Nature reports how “[i]n the hunt for drugs that target diseases in the developing world, … [p]harmaceutical companies are making entire libraries of chemical compounds publicly available, allowing researchers to rifle through them for promising drug candidates.” The journal writes, “The latest push for open innovation, unveiled last month as part of a World Health Organization road map to control neglected tropical diseases, will see 11 companies sharing their intellectual property to give researchers around the world a head start on investigating drug leads.”
“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.
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.
As part of a week-long series, titled “Generation Positive,” looking at the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and Washington, D.C., WTOP’s Thomas Warren examines the history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. compared with Germany, where he traveled as a fellow with the RIAS Berlin Kommission. The article describes “the history of HIV in Germany, including the governmental policies aimed at handling the disease and how the virus is treated medically,” according to the introduction (Warren, 2/1).
In this New York Times opinion piece, Paul Farmer, chair of the department of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-founder of Partners in Health, examines the importance of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as it faces a “serious financial shortfall,” writing, “Beyond AIDS, the Global Fund is currently the largest donor in the world for tuberculosis and malaria programs. … The question is not whether the Global Fund works, but how to ensure it keeps working for years to come.”
The Guardian examines the future of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as it enters its second decade, writing, “Despite its staggering successes — including helping put 3.3 million people on AIDS treatment, 8.6 million on anti-tuberculosis treatment and providing 230 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria — the fund’s recent troubles had threatened to overshadow its accomplishments as it prepared to mark a decade as the world’s main financier of programs to fight these three global epidemics.” The news service highlights a $750 million pledge to the Fund by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses recent managerial changes within the Fund, and quotes a number of experts about future challenges (Kelly, 2/2).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog describes a Capitol Hill briefing that was held Wednesday “to discuss the various evidence-based approaches to prevent HIV infection that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program is implementing on the ground in the countries hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic.” According to the blog, “The briefing was the first in a series that will be hosted by the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator in the months leading up to the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July. This briefing was co-hosted by the Center, the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and PEPFAR (Mazzotta, 2/1).
Russian Government’s Censorship Of Websites With Harm Reduction Methods For Drug Users Helps Fuel HIV Epidemic, IPS Reports
“A recent government crackdown on Russian media, particularly online information portals specializing in health tips and harm reduction methods for drug users, has sparked widespread public opposition, with critics claiming that the ‘draconian silencing’ of public health advocates could worsen an already perilous health situation in the country,” Inter Press Service reports. “Given that Russia currently has one of the largest populations of injecting drug users in the world as well as one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics, the dissemination of such information is essential to keep the spread of the virus under control,” IPS writes. “The fact that the United Nations listed universal treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS as one of its most urgent millennium development goals (MDGs) — with a deadline of achieving universal treatment by 2015 — human rights and health advocates contend that Russia’s failure to allow information or services helpful to drug users breaches international human rights and public health laws,” according to the news service (Klomegah, 2/17).
Karen Grepin, assistant professor of global health policy at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, describes the March issue of BMJ’s Sexually Transmitted Infections in this post in her “Global Health Blog.” The issue, edited by Alan Whiteside, Gary Brook, Till BÃ¤rnighausen, John Imrie and William Wong, is “devoted to the topic of HIV and health systems,” she writes, noting, “The articles in this issue are all devoted to challenges facing the global response from the perspective of health systems as it enters into this new phase of the response” (2/17).
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).