In this BMJ Group blogs post, Richard Smith, editor of the BMJ until 2004 and director of the United Health Group’s chronic disease initiative, examines whether efforts to eradicate polio can be successful, writing, “Despite the problems of geography, war, insurgency, politics, communication, finance, and people management, there are optimistic signs, said … Sir Liam Donaldson, former chief medical officer in England and now chair of the International Monitoring Board for the Global Polio Eradication Programme.” He continues, “This is, [Donaldson] concluded, a ‘unique moment in public health’: with one last heave the disease could be eradicated, but if it isn’t financial backing will disappear, health workers will not be paid, systems will break down, and cases of polio will rise back into the tens or hundreds of thousands” (3/22).
Programs, Funding & Financing
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provides a fact sheet (.pdf) detailing its efforts to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the developing world. According to the fact sheet, the MCC and its partner countries “have prioritized WASH sector development,” and “MCC has invested $793 million in WASH-related projects in nine partner countries” (3/19).
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday announced his charitable foundation will “spend $220 million over the next four years to discourage tobacco use in developing countries, as he seeks to promote strategies around the world that curbed smoking in his city,” the Wall Street Journal reports (McKay, 3/21). Bloomberg announced “the new funding for Bloomberg Philanthropies on Thursday at the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore,” Reuters writes, noting “[t]he commitment takes the foundation’s total pledge to the cause to almost $600 million” (Begley et al., 3/22).
USAID Administrator Shah Addresses Agency’s FY13 Budget Proposal At House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing
Speaking Tuesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said USAID’s FY 2013 budget proposal “is slightly lower than last year,” but that “future U.S. foreign aid investments will be more ‘prioritized, focused and concentrated,'” and he “promised that U.S. aid will still be able to meet global development challenges,” VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports (3/21). “While foreign assistance represents less than one percent of our budget, we are committed to improving our efficiency and maximizing the value of every dollar,” Shah said, according to a transcript of his testimony. Shah outlined how the “budget prioritizes our USAID Forward suite of reforms,” noting efforts in the Global Health Initiative and Feed the Future programs, among others, according to his speech (3/20).
In this post in the Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health’s (MLI) “Leading Global Health” blog, MLI Director Rosann Wisman examines how a new, country-led development approach under the Global Health Initiative (GHI) — which focuses on “[funding] the priorities of developing countries rather than solely the priorities of the donors” — is “gaining steam.” She writes, “I believe there are two reasons for this. One is that developing countries, having gained a foothold in funding their own priorities, are showing stronger results when they are in the driver’s seat. Second, the tough economic times have caused several developing countries to internally face up to a key question: What do we do if our traditional donors no longer support our health programs?” (3/20).
A new report, titled “Injection Drug Use in Ukraine” and published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), examines the challenges of providing HIV prevention and care services in the country, particularly to people who inject drugs (PWID), who accounted for “nearly 50 percent of new HIV infections registered in 2010,” according to the CSIS website. Authors Phillip Nieburg, senior associate and co-chair of the Prevention Committee of the CSIS HIV/AIDS Task Force, and Lisa Carty, senior adviser in the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, also examine how the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and PEPFAR could help Ukraine “in advancing HIV prevention and other services for PWID,” the website notes (3/16).
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that more than a million children below the age of five in the Sahel are facing a disaster amid the ongoing food crisis in the drought-prone region of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/16). “‘More extreme conditions could see this number rise to about 1.5 million and the problem is that funding is not coming in at the rate that we need in order to prepare properly,’ [UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado] said. ‘So far we have received just one-fifth of the $119 million we have asked for in 2012,'” VOA News writes (3/16).
In a report published last week, the World Bank “called on African governments and international donors to increase efforts to prevent new HIV infections in order to control treatment costs,” VOA News reports. “One of the report’s co-authors, Markus Haacker, said countries facing the highest burden are often not those with the highest infection rate, but rather low-income countries that lack the resources to keep pace with each new infection,” VOA notes.
PlusNews examines the challenges and concerns surrounding Zimbabwe’s plan to conduct a door-to-door HIV testing campaign, which has not yet begun but “is already being met with skepticism by activists who feel this is not a priority for the country, especially with global HIV/AIDS funding on the decline.” National AIDS officials say the country’s “AIDS levy — a three percent tax on income — has become a promising source of funding”; in 2010, $20.5 million was collected, with most of that going to purchase antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), PlusNews notes. Of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe, 347,000 access ARVs through a national program, and another 600,000 people “urgently” need them, according to the news service.
“The savage cuts to Greece’s health service budget have led to a sharp rise in HIV/AIDS and malaria in the beleaguered nation, said a leading aid organization on Thursday,” the Guardian’s “News Blog” reports. “The incidence of HIV/AIDS among intravenous drug users in central Athens soared by 1,250 percent in the first 10 months of 2011 compared with the same period the previous year, according to” Reveka Papadopoulos, “the head of Medecins Sans Frontieres [MSF] Greece, while malaria is becoming endemic in the south for the first time since … the 1970s,” the blog notes.