“Burundian NGOs say at least 20 people have died” as a result of a “months-long shortage” of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), although “Ministry of Health officials could not be reached to confirm the number of people affected,” PlusNews reports. “More than 60,000 Burundians need HIV treatment, but only about 25,000 have access to ARVs,” according to the news agency, which adds, “The shortage has been blamed on dwindling donor funds and a disorganized health ministry.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
In this New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog post, journalist and author Tina Rosenberg examines the contrasts between refugee situations in rural camps — such as Dadaab in Kenya, where tens of thousands have sought relief from drought and famine in Somalia — and more urban areas, such as cities in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, where approximately 1.6 million Iraqi refugees are living. “At Dadaab, [refugees] receive food, medical care, basic shelter — the emergency relief they need,” but “[t]he camp lacks the money to provide even subsistence rations” and “the refugees give up their rights to move freely and to work,” she writes. In urban areas, refugees “get help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with an ATM card that allows them to withdraw money every month. … They buy their own food and rent their own apartments. They use the local schools and health clinics,” Rosenberg says.
With negotiations over the outcomes for the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) stalled, “[i]t is feared that sound proposals for clear goals and timelines to tackle these devastating diseases are being systematically deleted, diluted and downgraded by some U.N. Member States and urgent action is needed to put the negotiations back on track, when they recommence on September 1,” Rob Moodie, chair of Global Health at the Nossal Institute of Global Health, writes in the Crikey health blog “Croakey.”
“Recent fighting in Libya, especially in the capital Tripoli, has taken a toll on medical services with overstretched personnel working under very difficult conditions, and seriously ill and injured patients unable to reach hospitals and clinics, health workers say,” IRIN reports.
“U.N. refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that relief groups should increase aid to war-battered and drought-hit Somalis to reduce the exodus to neighboring countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Our objective is to create conditions for Somalis to be able to live in Somalia and for Somali refugees, when they have the opportunity, to go back home safely,’ Guterres added,” the news agency notes. “Tens of thousands of Somalis have in recent months fled to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya due to the drought, the Horn of Africa’s worst in decades,” AFP writes (8/30).
In the refugee camps in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, “health and human rights officials warn of another crisis: an explosion of tent babies,” the Miami Herald reports. “Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear,” primarily because of a lack of funding, the newspaper writes.
In this U.N. Dispatch blog post, Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of the blog, examines the costs of second-line antiretroviral treatments (ARVs), which “are several orders of magnitude more expensive than traditional, first-line ARV treatments” and are a “huge barrier to providing care” for resource-poor countries. He writes of “a huge gap in the way governments and donors have historically approached people living with HIV,” adding that “as more people access first-line treatment, there will be more opportunities for people to develop resistance to that first line. Donors and governments in the developing world simply can’t afford that kind of outlay.”
Russia “is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world,” journalist Natalia Antonova writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, in which she describes her experience with the Russian medical system after “unexpectedly” becoming pregnant shortly after receiving her visa to work in Moscow.
Though the Asia-Pacific region “has seen impressive gains” in the fight against HIV/AIDS “– including a 20 percent drop in new HIV infections since 2001 and a three-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy since 2006 — progress is threatened by an inadequate focus on key populations at higher risk of HIV infection and insufficient funding from both domestic and international sources,” according to a UNAIDS report (.pdf) released on Thursday at the 2011 International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Busan, South Korea, a UNAIDS press release states (8/26).
At a meeting of the African Union (A.U.) in Ethiopia on Thursday, “African governments … pledged $46 million for the crisis in the Horn of Africa amid warnings that the emergency stretches far beyond hunger to encompass health, security and livelihood,” the Guardian reports. The amount fell short of the $50 million asked for by the aid group Africans Act 4 Africa, the newspaper adds, noting that “the African Development Bank announced a $300 million donation for long-term development in the Horn of Africa” (Tran, 8/25). Reuters reports that money is “to be spent over a four-year period, not to be used to bridge a $1.4 billion shortfall aid groups say they need for the emergency” (Malone, 8/26).