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Health Indicator Reports Show More HIV-Positive South Africans Receiving Care But Costs Increasing

Two new reports from southern Africa’s Health Systems Trust show that pregnant women, infants, and people newly diagnosed with HIV infection are receiving more services, but the costs of care are increasing, PlusNews reports. The annual District Health Barometer shows that about half of infants born to HIV-positive mothers are being tested for the virus at six weeks; almost all pregnant women are tested for HIV, helping to lower the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission to below four percent nationwide; and about 70 percent of people newly diagnosed with HIV receive screening for tuberculosis (TB), according to the news service.

Clinton To Testify About FY13 Budget Request

In this post on the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog,” Jenny Ottenhoff, policy outreach associate at CGD, previews issues that may be raised when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before four congressional committees this week about President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request for the State Department and USAID. She asks, “[W]ill core development issues — like those around global health, the [Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)], Pakistan, migration, foreign aid reform and climate change — find a time to shine during the proceedings?” (2/27).

CSIS Report Recounts Adversities Faced By Global Fund In 2011, Suggests Strategies For Moving Forward

This report (.pdf), published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Monday and titled “Righting the Global Fund,” recounts the adversity faced by the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria over the course of 2011 and suggests potential strategies for addressing these challenges going forward (2/27). “Aside from the major challenges of ensuring adequate funding from donors, there are five critical areas where the Global Fund will need to concentrate its repair efforts this year” — grant oversight, management, governance, program inefficiencies, financial forecasting and donor reliability — and “five priorities that should guide the U.S. government’s approach to the fund” — fund management, operational integration, diplomacy, consistent messaging to Congress, and the integration of science data and innovation, the authors write in the report (Morrison/Summers, 2/27).

Swaziland Looking To Shore Up Funding For AIDS Treatment, Testing Supplies

“Cash-strapped Swaziland is struggling to fund its HIV programs, and experts are warning of long-term damage to treatment and prevention schemes if steps are not taken to ring-fence funding and supplies,” the Mail & Guardian reports. About 200,000 people are living with HIV in Swaziland, nearly one quarter of the population, the newspaper notes, adding, “Until now the government has done well in terms of providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment — achieving 78 percent coverage, just under the World Health Organization’s ‘universal coverage’ rate of 80 percent. But there are fears that uncertainty about funding streams and weak supply-chain management could result in a reversal of this progress.” The article discusses funding from the government, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; antiretroviral drug and testing supply problems; and the epidemic’s effect on children and life expectancy in the country (Redvers, 2/27).

World Bank Needs Better Leadership To Achieve Goals Of Reducing Poverty

With the proper leadership, the World Bank “can play a key role” in fighting “poverty, resource depletion and climate change,” therefore “[t]he global stakes are … very high this spring as the bank’s 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends in July,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to the U.N. secretary general on the Millennium Development Goals, writes in a Project Syndicate opinion piece. Achieving its goals to “reduce global poverty and ensure that global development is environmentally sound and socially inclusive … would not only improve the lives of billions of people, but would also forestall violent conflicts that are stoked by poverty, famine, and struggles over scarce resources,” Sachs says.

Despite Economic Downturn, Global Fund ‘Needs And Deserves’ International Support

In recognition of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s 10th anniversary, Sisonke Msimang, executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, recounts the Fund’s history and development in this Project Syndicate opinion piece, stating that the organization is “driven by the idea that people need not die of preventable and treatable diseases simply because they are poor.” She continues, “And yet today, despite the Global Fund’s effectiveness and its strong anti-corruption track record, donors have cited ‘bad governance’ as an excuse for withholding further committed resources. Others have blamed the global financial crisis. The irony of this has not been lost on activists, who deal with the drivers of AIDS, TB, and malaria — corruption and poverty — on a daily basis.”

Gates Calls For Greater Coordination Among U.N. Food Agencies, Announces Nearly $200M In Grants For Agricultural Development Projects

In a speech delivered at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome on Thursday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told IFAD, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the “approach being used today to fight against poverty and hunger is outdated and inefficient” and asked the agencies “to unite around a common global target for sustainable productivity growth to guide and measure their efforts,” a Gates Foundation press release states. “Gates also announced nearly $200 million in grants, bringing to more than $2 billion the foundation’s commitment to smallholder farmers since the agriculture program began in 2006,” according to the press release (2/23).

HIV To Be Covered Under Insurance In India Beginning In October

In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, Benoy Peter, senior manager for knowledge management at Project Connect in India, reports that the government of India will cover HIV care under insurance in the country beginning in October 2012. Peter recounts the advocacy efforts that went into convincing the Indian government to make the change and writes, “We are excited about the maiden policy change facilitated by PSI/India. Much deserved credit goes to [the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO)], USAID, our partners and a few activists who enlightened by our conference did their parallel lobbying” (2/22).

Researchers Begin Clinical Trial Of First Visceral Leishmaniasis Vaccine

“Researchers say they’ve developed the first vaccine for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) — a disease that affects 500,000 people each year and has been called the ‘parasitic version of HIV,'” although the diseases are unrelated, U.S. News reports. “The vaccine took researchers more than two decades to develop and entered Phase I trials in recent weeks, according to Steve Reed, founder of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), the vaccine’s developer,” the news service writes (Koebler, 2/22).

Global Fund Releases More Than $7M To South Africa Following Request From AIDS Organizations

“More than seven months overdue, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant will finally be released to key South African AIDS organizations that have been struggling to survive,” PlusNews writes, adding, “Some were on the verge of shutting down.” According to the news service, “The Global Fund released US$7,106,426.91 to the South African National Treasury on February 6, the same day seven of the grant’s sub-recipients delivered an open letter to Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, pleading for intervention.”