“The remarkable gains made in the treatment of malaria over the past decade are under threat because of insufficient increases in funding over the past two years, according to an annual progress report by the World Health Organization,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 12/17). In its World Malaria Report 2012 (.pdf), the [WHO] notes that rapid expansion in global funding for malaria prevention and control between 2004 and 2009 leveled off between 2010 and 2012,” the U.N. News Centre writes (12/17). “Global funding for malaria control remained at $2.3 billion in 2011, the WHO said” in the report, Bloomberg notes, adding, “Money available for combating the mosquito-borne disease is expected to peak at about half of the $5.1 billion that’s needed annually to provide bed nets, tests and drugs to all the people who need them, the WHO said” (Bennett, 12/17). “This means that millions of people living in highly endemic areas continue to lack access to effective malaria prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment,” according to a WHO press release (12/17).
Programs, Funding & Financing
“Lawmakers on Monday approved legislation calling for government-funded contraception and sex education classes in the Philippines, a first in the heavily Catholic nation,” CNN reports (12/17). The House of Representatives and the Senate … approved the Reproductive Health (RH) bill on third and final reading, pushing the controversial bill a step closer to being signed into law,” the Philippine Star writes (Diola/Cerda, 12/17). “Voting 13-8 with no abstention, the Senate passed the RH bill on third and final reading,” Inquirer News notes, adding, “At the House of Representatives, lawmakers voted 133 to 79 with seven abstentions to approve its version of the measure” (Ager/Santos, 12/17).
“On Thursday (Dec. 14), [Nigeria] signed five grant agreements with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” with some of the money going “to provide for antiretroviral therapy treatment and prevention services, particularly on mother-to-child HIV transmission,” Devex’s “The Development Newswire” blog reports. Of the total $335 million, $265 million will go toward HIV/AIDS activities, while $70 million will be used for TB initiatives, the blog notes (Ravelo, 12/14). “For Nigeria, [the] grant agreements address a tremendous need: Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world and only 30 percent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving antiretroviral therapy,” a Global Fund press release states (12/13).
The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog “reports on the challenges of eliminating river blindness from Africa by 2025.” “The implications of shift from disease control to elimination are considerable, as has been the case with the objective to eliminate onchocerciasis (better known as river blindness) by 2025, decided by the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) back in 2009,” the blog writes, detailing elimination efforts against the disease since the 1970s. “Together, 20 years of vector control and 25 years of ivermectin treatment have brought onchocerciasis prevalence down to insignificant levels in many countries,” the blog states. However, “the disease still exists,” the blog notes and highlights a number of challenges to achieving elimination, such as raising funds for surveillance efforts and achieving universal treatment coverage due to “a potentially lethal reaction [to the drug] in patients infected with loa-loa, a parasite common in forest areas” (Filou, 12/17).
Writing in DevelopmentEducation.ie, Jamie Hitchen of the Human Rights Centre Uganda explores a proposal in Uganda to create “a fund specifically designated to assist projects for HIV and AIDS prevention and protection” that would “generate cash through levies on bank transactions and interest, air tickets, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes, as well as taxes on goods and services traded within Uganda.” He notes, “The revenue generated is expected to be spent on condom distribution, reducing cases of sexually transmitted infections and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.” However, “reactions from ordinary Ugandans have not been particularly favorable,” he writes, adding, “It’s not been so much about the idea of a HIV and AIDS tax being proposed that is drawing dissent, but it is more revealing of the absence of faith held in the government not to pocket the funds.”
“World AIDS Day 2012 offered numerous personal stories in the global fight against HIV and AIDS, but perhaps the most intriguing story, however, was a policy one: How developing countries are making significant contributions to the fight against AIDS in their own countries,” Nicholas Rogacki, a policy fellow with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), writes in the USGLC Blog. “For the first time in the history of the disease, spending by recipient nations to combat AIDS has exceeded spending by donor nations like the United States,” he writes, adding, “While many aid recipient countries have begun to play a larger role in development, there is still much to accomplish in global health and beyond” (12/13).
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine this week are hosting a conference in New York, titled “Lives in the Balance: Delivering Medical Innovations for Neglected Patients and Populations,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In a video presentation, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim “told the conference … that the goal is to ‘lay the foundation of a health science that works for the poor,'” according to the newspaper. “That means innovative research on diseases and delivery systems geared to people in developing nations, not the more affluent ones, greater sharing of ideas, and support for developing nations so they can assist in the process from beginning to end,” the newspaper writes (Sell, 12/14).
“If the world scales-up HIV treatment and prevention in the next two years, a critical tipping point — in which those on treatment outnumber those newly infected with the virus — could be reached, according to the global HIV prevention advocacy organization AVAC,” PlusNews reports. The news service “breaks down the issues likely to top the HIV prevention agenda in the coming year,” including better defining “combination prevention” for country- and local-level needs, preparing for new voluntary medical male circumcision methods, and protecting HIV prevention research funding (12/13).
“Optimism and momentum has been building around the real possibility that an AIDS-free generation is imminent. … Yet, the most recent estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence and of AIDS-related mortality released by UNAIDS, together with data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the Lancet, make it clear that AIDS is not over,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Mark Dybul, incoming executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, write in a Lancet opinion piece. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and UNAIDS data “highlight a persistent, significant, and egregious burden of avoidable death,” the authors write, noting global statistics and recent success in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and incidence rates worldwide.
“California Rep. Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, unveiled a 923-page bill on Wednesday that would replace the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a framework for providing developmental and economic U.S. aid,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports, noting, “Berman’s Global Partnerships Act of 2012 would change the aid system to focus on mutually agreed goals instead of the emphasis on donor-recipient ties, increase accountability and oversight, and eliminate duplication” (Cassata, 12/12). “Aside from this shift from donor-recipient relations to partnerships, the bill proposes a stronger focus on results, the revitalization of [USAID], elevation of human rights in U.S. foreign policy and aid programs, improvement of U.S. capacity to prevent and address conflicts, and expansion of the scope of debt-for-nature programs,” according to Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog.