A report (.pdf) released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation outlines the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) global health work, “present[ing] the first comprehensive analysis of DoD’s activities and budget in this area” and “aim[ing] to contribute to discussions about DoD’s role in global health, understandably regarded as controversial by many observers,” a Lancet editorial states. “The report notes that DoD’s work in global health is varied,” “[n]o overarching policy or strategic document guides the department’s global health-related efforts and there is no single budget for such activities,” the Lancet writes. The report estimates that DoD’s budget for global health work in FY 2012 was more than half a billion dollars, more “than the global health budgets for either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health during the same period”; however, “the effectiveness of this investment is unclear,” according to the editorial.
Programs, Funding & Financing
PEPFAR has released its “Fiscal Year 2013 Country Operational Plan (COP) Guidance” on its website. The document (.pdf) provides guidance with respect to COP preparation; priorities and approaches for FY 2013; mandatory earmarks and reporting requirements; COP elements; as well as management and operations (October 2012).
Inter Press Service examines how Mexico’s government and non-governmental organizations are working to stem the spread of HIV among people who use injection drugs. “According to a project financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since 2011, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Mexico is 5.77 percent among intravenous drug users … compared to 0.24 to 0.3 percent in the general population aged 15 to 49,” IPS writes, noting HIV prevalence among drug users is highest in “northern Mexico, one of the areas in the country hit hardest by drug trafficking.” The news service adds “[t]here are 28 syringe exchange programs in this country of 112 million people, insufficient to serve the entire population of intravenous drug users.” IPS discusses funding shortfalls for syringe exchange programs, legal hurdles to obtaining clean injection equipment, and how the government aims to continue receiving Global Fund money through 2013 (Godoy, 10/11).
Fareed Abdullah, CEO of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), who took office in July, spoke with PlusNews regarding the body’s reform, the revival of provincial AIDS councils, resource mobilization, and the appointment of a new board that allows SANAC to operate independently. According to the news service, Abdullah said the secretariat has three times as many staff as it did three months ago, adding, “We have a team of eight people working on the grant renewal process for about five Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] grants. We’ve committed two staff members to dealing with PEPFAR [the U.S.-based President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] and the new agreement to co-manage programs, and we’ll expand [staff] as the needs expand” (10/11).
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed a grant agreement worth $102 million with the Churches Health Association of Zambia [CHAZ] Wednesday,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports. Part of the grant — $44 million — is “‘old money’ that had already been approved before,'” Marcela Rojo, Global Fund communications officer, told Devex in an email, the news service states, adding, “The money is on top of the $141.8 million in Global Fund grants that the U.N. Development Programme signed on behalf of the health ministry in 2011” (Ravelo, 10/11). “Activities implemented by this grant will focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, promoting male circumcision, expanding and sustaining HIV treatment, reducing new infections, and maintaining a high coverage of impact mitigation,” as well as strengthening counseling and testing and HIV treatment adherence, PANA/Afriquejet notes (10/11).
In a post in Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, examines “the contribution the Japanese people have made to immunization.” “For the last six years, they have been buying bonds sold by the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), and the money they invest has been used by GAVI to buy vaccine bonds for the poorest countries in the world,” he writes, adding, “In all, the Japanese have purchased the equivalent of nearly $2 billion in IFFIm vaccine bonds since 2006” (10/10).
“As the importance of [America’s] foreign assistance has grown, so has the number of mechanisms to dispense it,” Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, write in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. The authors note that “more than 24 different agencies play some role in our development and assistance efforts,” including USAID, PEPFAR, and the Department of Defense. They continue, “Policymakers have for some time recognized that we need to bring better strategic guidance and coordination to this system,” adding, “In particular, we need a better way to monitor and evaluate these programs to make sure they are working well and fulfilling their policy goals.”
Zimbabwean AIDS Activists March To National AIDS Council Demanding Accountability For AIDS Levy Funds
AIDS activists in Zimbabwe this week marched to the Harare headquarters of the country’s National AIDS Council (NAC) and “demand[ed] the government account for millions of dollars it is raising through an AIDS-related tax,” VOA News reports. Zimbabwe implemented the tax, meant to pay for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, in 1999, but people living with HIV say they are not receiving treatment, according to the news service. Spiwe Chabikwa, who traveled from Bulawayo to protest, said, “The demonstration is not against the government, just against corruption. … Everyone is affected; the AIDS levy is paid by everyone whether HIV-positive or not,” VOA states. In an interview with VOA, NAC Director Tapiwa Magure said, “We are up to date with our audits. There are tight controls … All I am saying is, we are more than ready to explain everything.” The news service notes the “Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has petitioned the National AIDS Council demanding that the agency release information related to how the AIDS levy is being administered” (Mhofu, 10/10).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Al Ansari Exchange, “a major foreign exchange and remittance company in the [United Arab Emirates], have committed $10 million over the next five years to tackle” polio and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Devex reports (Ravelo, 10/10). “The agreement, which was jointly signed in Abu Dhabi by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and Mohammed Ali Al Ansari, chairman of the board of Al Ansari Exchange, will kick off with an initial co-funded contribution of $4 million to support polio eradication activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the prevention and treatment of NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa,” an Al Ansari Exchange press release notes (10/9). In his blog, “The Gates Notes,” Gates provides a transcript of his speech at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Media Summit, where the agreement was signed (10/9).
On the first annual International Day of the Girl Child, observed October 11, “UNICEF and partners are highlighting joint efforts to end child marriage — a fundamental human rights violation that impacts all aspects of a girl’s life,” the Times of India reports. “[A] series of events and actions are taking place throughout the world to draw attention to this critically important issue,” a UNICEF press statement says, noting, “At U.N. Headquarters in New York, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will join UNICEF, UNFPA, and U.N. Women to discuss ways governments, civil society, U.N. agencies, and the private sector can come together to accelerate a decline in the practice of child marriage” (Gohain, 10/10).