“As the northern Indian state of Rajasthan rolls out an ambitious universal health care plan, the discontent of the state’s doctors stands in stark contrast to the joys of the 68 million people who will benefit from the scheme,” Inter Press Service reports. “Just a little over a year ago, the state government began supplying free generic drugs to its massive population, effectively stripping doctors of the ability to prescribe more expensive branded medicine,” IPS writes. The news service notes, “Some 350 essential generic drugs are now being distributed free of cost,” and, “[a]ccording to news reports, over 200,000 people are currently taking advantage of the program.”
Writing in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Dereje Bisrat, monitoring and evaluation adviser for the Supply Chain Management System (SCMS), discusses the PEPFAR-funded program, which is administered by USAID and “works with Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA), nine regional health bureaus, and more than 1,717 health facilities to improve access to HIV/AIDS treatment” in the country. She tells the story of Neima Mohammed, an Ethiopian refugee who, after living in Djibouti for 10 years, returned to her home country to seek treatment through the program, writing, “This story might have ended with Neima’s fateful decline in health. Fortunately, thanks to friends back home, Neima learned Ethiopia was embarking on efforts to provide free antiretroviral treatment to thousands of people living with the disease” (11/6).
As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features a guest post by Allan Clear, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, in which he highlights an existing “WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS Technical Guide [.pdf] for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users.” The guide “outlines nine interventions that, if implemented, could stop HIV in its tracks,” he says, writing, “At minimum, I would add two other interventions to that list: outreach to drug users and overdose prevention and response programs. After all, why work with populations at risk of contracting HIV only to have them die from drug overdoses?” (Barton, 11/6).
“More than 380,000 Ugandan men have been circumcised in the last two years as part the government’s HIV-prevention efforts, new statistics reveal,” IRIN reports. “Uganda’s male circumcision program was launched in September 2010, targeting 80 percent of uncircumcised men — about 4.2 million men — by 2015,” the news service writes, adding, “According to the Uganda AIDS Commission’s (UAC) annual performance review of the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan (2011/2012), 380,000 men were circumcised by March 2012 under the program.”
Recent Africa Braintrust 2012 Forum ‘Informative, Inspiring’ For Those Committed To Continent’s Advancement
“Recently I attended the Africa Braintrust 2012 forum entitled ‘Africa Rising: A Continent of Opportunity,’ hosted by U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) as part of their Annual Legislative Conference, in Washington, D.C.,” human rights activist Ivanley Noisette writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, noting the event “concentrated on reinforcing support for promising development-aid strategies, providing a networking venue for interested professionals, encouraging foreign investment, and promoting the leadership of the CBC in advocating fair and just U.S. policy toward the many countries of Africa.” Noisette provides highlights from various panels at the event, noting, “The second panel, ‘Health Investments for Africa’s Future,’ featured presentations about HIV/AIDS and malaria progress, food security, agricultural development, and high-impact health initiatives.”
IRIN examines how patents and intellectual property protection in South Africa affects patients’ access to medicines. “A form of intellectual property protection, patents are typically awarded to companies that can prove their product is new,” IRIN writes, adding, “Not so in South Africa, say activists and researchers, who claim the country’s patent system allows pharmaceutical companies to apply for new patents on existing drugs based on immaterial changes — like adding table salt to a formulation or changing a pill’s color.” The news service continues, “While pharmaceutical companies cash in, patients face staggering health care costs, and medicines like cancer treatments, third-line antiretrovirals (ARVs) and treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) are often priced out of reach.”
The journal of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses has published a special issue examining the “complex factors involved in the sexual transmission of HIV, the urgent need for new preventive approaches, and the most promising methods currently in development,” according to a press release from the publisher, Mary Ann Leibert, Inc. “It is currently an exciting time in HIV prevention science research, with progress on multiple fronts,” Thomas Hope, editor-in-chief of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses and professor of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, said in the press release. The entire issue is available online (11/5).
“With just over one year left to achieve its target of having some 1.1 million men circumcised as part of HIV prevention efforts, Kenya’s government is ramping up efforts to bring more men into clinics, compensating them for their time and encouraging them to bring friends in for the procedure,” IRIN reports. “Kenya has carried out an estimated 477,000 circumcisions since the program started in 2008, according to the government,” IRIN writes. “This figure does not include those in the private sector where voluntary medical male circumcision is also done,” Walter Obiero, the clinical manager at the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, said, the news service adds. “In 2011, UNAIDS and [PEPFAR] launched a five-year plan to have more than 20 million men in 14 eastern and southern African countries undergo medical male circumcision by 2015,” IRIN notes, writing, “The government is considering integrating male circumcision, currently offered as part of its HIV prevention package, into outpatient services in public hospitals, as well as starting infant male circumcision, which studies have found to be cost-effective” (11/6).
The International AIDS Alliance, in collaboration with the Stop AIDS Alliance and STOP AIDS NOW!, has published “a discussion paper to help the HIV community to engage in” discussions surrounding the post-2015 development agenda, the International AIDS Alliance’s blog reports. “It is unclear at this stage how HIV and AIDS will be addressed in the new post-2015 development framework and the HIV sector could potentially lose out if HIV is not specifically addressed in it,” the blog states. The paper addresses issues such as universal health coverage, human rights and equity, and financing, and it offers suggestions on ways to engage with consultations (11/1).
As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an interview with Rochelle Walensky, a member of the Cost-effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications (CEPAC) and of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the NIH/DHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. According to the transcript, she discusses the key elements she feels should be a part of the blueprint, notes the interventions she feels would be critical components of a combination prevention package, and examines the role research should play in the blueprint, among other topics (Barton, 11/1).