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Global Fund Investigation Finds Recipient Organization In Bangladesh 'Misappropriated' $1.89M In Grant Funds

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Diseases is eyeing the recovery of some $1.89 million ‘misappropriated’ grant funds following an investigative report [.pdf] on one of its sub-recipients in Bangladesh,” the Devex “Development Newswire” blog reports. “The money covers 52 percent of the total amount disbursed to nongovernmental organization Padakhep Manabik Unnayan Kendra [PMKU] under the fund’s 2004-2009 HIV and AIDS program,” the blog writes, adding, “The [non-governmental organization (NGO)] ‘fabricated’ documents, including bank statements, accounting journals, invoices and copies of checks that were never issued, according to the report published online Tuesday.”

International Community Commits To Boosting Family Planning Services At London Summit

“Voluntary family planning services will reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020 thanks to a new set of commitments announced [at the London Summit on Family Planning on Wednesday] by more than 150 leaders from donor and developing countries, international agencies, civil society, foundations and the private sector,” a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation press release reports (7/11). Donors “pledged $2.6 billion over the next eight years at [the summit], in what was described as a breakthrough for the world’s poorest women and girls,” the Guardian writes, adding, “More than 20 developing countries made commitments to boost spending on family planning and to strengthen women’s rights to ease their access to contraception” (Tran, 7/11). Speaking at the summit, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, announced the foundation “will spend more than $1 billion over the next eight years to increase access to contraceptives in the developing world and research new methods of birth control” and “outlined several of the initiatives [the foundation] will focus on in the coming years, including efforts to bring down the cost of birth control so that it will be within reach of the world’s poorest women,” the Seattle Times notes (Doughton, 7/11).

GlobalPost Examines Progress Against AIDS In Zimbabwe

GlobalPost examines efforts to combat AIDS in Zimbabwe as part of its “AIDS Turning Point” series. The news service writes that “what makes the case of Zimbabwe so curious — and even confounding to many outside observers — is that this country found success even though it was largely cut out of the big spending by PEPFAR’s list of 15 so-called ‘focus countries.'” GlobalPost continues, “Instead, Zimbabwe relies on its own well-mapped network of community health workers … who fan out daily across the country to make sure the country’s AIDS patients receive care.”

Sahel Region Experiencing Increase In Cholera Cases, UNICEF, WHO Warn

UNICEF and the WHO “are warning of an alarming upsurge in cholera across West Africa’s Sahel region, the area at the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert running from Mauritania to Chad,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 7/10). “So far in 2012, cholera has killed nearly 700 people in West and Central Africa and more than 29,000 cases were reported,” according to a UNICEF press release (7/10). “Both UNICEF and WHO say they are critically short of funds to do what is needed to contain the outbreak,” but “[t]hey say action must be taken now before the number of cholera cases explodes,” VOA writes (7/10). IRIN examines efforts to curb the spread of cholera in Guinea, with the administration of a vaccine, and Sierra Leone (7/10).

PLoS Medicine Papers Examine HIV Treatment As Prevention

Early treatment with antiretroviral medication can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission to an uninfected sexual partner, “[b]ut many logistical hurdles stand in the way of making this strategy feasible, affordable and effective, according to experts writing in Tuesday’s edition of the journal PLoS Medicine,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Though Science magazine hailed the finding as “breakthrough of the year” in 2011, “[e]xperts are now divided about whether the treatment-as-prevention approach can essentially halt the AIDS epidemic,” the newspaper writes (Loury, 7/11). The PLoS Medicine collection, which includes nine reviews and one research article, “provide insights into the factors which will support evidence-based decision-making in HIV prevention, with a focus on the use of antiretroviral treatment to prevent HIV transmission,” according to the collection’s homepage (7/10).

PEPFAR Strengthens AIDS Programs, Broader Health Care Systems, Goosby Says

Describing PEPFAR as “a targeted approach on a large-scale and with accountability for results,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Tuesday said the program has done more than fight HIV/AIDS, having had a “broader transformational impact … on the health sector” in many countries, VOA News reports (De Capua, 7/10). Goosby delivered the keynote address at a Health Affairs briefing titled, “Assessing The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief: Past Achievements And Future Prospects For PEPFAR,” according to a State Department video of his remarks (7/10). The July 2012 issue of Health Affairs “examines the origins of [PEPFAR]; the lessons learned from implementation; the successes achieved in terms of human health and well-being; and the opportunities that now exist to lay the groundwork for an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” the Health Affairs Blog states (Fleming, 7/10).

Obama Administration's Intellectual Property Policy Inflating Medical Costs Abroad

Noting that the Supreme Court last week upheld the Obama administration’s Affordable Health Act, Huffington Post reporters Zach Carter and Sabrina Siddiqui write in this Huffington Post editorial that “while the president has focused on lowering health care costs at home, he has repeatedly sought to impose higher drug prices abroad.” They add, “For pharmaceutical companies, that has meant steady profits, but for the global poor in desperate need of affordable drugs, those lofty prices are often a matter of life and death.” They continue, “Nevertheless, members of the Obama administration continue to pursue policies around drug pricing that multiple United Nations groups, the World Health Organization, human rights lawyers and patient advocates worldwide decry.”

Guardian Holds Roundtable Discussion On Key Family Planning Issues Ahead Of London Summit

As part of its “Young people’s sexual health matters” series, the Guardian reports on a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the newspaper, in association with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), during which experts discussed key family planning issues ahead of the July 11 London Summit. “There was widespread agreement around the table that while increasing the physical supply of contraceptives to women in the developing world was crucial, it had to go hand-in-hand with better education about sex and relationships and a focus on rights,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Family planning — an unfortunate, old-fashioned term, some said — has long suffered from being associated by critics with population control” (Williams, 7/10).

Gates Foundation, U.K. Government Expected To Announce Additional Funding For Family Planning At London Summit

The U.K. Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners on Wednesday, July 11, are hosting the London Summit on Family Planning, which aims “to raise $4 billion to expand access to contraception for 120 million women in the developing world by 2020,” according to Reuters. At the summit, the Gates Foundation “is set to unveil funding a sum in the hundreds of millions of dollars for a campaign to improve access to contraception in the developing world,” the news service notes (Wickham, 7/10). In addition, the U.K. government will “pledge to donate more than one billion pounds [$1.6 billion] to help family planning services in the developing world,” the Independent writes (Pickover, 7/11). The WHO “committed to fast-track its assessment of new and existing quality contraceptives so more women in low- and middle-income countries can obtain and use a broader range of safe and effective contraceptive products,” the agency reports in a media note (7/11).

Global Fund General Manager Appeals For Donations, Calling Fund A 'Good Deal'

Gabriel Jaramillo, general manager of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “took a new approach to appealing for donations last week, arguing to finance ministers from participating nations that the fund is a great investment,” the New York Times reports. Calling investment in the fund “a good deal,” Jaramillo, a former banker, “urged ministers meeting in Tunisia to ‘put your skin in the game now, because the out-years will be much cheaper as your number of cases goes down,'” the newspaper writes. As an example of “cost-efficiency,” he cited Namibia, which spends $120 million annually on HIV treatment — half from the Global Fund — and has seen a drop from 2,700 AIDS-related deaths per year to 56 per year over five years, according to the newspaper (McNeil, 7/9).

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