“The United States announced an extra $30 million in aid to those affected by the war in Syria on Wednesday and called the formation of a new opposition coalition an important step that would help Washington better target its help,” Reuters reports. “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the announcement after talks in Perth involving her Australian counterpart Bob Carr and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Australian counterpart, Stephen Smith,” the news service adds (Brunnstrom, 11/14).
Programs, Funding & Financing
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday named as its new Executive Director Ambassador Mark Dybul, who helped create and then lead PEPFAR under former President George W. Bush, Intellectual Property Watch reports (Hermann, 11/15). According to the New York Times, “[h]e is respected by many AIDS activists in the United States, though there is some lingering controversy about his time in the Bush administration related to abstinence policies and anti-prostitution pledges imposed by conservative lawmakers as well as concerning strict licensing requirements for generic drugs” (McNeil, 11/15). The Financial Times reports Dybul said, “The most important thing is to look forward, not to the past. The U.S. funded more condoms than all other sources and 90 percent of all antiretrovirals are generics.” The newspaper notes, “Dybul’s appointment from a shortlist of four was adopted by the fund’s 26-strong board — composed of donor and recipient countries, non-governmental organizations, and business representatives — with just two abstentions, including France” (Jack, 11/15).
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday announced it will “integrate” the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), implemented in 2010 as a pilot program to provide low-cost artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in poor and rural areas, “into its existing core system of providing grants to countries to purchase drugs, bed nets and other malaria-control measures,” Nature News Blog reports (Butler, 11/15). “During a transition period in 2013, the lessons learned from the operations and resourcing of Phase 1 of the AMFm, such as manufacturer negotiations and the co-payment mechanism, will be integrated into core Global Fund processes,” a Global Fund press release states.
In an interview with GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Kent Campbell, director of the Malaria Control Program at PATH, discusses “achievements in the fight against malaria and what is needed to bring transmission to zero.” According to the interview transcript, Campbell talks about his career in global health, discusses how the approach to malaria treatment has changed since he entered the field, examines the President’s Malaria Initiative, and talks about next steps in the push to eliminate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa (Pardy, 11/15).
“In a bid to ensure the global fight against three of the world’s most devastating diseases remains efficient, the Board of the … Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria voted [Thursday] to begin an immediate transition” to a new grant-funding approach, the U.N. News Centre reports (11/15). The new funding model “is designed to be simpler, more flexible, and have greater impact in conquering the diseases,” according to Reuters. “The new system relies upon closer discussions with the recipient countries, along with other donor groups and experts, over the design of their disease-fighting programs”; “will focus on addressing the needs of the poorest countries with the highest number of infections”; and will allow flexible grant cycles “instead of falling in set time periods, so that they can be coordinated better with a country’s budgetary cycle, [the Board] said,” the news agency writes (Dawson, 11/15).
In a post on the Action for Global Health blog, Tim Roosen, coordinator of Action for Global Health, discusses a new report, launched Wednesday in conjunction with the Medical Mission Institute (MMI), examining official development assistance (ODA) from European countries. “Our findings show that many of Europe’s biggest economies are not living up to their commitments on ODA and that many are also not reaching the 0.1 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) target for global health, set by the WHO a decade ago,” the blog states. The report, titled “Results or Rhetoric: What you didn’t know about Europe’s aid for health,” “culminates in a number of recommendations to donors, the OECD and civil society,” according to the blog (11/14).
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said in a statement Thursday that its board had terminated the employment of Inspector General John Parsons ‘after a careful review of his performance, which was found to be unsatisfactory,'” the Associated Press reports (11/15). “The decision … , which was effective immediately, was based on a review by the board, an independent external peer review of the audit function, and a report by the group’s audit and ethics committee,” Reuters notes (Nebehay, 11/15). In a statement, the Global Fund said, “The Board confirms its full support for an independent and strong Office of the Inspector General.” The statement continues, “The Board said that it recognized the need to maintain continuity in the work of the audits and investigations currently underway, while the Global Fund conducts a search for a new Inspector General.” That process is expected to take about six months, and an interim Inspector General will be appointed soon, according to the statement (11/15).
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Wednesday said an investigation by the group’s Inspector General into grants in Cambodia “uncovered credible and substantive evidence of serious financial wrongdoing, on procurement and other issues,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/15). In a statement, the organization said, “Immediate action has been taken to protect the health of people supported by Global Fund grants in Cambodia, by adopting safeguards in procurement, financing and management” and added it “is committed to maintaining its grants in Cambodia and to expanding safeguards to protect its investments.” The statement adds, “An investigation report by the Office of the Inspector General is being finalized, and is expected to be publicly released once it is completed in the coming weeks” (11/14). According to AFP, “The mismanaged money amounts to under $1 million and was allocated to Cambodian officials to spend on anti-malaria programs, said a source with knowledge of the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity” (11/15).
Improving access to family planning for the 222 million women who lack such services would bring many benefits, including helping to reduce maternal mortality and improve infant survival, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin says in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, citing the recently released State of the World Population 2012 report. However, “[i]n many poor countries, contraceptives may not be available or families may lack the money to buy them,” and “social barriers and family resistance are also powerful barriers,” he says, adding, “So too is the lack of proper health or distribution systems or trained workers to give confidential advice.” He continues, “This huge unmet need comes despite the fact that there is almost universal agreement that access to family planning is a human right. By denying this right, we are putting other basic rights at risk across the world.”
With recent suggestions “of privatizing the [U.S.] government’s emergency response capability for natural and human-caused disasters and infectious diseases,” Henry (Chip) Carey, an associate professor of political science at Georgia State University in Atlanta, writes in the World Policy Blog, “One might want to look at Haiti for a case study in the effects of bypassing the government health sector for private organizations.” He continues, “In Haiti, the result of decoupling the state from health care has been across the board decreases in water and sanitation quality.” Carey reviews the history of Haiti’s health system and conditions surrounding the 2010 cholera outbreak. He concludes, “What is needed are comprehensive, low-tech sanitation systems and clean, common water sources throughout the country, overseen by the Haitian government. In the past three decades, the U.S. has not given Haiti’s leaders the chance to show us that they can rise to the occasion. It is high time we change course and help the Haitians help themselves” (11/14).