Forbes features an interview with Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in which she “discusse[s] her motivations for pursuing a career in international affairs and social change, her experience as a senior program officer at the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], what lessons she learned during her time at Gates that are most applicable in her new executive role at Friends of the Global Fight, the current landscape of challenges and solutions, and the role of technology in accelerating progress.” In the interview, Derrick said, “The mobilization to defeat these diseases in the past decade has been stunningly successful. … But there is so much more that needs to be done. If we don’t muster the resources to keep up the fight, and all commit to doing our part in a time of constrained resources, we risk backsliding on the progress we’ve already invested in” (Kanani, 9/21).
“This week, heads of state, celebrities and CEOs will attend U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ dinner in New York,” an event that “will highlight the amazing contribution of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to the health of women and children in developing countries,” Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the board of TB ACTION Group, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “Ten years ago, tackling HIV, tuberculosis [TB] and malaria seemed an almost impossible task. Today we can see the beginning of the end of these three killer diseases,” she continues, adding, “But to make these historic achievements possible we need sufficient resources available!”
“[W]hat will the day be like when we finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria?” Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, asks in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “[W]ith the launch today of The Big Push campaign — co-sponsored by the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] and the Huffington Post — this might be more than a thought exercise … because the progress that’s been made against these diseases in only the last 10 years has been so staggering that we may actually be in sight of the day when no child is born with HIV, nobody dies of malaria and we stop the spread of tuberculosis,” she continues and provides some statistics.
French drug maker Sanofi on Thursday announced a new three-year research collaboration agreement with the TB Alliance “to accelerate the discovery and development of novel compounds against tuberculosis,” RTTNews reports (9/20). “According to company material, the projects will explore a compound which researchers believe has potential to treat all forms of tuberculosis, investigate another class of natural derivatives that has shown ‘impressive’ activity against tuberculosis bacteria, and identify future candidates for development among chemical compounds in Sanofi’s collection,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes (Barton, 9/20). RTTNews notes, “Sanofi, which discovered rifampicin in the early 1960s, markets several anti-tuberculosis drugs” (9/20).
Global Health Funding Cuts Threatening Fight Against HIV, TB In Eastern Europe, Central Asia, NGO Report Says
The fight against HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is being threatened by cuts in global health funding, according to “a report [.pdf] by leading European non-governmental health organizations,” Reuters reports. In the report, “experts called on the European Union to step in to fill the gaps left by global donors to countries within and neighboring its borders,” the news service notes. According to Reuters, “[c]ountries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have some of the world’s fastest growing HIV epidemics,” and “Europe is also home to the world’s highest documented rates of drug-resistant TB” (Kelland, 9/18).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a CGD research fellow, and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant for the global health team at the center, examine the future of UNITAID. “Perhaps due to its relative obscurity and late entry to a crowded global health field, UNITAID has proactively worked to differentiate itself through a focus on commodities, market shaping, novel funding sources, and innovation,” but, “as UNITAID celebrates its sixth birthday …, it stands at a potential crossroads,” they write. Fan and Silverman note that a five-year evaluation report on the future of UNITAID, commissioned by its Executive Board, is forthcoming, and they highlight a paper (.pdf) in which they “outline some contradictions and limitations of UNITAID’s current approach.” They write, “We hope that the imminent evaluation provides the impetus for UNITAID to turn inward and do something truly innovative: buck institutional inertia, change course as necessary, and reinvent itself as the solution to 2012’s biggest global health challenges” (9/17).
The board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria began a two-day meeting in Geneva on Thursday, “with one topic high on the agenda: a new funding model,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports. “The board will tackle aspects of a new funding model, which, according to Global Fund Director of Communications Seth Faison, ‘will change the way the Global Fund has made grants for 10 years,'” the news service writes, adding that the model, according to the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, “will see the Global Fund dropping its ’round’ grant-making process and replacing it with a ‘more flexible’ system.” In addition, “an ‘iterative dialogue process’ is also reportedly being explored,” Devex reports. “The proposed reforms seem good for the fund and its beneficiaries … [b]ut some have expressed their concerns on the funding model under consideration, specifically on the ‘historical disease application’ approach,” the news service writes (Ravelo, 9/13). According to an article on the Stop TB Partnership website, the new approach “would cap the proportion of funding available to tuberculosis (TB) projects at 16 percent,” and the proposal, “which is based on the proportion of grants awarded to TB in the past, met with strong objections from the community of people working on TB worldwide” (9/13).
After testing about 5,600 existing medications for their effectiveness against drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB), researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that oxyphenbutazone, “an anti-inflammatory medication marketed in the 1950s as Tandearil and still used in veterinary medicine,” killed both latent and active TB bacteria in test-tube experiments, the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports. The medication is inexpensive, estimated to cost two cents per day in developing countries, according to the researchers, but it needs to go through “a series of clinical trials in which researchers would flesh out, in a human population, the medication’s safety and effectiveness record at various doses, in different patient populations and at different stages of the disease,” the blog writes.
The Wall Street Journal examines global efforts to stop the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) strains, stating, “Global health officials view the emergence of incurable cases of tuberculosis in India as a worrisome evolution in a trend they have been concerned and intensely frustrated about for years — the rise of drug resistant forms of tuberculosis around the world.” The newspaper notes that “last year, a Mumbai doctor reported several cases of TB resistant to the 12 most commonly used medicines,” and adds that “[a]s many as 4.8 percent of all tuberculosis cases are resistant to at least some available drugs, according to a recent study.” The newspaper discusses WHO guidelines to prevent the spread of TB and writes, “Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Geneva-based Stop TB Partnership, an advocacy organization whose members include the World Health Organization, the CDC and others, says only localized action by the countries themselves will bring rates of drug-resistant TB down” (Shah/Anand/McKay, 9/7).
“[O]ver the past month, [tuberculosis (TB)] has captured high-profile attention from the Washington Post, the New York Times, TIME, NPR, [Agence France-Presse] and other major media, generating big headlines about the rising challenge we face in tackling one of humanity’s oldest and most resilient infectious diseases,” Jan Gheuens, interim director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s TB Program, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Why should we be concerned?” he asks. Gheuens says because the worldwide number of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases is growing; “it costs a lot of money to treat MDR-TB”; and “MDR-TB patients must go through two years of intensive treatment, including daily injections for the first six months.” He concludes, “What’s clear now, more than ever, is that making progress on TB will require a comprehensive approach that includes new and better approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention” (9/6).