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).
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).
“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.”
After announcing it plans to spend an additional $1.67 million over the next two years, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Board on Friday at the end of its 26th meeting in Geneva said (.pdf) its “secretariat will present at an upcoming board meeting in September new funding models drafted in consultation with recipient countries and other stakeholders,” and the board will “announce funding decisions no later than April 2013,” Devex reports.
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.