AIDS activists in Uganda are worried about a proposed reduction in the country’s health budget, as Parliament begins “a months-long budgeting process for the … next fiscal year,” VOA News reports. “AIDS activists have expressed concern that Uganda’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes a six percent cut in health funding to $307.5 million,” which “is less than 10 percent of the country’s overall budget,” the news service writes. Joshua Wamboga of The AIDS Support Organization said a lack of financial commitment from the government could undermine efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in the country, VOA notes, adding, “Government officials said the cut to the health budget reflects construction projects in that sector that have been completed and no longer require funding.” According to VOA, “The budget is months away from being finalized and activists hope there is still time to increase funds” (Green, 5/15).
Programs, Funding & Financing
Proposed FY13 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Has 'Mixed Results' For USAID's Global Health Programs
“On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee will vote on a State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013, which will include funding levels for global health and other programs at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),” Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) writes in the coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “Overall, the subcommittee’s bill had mixed results for global health and other programs at USAID: while some programs were sustained at FY 2012 levels, others saw significant budget cuts that will affect the agency’s efforts worldwide,” Bennett says, concluding, “As the House Appropriations Committee votes on the SFOPS bill on Thursday and the budget process continues, Congress will have to decide whether it should boldly support USAID’s goal of developing new health tools — tools that are projected to save millions of lives — or withdraw this support and risk halting scientific advancement in its tracks” (5/16).
U.N. Appeals For More Than $500M In Emergency Aid For South Sudan; WFP Says $360M Shortfall To Address Food Insecurity In Sahel
The U.N. is calling for $505 million in emergency aid for the people of South Sudan, with the bulk of the funding going “toward providing food to tens of thousands of South Sudanese, many of whom are returning home from Sudan,” VOA News reports (Doki, 5/15). “It is uncertain whether the appeal will be fully funded, given the status of last year’s humanitarian appeal,” Devex writes, noting that “[o]nly one-third of the nearly $800 million appeal in 2011 has been funded as of May 16” (Ravelo, 5/16). Lisa Grande, the U.N. humanitarian aid program coordinator in South Sudan, “said the amount of food needed for the region has doubled compared to last year,” according to VOA (5/15).
In a guest post in the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought” blog, Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), examines global efforts to promote food security, noting, “WFP is deploying game-changing initiatives to build capacity, reduce hunger, and eliminate malnutrition through our groundbreaking partnerships with national governments, U.N. agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.” She writes, “Thanks to tireless studies and technological advancements, our toolbox to solve hunger is large, life-changing, and cost-effective.” She concludes, “The world’s nearly one billion people who woke up hungry this morning have not seen the proposed agenda for the upcoming G8 summit. They are counting on people like you and me to drive food and nutrition security to the top of the global agenda” (5/14).
“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world’s most powerful tool in the fight against the three pandemics,” Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images, Inc., writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog, adding, “Since 2002, the Global Fund has saved and improved millions of lives.” Klein notes the Board of the Global Fund convened in Geneva, Switzerland, for its 26th meeting last week, where Board members “discussed progress to date on the current transformation of the Global Fund from emergency response to long-term sustainability.”
In this Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Jay Winsten, associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Trish Stroman, a principal at the Boston Consulting Group, examine “the emergence in Southeast Asia of malarial parasites resistant to artemisinin — the current gold-standard drug for treating the disease,” writing it “poses grave new challenges.” Winsten and Stroman recount a brief history of artemisinin resistance in the region and note, “While many affected countries in the region are taking swift countermeasures, the situation remains serious in Burma,” also known as Myanmar.
“Malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Africa and India are becoming resistant to insecticides, putting millions of lives at greater risk and threatening eradication efforts, health experts said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 5/15). Experts fear resistance “could reverse the recent drop in malaria mortality credited to insecticide spraying in the home and coating of bed nets, which save about 220,000 children’s lives each year, according to the WHO,” Nature writes, adding, “Insecticide resistance could also result in as many as 26 million further cases a year, the organization predicts, costing an extra $30 million to $60 million annually for tests and medicines” (Maxmen, 5/15).
In a report (.pdf) released on Tuesday, the non-governmental organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, said a new $10 billion global vaccination plan “fails to address the 20 percent of babies — some 19 million infants — who never receive basic, life-saving shots,” and that, “[r]ather than pushing for novel vaccines, the plan should focus more concretely on strategies to get existing vaccines to children,” Nature’s “News Blog” reports (Maxmen, 5/15). The “‘Global Vaccine Action Plan’ has been designed to implement the ‘Decade of Vaccines’ project and will be considered by health ministers gathering next week in Geneva for the 65th World Health Assembly,” according to an MSF press release, which adds, “MSF welcomed the increased emphasis on vaccines stimulated by the ‘Decade of Vaccines’ but expressed concern that some key challenges are being glossed over” (5/15).
GlobalPost reports on the GBCHealth Conference, which took place in New York City on Monday and where “panelists at a session titled ‘AIDS@30’ were asked how they would fulfill U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call late last year for an ‘AIDS-free generation.'” According to the news service, “Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, said the key will likely be a combination HIV prevention strategy” that “includes expansion of treatment to help prevent new infections; major scale-up of male circumcision; and treating all HIV-positive pregnant women to end the transmission of HIV from mother to child.” GlobalPost adds, “Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director, said the way to defeat AIDS had to include more financial contributions from developing countries.” GlobalPost quotes several other conference attendees (Donnelly, 5/15).
“Africa needs to boost agricultural productivity and address the debilitating hunger that affects 27 percent of its population if it is to sustain its economic boom, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said [in a report] on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Migiro, 5/15). In its first-ever “Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future,” UNDP “notes that with more than one in four of its 856 million people undernourished, sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s most food insecure region,” the Guardian writes. According to the newspaper, the report says, “Hunger and extended periods of malnutrition not only devastate families and communities in the short term, but leave a legacy with future generations which impairs livelihoods and undermines human development.”