In this post in her Global Health Blog, Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley examines the potential impact of reform within the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on the organization’s future. She writes, “It’s been only seven weeks since banker Gabriel Jaramillo took over as general manager of the [fund], but it is already clear the worthy organization set up by Kofi Annan to channel money to treat and prevent diseases in poor countries is a leaner, meaner machine.” She continues, “Jaramillo, former chair and chief executive of Sovereign Bank, brings a tougher attitude to the organization.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s “Views from the Center” blog, Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center, responds to an article published in the Washington Post on Monday, which highlighted the results of a recent MIT/Harvard study on the public health benefits of clean cookstoves. He writes that “the results of the MIT study will come as a disappointment to the clean cookstove movement,” but “they shouldn’t come as a surprise.” He highlights several previous studies on the issue and writes, “[T]he record of limited impact does suggest that we’ve got a long road ahead before we figure out what works and where when it comes to reducing indoor air pollution” (4/18).
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Tells GlobalPost State Department Reviewing Nearly $1.5B In Unused PEPFAR Funding
Prompted by an inquiry from GlobalPost, U.S. officials have said the Obama administration called for a $550 million reduction — an 11 percent cut — for its global AIDS program in its FY 2013 budget request because the “government didn’t need more money because there has been nearly $1.5 billion stuck in the pipeline for 18 months or more,” GlobalPost reports. According to the news service, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, headed by Ambassador Eric Goosby, “said this week it will immediately start a consultation period with Congress, its partners across the U.S. government and AIDS advocates to address a key question: What should they do with $1.46 billion?” GlobalPost reports that Goosby “explained that $1.46 billion designated to fight AIDS hasn’t been used because of inefficient bureaucracies; major reductions in the cost of AIDS treatment; delays due to long negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities; and a slowdown in a few countries because the AIDS problem was much smaller than originally estimated” (Donnelly, 4/17).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines a memorandum (.pdf) from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), distributed “to a targeted list of congressional leaders with jurisdiction over PEPFAR or the appropriations committees that fund it,” “that makes the case for continued funding for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program at least at fiscal year (FY) 2012 funding levels.” The blog uses the “HIV/AIDS funding summaries [.pdf] of the Department of State Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations” and a recent report from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to examine how budget cuts and a funding shortfall for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria may affect funding for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Kenya (Mazzotta, 4/18).
World Bank To Strengthen Social Safety Net Programs To Support Those In Developing World Vulnerable To Economic Volatility
“The World Bank plans to strengthen its social safety net to help the 60 percent of people in the developing world who lack adequate protection from the impact of global financial volatility and rising food and fuel prices,” Bloomberg reports. “Expanding cash transfers, food assistance, public works programs and fee waivers to help nations respond to crises and fight persistent poverty will be the center of the agenda for the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Development Committee meeting on April 21, the bank said [Wednesday] in Washington,” according to the news agency (Martin, 4/18). “Safety nets can transform people’s lives and provide a foundation for inclusive growth without busting budgets. … Effective safety net coverage overcomes poverty, and promotes economic opportunity and gender equality by helping people find jobs and cope with economic shocks, and improving the health, education, and well-being of their children,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said, the Guardian notes (Elliott, 4/18).
Inexpensive Female Genital Schistosomiasis Prevention Could Help Reduce Women’s Risk Of HIV Infection
In this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, describes female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), which affects more than 100 million women and girls in Africa and “causes horrific pain and bleeding in the uterus, cervix and lower genital tract, not to mention social stigma and depression.” According to studies, women affected by FGS “have a three- to four-fold increase in the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS,” but a low-cost drug called praziquantel may prevent FGS “and therefore also serve as a low-cost AIDS prevention strategy if it is administered annually to African girls and women beginning in their school-aged years,” he notes.
“[A]nti-poverty advocates [are] urg[ing] President Obama to ‘find political will to end global hunger’ during the upcoming G8 Summit at Camp David,” Inter Press Service reports. Members of ActionAid last week held signs in front of the White House “that read ‘Obama: Find the Will to be a Hunger Hero at the G8,’ next to a cutout of the president in a superhero suit,” the news service writes (Panagoda, 4/7). And “[a] new report by ONE Campaign said increased donor support for agricultural investment plans in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Central America could lift about 50 million people out of extreme poverty,” Reuters notes. “ONE said it would launch its ‘Thrive’ campaign in France, Germany, Britain and the United States to highlight the need to tackle the causes of hunger,” the news service notes.
The GAVI Alliance “has struck a deal for bulk buying rotavirus shots from GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, which cuts the price by two-thirds and will allow poorer countries access to them at around $5 per course,” Reuters reports. The vaccines “combat the main cause of diarrhea — the second-largest killer of children under the age of five worldwide,” according to the news agency. GAVI “said on Tuesday its cut-price deal would allow it ‘to respond to ever-increasing demand from developing countries’ and provide the shots this year for three million children in eight poor countries,” working toward immunizing more than 70 million children in 30 million countries by 2016, Reuters notes (Kelland, 4/10). According to a GAVI press release, “This price drop is the result of an acceleration of GAVI’s market shaping activities and discussions with manufacturers carried out together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Supply Division of UNICEF, key Alliance partners” (4/10).
“The world appears reluctant to open its wallets to relief organizations dedicated to saving the lives of Africa’s children until it’s official. They want the United Nations to declare a famine,” a Globe and Mail editorial states. “UNICEF is to be credited for its preemptive global effort to break this tragic cycle of paralysis and delayed response in the case of the Sahel,” where “[o]ne million children are currently at risk of dying of acute malnutrition,” the editorial continues, and highlights a fundraising campaign launched by the organization last week, called #SahelNOW.
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, David de Ferranti, president of the Results for Development Institute, and Robert Hecht, managing director at the Institute, examine whether patent pools could help increase access to AIDS drugs among the world’s poor, writing, “AIDS program managers and advocates must pursue all measures that can keep the cost of treatment low and affordable. In addition to the actions that are already being taken — like having African governments and donors buy AIDS drugs in bulk from suppliers in order to obtain better prices — could a ‘patent pool’ for new drugs help to make AIDS treatment more accessible?”