In this Foreign Affairs opinion piece, Todd Moss, vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and former deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department, reflects on President Obama’s approach to Africa, discussing various policies by the current and previous administrations. Moss compares Obama’s approach to Africa with that of his predecessors, highlighting former President Bill Clinton’s African Growth and Opportunity Act, “which reduced trade barriers on more than 1,800 products exported from the continent to the United States,” and former President George W. Bush’s launching of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
In the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, Leena Menghaney, a lawyer and India manager of the Access Campaign at Medecins Sans Frontieres, writes about “two critical legal battles between multinational pharmaceutical companies and the Indian government [that] are taking center stage in an ongoing struggle over India’s medicines patent law.” Before describing each case in detail, she summarizes, “One case goes to the heart of what merits a patent. The other addresses what countries can do when patented life-saving medicines are priced out of reach for the vast majority of patients.” Menghaney concludes, “The world is watching closely, as these cases could have a profound impact on access to life-saving medicines for millions of people worldwide” (10/1).
In a guest post on the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Margaret McGlynn, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and William Snow, director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, discuss the recent AIDS Vaccine 2012 Conference that was held in Boston. “There has been so much progress in every aspect of HIV prevention research over the last three years that [researchers] had plenty to report,” they write, adding, “[I]t is increasingly clear that defeating HIV will require the combined application of a number of interventions.” They review the results of several studies and comments from several speakers and conclude, “[S]cientific partnership across borders and oceans has long been a hallmark of HIV vaccine development. That, after all, is what brought the field to where it is now: on the verge of a transformation” (Barton, 10/1).
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflects on changes in U.S. global health diplomacy since taking office in this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece. “America had been leading the global health fight for decades,” but “we recognized that to sustain the impact of our work, we needed to change the way we did business,” she writes. “For example, while our agencies were providing tremendous leadership in isolation, they could still do more to collaborate effectively,” she writes, adding, “[W]e weren’t doing enough to coordinate our efforts with other donors or our partner countries,” and “we weren’t building sustainable systems to eventually allow our partner countries to manage more of their own health needs.” She says, “We were unintentionally putting a ceiling on the number of lives we could save.”
“African leaders meeting on the sidelines of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly called [Wednesday] for innovative solutions to accelerate the response to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and to advance health for people on the continent,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “At their meeting at U.N. Headquarters, the leaders discussed the African Union (A.U.) Roadmap, which outlines long-term sustainable strategies to finance and provide access to HIV treatment and prevention services and other health services in Africa as called for in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the news service writes, adding, “Leaders echoed the need for strong political leadership and enhanced country ownership and, as a first step, agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Roadmap, according to a news release issued by UNAIDS” (9/26).
“When President Obama made a landmark speech against modern slavery on Tuesday, many of us in the news media shrugged,” but women survivors of human trafficking “noticed,” Nicholas Kristof writes in his New York Times column. “[T]he world often scorns the victims and sees them as criminals: these girls are the lepers of the 21st century,” he says, adding, “So bravo to the president for giving a major speech on human trafficking and, crucially, for promising greater resources to fight pimps and support those who escape the streets. Until recently, the Obama White House hasn’t shown strong leadership on human trafficking, but this could be a breakthrough. The test will be whether Obama continues to press the issue.”
“When we talk about HIV prevention, we tend to frame it as a medical challenge and of course it is one,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “To accelerate the progress in the AIDS response we must reduce transmission and people’s exposure to the virus,” but “ending AIDS is as much a social challenge as a clinical one,” he continues. “One of the clearest lessons of the past three decades is that illiteracy and poverty fuel the spread of HIV and that education can slow it,” he states, adding, “Education — not just sex education but literacy, numeracy, critical-thinking and global citizenship — is the social equivalent of a vaccine, and it’s already available for clinical use.”
“Meeting the needs of children, including both children living with HIV and those affected by the disease in other ways, is not peripheral to PEPFAR’s mission — it is central,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in USAID’s “DipNote” blog, adding, “It’s a responsibility, and an opportunity as part of our push toward an AIDS-free generation.” Goosby discusses how PEPFAR is working to expand HIV care and treatment; implement prevention programs, including preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission; promote resiliency among children “by reducing adversity, and building services and systems”; and address “the socio-emotional effects of the epidemic.” He continues, “But it goes without saying that PEPFAR cannot meet all the needs on our own. Achieving a generation that is truly free from AIDS and its devastating effects requires that we all support families and communities together,” and he describes how different stakeholders can work together toward the goal (9/25).
On Monday in Maputo, Mozambique, U.S. Ambassador Douglas Griffiths signed funding agreements with 29 community-based organizations that will receive a total of $1.4 million through PEPFAR’s small grants program “to strengthen health systems, boost professional training and implement income generating activities for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS,” the Mozambique News Agency/AllAfrica.com reports. “Because of your local knowledge, we can reach the most affected communities and spread messages about preventing HIV, treatment, and the available care and support,” Griffiths said, according to the news service, which notes the money “from the U.S. embassy for the fight against HIV/AIDS is not new” (9/24).
Forbes features an interview with Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in which she “discusse[s] her motivations for pursuing a career in international affairs and social change, her experience as a senior program officer at the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], what lessons she learned during her time at Gates that are most applicable in her new executive role at Friends of the Global Fight, the current landscape of challenges and solutions, and the role of technology in accelerating progress.” In the interview, Derrick said, “The mobilization to defeat these diseases in the past decade has been stunningly successful. … But there is so much more that needs to be done. If we don’t muster the resources to keep up the fight, and all commit to doing our part in a time of constrained resources, we risk backsliding on the progress we’ve already invested in” (Kanani, 9/21).