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Gates Foundation Grants Biotech Firm Aeras $220 Million Over 5 Years To Develop TB Vaccines

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is “to give $220 million over five years to the non-profit biotech firm Aeras to develop vaccines to fight tuberculosis [TB], a company statement said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (3/15). The “grant will allow Aeras to advance several vaccine candidates into pivotal large-scale efficacy trials in South Africa and elsewhere,” South Africa’s Health-e writes (Thom, 3/15). According to AFP, Aeras “has developed six possible TB vaccines that are being tested across Africa, Asia, Europe and America” (3/15).

World Bank Report Urges African Governments, Development Aid Donors To Increase HIV Prevention Efforts

“With much of the global economy facing slowing growth and uncertain prospects, especially in developed countries, a new World Bank report” — titled “The Fiscal Dimension of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda” — “urges African governments and their development aid donors to do significantly more to prevent new HIV infections” and “warns that current spending on HIV/AIDS relates to past infections and is a potentially misleading indicator of the long-term public cost of the fight against HIV/AIDS,” a World Bank press release states. According to the press release, “The report argues that governments need to better assess the financial sustainability and allocative efficiency of their national HIV/AIDS responses over time so as to sustainably manage the long-term burden of HIV/AIDS” (3/14).

Joint Initiative To Support GBV Programs With PEPFAR Funding

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Monday “announced a joint initiative to provide $4.65 million in small grants to grassroots organizations to address gender-based violence (GBV) issues” through HIV/AIDS programs, according to a State Department press release. With funding coming from PEPFAR, “the initiative supports programs that prevent and respond to GBV, with a link to HIV prevention, treatment and care,” the press release states, adding, “Grants of up to $100,000 for programs that leverage existing HIV/AIDS platforms will be awarded to organizations working in one of more than 80 PEPFAR countries” (3/14).

Joint Fact Sheet On U.S.-U.K. Partnership For Global Development

A joint fact sheet on the U.S.-U.K. Partnership for Global Development is available on the White House website. “Through the Partnership, we are working together to achieve better results by advancing economic growth; preventing conflict in fragile states; improving global health, particularly for girls and women; strengthening mutual accountability, transparency, and measurement of results; and mitigating the effects of climate change,” the fact sheet states, elaborating on joint efforts in each of these areas (3/14).

Progress In AIDS Fight Must Be An Impetus For Increasing Investment, Sustaining Advancements In Africa

In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe examines the role of the fight against AIDS in sustaining economic and social development in Africa. “Africa is breaking records,” he writes, noting the economic growth, increased access to information, rise in democracy, decline in poverty, increased school enrollment — especially for girls — and decline in AIDS-related deaths on the continent. “Africa is now poised to push towards a new vision of: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths,” and “it needs everyone’s support,” he continues.

Japan Makes Largest-Ever Contribution To Global Fund

Japan on Monday provided a $340 million contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “the highest amount that Japan has ever made in 10 years of vigorous support for the Global Fund,” according to a fund press release. “This new contribution represents a significant increase over Japan’s previous highest contribution of $246 million in 2010” and “raises Japan’s contributions to the Global Fund to more than $1.6 billion since its creation in 2002,” the press release states (3/13).

Six Reasons Why Obama’s Proposal To Cut PEPFAR Funding Should Be Rejected By Congress

In this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, responds to a recently released analysis of adult mortality rates in African countries, which “found that between 2004 and 2008, in those nations where the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was most active, the odds of death were about 20 percent lower than in other countries in the region.” He writes, “It was one more piece in the growing collection of evidence that PEPFAR has been a tremendously successful program, advancing U.S. humanitarian and diplomatic priorities and saving millions of lives.” Collins continues, “That is why the proposal in President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget to cut bi-lateral HIV programming through PEPFAR by nearly $550 million, or 11 percent, has stunned so many on Capitol Hill and in the global health community.”

Smartphones Cheaper, More Effective Than Paper Surveys For Disease Monitoring, Study Suggests

“Using smartphones is cheaper and more effective than using paper surveys to monitor diseases in the developing world, according to a new study by Kenyan researchers with the [CDC] … presented Monday at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta,” the International Business Times reports. “The study compared 1,019 paper-based questionnaires to 1,019 smartphone questionnaires collected at four sample sites for influenza surveillance in Kenya,” the news service notes (3/12).

Kenya, Tanzania Face Ongoing Health Worker Strikes

About 2,000 Kenyan health workers attended a demonstration outside the Ministry of Health on Friday, the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports, noting, “Some 40,000 health workers nationwide went on strike on March 1 to protest low pay and poor working conditions.” According to the news service, “[t]he government announced Thursday that it fired 25,000 workers who defied an order to return to work” (3/9). “Anyang Nyong’o, minister for medical services, said on Thursday that the sacked workers would be required to re-apply if they are to be considered for reappointment,” MWC News notes (3/9).

Global Fund Donors ‘Earmark’ Funds For Capacity-Building, Fund’s General Manager Says

Gabriel Jaramillo, the general manager of the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said in an interview on Friday that “quite a few donors” to the fund “have earmarked portions of their donations to us, their contributions, to capacity-building,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. According to the AP, the Global Fund “is increasingly being forced to devote a portion of its donations to improving its own spending controls rather than disease-fighting,” the news service writes. “France, whose nearly $2.9 billion in donations have made it the fund’s second-largest contributor after the U.S., will sign a new pledging agreement this month requiring that five percent of its money go to tighten financial accountability among grant recipients, he said,” the AP writes.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.