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.”
Government health officials in Free State, South Africa, have recalled a lot of 8,700 boxes of condoms that were distributed free of charge at guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, and bars to celebrate the centenary of the African National Congress, BBC News reports (1/30). “The Free State Health Department says it is recalling the estimated 1.35 million condoms as a ‘precautionary measure’ — and urged the public not to panic,” the BBC notes, adding, “They say they are still investigating claims that the condoms are porous.”
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance” blog, Connie Veillette, director of CGD’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, highlights two recent posts by CGD’s Amanda Glassman and Nandini Oomman on the future of the Global Health Initiative (GHI). She writes, “With the Appropriations Committee weighing in by requiring a status report by mid-February on transitioning GHI to USAID, it is no understatement that the GHI is at an important juncture. Declining budgets for foreign assistance will also require new thinking on where the U.S. provides assistance and for what purpose” (1/31).
“The Global Fund’s drive to ensure sustainability and efficiency means that it may not be able to meet its commitments to combat disease, says Laurie Garrett,” a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, in Nature’s “World View” column. Citing his resignation letter, Garrett discusses the “the political struggle” that led Michel Kazatchkine to step down as executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last week and writes, “It is a classic battle of titans, pitting urgency against long-term sustainability. … Kazatchkine essentially conceded victory to the forces for sustainability.”
The New York Times examines developments in circumcision technology, after “three studies have shown that circumcising adult heterosexual men is one of the most effective ‘vaccines’ against [HIV] — reducing the chances of infection by 60 percent or more.” The newspaper writes, “[P]ublic health experts are struggling to find ways to make the process faster, cheaper, and safer” and “donors are pinning their hopes on several devices now being tested to speed things up.” The New York Times reports on several circumcision methods currently being tested, including PrePex, which received FDA approval three weeks ago and “is clearly faster, less painful and more bloodless than any of its current rivals” (McNeil, 1/30).
“Hundreds of HIV-positive Kenyans protested outside the European Union’s Nairobi office on Monday, accusing the E.U. of causing unnecessary deaths by cutting funding to” the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, AlertNet reports. Late last year, the Global Fund announced it would not hold a new round of grants until 2014, the news service notes, adding, “The demonstrators called on the Global Fund to hold an emergency donor conference to raise $2 billion so developing countries can apply for grants this year” (Migiro, 1/30). Though no new grants will be awarded before 2014, the Global Fund “has set up what it calls a ‘transitional funding mechanism,’ which covers the continuation of essential services” of existing grants, VOA News writes (Majtenyi, 1/30).
Last week, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The following are summaries of two opinion pieces written in recognition of this milestone.
During a webinar Thursday hosted by the Health Global Access Project, AVAC, and amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), John Blandford, chief of CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS Health Economics, Systems and Integration Branch, presented findings showing “that scaling up antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in the developing world not only saves lives, but saves money too,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. According to the blog, “[Blandford] and his team of colleagues have found that cost savings from averted negative outcomes offset a major portion of the cost of treatment over time.” The blog quotes Blandford saying, “Based on [WHO] standards, ART should be considered highly cost-effective in almost every country in sub-Saharan Africa” (Mazzotta, 1/27).
Speaking on Saturday at the African Union Summit, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said huge advances in HIV treatment and prevention have been made over the past decade in Africa, “[b]ut these gains ‘are not sustainable,’ … because they are heavily dependent on foreign aid,” the Zimbabwean reports (1/30). “An estimated two-thirds of AIDS expenditures in Africa come from international funding sources, according to a new UNAIDS issues brief titled “AIDS dependency crisis: sourcing African solutions” (.pdf), Xinhua writes (1/29).
“Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum’s [WEF] Annual Conference in Davos” on Friday, according to a Business Leadership Council press release. “The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world … The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other U.N. Health Millennium Development Goals over the coming months,” the press release states (1/27). “The Social Media Syndicate will coordinate the most influential, individual publishers on the Social Web to share messages and actions needed to welcome a ‘Generation Born HIV Free’ and to achieve all the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” according to a press statement from UNAIDS and PEPFAR (1/27).