PRI’s “The World” examines the role of churches in the fight against HIV in Swaziland. The news service highlights several church-run HIV programs, writing, “Churches have long played an important role in caring for the sick, but in terms of HIV prevention they’ve been at odds with the public health community. It has often come down to one issue: until recently, Swazi church leaders publicly rejected the use of condoms by their congregants. But now you hear many comments that suggest a change in thinking.”
Private Sector Involvement
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on a panel discussion hosted on Wednesday by the Consensus for Development Reform and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network in Washington, D.C. “Foreign assistance experts discuss[ed] the George W. Bush administration’s legacy on global development, focusing on lessons learned and applying them to the next decade and beyond,” and a central theme was the engagement of the private sector, the blog writes. Panelists highlighted the Millennium Challenge Corporation and PEPFAR, according to the blog (Mazzotta, 3/29).
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).
Inadequate Government TB Program, Lax Drug Sale Regulations Contributing To MDR-TB Cases In India, Health Groups Say
“India’s inadequate government-run tuberculosis [TB] treatment programs and a lack of regulation of the sale of drugs that fight the disease are responsible for the [increasing] number of drug-resistant cases that are difficult to treat,” health advocacy organizations said in India last week, the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports. “India adds an estimated 99,000 cases of drug-resistant TB every year, but only a tiny fraction of those infected receive the proper” six- to nine-month antibiotic regimen, according to the AP. In India, government-run TB treatment programs only provide drugs to patients on alternate days, increasing the likelihood of missed doses, and patients increasingly are turning to private physicians who are unaware of how to treat the disease, Medecins Sans Frontieres in India and other health groups said, the news agency reports. “The Indian government had no response Friday to requests for comment on the activists’ allegations,” the AP writes (Naqvi, 3/23).
VOA News reports on a March 20 panel meeting in Washington, D.C., that highlighted the contributions of corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Chevron, which has “invested $30 million for the three-year period between 2008 and 2011 and has pledged another $25 million through 2013,” was recognized at the meeting as “the first Global Fund Corporate Champion,” according to VOA (DeCapua, 3/23).
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provides a fact sheet (.pdf) detailing its efforts to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the developing world. According to the fact sheet, the MCC and its partner countries “have prioritized WASH sector development,” and “MCC has invested $793 million in WASH-related projects in nine partner countries” (3/19).
“At a public event [held Tuesday] on Capitol Hill, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria spotlighted the contributions of public-private partnerships to the Global Fund’s lifesaving work,” a joint press release (.pdf) reports. The event highlighted the “unique and essential roles” that partners like Chevron, the Coca-Cola Company, (RED) and PEPFAR play in improving lives around the globe, “[f]rom assistance in drug delivery, to supplying much-needed resources, to mobilizing consumer markets, to in-country partnerships,” according to the press release. “The partners highlighted at the Capitol Hill event have not only provided funding, but have also brought their individual expertise to the Global Fund, sharing their knowledge and building bridges between the public, private and health sectors,” the press release states (3/20).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is “to give $220 million over five years to the non-profit biotech firm Aeras to develop vaccines to fight tuberculosis [TB], a company statement said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (3/15). The “grant will allow Aeras to advance several vaccine candidates into pivotal large-scale efficacy trials in South Africa and elsewhere,” South Africa’s Health-e writes (Thom, 3/15). According to AFP, Aeras “has developed six possible TB vaccines that are being tested across Africa, Asia, Europe and America” (3/15).
“On Monday, the Indian Patent Office effectively ended [German drug maker] Bayer’s monopoly for its [cancer drug] Nexavar and issued its first-ever compulsory license allowing local generic maker Natco Pharma to make and sell the drug cheaply in India,” Reuters reports. “India’s move to strip … Bayer of its exclusive rights to [Nexavar] has set a precedent that could extend to other treatments, including modern HIV/AIDS drugs, in a major blow to global pharmaceutical firms, experts say,” the news service writes, noting, “It is only the second time a nation has issued a compulsory license for a cancer drug after Thailand did so on four drugs between 2006 and 2008.” Thailand also has issued compulsory licenses for HIV/AIDS and heart disease medications, according to Reuters (Kulkarni/Foy, 3/13).
In this “Health Affairs Blog” post, Sachin Jain, a physician and former HHS adviser, explores the use of the term “strategy” in global health, writing “the term remains variably used and ill-defined.” He “offer[s] a definition enumerated for use by for-profit firms: Strategy is the unique set of activities and operating structures that an organization puts in place to deliver value to its customers,” and offers explanation about each segment of the definition. He concludes, “Strategy requires that organizations puzzle through different sets of ‘conflicting virtues’ — funders, activities, customers — and establish a priority order among them. None of these decisions are without their challenges; deciding to clearly define and grapple with them, however, will be an important step towards greater organizational effectiveness and results” (3/12).