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Budget Cuts Threaten Global Health Progress, Advocacy Group Warns In Report

The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) — consisting of 40 global health research and advocacy organizations — on Tuesday held a congressional briefing to launch its third annual policy report, titled “Sustaining Progress: Creating U.S. policies to spur global health innovation,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports (Donnelly, 2/28). The group is “warning deep cuts in the U.S. federal budget could reverse progress made on many diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” VOA News writes (DeCapua, 2/28).

Global AIDS Response Will Miss 2015 Targets, ONE Report Suggests

“The world has lost momentum in the fight against the AIDS epidemic, with millions of new people infected last year, the ONE foundation said in a report,” titled “The Beginning of the End? Tracking Global Commitments on AIDS” and released on Tuesday, Reuters reports. In its annual report last week, UNAIDS said despite advances in access to medicines that both treat and prevent HIV infection, 2.5 million new cases of HIV occurred in 2011, according to the news service. “That is more than double the target of having only 1.1 million people newly infected each year, said ONE,” according to Reuters.

International Men’s Day Opportunity To Recognize Volunteers For VMMC

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).

Disclosure Of PEPFAR Data Would Improve Program’s Efficiency, Quality, Accountability

The U.S. government, and in particular U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, the head of PEPFAR, “have a unique opportunity to make [the program’s] money stretch farther and do more good, at very little cost to U.S. taxpayers: release the reams of data that PEPFAR and its contractors have already collected, at substantial cost — perhaps as much as $500 million each year,” Mead Over, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in the Center’s “Global Health Policy” blog. “This would be a first step in what I hope will be [a] 2013 drive to improve the efficiency, the quality and the accountability of the U.S.’s most frequently praised foreign assistance program,” he states. Over goes on to describe the Data Working Group and its recommendations to PEPFAR (11/13).

Blog Examines PEPFAR-Funded Program To Improve Access To HIV/AIDS Treatment In Ethiopia

Writing in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Dereje Bisrat, monitoring and evaluation adviser for the Supply Chain Management System (SCMS), discusses the PEPFAR-funded program, which is administered by USAID and “works with Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA), nine regional health bureaus, and more than 1,717 health facilities to improve access to HIV/AIDS treatment” in the country. She tells the story of Neima Mohammed, an Ethiopian refugee who, after living in Djibouti for 10 years, returned to her home country to seek treatment through the program, writing, “This story might have ended with Neima’s fateful decline in health. Fortunately, thanks to friends back home, Neima learned Ethiopia was embarking on efforts to provide free antiretroviral treatment to thousands of people living with the disease” (11/6).

Study Looking At Impact Of HIV Funding On Rwanda’s Health System Has ‘Serious Limitations’

In this post on the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Research Fellow Victoria Fan, Director of Global Health Policy Amanda Glassman, and Research Assistant Rachel Silverman of CGD examine what they call the “serious limitations” of a study published recently in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene that looked at the impact of HIV/AIDS funding on Rwanda’s health system. After describing several “shortcomings,” they write, “We understand that the authors likely suffered from significant data constraints; likewise, we recognize the enormous empirical challenges in demonstrating system-wide effects at the national level. Still, it remains important to carefully state results and recognize the limitations of one’s research.” They conclude, “The jury is still out on whether HIV/AIDS funding has displaced or improved efforts on other disease control priorities” (5/10).

Report Examines Foreign Affairs Budget Reforms In Light Of Austerity

“The United States should be more selective about where and how it spends foreign assistance,” according to a new report (.pdf), titled “Engagement Amid Austerity: A Bipartisan Approach to Reorienting the International Affairs Budget,” co-authored by John Norris of the Center for American Progress and Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development (CGD), the CGD website notes. The report “identifies four flagship reforms that would help U.S. foreign affairs institutions to better reflect national interests and reduce ineffective spending,” including “[a]ccelerat[ing] cost-sharing arrangements with upper middle income recipients of” PEPFAR and “[o]verhaul[ing] U.S. food aid laws and regulations,” according to the website (5/8).

Preventing Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV Is ‘Smart Investment’

“Each year, nearly 400,000 children are born with HIV globally, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is a particular challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, an area characterized by weak health systems,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in the State Department “DipNote” blog. “Last year PEPFAR and UNAIDS joined with other partners to launch the Global Plan, an initiative to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive,” Goosby writes and reflects on a two-day mission to Nigeria with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe last week. He concludes, “Preventing new HIV infections in children is a smart investment that saves lives, and the United States is proud to partner with Nigeria and other countries in this cause” (4/30).

PEPFAR Releases 8th Annual Report To Congress

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog notes that PEPFAR recently released its 8th annual report (.pdf) to Congress. “The five-page document outlines the program’s progress as of the end of fiscal year 2011 in various areas,” including the provision of antiretroviral treatment, care, and support; HIV testing and counseling for pregnant women; and prevention of mother-to-child transmission services, the blog notes. The report includes sections on “leading with science,” “smart investments,” “country ownership,” and “shared responsibility,” according to the blog (Mazzotta, 5/4).