Leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1, the AIDS.gov blog published several pieces discussing progress in reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation. The pieces are summarized below.
“For the first time, with support from the GAVI Alliance, a pentavalent vaccine was introduced [in Myanmar this week] that will defend children against five potentially fatal diseases,” Dagfinn Hoybraten, vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chair of the GAVI Alliance Board, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, adding, “Over the next six months, more than half a million children in [the country] will be protected from diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B (hepB), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).” He continues, “Along with the pentavalent vaccine, Myanmar also rolled out the measles second dose vaccine as part of the routine immunization schedule,” and “[t]he country plans to reach 1.1 million children over the next year, giving them protection against a virus that kills hundreds of people a day.”
In the Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360, examines the HIV treatment cascade, which he says “is crucial both to assuring the individual’s health and to achieving the public health goal of an AIDS-free generation.” The first step in the cascade is HIV testing, which determines whether an individual should be referred for and receive HIV care and treatment, he notes, adding, “We can use the cascade model to help gain accurate assessments of the ‘leakage points’ in the HIV care and treatment system. By knowing where in the cascade we need to focus, we can provide additional incentives for patients and resources for providers to improve retention.” Cates describes several novel prevention technologies, highlights programs in different countries working to bring people into the cascade, and concludes, “As we pause to reflect on 2012’s World AIDS Day, let’s resolve to get everyone on board to make the most of the tools we have. We can conquer this disease” (11/27).
Emmanuel Njeuhmeli, senior biomedical prevention adviser in the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog” that the first International Men’s Day on November 19 was an opportunity to “recognize and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of men in East and Southern Africa who are stepping up for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) to protect their own health and that of their families.” He continues, “We also recognize the political, traditional and community leaders who are leading the charge in their countries and local communities.” According to Njeuhmeli, who describes some VMMC programs of USAID and PEPFAR, “USAID and UNAIDS have estimated that VMMC has the potential to avert more than 3.4 million new HIV infections in 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and save an estimated $16.5 billion in care and treatment over the next 15 years, freeing up resources for other crucial HIV interventions” (11/27).
“As we head into the time of year people usually associate with selflessness and giving, Canadians should stop and think about whether our country is doing enough for international development,” Steven Hoffman, an assistant professor at McMaster University, a fellow at the University of Toronto and an instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, writes in a Globe and Mail opinion piece. “Foreign aid policy is the way a country presents itself and its values to the world,” Hoffman writes, adding, “If you ask Canadians, three natural values stand out: gender equality, democratic governance and health for all. These are Canadians’ priorities.” He continues, “The business case for giving priority to health in our foreign aid policy is particularly strong,” and adds, “Global health initiatives contribute to social well-being while also advancing human rights, trade, economic growth, and security.” He writes, “Canada is certainly not the world leader it once was and should be on health issues. That role has been abandoned by the current federal government,” and continues, “Canada must build on its strengths and the priorities of its citizens to address development needs, especially gender equality, democratic governance, and global health” (11/26).
In the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Todd Summers, senior adviser at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, reviews the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s old rounds-based grant system that the Global Fund Board recently agreed to replace with a new funding model “that’s designed to be flexible, focused, and fast,” he says. Summers describes some of the shortcomings of the old model, outlines the “[c]ore attributes” of the new model, and writes, “Many other important aspects of the new funding model remain to be worked out, and some larger questions remain. I’ll try to highlight some of these in upcoming blogs” (11/26).
“As World AIDS Day 2012 approaches, it is a timely opportunity to reflect on what we learned at this year’s International AIDS Conference” and recognize “[t]he United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has been a remarkable vehicle in this fight, employing sound science to offer the highest quality interventions and treatment,” Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), writes in the AIDS.gov blog. Daulaire discusses how “[t]o ensure long-term sustainability, PEPFAR country programs and its implementing agencies are transforming their partnerships so that countries direct, implement, and evaluate their own responses with strong U.S. support,” and elaborates on the “four key dimensions of country ownership.” He concludes, “HHS is committed to continue implementing PEPFAR programs in partnership with countries and civil society as they build a sustainable response to global AIDS and work towards achieving an AIDS-free generation” (11/26).
Noting November 25 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Ann-Marie Wilson, founder and director of 28 Too Many, writes in the Huffington Post U.K.’s “Politics” blog, “The statistics for violence against women and girls are truly shocking. … Not only do millions suffer each year but many are victims of repeated and sustained violence.” She continues, “[M]any more cases of violence against women and girls are not reported, and this is particularly the case with deep-rooted traditional practices like female genital mutilation (FGM).” She states, “Clearly immediate actions should be taken to inform, educate, and train professionals in education, health, law enforcement, and social services in FGM, and child safety needs to be the clear priority.”
“In October 1987, Roy Vagelos, then the chief executive of [pharmaceutical company] Merck, launched the largest pharmaco-philanthropic venture ever,” William Foege, an epidemiologist and former director of the CDC, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece highlighting the company’s efforts to combat onchocerciasis in the developing world through the free distribution of its drug Mectizan. Initially developed to protect dogs against heartworms, Merck found a human version of the drug “could inhibit the microfilaria of onchocerciasis for a year with a single dose,” Foege continues, adding, “Merck said that it would supply the drug as long as it was needed. Extended surveillance has shown this to be one of the safest drugs ever developed.”
“I spent most of my time this year advocating for better access to family planning around the world,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a Foreign Policy 2012 Global Thinker, writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Early on, I told everybody who would listen that I wanted to help put contraceptives back on top of the global health and development agenda,” she states, adding, “Visiting women in developing countries, however, I realized that this framing didn’t quite capture my message. … What was missing were human beings, the women across the world who have told me over and over again that having access to birth control methods that work for them would change their futures.”