“[W]e are losing the global fight against bad medicines,” and though “[s]ome progress is being made,” the “problem is that … crackdowns tend to focus on counterfeit drugs” while a “much bigger public health problem … is substandard drugs that are the result of shoddy manufacturing and handling — or perhaps worse, deliberate corner-cutting,” Roger Bate, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “In poor countries, a frightfully high number of bad drugs reach patients through legitimate supply chains and even donor programs underwritten by U.S. and European taxpayers,” increasing the risk of harm to patients and the development of drug-resistant disease strains.
“Norbert Hauser has been named interim inspector general of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports, adding, “The recently retired lawyer and international auditor will serve in this temporary appointment for up to nine months while the Global Fund searches for a permanent inspector general to replace John Parsons,” whose employment was terminated last month (Mungcal, 12/5). “Hauser will not be a candidate for the permanent position,” a Global Fund press release notes, adding, “Rather, he will maintain consistency in the work of the Office of the Inspector General, with a focus on providing seamless leadership and strategic guidance to staff of the Office of the Inspector General during his interim tenure” (12/5).
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).
The Skoll World Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog have co-produced a blog series to answer the question, “What will it really take to end AIDS?” In the first of six posts, Steffano Bertozi, director of HIV in the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, writes, “[D]espite evidence of measurable progress, it’s important to recognize that we still don’t have all of the tools that we need to end AIDS,” therefore “we still have an essential moral obligation to discover, develop and deliver new and better ways to help people protect themselves from HIV infection” (12/3). In another post, Erin Hohlfelder, ONE’s policy manager for health, says with “scaled-up financing, targeted programming, and expanded political will,” as well as “renewed urgency and concerted action, the world can transform the beginning of the end of AIDS from a vision to a reality and chart a course towards ending this pandemic” (12/3).
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has signed a new grant agreement [with Tanzania] worth $308 million,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports. “The grant, signed Dec. 1, will help provide more than 660,000 Tanzanians access to antiretrovirals, HIV testing and counseling, and other health products for the next three years, according to a press release” from the Global Fund, the news service writes (Ravelo, 12/3). The press release states, “The grant will also allow the country to reach 96 percent of pregnant women with HIV testing and counseling, providing treatment for over 346,000 HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent HIV transmission to their babies by 2015.” The press release adds, “These results are being achieved through close collaboration with Tanzanian partners as well as with the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR program and other donors such as Germany through its bilateral cooperation” (12/1).
The following blog posts address global AIDS issues, following World AIDS Day on December 1 and the release of the Obama administration’s “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf) on November 29.
The “Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation,” (.pdf) released on Thursday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “shows that upfront investments to support the rapid scale-up of lifesaving AIDS treatment will yield significant savings — of both lives and dollars — in the near future,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “For the Blueprint to be a success, the funding to implement it must be secured,” Tutu writes, adding, “Advocates will need to lobby President Obama to ensure that specific targets are attached to the Blueprint, that progress is tracked and that adequate resources are allocated quickly to fund accelerated, up-front investments.” He continues, “That’s no small order in the current global economic environment and in light of the political gridlock in Washington over plans to correct the U.S. federal deficit.”
The Financial Times on Friday published a special report titled, “FT Health: Combating AIDS 2012” (.pdf). The report, released ahead of World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1, includes several pieces, including an article discussing human behavior as an obstacle to eradicating HIV, an article examining Global Fund reform, and an article examining how the number of AIDS-related deaths could be reduced by more effectively treating tuberculosis patients (11/30).
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Friday published Issue 204 of its “Global Fund Observer.” Among other articles, the issue features an article on the resolution of a stalemate over a grant to Zambia; an article summarizing the latest report from the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General; and an article on a proposed new AIDS funding rule in Brazil (11/30).
“[O]ne thing I’ve learned from working on HIV/AIDS my entire political career — we are far better united than divided,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) writes in a Politico opinion piece, noting examples of bipartisan legislation that “help to slow the rate of infections and reduce the number of deaths from AIDS.” She continues, “We can put into place the policies that can help end AIDS. Even in a time of fiscal uncertainty, we have the resources. We just have to be smart about it, and that means responding to the reality of HIV and not the luxury of our political comfort.” Lee writes, “Worldwide, we have to maximize our efficiency and build programs that make sense,” including integrating family planning, maternal health, and HIV services and “respond[ing] to the needs expressed by key populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, and people who inject drugs.” She says, “As long as we are supporting laws that limit comprehensive sex education, deny federal funding for syringe exchange services, or criminalize people living with HIV for consensual sex, biting and spitting, we are allowing HIV to thrive.”