after a doctor had prescribed them,” the news service writes, adding, “Now, changes made in the job descriptions of nurses by the Nurses’ Council of Zimbabwe will see them prescribing the medication.” Owen Mugurungi, director of the HIV/AIDS and TB unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, said, “I need to point out that it’s not enough that a professional council allow nurses to administer drugs; this should be followed up with measures to capacitate nurses to do this work correctly,” according to PlusNews. The news agency looks at how the possibility of work overload for nurses, a government hiring freeze on nurses, and ARV availability could affect the country’s plan to reach 85 percent of the population in need of HIV treatment by the end of this year (10/16).
“Health workers in Myanmar are confident that efforts to narrow the country’s huge gap between access to, and need for, life-saving medicines to treat HIV/AIDS are back on track after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria invited the country to apply for additional funding,” IRIN reports. “The agency’s coordinator for Myanmar, Eamonn Murphy, said new funds will allow the country to close a ‘treatment gap’ where only one-third of the 120,000 people nationwide who need [antiretrovirals (ARVs)] receive them,” the news service notes. “A spokesman for the Global Fund said it ‘had encouraged an application by the country for more money’ following an August visit to Myanmar by its general director,” IRIN writes. “Health officials drafted a ‘concept note’ outlining how additional funding might be used, which will be reviewed by the Global Fund’s board, Murphy said,” according to the news service, which notes, “It offers two scenarios: the first ensures 85 percent of those who need ARVs receive them by 2015; while with the second, 76 percent of people would be covered, he said.” The news service adds, “Based on feedback from the board, the government will choose a strategy for the proposal to be submitted early next year” (10/12).
In the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at CGD, introduces the center’s new online forum in which they “have asked prominent thinkers and practitioners what reforms the Global Fund should prioritize and how it should best fulfill its mandate of improving the way development aid is managed in addition to advancing the fight against the three diseases as its Board considers new policies and its new Executive Director prepares to takes office.” She continues, “Our initial posts come from Erin Hohlfelder (Policy Director, Global Health at ONE), Anders Nordstrom (Ambassador for Global Health at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs), and Prashant Yadav (Director of Healthcare Research at the William Davidson Institute, University of Michigan). We will continue to add new perspectives in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out on the Global Health Policy Blog and the forum’s homepage for updates” (10/15).
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby is “expected to announce a new initiative between the U.S. government, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and 14 American medical schools at a press conference Monday in Kigali, Rwanda,” the New York Times reports. “The Human Resources for Health program will send 100 faculty members from eight medical colleges, five nursing and midwifery schools, and one health management school to Kigali where they will train health professionals and medical students, according to a statement from the Clinton Global Initiative,” the newspaper writes. “The two governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the universities have committed $152 million to the seven-year program,” the newspaper notes (Lau, 10/14).
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Monday published Issue 198 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue features a summary of a paper submitted by the Global Fund Secretariat to the Strategy, Investment and Impact Committee (SIIC) of the Global Fund Board that contains options and recommendations for the design of its new funding model. The SIIC will discuss the paper at a meeting in Geneva later this month, the GFO states, noting Aidspan provides summaries of each part of the paper on its Discussion Page and invites public comment (10/15).
Inter Press Service examines how Mexico’s government and non-governmental organizations are working to stem the spread of HIV among people who use injection drugs. “According to a project financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since 2011, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Mexico is 5.77 percent among intravenous drug users … compared to 0.24 to 0.3 percent in the general population aged 15 to 49,” IPS writes, noting HIV prevalence among drug users is highest in “northern Mexico, one of the areas in the country hit hardest by drug trafficking.” The news service adds “[t]here are 28 syringe exchange programs in this country of 112 million people, insufficient to serve the entire population of intravenous drug users.” IPS discusses funding shortfalls for syringe exchange programs, legal hurdles to obtaining clean injection equipment, and how the government aims to continue receiving Global Fund money through 2013 (Godoy, 10/11).
Fareed Abdullah, CEO of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), who took office in July, spoke with PlusNews regarding the body’s reform, the revival of provincial AIDS councils, resource mobilization, and the appointment of a new board that allows SANAC to operate independently. According to the news service, Abdullah said the secretariat has three times as many staff as it did three months ago, adding, “We have a team of eight people working on the grant renewal process for about five Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] grants. We’ve committed two staff members to dealing with PEPFAR [the U.S.-based President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] and the new agreement to co-manage programs, and we’ll expand [staff] as the needs expand” (10/11).
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed a grant agreement worth $102 million with the Churches Health Association of Zambia [CHAZ] Wednesday,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports. Part of the grant — $44 million — is “‘old money’ that had already been approved before,'” Marcela Rojo, Global Fund communications officer, told Devex in an email, the news service states, adding, “The money is on top of the $141.8 million in Global Fund grants that the U.N. Development Programme signed on behalf of the health ministry in 2011” (Ravelo, 10/11). “Activities implemented by this grant will focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, promoting male circumcision, expanding and sustaining HIV treatment, reducing new infections, and maintaining a high coverage of impact mitigation,” as well as strengthening counseling and testing and HIV treatment adherence, PANA/Afriquejet notes (10/11).
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).
“Zimbabwe is set to attain ‘universal’ coverage for AIDS treatment thanks in part to an $84 million disbursement [on Tuesday] by the United Nations-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” the U.N. News Centre reports (10/2). “The new disbursement will cover the cost of life-saving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for an additional 10,000 new patients, bringing the total number of people on treatment with Global Fund support to 203,440 by the end of the year,” the Global Fund announced in a press release. The funding also will support a six-month ARV buffer stock to prevent treatment interruptions for the 480,000 patients on therapy in Zimbabwe, the press release notes (10/2). The Global Fund’s announcement to support additional patients comes together with an announcement from PEPFAR to increase the number of patients supported by its program from 80,000 to 140,000, with a goal of having 160,000 patients on therapy by the end of next year, Zimbabwe’s Herald notes.