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).
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.
“If we needed more evidence that the funding cuts at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria were going to be detrimental to people’s lives, a new study … makes it clear: Providing funding to fight malaria makes malaria go away,” Kolleen Bouchane, director of ACTION, a global partnership of health advocacy organizations, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “The authors write that as substantial new financial resources have become available to fight malaria since 2000, malaria has decreased considerably in many parts of the world,” she continues, adding, “But in the past, malaria has returned when malaria control programs have been weakened — and they’ve usually been weakened when resources dried up.”
“Although coming off a rocky year in 2011, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is ‘not in crisis,'” Inter Press Service reports, referring to comments made by the organization’s deputy general manager, Debrework Zewdie, at a roundtable hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday. Zewdie noted the resumption of commitments to the fund from bilateral donors, despite the international economic crisis and last year’s allegations of mismanagement, the news service adds.
Wednesday, April 25, marked World Malaria Day, which this year had the theme “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria.” The following opinion pieces address the fight against malaria.
“[T]he newly appointed temporary General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo and his team has moved forward to ‘transform’ the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] with considerable speed and deftness, restoring confidence among bilateral donors (such as Japan and several others) and country recipients as well as improving morale among the Fund’s staff,” Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in CGD’s “Global Health Policy” blog. She explores some of the changes at the Global Fund and how “these changes help the Fund to achieve better health outcomes.” Fan writes, “In particular, I am very encouraged about the prospect of two changes: (1) the creation of a new Division called ‘Strategic Investment and Impact Evaluation’ which will shape the optimal portfolio of investments by country and disease …, and (2) the creation of new committees for each disease (AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria) that will meet monthly” (4/25).
Two separate posts in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog report on the International Treatment as Prevention conference in Vancouver. The first post recaps an update from Stephen Becker of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday “about the Foundation’s treatment optimization activities,” writing, “According to Becker, the Foundation acknowledges that treatment will be at the center of HIV prevention efforts, but ‘no amount of treatment will obviate the need for primary prevention modalities'” (Lubinski, 4/24). The second post reports that, “[d]espite its status as one of the poorest countries in Africa and its failed effort to garner a Round 10 grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — Malawi is moving forward to implement ‘Option B+’ for pregnant women,” meaning “pregnant and lactating women are enrolled in antiretroviral therapy (ART) programs for life, regardless of CD4 count” (Lubinski, 4/24).
“President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney have both prioritized deficit reduction, which, of course, is a worthy goal,” former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), chair of the non-profit Hope Through Healing Hands, writes in an opinion piece in The Week. “[M]any surveys put global health at the top of the list of things to slash. That’s a mistake,” he continues and lists five reasons why global health programs “ought to be spared the chopping block.”
In this post in her Global Health Blog, Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley examines the potential impact of reform within the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on the organization’s future. She writes, “It’s been only seven weeks since banker Gabriel Jaramillo took over as general manager of the [fund], but it is already clear the worthy organization set up by Kofi Annan to channel money to treat and prevent diseases in poor countries is a leaner, meaner machine.” She continues, “Jaramillo, former chair and chief executive of Sovereign Bank, brings a tougher attitude to the organization.”