The 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) ended on Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where “the final plenary session … left the audience with a notion of hope and urgency that despite the Global Fund’s cancellation of Round 11 disbursements, the organization will continue to campaign, raise funds and place pressure on governments in both the donor and recipient arenas,” an ICASA news article reports (12/8). Speaking at the session, “Global Fund Deputy Executive Director Debrework Zewdie felt compelled to reassure those benefiting from the fund,” saying, “‘Everyone who is on treatment funded by the Global Fund will stay on treatment,'” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (Frentzen/Waswa, 12/8).
In this Toronto Star opinion piece, Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and Nicci Stein, executive director of the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, discuss how progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the last 30 years “is in peril, due to governments reneging on repeated promises to fund the fight against the pandemic.”
“[S]topping the AIDS pandemic requires sustained engagement from both donor and developing countries, political commitments that are backed by dollars. … Yet many donor countries have chosen precisely this moment to abandon their promises,” they write. They discuss the cancellation of Round 11 grants by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and ask the Canadian government to deliver on its HIV/AIDS funding pledges. Elliott and Stein conclude, “We can turn the tide on the spread of HIV — victory has never been closer. But we need to make sure that those with the power and the money use it toward achieving the goal of an end to AIDS” (12/7).
“A group that tracks funding for neglected diseases released its fourth annual report Wednesday, showing for the first time since 2007 a decrease in government and public spending in global health research and development,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Mazzotta, 12/7). The Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) survey report, conducted by Policy Cures and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that “[p]ublic funding from the world’s richest nations for research and development (R&D) of new neglected disease products fell by US$125 million (down six percent) in 2010,” a Policy Cures press release (.pdf) states (12/7).
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that donors looking to fund the fight against AIDS “could raise funds through taxes,” according to the news agency. Speaking on the sidelines of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sidibe said, “If we have a global financial transaction tax, say of 0.5 percent, we will have $226 billion. Ten percent of that resource is enough for financing the fight against HIV/AIDS, stopping the epidemic, because we can reduce by 96 percent the number of new infections by putting people early on treatment. We can have taxation on cigarettes and alcohol. We can find different ways to mobilize new resources,” according to Reuters (Maasho, 12/7).
“With donor support flagging around the world, U.S. leadership is crucial. Congress must fully fund its global health programs, especially the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Joyce Kamwana, a Global Fund “HERE I AM” campaign ambassador, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” She adds, “Reducing support for global health would put millions of people at risk” and “would deal a devastating blow to the global fight against AIDS, which has reached a critical point.”
This Lancet editorial responds to the 25th Board meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria held in Accra, Ghana in November, stating, “Tensions were high as the Fund had to make difficult decisions in a year that has been plagued by financial shortfalls, corruption, and calls for organizational reforms. â€¦ However, the Fund remains committed to ensuring the continuation of essential services and to supporting existing grants over new ones to the end of 2013.”
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria decided to cancel Round 11 grant approval during a two-day meeting in Accra, Ghana, that concluded on November 22, according to a Global Fund press release (11/23). The following opinion pieces address this action.
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria decided to cancel Round 11 grant approval during a two-day meeting in Accra, Ghana, that concluded on November 22. According to a press release from the Global Fund, the decision to cancel Round 11 was due to “a revised resource forecast presented to the Board [which] showed that substantial budget challenges in some donor countries, compounded by low interest rates, have significantly affected the resources available for new grant funding.”
In this Financial Times opinion piece, journalist Andrew Jack examines how, “[a]fter a period of fast expansion, and strong progress in tackling AIDS, [tuberculosis (TB)] and malaria alike,” the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “has become a target in the era of austerity. With a shift in power between the world’s traditional and emerging economies, and donors seeking ways to cut support, billions of dollars and millions of lives are at stake.” Jack recaps a brief history of the Fund in the 10 years since its inception; highlights a number of ways in which the Fund has been distinctive from other organizations; and notes several issues that have led to calls for reform within the Fund.
The vision of an “AIDS-free generation” presented in a speech earlier this month by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “is under threat in Congress,” as “[t]he House and the Senate are discussing significant cuts to the 2012 Obama administration request for global health funding,” Jeanie Yoon, a physician with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece. Yoon describes an MSF program in Zambia working to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), saying such programs “provide an opportunity for mothers be tested for HIV (as well as other dangerous conditions for pregnant women) and to take the steps needed for them and their babies to live healthy lives; as well as for communities to gain productive members instead of incurring yet more losses.”