A new analysis from amfAR (.doc), The Foundation for AIDS Research, “estimates potential human impacts of funding changes [in global health programs] proposed in the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget request when compared to current operating budget levels (fiscal year 2012).” President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request includes a decrease in funding for PEPFAR and an increase in funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to the analysis, which concludes, “Taken together, proposed changes in funding for the Global Fund and PEPFAR could lead to significant reductions in lifesaving AIDS treatment delivery, services to orphans and other vulnerable children, prevention of vertical HIV transmission (from mother-to-child) services, and HIV testing services that could otherwise have been delivered with flat funding for PEPFAR” (April 2012).
South Africa’s recently released “National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) 2012-2016” “marked an important milestone” in the nation’s fight against infectious diseases, a Lancet editorial states. “The plan [.pdf] has several broad goals: to reduce new HIV infections by at least 50 percent; to start at least 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral treatment; to reduce the number of new tuberculosis infections and deaths by 50 percent; to ensure a legal framework that protects and promotes human rights to support implementation of the plan; and to reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and tuberculosis by at least 50 percent,” the editorial notes.
“On Thursday (Dec. 14), [Nigeria] signed five grant agreements with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” with some of the money going “to provide for antiretroviral therapy treatment and prevention services, particularly on mother-to-child HIV transmission,” Devex’s “The Development Newswire” blog reports. Of the total $335 million, $265 million will go toward HIV/AIDS activities, while $70 million will be used for TB initiatives, the blog notes (Ravelo, 12/14). “For Nigeria, [the] grant agreements address a tremendous need: Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world and only 30 percent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving antiretroviral therapy,” a Global Fund press release states (12/13).
“Multidrug-resistant [tuberculosis (TB)] is at epidemic proportions in some parts of the world — a growing problem the U.S. is surprisingly unprepared for,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Noting “[t]he U.S. beat back multidrug-resistant tuberculosis [MDR-TB] in the 1990s,” the newspaper continues, “Today, however, a new threat is emerging as drug resistance worsens abroad and far more dangerous strains develop and spread, including some that are all but untreatable with standard drugs.” The Wall Street Journal examines reasons behind a resurgence of MDR-TB in the U.S., treatment and control efforts, and how “funding and expertise are in decline” (12/19).
In the New York Times’ “Scientist At Work” blog, Alexander Kumar, a physician and researcher at Concordia Station in Antarctica, examines the question of “why humans should venture out to other planets, and perhaps in the process create new problems, when we have so many problems on our own planet,” including HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other “largely preventable and treatable” conditions. Kumar, who is “investigat[ing] the possibility of one day sending humans to Mars” for the European Space Agency, says he is “repeatedly asked … why the human race would invest its precious and finite resources (money) into space exploration?” He continues, “People have presented valid arguments both ways: those against, about depriving the bottom billion of our planet by diverting much-needed funding; and those in favor, for furthering mankind’s now-desperate need for discoveries and new life-saving technology through exploration in space.
PEPFAR will purchase up to 150 rapid tuberculosis (TB) Xpert testing devices and cartridges to test about 450,000 people for TB, “addressing a need to improve diagnoses of drug-resistant strains of disease, and to identify the disease in HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa and Myanmar, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator announced” Tuesday, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “The investment is part of an ongoing effort,” according to the blog, which notes, “The announcement of the program’s added investment in the Cepheid Xpert tests, following the pre-World AIDS Day release last week of PEPFAR’s blueprint for creating an AIDS-free generation backs the plan’s stated purpose of applying evidence-based approaches and scientific advances to confront the global HIV epidemic” (Barton, 12/4).
Noting that the WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Report shows “that access to care and treatment for tuberculosis [TB] has expanded substantially in the past two decades,” Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in an AlertNet opinion piece, “Not only is this good news for those countries that are most vulnerable to tuberculosis; it is also good news for the global community,” as TB can be passed through the air. Derrick describes some of the interventions against TB instituted internationally, and she notes the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “is the largest global donor to tuberculosis programs, providing 82 percent of international funding to fight the disease,” as well as “91 percent of international financing” to fight multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
Tuberculosis (TB) “is the second leading cause of death due to infectious disease worldwide; taking approximately 1.4 million lives in 2011 alone,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” adding, “The good news is that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halt and reverse the TB epidemic by 2015 has already been achieved in several regions of the world.” She notes “advances have been made in TB diagnostics with the increased availability of Xpert, a new test that detects the disease — including in HIV-positive people — within 100 minutes.” However, she continues, “we cannot defeat the disease without the introduction of faster drug susceptibility tests and new drugs and vaccines.”
A report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) finds that the recent global economic downturn “hasn’t quelled generous government and private donors from giving record amounts to improve global health,” but the analysis also revealed “that growth in funding is beginning to taper off, cut by more than half between 2008 and 2010,” the Seattle Times’ “The Business of Giving” blog reports (Heim, 11/30).
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria Board of Directors on Wednesday approved 79 grants with a two-year commitment of “$1.7 billion dollars for projects against the diseases, amid warnings that some hard-hit African countries were being left out,” Agence France-Presse reports. The commitment, according to Ethiopian Health Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who chair’s the Global Fund’s board, “shows that even in hard economic times, we can continue to expand the fight against the three diseases” (12/15).