During a webinar Thursday hosted by the Health Global Access Project, AVAC, and amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), John Blandford, chief of CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS Health Economics, Systems and Integration Branch, presented findings showing “that scaling up antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in the developing world not only saves lives, but saves money too,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. According to the blog, “[Blandford] and his team of colleagues have found that cost savings from averted negative outcomes offset a major portion of the cost of treatment over time.” The blog quotes Blandford saying, “Based on [WHO] standards, ART should be considered highly cost-effective in almost every country in sub-Saharan Africa” (Mazzotta, 1/27).
Programs, Funding & Financing
Speaking on Saturday at the African Union Summit, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said huge advances in HIV treatment and prevention have been made over the past decade in Africa, “[b]ut these gains ‘are not sustainable,’ … because they are heavily dependent on foreign aid,” the Zimbabwean reports (1/30). “An estimated two-thirds of AIDS expenditures in Africa come from international funding sources, according to a new UNAIDS issues brief titled “AIDS dependency crisis: sourcing African solutions” (.pdf), Xinhua writes (1/29).
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and the new chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece about Africa’s efforts in the fight against malaria. “Supported by the lessons learned from the decade to ‘roll back malaria,’ which produced a 33 percent decline in malaria deaths in Africa between 2000 and 2010, 41 African presidents have now signed on to end deaths from the disease in their home countries as part of [ALMA],” she writes. But “[d]espite this encouraging progress, much work remains to be done,” she continues.
In an article examining recent developments at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Wall Street Journal interviews Gabriel Jaramillo, the Colombian-born Brazilian citizen and former CEO of Sovereign Bank who will become the fund’s new general manager this week. Following “disclosures of misused funds and a slowdown in global donations,” the “new chief … plans a major overhaul of operations following an assessment urging improved management,” according to the newspaper.
UNICEF on Friday “appealed … for $1.28 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to children in over 25 countries this year, with nearly one-third of the total amount earmarked for the crisis in the Horn of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (1/27). The agency also released its annual “Humanitarian Action for Children 2012” report, which “decried the rising levels of starvation and malnutrition among children under the age of five in many of the world’s troubled regions,” GlobalPost writes (1/27). UNICEF “said it was seeking nine percent less than in 2011, linked to lower needs in Pakistan and Haiti, but that its needs for fighting hunger had jumped by nearly 50 percent,” according to Agence France-Presse (1/28). The agency said more than one million children in Africa’s Sahel region are at risk of severe malnutrition, Reuters reports (1/27).
Thirteen pharmaceutical companies; the governments of the U.S., U.K. and United Arab Emirates; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the WHO; the World Bank; the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi); and other global health organizations “announced a new, coordinated push to accelerate progress toward eliminating or controlling 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade,” according to a press release (.pdf) from Global Health Strategies. “In the largest coordinated effort to date to combat NTDs,” the partners will provide 14 billion doses of medications by the end of the decade and share expertise and products to speed research and development of new drugs, the press release notes.
In this New York Times opinion piece, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes that people’s willingness to donate billions of dollars for humanitarian relief efforts “is a testament to human beings’ generosity. But that fact of our generosity also explains why I am so frustrated by the increasing opposition in many rich countries to foreign aid.” Gates examines the underlying reasons keeping people “from supporting government investment to alleviate extreme suffering” and counters “the argument that aid doesn’t work even when it gets to its intended recipients” by providing a number of examples of advancements made in global health in recent years “due in large part to aid-funded programs.”
Speaking at an event organized by the Every Woman Every Child initiative on Thursday, “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [called on] business leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, to increase their investment in women’s education and health to ensure their well-being and encourage their participation in the world economy,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The business community can help. Your partnership is crucial in preventing unnecessary suffering for women and girls everywhere,’ Mr. Ban said, adding that despite recent progress, much remains to be done,” the news service notes.
IRIN reports that Cote d’Ivoire is abandoning its free health care for all scheme after a period of nine months, noting, “Theft, poor management and rising costs have made the service — introduced by President Alassane Ouattara’s government at the end of civil conflict to ease a dire public health situation — unaffordable.” According to the news service, “As of February, the free service will only be available to mothers and their children,” meaning “free care for deliveries and free treatment for diseases affecting children under six years old.”
“Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum’s [WEF] Annual Conference in Davos” on Friday, according to a Business Leadership Council press release. “The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world … The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other U.N. Health Millennium Development Goals over the coming months,” the press release states (1/27). “The Social Media Syndicate will coordinate the most influential, individual publishers on the Social Web to share messages and actions needed to welcome a ‘Generation Born HIV Free’ and to achieve all the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” according to a press statement from UNAIDS and PEPFAR (1/27).