In a feature story, Al Jazeera examines Cuba’s national health care system, which “works — or is supposed to work — by emphasizing primary and preventative health care.” However, after subsidies from the former Soviet Union “ended and Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin, nothing was the same again,” according to the news agency, which notes the system experiences drug shortages, patients have long wait times, and some hospitals are dirty or malfunctioning. “In all fairness, in the past five years, the government has made great efforts to improve hospitals and health centers, but again, lack of resources is making the process painfully slow,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The system is free, but it is neither fast nor efficient for two important reasons. One is obviously the lack of financial resources, and the other — which is related to the first — is the ‘export’ of doctors, nurses and dentists in exchange for hard currency.” The feature concludes, “But for all its shortcomings, Cubans do have better access to health care than the majority of those living in many ‘developing nations,’ where public health is shockingly inadequate” (Newman, 6/18).
“The potential for antiretroviral medicine to reduce transmission of HIV and tuberculosis has been demonstrated, but the challenges of using treatment to prevent infection will need to be tackled country by country, and with focus on people for whom it will have the biggest impact, the latest bulletin on HIV treatment from the World Health Organization says,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “WHO’s June 2012 Antiretroviral Treatment as Prevention (TasP) of HIV and TB Programmatic Update is the latest of a series of documents the organization says will lead to a completed set of guidelines on treatment and prevention in July 2013,” the blog reports, noting, “The organization also plans to release new recommendations in time for the July International AIDS Conference, addressing the preventative use of antiretroviral medicine by people who are uninfected but potentially exposed to HIV, including those involved in commercial sex work, in ongoing relationships with infected partners, and men who have sex with men” (6/18).
GlobalPost Blog Examines Large-Scale Public Sector Condom Distribution Campaigns In U.S. Versus Abroad
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog profiles Washington, D.C.’s public condom distribution campaign, the Rubber Revolution Campaign, one of only a handful of large-scale public sector condom distribution campaigns in the U.S., and examines why public sector condom campaigns are more common outside of the U.S. “In other parts of the world, public sector condom campaigns are standard, [according to Michael Kharfen, bureau chief of partnerships and community outreach at the D.C. Department of Health], while in the United States they are primarily run through non-profit organizations,” the blog writes, noting, “Kharfen added that there is a lesson to be learned from other countries’ efforts to promote condom use through social marketing and public education.”
During a live webcast discussing recent changes at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “[p]anelists discussed the fund’s new strategy and what this strategy means for the global fight against these three diseases,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports. J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted the Global Fund’s new general manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, had moved quickly in focusing on restructuring and realigning the fund, according to the blog. Todd Summers, independent consultant and chair of the Strategy, Investment & Impact Committee at the Global Fund, said, “Now we see lots of opportunity to really make a big difference and change forever the trajectory” of the epidemics, “Global Pulse” notes.
“This week, at the Pacific Health Summit in London, the final large-scale trial was officially launched of a vaginal ring which women can wear and forget about — at least for a month at a time — while it releases an HIV virus-killing drug called dapivirine,” the Guardian reports. “If successful, it could also be combined with hormonal contraception,” the newspaper notes. The phase III clinical trial, “launched by the International Partnership for Microbicides, is already recruiting women in South Africa, Rwanda and Malawi” and “will involve 1,650 women — enough to prove definitively whether it works,” according to the newspaper (Boseley, 6/13).
“More than 100 million condoms will be distributed annually to sex workers, men who have sex with men, and other groups vulnerable to HIV as part of a new five-year program to be run by the Ethiopian government and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” PlusNews reports. “Dubbed MULU, the Amharic word for comprehensive, the $70 million program — implemented by the NGOs Population Services International and World Learning — will also target day laborers in the booming construction industry, migrant workers and their partners,” the news service notes.
“Coinciding with the 2012 General Assembly AIDS review, the Permanent Missions of Malawi and Luxembourg to the United Nations and UNAIDS organized a panel discussion to further understand the strategic investments needed for the AIDS response,” a UNAIDS reports in a feature story on its webpage, adding, “The discussion brought together representatives of member states, U.N. organizations and civil society.” According to the story, “UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe stressed the need to focus investments where they can have greater impact”; “[p]anelists agreed that incremental yet bold steps must be taken to close the financing gap by 2015, including greater allocations from domestic and international resources”; and the “UNAIDS Investment Framework was presented as an opportunity for development partners and national governments toward developing a ‘shared responsibility’ agenda and maximizing value for money” (6/12).
The Miami Herald reports on Brazil’s national HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention program, writing, “By the mid-1990s, more effective and powerful antiretroviral therapies replaced the older treatments, and in 1996 Brazil declared that it would offer free antiretroviral treatment to all citizens with AIDS.” However, “the controversial program — the government broke international patent laws to mass-produce the drugs at a lower cost and recruited sex workers to help distribute condoms — may not survive for long, experts say,” the newspaper continues.
“Helping mothers give birth to HIV-free children is an essential piece of the puzzle of ending preventable child deaths,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in this post in the AIDS.gov blog, adding, “Yet 390,000 infants around the globe were born with the virus in 2010.” He continues, “Science has long established that providing mothers with antiretroviral drugs can prevent them from transmitting the virus to their children — as well as keeping the mothers alive themselves,” and writes, “What is needed is to take this intervention, available in affluent nations to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and make it available in the developing world.”
In this post in the Global Health Governance blog, Jenilee Guebert, director of research for the global health diplomacy program and G8 research group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, writes that, “for the second year in a row, the amount of attention devoted to global health” at the annual G8 summit, which took place at Camp David in Maryland in May, has declined. “Global health was not completely absent from the summit,” she continues, highlighting several health initiatives discussed at the meeting, including the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched “to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture” with an aim of “lift[ing] 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade.”