U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday “urged a stronger global partnership to advance progress on the development targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, as a new United Nations report finds that significant gains risk slowing due to declining aid,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed on by world leaders at a U.N. summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development,'” the news service notes (9/20). According to the 2012 MDG Gap Task Force Report (.pdf), official development assistance (ODA) from the 23 primary donors in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development dropped by almost three percent (in real terms) in 2011 after reaching a peak in 2010, Agence France-Presse notes. “To reach the U.N. target of 0.7 percent of gross national income devoted to aid, the world’s richest nations should be spending more than $300 billion,” the news service writes (9/20).
Programs, Funding & Financing
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has published Issue 8 of its newsletter, the “Global Fund News Flash.” The issue reports on the Board’s approval of a new funding approach; says “the Board extended the mandate of the Global Fund to host the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria for another year after the end of its pilot phase in December”; notes the Global Fund adopted a code of conduct for grant recipients; and profiles Linda Mafu, head of civil society and political advocacy at the Global Fund (9/20).
The Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) — an innovative financing mechanism that subsidizes the cost of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in order to expand access to the most effective treatment for malaria — “brought more than 100 million doses of malaria drugs to clinics and pharmacies in 2011” and “also increased access to the top malaria medicines by 26 to 52 percent in six countries,” according to results from the first phase of the program, which is hosted and managed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. The results of the evaluation, released on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., do not estimate how many lives were saved because of improved access to effective malaria medications, as “AMFm ran for only a year and half in most countries,” according to the blog. “The AMFm negotiated with drugmakers to reduce ACTs prices, and then the Global Fund subsidized the initial purchasing of the drugs by clinics and pharmacies,” the blog notes.
Global Health Funding Cuts Threatening Fight Against HIV, TB In Eastern Europe, Central Asia, NGO Report Says
The fight against HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is being threatened by cuts in global health funding, according to “a report [.pdf] by leading European non-governmental health organizations,” Reuters reports. In the report, “experts called on the European Union to step in to fill the gaps left by global donors to countries within and neighboring its borders,” the news service notes. According to Reuters, “[c]ountries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have some of the world’s fastest growing HIV epidemics,” and “Europe is also home to the world’s highest documented rates of drug-resistant TB” (Kelland, 9/18).
In a guest post on USAID’s “IMPACT Blog,” Rachel Cohen, regional executive director of DNDi North America, writes, “The United States government and its country partners should be commended for the tremendous achievements in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) NTD Program” and the National Institutes of Health. “However, not all NTD research is created equal,” she writes, adding, “Beyond basic research, much more research and development (R&D), including late-stage product development, for new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics is urgently needed for those NTDs where adequate tools do not exist.” Noting that African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) “are not yet included in the USAID NTD Program,” Cohen says “greater commitment to developing new NTD treatments and other tools is sorely needed if disease control or elimination is to be achieved” (9/18).
“The Chinese drug industry is on the verge of getting the green light to manufacture the Japanese encephalitis vaccine for the developing world, an event that will signal the emergence of a major new player in global vaccines,” BMJ reports. Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI Alliance, “said that by the beginning of next year Chinese drug firms will be ready for World Health Organization representatives to carry out pre-qualification inspections of production of the vaccine,” the journal writes, adding, “Once those inspections are carried out, United Nations agencies and other non-governmental organizations will be able to purchase the vaccine for countries that do not have their own regulatory systems.”
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a CGD research fellow, and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant for the global health team at the center, examine the future of UNITAID. “Perhaps due to its relative obscurity and late entry to a crowded global health field, UNITAID has proactively worked to differentiate itself through a focus on commodities, market shaping, novel funding sources, and innovation,” but, “as UNITAID celebrates its sixth birthday …, it stands at a potential crossroads,” they write. Fan and Silverman note that a five-year evaluation report on the future of UNITAID, commissioned by its Executive Board, is forthcoming, and they highlight a paper (.pdf) in which they “outline some contradictions and limitations of UNITAID’s current approach.” They write, “We hope that the imminent evaluation provides the impetus for UNITAID to turn inward and do something truly innovative: buck institutional inertia, change course as necessary, and reinvent itself as the solution to 2012’s biggest global health challenges” (9/17).
Blog Examines U.S. Presidential Candidates' Foreign Policy, Science Stances With Respect To Global Health
“If nothing else, this presidential election season has brought the good news that both major party candidates have taken stances against preventable death and disease,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes, noting the blog “looked at two recently published examinations of the candidates’ foreign policy and science stances, candidates’ party platforms and other posted materials for clues to where the candidates diverge on major global health issues.” According to the blog, an analysis from Devex “looks at the candidates’ words, supporters’ statements and party platforms on an array of foreign spending issues, including global health,” and an article in Nature “invited the candidates to share thoughts on matters scientific, including research investment, vaccinations, pandemic preparedness, and the role of science in public policy” (Barton, 9/17).
David Winder, chief executive of WaterAid USA, highlights the findings of the recently released UNICEF report on child mortality in this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, saying the decrease in annual number of child deaths “is great news, but is tempered by sobering statistics, especially for children in sub-Saharan Africa,” who continue to face high rates of mortality. “However all is not lost and much can be done to ameliorate the situation. Improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is a key step in preventing many of these needless deaths,” he writes, adding, “Known collectively as WASH, these three basic services are important factors in preventing pneumonia and diarrhea, the leading causes of mortality among children between one month and five years of age.”
OMB Report On Budgetary Impact Of Sequestration Estimates Global Health Funding Would Decrease By 8.2%
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Friday released a report (.pdf) describing the budgetary impacts of sequestration “mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act,” which would require an annual reduction in government spending of $109 billion per year for nine years, National Journal reports. “Sequestration will go into effect starting Jan. 2 unless Congress can reach a deficit-reduction deal to head it off,” the news service notes (O’Donnell et al., 9/14). “According to the report, global health funding through USAID and State Department, which comprises the majority of U.S. global health funding, would decrease by $670 million, or 8.2 percent, from the FY 2012 level of $8,168 million,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” (9/14).