With the average life expectancy for South Africans at 60 years old, the country “has achieved a ‘stunning’ increase in life expectancy in the last three years due to a government push to roll out antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to people with HIV/AIDS,” according to a study (.pdf) published in the Lancet on Thursday, Reuters reports. Nearly two million of the six million people in the country living with HIV/AIDS are on antiretroviral treatment, compared with only 912,000 in 2009 when the life expectancy was 56.5 years, the news agency notes, adding that the country’s treatment program is the largest in the world.
Programs, Funding & Financing
The “Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation,” (.pdf) released on Thursday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “shows that upfront investments to support the rapid scale-up of lifesaving AIDS treatment will yield significant savings — of both lives and dollars — in the near future,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “For the Blueprint to be a success, the funding to implement it must be secured,” Tutu writes, adding, “Advocates will need to lobby President Obama to ensure that specific targets are attached to the Blueprint, that progress is tracked and that adequate resources are allocated quickly to fund accelerated, up-front investments.” He continues, “That’s no small order in the current global economic environment and in light of the political gridlock in Washington over plans to correct the U.S. federal deficit.”
“Most people think malnutrition is all about not having enough food or enough of the right kind of food to eat,” but while “[t]his is a big part of the story … there are many other links in the chain,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, writes in a BBC Magazine opinion piece. “So dealing with malnutrition means fixing all the links in the chain — food, health, sanitation, water and care,” he states. “We know that handwashing with soap helps prevent diarrhea. We know that fortifying flour and salt with key vitamins and minerals bolsters nutrient intake for those with low quality diets. We know that deworming improves nutrient absorption by the gut,” he continues.
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Friday published Issue 204 of its “Global Fund Observer.” Among other articles, the issue features an article on the resolution of a stalemate over a grant to Zambia; an article summarizing the latest report from the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General; and an article on a proposed new AIDS funding rule in Brazil (11/30).
“[O]ne thing I’ve learned from working on HIV/AIDS my entire political career — we are far better united than divided,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) writes in a Politico opinion piece, noting examples of bipartisan legislation that “help to slow the rate of infections and reduce the number of deaths from AIDS.” She continues, “We can put into place the policies that can help end AIDS. Even in a time of fiscal uncertainty, we have the resources. We just have to be smart about it, and that means responding to the reality of HIV and not the luxury of our political comfort.” Lee writes, “Worldwide, we have to maximize our efficiency and build programs that make sense,” including integrating family planning, maternal health, and HIV services and “respond[ing] to the needs expressed by key populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, and people who inject drugs.” She says, “As long as we are supporting laws that limit comprehensive sex education, deny federal funding for syringe exchange services, or criminalize people living with HIV for consensual sex, biting and spitting, we are allowing HIV to thrive.”
“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday unveiled a game plan for achieving a global ‘AIDS-free generation,’ committing the United States to rapidly scaling up medical interventions that are beating back what once was seen as an unconquerable disease,” Reuters reports (Quinn, 11/29). “Clinton announced the plan, officially titled the ‘President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation,’ [.pdf] at the State Department, two days ahead of World AIDS Day,” CNN notes (Ariosto, 11/29). The 54-page blueprint — “immediately welcomed by AIDS researchers and advocates” — aims “to treat as many people as possible, both to keep them well and to help keep them from infecting others” and will target high-risk populations, such as drug users, gay men, and sex workers, NBC News’ “Vitals” blog writes. The blog notes Clinton released new PEPFAR data (.pdf) showing the program has provided antiretroviral treatment to more than five million people worldwide (Fox, 11/29). “The report from [PEPFAR] states that the world is at a ‘tipping point’ on AIDS, and promises to usher in a generation free of the disease,” The Hill’s “Healthwatch” blog states (Viebeck, 11/29). Once the number of people on treatment surpasses the number of new infections every year, “[w]e will then get ahead of the pandemic and an AIDS-free generation will be in our sight,” Clinton said, Politico Pro reports (Smith, 11/29). The Washington Post adds, “But she warned: ‘Now we have to deliver. … The history of global health is littered with grand plans that never panned out'” (Brown, 11/29).
“Haiti and the Dominican Republic will require $2.2 billion over the next 10 years for an ambitious plan to eliminate cholera, an official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] said Wednesday,” the Associated Press/NewsOK reports. “The plan is due to be rolled out in a week or two and it outlines a government-led effort backed by the CDC, the Pan American Health Organization and UNICEF,” though it is “still unclear who will pay for what would be the biggest endeavor yet to develop Haiti’s barely existent water and sanitation system,” the news service writes (Daniel/Mendoza, 11/29).
Writing in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog, (RED) CEO Deborah Dugan reflects on World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1. “World AIDS Day presents an opportunity every year to raise the profile of the pandemic and remind people of the havoc it’s wreaked in its 31 years of existence,” Dugan states, adding, “The date also gives us a responsibility to make as much noise as we can about the disease — to remind people that it’s still one of the deadliest health issues for people in sub-Saharan Africa — and in a domino effect, a huge threat to economic traction in countries worst affected.” She highlights a new (RED) campaign called DANCE (RED), SAVE LIVES which “[brings] together some of the biggest names in dance music” in an effort to “engage with and channel today’s youth.” According to the blog, the post “was produced by the Huffington Post and (RED) as part of a series recognizing World AIDS Day” (11/28).
In the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, writer Marianne Schnall interviews Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “about why she considers family planning such a vital issue, how she views the role of philanthropy, her excitement over a new crowdfunding platform she helped launch called Catapult, and the many ways she says giving has enriched her life.” Schnall writes, “Controversy over reproductive rights has been at the forefront of our national conversation, but philanthropist Melinda Gates would like to take the controversy out and transform the narrative into a global one through education and advocacy.”
“The world must address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and meet the basic needs of people affected by 20 months of deadly conflict, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development said on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports (Ozerkan, 11/27). USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “said that at least a million Syrians, forced from their homes by the national uprising and government bombing, would not have food and other vital basic support, and the number could be double that or more,” the Kansas City Star writes. “‘Nearly 2.5 million people displaced from their homes require immediate support,’ Shah said,” the newspaper writes (Gutman, 11/28).