“Cash-strapped Swaziland is struggling to fund its HIV programs, and experts are warning of long-term damage to treatment and prevention schemes if steps are not taken to ring-fence funding and supplies,” the Mail & Guardian reports. About 200,000 people are living with HIV in Swaziland, nearly one quarter of the population, the newspaper notes, adding, “Until now the government has done well in terms of providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment — achieving 78 percent coverage, just under the World Health Organization’s ‘universal coverage’ rate of 80 percent. But there are fears that uncertainty about funding streams and weak supply-chain management could result in a reversal of this progress.” The article discusses funding from the government, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; antiretroviral drug and testing supply problems; and the epidemic’s effect on children and life expectancy in the country (Redvers, 2/27).
KFF Webcast Assesses President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal, Potential Global Health Implications
The Kaiser Family Foundation held a live “In Focus” webcast on Tuesday “to assess President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal and potential implications for global health,” the foundation writes on its website. The webcast features a panel of global health policy experts, moderated by Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health & HIV policy at the foundation, “who analyze the Administration’s proposal and how it compares to current funding levels, what may happen as the budget winds its way through Congress, and the implications for the future of U.S. global health programs,” according to the website, which provides links to the panelists’ biographies (.pdf), the foundation’s Budget Tracker and a fact sheet on U.S. funding for the Global Health Initiative, among other resources (2/22). A post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog provides quotes from panelists Beth Tritter, managing director of the Glover Park Group; Larry Nowels, a consultant with the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign and the ONE Campaign; and Ambassador Mark Dybul, co-director of the Global Health Law Program at Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law (Aziz, 2/21). The Medill School of Journalism’s “Medill on the Hill” also covered the discussion (Morello, 2/21).
In “the first in a series of conversations with officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussing the CDC’s role in global HIV and tuberculosis (TB) research and development,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog interviews Kayla Laserson, director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)/CDC Field Research Station in Kisumu, Kenya. Laserson answers questions about her work with the CDC, the latest research projects underway at KEMRI/CDC, and progress in Kenya’s HIV response since she began working in Kisumu six years ago, among other topics (Mazzotta, 2/14).
“President Barack Obama [on Monday] proposed a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2013 that aims to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years,” the Associated Press reports, and provides an agency-by-agency breakdown of the proposed budget (2/13). “Making up just one percent of the U.S. Government’s overall budget, the Department of State/USAID budget totals $51.6 billion,” a U.S. Department of State fact sheet notes (2/13). “Overall, funding for the Global Health Initiative (GHI) is down in the FY 2013 request, with most of the reduction coming from HIV/AIDS bilateral amounts,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Policy Tracker. “Most other areas saw decreases as well, except for family planning and funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance, which increased,” the resource adds. The budget plan proposes a total of approximately $8.5 billion for GHI, down more than $300 million from FY 2012, the resource notes, adding that $6.4 billion of that funding would go to PEPFAR, including about $4.5 billion for HIV and $224 million for tuberculosis. The Global Fund receives $1.65 billion in the request, according to the resource (2/13).
Matt Fisher, a research assistant at the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, summarizes the ongoing debate in Congress over needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs) in this post on the SmartGlobalHealth.org blog. He presents a history of NSEPs and notes, “President Obama recently signed the FY12 omnibus spending bill that, among other things, reinstated the ban on the use of federal funds for needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs); this step reversed the 111th Congress’ 2009 decision to allow federal funds to be used for these programs.” He concludes that despite scientific evidence that NSEPs are an effective public health intervention, “ideological and moral opposition remains,” and therefore, “the issue of federal funding will continue to be actively debated” (2/6).
On Wednesday, several HIV experts spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing “supporting the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program’s reliance on scientific evidence to drive its work to end AIDS,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. The speakers, including Diane Havlir of the University of California, San Francisco, RJ Simonds of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Renee Ridzon of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, talked about using antiretroviral treatment as a prevention method, the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, and preventing HIV among marginalized populations at high risk of infection (Mazzotta, 2/3).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog describes a Capitol Hill briefing that was held Wednesday “to discuss the various evidence-based approaches to prevent HIV infection that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program is implementing on the ground in the countries hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic.” According to the blog, “The briefing was the first in a series that will be hosted by the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator in the months leading up to the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July. This briefing was co-hosted by the Center, the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and PEPFAR (Mazzotta, 2/1).
“This week marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — the world’s most powerful tool for improving health — at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland,” Natasha Bilimoria, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in this post in the AlertNet “Insight” blog. During an announcement at the WEF on Wednesday that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate an additional $750 million to the Global Fund, Bill Gates said, “By supporting the Global Fund, we can help to change the fortunes of the poorest countries in the world,” Bilimoria says, writing, “He’s right. … In total, the Global Fund is responsible for saving the lives of roughly 4,400 people every day.”
“Thirty years after AIDS made its deadly debut, a future without the disease is finally within reach,” a Boston Globe editorial states, adding, “But just as science is on the verge of winning the battle, financial resources and political will are flagging.” The editorial details reductions in HIV spending, a Congressional stipulation that U.S. funds cannot be spent on needle-exchange programs, and new science showing how HIV treatment can help people living with the disease live longer and reduce the risk of them spreading the virus.
In this video clip from NBC’s Today show, contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager reports on a recent family trip to Africa to visit PEPFAR-funded programs and to announce a new initiative by the George W. Bush Institute to fight cervical cancer. In the video, the Bushes travel to Tanzania, where they visit a PEPFAR-funded program called Jipende!, which trains hairstylists as health educators in 70 salons throughout the country, and to Zambia, where they visit the Ocean Road Cancer Institute and discuss a new initiative for cervical cancer testing, treatment and vaccination (12/22).