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Global Fund Releases Latest Impact Data, Projections For Improving Global Health In Next Decade

By 2015, mother-to-child HIV transmission will be virtually eliminated and deaths from malaria and tuberculosis will continue to decline if health investments for the diseases are maintained or scaled up, according to an annual results report published Monday by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Agence France-Presse/Africasia.com reports (3/8). 

The report comes ahead of a scheduled Global Fund meeting “in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 24 to examine how it can meet its goals [of] eliminating or reducing instances of the three diseases by 2015,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. According to the news service, Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine “said Monday ‘it is also now possible to imagine a world with no more malaria deaths.’” The AP writes that the Global Fund “estimates that between $13-20 billion are needed for the period 2011-2013” to achive its goals (3/8).

“According to the report, Global Fund-supported programmes saved at least 3,600 lives per day in 2009 and an estimated total of 4.9 million since the creation of the Global Fund in 2002,” according to a Global Fund press release. The release highlights the Global Fund’s contributions to the global fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria through the end of 2009, including helping “790,000 HIV-positive pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries [receive] antiretroviral prophylaxis to prevent mother-to-child transmission – which represents 45 percent of coverage of women in need.”

“In health, 2010 is a pivotal year to finance the final stretch of the effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals,” Kazatchkine said, according to the release. “We have made unprecedented progress but it is fragile. If we lose momentum now there will be a heavy price to pay,” he added.

“The Global Fund is about getting results. This report clearly shows the world’s investments are making a difference,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe in the release. “However AIDS is not over in any part of the world and without a fully funded Global Fund, our shared dream of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment care and support could become our worst nightmare – putting the lives of millions of people currently on treatment in jeopardy and millions of pregnant women in a position not able to protect their babies from becoming infected” (3/8).

Using Cell Phones To Fight HIV/AIDS In Africa

In related news, Agence France-Presse examines the potential for using cell phones in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, which Sidibe described as “a continent plagued by inadequate health centres and dilapidated infrastructure.”

“You can talk about different policies, about capacity building, but you can’t beat this kind of epidemic with facility-based approach only,” Sidibe said recently during a trip to Nigeria. “It is time to reinforce our capacity to use the modern technology differently,” he added. “Africa, a continent with one of the highest numbers with access to cellular phones, should take advantage of the digital revolution to reach out widely, he said,” AFP writes.

The article details several ongoing initiatives in Nigeria, including a pilot project where community health workers are using cell phones to connect from the field with “trained medical workers at a major referral centre to get diagnosis and prescriptions dictated over the phone.” Also in Nigeria, “[a] major mobile telephone operator … runs a toll-free call scheme that links callers to counsellors on HIV-AIDS concerns,” according to AFP (Njanji, 3/8).