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Next Five Years Important For S. Africa To Show It Can Effectively Respond To HIV, TB

South Africa’s recently released “National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) 2012-2016” “marked an important milestone” in the nation’s fight against infectious diseases, a Lancet editorial states. “The plan [.pdf] has several broad goals: to reduce new HIV infections by at least 50 percent; to start at least 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral treatment; to reduce the number of new tuberculosis infections and deaths by 50 percent; to ensure a legal framework that protects and promotes human rights to support implementation of the plan; and to reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and tuberculosis by at least 50 percent,” the editorial notes.

Coordinated Response Needed To Capitalize On Momentum Of WHO’s Adoption Of Mental Health Resolution

“We commend the 130th session of the WHO Executive Board for adopting a resolution calling for a comprehensive response to the global burden of mental illnesses,” Rebecca Hock of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Mental Health, and colleagues, write in this Lancet opinion piece. “The resolution for mental health, led by India, the U.S., and Switzerland, is the result of a crescendo of political support for addressing mental illnesses and received unanimous support from countries on the WHO Executive Board,” the authors write, noting, “The resolution urges countries to protect and promote the rights of persons with mental disorders and to combat stigma against mental illness.”

Daily Monitor Analysis Examines History Of Male Circumcision Debate

In this Daily Monitor analysis, Joseph Matovu, Rhoda Wanyenze and David Serwadda, all lecturers at Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda, respond to two articles related to male circumcision that were published in the Daily Monitor in March. In the analysis, the authors provide a brief overview of the articles — titled “Circumcision does not reduce HIV spread” and “Circumcision and HIV: are we being fed on half-truths?” — noting that they present anti-male circumcision perspectives, and write, “In writing this article, we intended to not only respond to these issues but also provide a more elaborate view of male circumcision and its role in HIV prevention based on scientific evidence at hand.” The authors recount the history of the male circumcision debate, referencing a number of relevant studies, and discuss the policy implications of this research. They conclude, “[M]ale circumcision is currently promoted as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package rather than as a single magic bullet, as anti-male circumcision crusaders would like to make us believe” (4/12).

Jim Kim’s ‘Experience And Humility’ Make Him A Good Nominee For World Bank President

In this Washington Post opinion piece, Paul Farmer, a Harvard professor and co-founder of Partners In Health, and John Gershman, a professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, discuss the nomination of Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and Dartmouth College president, to be president of the World Bank. “Recent claims from some economists that Kim is ‘anti-growth’ are based on a willful misreading and selective reporting of passages from Kim’s co-edited volume ‘Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor,’ to which we both contributed,” they write, adding, “The book’s objective was to ask questions about what types of growth and what kinds of policies were beneficial for those struggling to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Integrated Programming Necessary To Address Root Causes Of Poverty, Poor Health

“From the rural villages in northern Uganda to the bustling city of Kampala, the poverty-fighting programs I visited last week have something notable in common: they demonstrate how integrated programming can help achieve sustainable changes in the lives [of] women, men and their families,” Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA, writes in the Huffington Post Blog. “Issues such as health care, education and economic empowerment cannot be addressed in a vacuum. Thus, effective programs need to tackle the multiple root causes of poverty,” she writes, adding, “There is no doubt that a woman’s economic empowerment is very much interconnected to her health and the well-being of her children.”

Access To Modern Contraceptives, Family Planning Services Is Human Right

“[I]n the developing world, an estimated 215 million women who want to delay or avoid their next pregnancy cannot exercise this right as they lack modern contraceptives, resulting in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and more than 100,000 maternal deaths,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post. He says that “[t]he United Kingdom government of David Cameron and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced plans for a summit in London in July to raise funds for voluntary family planning” and notes that “UNFPA … fully supports and is a partner in this historic initiative on an often-overlooked human right.”

Inexpensive Female Genital Schistosomiasis Prevention Could Help Reduce Women’s Risk Of HIV Infection

In this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, describes female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), which affects more than 100 million women and girls in Africa and “causes horrific pain and bleeding in the uterus, cervix and lower genital tract, not to mention social stigma and depression.” According to studies, women affected by FGS “have a three- to four-fold increase in the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS,” but a low-cost drug called praziquantel may prevent FGS “and therefore also serve as a low-cost AIDS prevention strategy if it is administered annually to African girls and women beginning in their school-aged years,” he notes.

Support For Global Fund Helps Work Of PEPFAR

In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby provides an update on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stating, “I am buoyed by the reform that is happening at the Fund under the leadership of new General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo.” He adds, “When PEPFAR and the Fund coordinate, our investments against AIDS are expanded both geographically and programmatically. Simply put, a strong PEPFAR requires a strong Global Fund.” Goosby concludes, “I am proud of the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, in part because it is a commitment to the work of PEPFAR. We have a unique opportunity in a tight fiscal environment to support the Fund at this critical juncture” (4/9).

Participation Of Big Pharma Companies Critical To Success Of Drug Patent Pools

In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, David de Ferranti, president of the Results for Development Institute, and Robert Hecht, managing director at the Institute, examine whether patent pools could help increase access to AIDS drugs among the world’s poor, writing, “AIDS program managers and advocates must pursue all measures that can keep the cost of treatment low and affordable. In addition to the actions that are already being taken — like having African governments and donors buy AIDS drugs in bulk from suppliers in order to obtain better prices — could a ‘patent pool’ for new drugs help to make AIDS treatment more accessible?”

Act Now ‘To Prevent Tragedy’ In Africa’s Sahel Food Security Crisis

“The world appears reluctant to open its wallets to relief organizations dedicated to saving the lives of Africa’s children until it’s official. They want the United Nations to declare a famine,” a Globe and Mail editorial states. “UNICEF is to be credited for its preemptive global effort to break this tragic cycle of paralysis and delayed response in the case of the Sahel,” where “[o]ne million children are currently at risk of dying of acute malnutrition,” the editorial continues, and highlights a fundraising campaign launched by the organization last week, called #SahelNOW.