Browsing articles in "Announcement"
7 August 2013
Shawn Clackett

New Global Fund Video: Defeating AIDS, TB and Malaria

As the Global Fund seeks new funding for the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Charlize Theron, Bono, Bill Gates, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and others call on world leaders to be the generation to defeat the three pandemics. “The moment is right now,” says Charlize Theron, speaking of the critical turning point of progress through science, dropping infection rates and expanded efforts to prevent and treat the three pandemics.

What do you want our generations to be remembered for?

12 July 2013
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Oil Search Health Foundation reaches 30,000 HIV tests in PNG

30,000 HIV Tests

The Oil Search Health Foundation (OSHF) HIV Program recorded its 30,000th HIV test this week. Commencing HIV program support in late 2007, OSHF has played a major role in the scale-up of HIV testing in the Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces. Last year the team launched an additional round of support in Hela and Morobe provinces.

The dedicated HIV Care & Prevention team have provided clinical training and mentorship, monitoring and evaluation support and logistical assistance to ensure a continuous supply of HIV test kits, medication and condoms to rural and remote health facilities.

This is a major milestone for the Oil Search Health Foundation that could not have been achieved without the full support and commitment of provincial health staff. All involved are to be commended.

– Kevin Miles, HIV Specialist

Of the 30,000 HIV tests, 419 (1.4%) have been confirmed as HIV positive. Many of these individuals continue to receive antiretroviral medication and ongoing support in the 35 health facilities that the OSHF supports.

Click here to learn more about the Oil Search Health Foundation

21 June 2013
Shawn Clackett

Myanmar Funding gets Early Approval

Myanmar

On 15 June, 2013, the Global Fund announced approval for the first concept notes submitted by three early applicants: Myanmar, El Salvador and Zimbabwe. A concept note is the Global Fund’s mechanism for countries to request financing. The three countries have been approved for funding up to $449.8 million. Because the approved amounts are ceilings, the final level of funding determined during grant negotiations could be less.

“Countries have been able to act quickly to get this new funding model started, and that’s great news,” said Simon Bland, Chair of the Global Fund Board. “These first grants show how, by working with partners, we can reach more people facing these diseases and really move forward progress toward defeating them and removing them as threats to public health.”

In contrast to El Salvador and Zimbabwe, Myanmar will receive $111.8 million to fight all three diseases; HIV ($39.5 million), tuberculosis ($26.3 million), and malaria ($26.0 million).  HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria afflict Myanmar. There are an estimated 220,000 people living with HIV; ie. 0.6% of the country’s population. There are believed to be some 125,000 people in need of HIV anti-retroviral treatment. HIV-prevention program in Myanmar will support a strong push in that country to meet an urgent need for anti-retroviral coverage. The grant will support Myanmar’s goal of achieving universal access to anti-retroviral treatment by 2016, up from 43 percent in 2012. Tuberculosis afflicts some 300,000 people, and it is estimated that over 30% of tuberculosis cases remain undetected. Malaria is also a serious problem, with transmission rates high in nearly half of the country, putting 1 in 1,000 people at risk of infection.

Between 18-19 June 2013, the executive board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria held its twenty-ninth in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At this meeting, the executive board favourably considered progress on the implementation of the new funding model approved at the twenty-eighth meeting of the board held in late 2012.   The new funding model greatly streamlined the way applicants apply for funding, obtain approval of their proposals, and then manage their grants.

“The new funding model is dynamic and exciting,” said Prof. C. O. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health in Nigeria, who participated in the Board meeting. “It is welcome in the sense that it is flexible and makes for sustainability of programs based on country leadership and priorities.”

Essentially, the new funding model makes it easier for countries to receive funding while ensuring funds are being spent as described in the application. Under the new funding model, country eligibility was reviewed and an ‘allocation formula’ created to ensure countries received appropriate amounts necessary to fight the three diseases. The approval of these substantial grants to Myanmar, El Salvador and Zimbabwe indicates that the new funding model is robust and effective, and is working to allocate financial resources in a more timely and efficient manner.

Shawn Clackett

25 April 2013
Shawn Clackett

World Malaria Day

April 25, 2013

By the time you finish reading this article, malaria will have killed five children. Malaria kills an estimated 660,000 people every year of which some 85% are children under five years of age. That is roughly one death every minute of every day. Neatly 3.3 billion people, half of the world’s population, are at risk of acquiring malaria. In 2010, there were over 219 million cases of malaria. Eighty percent of all cases occurred in just 17 countries with forty percent occuring in only three countries- the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, and Nigeria.

Although malaria is most common in Africa, it is endemic in many Asia-Pacific countries including Papua New Guinea. Eighteen percent of all deaths at PNG hospitals are malaria-related. With 90% of the country at risk, approximately 800 Papua New Guineans die from malaria each year.

Malaria is a preventable and curable disease. However, many countries do not have the funding or access to the prevention services, early diagnosis, or treatments that could save thousands of lives. On World Malaria Day, April 25, we reflect on the severity and cruelty of this disease but also recognize the progress we have made towards defeating one of the world’s greatest killer diseases.

Malaria Map

Mosquito

Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito (specifically the Anopheles genus). Effective prevention involves the use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) which act as a barrier between an uninfected person and a malarial mosquito. ITNs have been shown to reduce all-cause mortality in children under 5 by about 20 percent and malarial illnesses among children under 5 and pregnant women by up to 50 percent. An additional preventive measure is the use of indoor residual spraying, which repels and kills mosquitoes. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has provided malaria-endemic countries with some 310 million insecticide-treated bed nets and provided indoor residual spraying units to 44 million buildings.

Malaria is curable and there have been recent advances in treatment. Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the most effective antimalarial drugs, have been increasingly available worldwide. The number of ACT treatment courses acquired by public health authorities increased from 11.2 million in 2005 to 76 million in 2006, and 181 million in 2010. The Global Fund has played a critical role in the introduction and expansion of coverage of ACTs in many countries where resistance to older malaria drugs has increased. In addition to financing treatment for 260 million cases (cumulatively) of malaria by mid-2012, the Global Fund has been piloting a pioneering financing mechanism to improve access to ACTs by making them more affordable.

With the Global Fund’s new US$15 billion replenishment target for 2014-16, announced in Brussels earlier this month, we have every hope that malaria will soon be a problem of our past. We have come a far way in treatment and prevention of malaria, but with a child dying every minute, we clearly still have a long way to go.

Shawn Clackett

11 April 2013
Guest Contributor

Mrs Thatcher’s Progressive and Pragmatic Drug Policies

Guest post by Dr Alex Wodak, Former head, Drug and Alcohol Services at the St Vincent’s Hospital

Margaret Thatcher

Former British Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher

The former British Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, who died this week, was universally regarded as a no-nonsense ‘conviction politician’.

Few know of her important role in the early adoption and vigorous implementation of a needle syringe programmes to control the spread of HIV in the United Kingdom. At that stage, in 1986, the Netherlands was the only country in the world to have started a similar policy. The discovery of the condition, now referred to as HIV/AIDS, was first announced to the world on 5 June 1981. It was clear very early on that this condition was a serious health, social and economic threat to the world but little was known about the nature and extent of this threat.

 Mrs Thatcher accepted the recommendations to establish a national needle exchange programme to slow the spread of HIV among and from people who inject drugs. The recommendation was made by a UK committee established to develop an effective response to HIV. The UK needle exchange programme undoubtedly prevented many HIV infections and much needless suffering as well as saving many lives and many pounds. Mrs Thatcher’s decision influenced many other countries to adopt needle syringe programs. Australia’s first needle syringe programme was established on 12 November 1986 as an act of civil disobedience and prompted the then NSW Government to establish a state wide system. All other states and territories followed within two years.

 Many assume that pragmatic drug policies are generally a product of left wing political parties and governments. This is not so. The experience of Mrs Thatcher in establishing a needle exchange programme in the UK in 1986 and President Nixon establishing a national methadone treatment programme in the USA in 1969 are examples of conservative politicians adopting pragmatic drug policies. Both were excellent decisions though still often criticised.

 On 2 April 1985, the then Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, convened a ‘Special Premier’s Conference’ (the ‘Drug Summit’) at which it was agreed by all 8 governments represented (the Commonwealth, six states, the Northern Territory) that ‘harm minimisation’ would henceforth be Australia’s official national drug policy. At the time, five of the governments were Labor while three – Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory – were centre-right (National, Liberal and Country Liberal respectively). For many years, Australia’s response to HIV and drug policy has enjoyed support from all major parties. All nine Australian governments have continued to support harm minimisation since 1985 whatever the political hue of the party or parties forming government.

Pacific Friends operates as a program within the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

Pacific Friends

Professor Janice Reid AC
Chair
Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director

Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.

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