Health workers with Medical Teams International, a medical non-governmental organization, “say they are overwhelmed” by high demand at five health clinics in two southwestern Ugandan refugee centers, PlusNews reports. The refugees, “many of whom came from conflict-prone areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” and local residents are in need of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) prevention information, and care and treatment services, according to the news service. “Uganda suffers from a chronic shortage of health workers — less than half of the vacant health positions are filled — but the recent influx of refugees fleeing violence in neighboring DRC has put even more pressure on [the region’s] health services,” PlusNews writes. Physicians, who see 30 to 50 patients daily and often work double shifts, say gaps in the supplies of antiretroviral (ARV) and TB drugs poses concern, as does trying to follow-up with patients who may not return for visits, the news service notes (3/29).
Philippines Health Department Reports 72% Increase In Number Of HIV Cases Recorded In February 2012 Versus 2011
“Philippine health authorities diagnosed 274 people with new cases of HIV/AIDS in February this year, the health department said, adding the new figure represented a 72 percent rise compared with 159 cases reported in February 2011,” Gulf News reports. According to the health department, 235 of the cases were attributed to sexual transmission, and more than half of those were among men who have sex with men, the news service notes. The presidential palace requested that Health Secretary Enrique Ona implement an information campaign to spread awareness of how to prevent HIV infection, according to Gulf News (Dacanay, 3/28). Department of Health spokesperson Eric Tayag “told ANC [news service] that this year alone, the agency is spending more than P315 million [$7.3 million] to fund services and distribute medicines to combat the virus,” ANC/ABS-CBNnews.com notes (3/28).
Ethiopia’s new HIV/AIDS workplace policy, instituted in January by the government in cooperation with the country’s main employees’ and employers’ associations, “is expected to protect job seekers from mandatory HIV tests, while facilitating voluntary counseling and testing and defending the right of employees living with HIV to medical leave or job re-allocation,” PlusNews reports. The policy “provides guidelines for the establishment of an AIDS fund to help employees cope with living with the virus” and “stipulates that employers will make the necessary investments to ensure universal precautions in workplaces to protect employees from HIV infection, and … put in place a post-exposure prophylaxis system for their workforce,” the news service writes. Tadele Yimer, president of the Ethiopian Employers Federation, said, “What we hope [the new policy] will do is bring about an agreed consent and uniform approach among employers to fight HIV/AIDS nationally,” according to PlusNews (3/26).
UNAIDS and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency on Tuesday “signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) calling for strategic collaboration to advance sustainable responses to HIV, health and development across the African continent,” according to a UNAIDS press release. “Under the terms of the agreement, UNAIDS and the NEPAD Agency will work with partners to: support the development of common African positions for the AIDS response, with an emphasis on sustainable financing; address constraints in access to HIV medicines; facilitate policies and partnerships to eliminate new HIV infections in children and improve the health of mothers; enhance country ownership and accountability; and encourage South-South cooperation,” the press release states (3/27).
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Robin Smalley, co-founder and international director of mothers2mothers, discusses how partnerships and access to a supportive network of individuals has helped mothers2mothers expand their efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS. She notes that an invitation in 2008 to the Skoll World Forum (SWF) on social entrepreneurship, held in Oxford, provided the organization “entree to a new family, one made up of extraordinary individuals running organizations impacting issues ranging from global health to social justice to the environment.” The conference, underway this week, “is a world dedicated to possibilities, where everyone unites to brainstorm ways we can make our planet a little bit better,” she writes.
In anticipation of the AIDS 2012 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, CDC Director Thomas Frieden spoke at the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, where he provided an update on the epidemic in the U.S. and abroad, VOA News reports. Frieden provided statistics on HIV infection and death rates; recounted “trying to treat hundreds of patients in the early days of the epidemic,” before treatment was available; and said that “around the world, … HIV/AIDS remains the biggest infectious disease challenge more than 30 years into the epidemic,” the news service writes.
Speaking at an event where South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe urged the mining industry to take greater steps to address tuberculosis (TB) and HIV among its employees, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu “announced that mining companies, whose HIV, TB and workplace safety policies are being audited by her department, will have to submit their policies as a prerequisite for renewing their mining licenses,” PlusNews reports. “According to Shabangu, South Africa’s mining sector sees three times as many cases of active TB as the general population,” the news service writes.
The U.S. has “been working toward integrating HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence services for women overseas,” and “[i]t’s time we did the same at home,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes in this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post. With the AIDS 2012 conference being held in Washington, D.C., this year, “[t]he administration has already stated it will take lessons learned from global AIDS programs to enhance our programs in the U.S.,” she continues.
The South African “government plans to bring down new HIV infection rates to zero in the next 20 years, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Saturday” at a World Tuberculosis (TB) Day even at the Goldfields mine in Carletonville, Gauteng, SAPA/Independent Online reports. “He said the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections (STI) would aim [to] eliminat[e] new HIV and TB infections, mother-to-child HIV infections, and have zero preventable deaths as well as discrimination associated with” HIV and TB, according to the news agency (3/26). Motlanthe also “launched a plan to diagnose tuberculosis in the country’s gold mines, where the disease’s incidence is the highest in the world,” Agence France-Presse writes, adding, “Motlanthe said the goal was to ‘ensure that all mine workers, particularly in the gold mining sector, are screened and tested for TB and HIV over the next 12 months'” (2/24).
“The White House on Friday named Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College and a global health expert, as its nominee to lead the World Bank” beginning “on June 30, when its current president, Robert B. Zoellick, will step down at the end of his five-year term,” the New York Times reports (Lowrey, 3/23). “Kim is a South Korean-born doctor, anthropologist and former head of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department,” the Financial Times notes (Harding/Leahy, 3/23). “Kim helped found the international aid organization Partners in Health, which provides care to patients in more than a dozen countries,” and served as the chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, according to NPR (Horsley, 3/23). At a Rose Garden ceremony to announce the nomination, President Barack Obama said, “It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency,” the Associated Press reports (Pace, 3/24).