Browsing articles in "Pacific Friends"
18 April 2013
Shawn Clackett

Advance Screening of Mary and Martha

Mary and Martha Premiere

World Malaria Day screening in Sydney of Mary and Martha with host Simon Marnie, Results National Manager, Maree Nutt and Pacific Friends of the Global Fund Executive Director, Bill Bowtell AO

On April 15, Pacific Friends, RESULTS Australia, and Cre8ion had the advance screening of Mary and Martha. The event was a success, with some 250 guests within two theaters. Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Simon Marnie hosted the evening and speeches were given by Mr Bill Bowtell AO, Executive Director of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund and Ms Maree Nutt, National Manager of RESULTS Australia. The movie will be premiering on April 20.

At the premiere…

Weekend Sunrise on “Mary & Martha” with Maree Nutt, CEO of RESULTS AU

15 April 2013
Shawn Clackett

Advance Screening of Mary and Martha

If you take every single person killed in a terrorist act in the past 20 years and you add to that all the lives lost in the middle east since 1967 and you add to that every single American life lost since Vietnam, Korea and every single American engagement since then, Iraq, Afghanistan, if you take all those lives and you multiple it by two, that’s the number of children that die of Malaria every single year.

On Monday, April 15 for World Malaria Day (April 25), Pacific Friends of the Global Fund and RESULTS Australia are hosted an advance screening of Mary and Martha. Directed by Philip Noyce and written by Richard Curtis, Mary and Martha tells the story of two women (Hilary Swank as Mary and Brenda Blethyn as Martha) who have little in common apart from one thing they wish they didn’t.

This powerful film reminds us that although Malaria is a preventable and curable disease, there are still approximately 660,000 people dying from it every year; 86% were children under 5 years of age. In Africa, a child dies from Malaria every minute of every day. There are 3.3 billion people are at risk of the disease. That is half of the entire World’s population. In 2011, there were some 800 malaria-related deaths in Papua New Guinea alone.

Please visit Roll Back Malaria for more information about malaria.

Pacific Friends Logo         Roll Back Malaria          Results

16 July 2012
Guest Contributor

Decriminalisation integral to the fight against HIV

Last week, Michael Kirby, former justice of the High Court of Australia, together with Michael Wong from Pacific Friends wrote on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s The Drum. In an opinion piece highlighting the recent release of the ‘Risks, Rights & Health’ report of the Global Commision on HIV and the Law, Kirby and Wong explore how the law can protect people vulnerable to HIV and bring home lessons to be learnt from Australia.

MICHAEL KIRBY & MICHAEL WONG, The Drum Opinion, July 12, 2012

This week in New York, a report by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law was delivered to the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon, recommending the decriminalisation of sex work, homosexual adult activity, and individual drug use.

Its core message is that criminalising the actions of those who are vulnerable to HIV hampers efforts to fight the spread of the disease.

This is a lesson that Australia was quick to learn after the global AIDS epidemic struck in the 1980s. Unfortunately, it remains a lesson much of the world is reluctant to accept.

The good news is that we now know and understand how the spread of HIV can be halted across the world, and Australia can be used as a prime example of how effective the recommendations of the Global Commission report can be.

Across the globe, some 34 million people are living with HIV and another 7,400 are infected daily. In 78 countries, same-sex activity is a criminal offence, with penalties ranging from whipping to execution.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime along with volumes of research now confirm beyond all doubt that fear of arrest in these countries drives vulnerable populations underground and away from HIV harm-reduction programs.

A recent Lancet study revealed that worldwide coverage of HIV prevention, treatment, and care services in at-risk groups is alarmingly low.

The criminalisation of homosexual activity, voluntary sex work, and injecting drug use is keeping affected people away from accessing treatment services and thus exacerbating the disease’s spread.

Even in cases where the threat of punitive action is less direct, legal environments overseas can create barriers which act to prevent the most vulnerable groups from receiving the services needed to put a dent in overall infection numbers.

In South-East Asia, for example, only one of seven countries that responded to a World Health Organisation survey had provisions that enabled minors to access contraceptives, HIV testing, or harm-reduction services without parental consent.

This is where the Australian example has the capacity to light the way forward.

Our history shows how targeting HIV-vulnerable groups not with criminal charges but with assistance and protection is the best means of halting the epidemic.

It is estimated that by 2000, Australian Needle Syringe Programs had prevented an incredible 25,000 HIV infections. By 2010, such programs prevented 4,500 AIDS deaths. The projected economic cost avoided is up to $7.7 billion.

Our Needle Syringe Programs drew criticism domestically at the time of their introduction due to perceptions that they represented a state sanction for illegal drug use. Yet we now know the cost we would have paid if such criticisms had been allowed to shift public policy.

Similar debates have been framed all over the developing world, yet unfortunately the results have been very different. There is now hope for this to change.

The recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law come at a critical time, arriving just before the International AIDS Conference in Washington on July 22. National leaders, policymakers and civil society figures will be drawn together in a forum that is capable of starting the process of progressive legal reform. The support of the United Nations can help propel us toward a sustainable global HIV response.

The UNAIDS Global AIDS Strategy aims at reducing the sexual transition of HIV by half, including among men who have sex with men, young people, and in the context of sex work. However, if private same-sex sexual acts and voluntary sex work remain criminalised, it is highly unlikely that this goal will be met.

The commission has presented persuasive evidence and recommendations that can save lives, save money and help end the AIDS epidemic.

In 2009, Ban Ki-moon urged all countries to remove punitive laws, policies and practices that hamper the AIDS response. The UN secretary general stated in the political declaration on HIV/AIDS:

In addition to criminalising HIV transmission, many countries impose criminal sanctions for same-sex sex, commercial sex, and drug injection. Such laws constitute major barriers to reaching key populations with HIV services. Those behaviours should be decriminalised, and people addicted to drugs should receive health services for the treatment of their addiction.

The Global Commission has now urged a similar approach, calling on its diverse ethnic, professional and religious/cultural backgrounds.

In 2012, it is high time that the world took note of the Australian example and understood that heeding the UN secretary-general’s words is not just a moral imperative, but a deeply pragmatic one as well.

The key to success during the 1980s and 90s was the strength and courage of politicians to make decisions. They reached across the corridor to establish a bipartisan law reform policy. This saved lives and money and prevented much needless suffering.

Of course, we must urge similar strategies respectfully and appropriately. But the Global Commission gives us a chance to do this with the support of the United Nations. We should do so respectfully and appropriately. But we should do it, because it has worked for us, and may work for them.

As the Global Commission report states, we “cannot continue to let people suffer and die because of intolerance, inequality, ignorance, and indifference. The cost of such inaction is simply too high.”

Michael Kirby is a member of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law of the UN Development Program. He served on the High Court of Australia between 1996-2009.

Michael Wong is a researcher at Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. 

14 June 2012
Bill Bowtell

Congratulations to Dr Nafsiah Mboi on appointment as Indonesian Minister for Health

We are delighted to congratulate our dear friend and colleague Dr Nafsiah Mboi on her appointment as Indonesian Minister for Health. Ibu Naf has been one of the pioneers of the global, and Indonesian, response to HIV & AIDS. Under her tireless leadership, the Indonesian National AIDS Commission has been an outstandingly successful partner of the Global Fund and the programs it supports in Indonesia.

Ibu Naf has always understood the critical role of empowering women and girls in achieving better health outcomes for the entire community. We are sure she will bring her great insights and experience to improving the Indonesian health system.

Ibu Naf was a founding member of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund, and has always taken a keen interest in our work.

We wish her every success in her new role.

Bill Bowtell
Executive Director, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund

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

Pacific Friends

Professor Janice Reid AC
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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