Vice President of Global Health Programs and Access, Eli Lilly and Company
President, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
The world has made great strides in improving global health, including in the fight against tuberculosis. Over the past 20 years, deaths from the disease have decreased by 45 percent and more than 37 million lives have been saved globally. It is not surprising, then, that tuberculosis is often thought of as “a disease of the past,” especially in the United States and Western Europe, where full-blown cases are much less common than in other parts of the world.
Tuberculosis, however, continues to be one of the world’s top health challenges. Each year, about nine million people fall ill, three million don’t get the care they need, and 1.5 million deaths result from the disease. Also of great concern are the rising cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), with 480,000 new cases in 2013 alone.
There are a couple of fundamental problems with the current treatment regimen for tuberculosis. One is that most medicines are rough on patients, essentially like a small dose of chemotherapy. They often leave patients feeling nauseous and weak, among other, sometimes irreversible side effects. Treatment also takes substantial time – generally six to nine months, but much longer for MDR-TB. In settings where patients are not monitored, they too often stop taking medications once they feel better, putting them at risk for developing drug-resistant tuberculosis.
There is an important role for global pharmaceutical companies to play in addressing these challenges, and work is underway to help expand access to medicines and improve patient care in tuberculosis through philanthropy and product donations. Lilly, for example, shared the technology and know-how for making two drugs to treat MDR-TB to manufacturers in four countries with the highest tuberculosis burden. Yet these efforts alone are not enough.
In 2003, Lilly created a public/private initiative, the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, to raise the global profile of the disease and offer education, training and improved care to people worldwide. It has become the company’s largest philanthropic effort; Lilly has invested $170 million in it from 2003-2016 and has worked with some 40 partners — including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Infectious Disease Research Institute, the Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund — to create a reliable supply of, and improve local access to, necessary medicines.
Lilly is also part of the TB Drug Accelerator, a collaboration under which pharmaceutical companies and research organizations partner to help develop drug candidates with potential for new treatments, working toward a faster cure. The ambitious target of this initiative is a drug regimen that can cure patients in only one month, as opposed to the six to nine months currently required to treat drug-sensitive strains of the disease. Many other private sector institutions are making impressive contributions through financial support and — in collaboration with other funders, civil society organizations and domestic governments — by providing technical expertise, human resources and commodities. The collective efforts of these partners are achieving impressive results, but more is needed.
As the role of the private sector evolves, Lilly and the Global Fund are especially pleased to be working together to bring investments in tuberculosis to scale. Operating in more than 100 countries and providing over 80 percent of international funding for the disease, the Global Fund is uniquely well-positioned to help the fight. As of December 2014, Global Fund-financed programs detected and treated 12.3 million cases of tuberculosis and treated 150,000 people for multiple strains of MDR-TB. Its programs did so with increasing private-sector involvement.
Lilly sits on the Global Fund’s private sector board delegation, through which it is working with the Fund both in Geneva and in the field. Recently, for example, Lilly had a series of strategic planning discussions with the Global Fund and South Africa’s National Department of Health to determine how the company’s support could complement local efforts against tuberculosis.
Lilly has also been particularly supportive of the Global Fund’s work to apply sound business practices to its institutional operations, especially its procurement function. The Global Fund spends roughly $2.5 billion annually on the procurement of health-related goods and commodities, so the possibilities for cost savings, reduced stock-outs and increased access to vital health products are significant.
The Global Fund also has been working with Lilly and other private sector representatives on a transformative project — Procurement 4 Impact (P4i) — to fundamentally change the institution’s approach to the procurement of goods and services, delivering greater value for money and improved impact. Already, the Global Fund has achieved a savings of $400 million over two years, critical resources that can now be used to further its core mission of saving lives.
Our main message on March 24, #WorldTBDay, is that, although tuberculosis remains a major challenge, there is a remarkable public/private coalition working aggressively to tackle it — and to do so in ways that transcends traditional corporate giving practices. This coalition includes NGOs such as the Stop TB Partnership, multilateral organizations like the Global Fund, and support from governments, research-based pharmaceutical companies, and many other private sector partners. Together, we believe the fight to end tuberculosis forever and save millions of lives is winnable.
The Hon Julie Bishop MP (23 March 2015):
On the eve of World TB Day, I am pleased to announce further support toward the eradication of tuberculosis and malaria in the Indo-Pacific region.
Drug resistant TB and malaria pose a threat to health security in our region and carry a high burden for our Asia-Pacific neighbours. More than half of the global TB cases (56%) occur in our region.
Australia’s new $30 million investment over three years will help bring new diagnostic tests and drugs to market to tackle this threat.
This support will be provided through Product Development Partnerships, an innovative public-private partnership model for co-investing in development of new medical technologies. Bringing together public and private sector funding corrects a market failure to develop medical products needed by those with limited purchasing power.
The TB Alliance will receive $10 million over three years to support late stage clinical trials of new TB treatments. These include the Phase 3 registration trial of a new drug regimen (PaMZ) which is the first to treat both drug sensitive and multi-drug resistant TB. This new oral treatment has the potential to shorten and simplify TB treatment and reduce the cost of treating multi-drug resistant TB by up to 90 per cent.
The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) will receive $10 million over three years to accelerate the development and uptake of better diagnostic tools and testing for TB and malaria. Accurate diagnosis is essential for prescribing appropriate treatment and has a major impact on disease outcomes.
This new support for TB treatment and diagnosis builds on an additional $15 million package of assistance to support TB control in Papua New Guinea, announced last month.
Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) will receive $10 million over three years for development of antimalarial drugs and to facilitate access and uptake of new treatments.
Posted on: 19 March 2015
As Pope Francis approached, coming up the stairs in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Stefano Vella readied himself for the moment. He may have been waiting for two hours on a chilly morning, but as that handshake drew nearer, Dr. Vella knew it was going to be momentous, a milestone in his decades-long career in global health.
He had accompanied Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund, to thank the Pope for his work supporting the world’s poor, including those affected by HIV, TB and malaria.
Dr. Vella, a distinguished researcher in the HIV community, knows not to take such passing opportunities for granted. He recalls meeting Nelson Mandela during the July 2000 AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa. That conference became a turning point in the HIV epidemic, thanks to a speech by Mandela that galvanized the world into global action. Dr. Vella was the lead organizer for the conference.
Dr. Vella has had an incredible global health career. An extremely warm and generous man who punctuates conversation with the refrain “my friend,” he was appointed in March to be Vice-Chair of the Board of Friends of the Global Fund Europe, in charge of Italy, as part of the expansion process undertaken under the leadership of Chairman Laurent Vigier and Executive Director Sylvie Chantereau. Over the past year, two other Vice-Chairs have been appointed: Former Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, who became Vice-Chair for Germany; and Charles Goerens, Member of the European Parliament and former Minister for Development Cooperation in Luxembourg, who became Vice-Chair for European Institutions, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Dr. Vella sees his new responsibility as coming home. Clinicians and AIDS researchers like him working in the early years of HIV gradually realized that the disease called them to go beyond being scientists. They had to become advocates.
Dr. Vella was on the panel that wrote the 1996 guidelines for HIV treatment, launching a new way of fighting HIV that has saved many lives. It was an historic moment in HIV science, but it disturbed him that these advances were not reaching many poor people. “It was an injustice,” he said.
That called for action. “We needed to go to Africa,” he said. As President of the International AIDS Society at the time, he was instrumental in convening the AIDS conference of 2000 in South Africa. It was a controversial decision. Many objected, for political, logistical and security concerns with 12,000-14,000 attendees. Dr. Vella and his team knew it would be hard to pull off. But they also knew it was the right thing to do. “Too many people were dying in the global South,” he said.
Dr. Vella attributes his passion for pursuing justice to his parents. His father was a resistance fighter in World War II, battling the invasion of the Nazis and the Fascists in Rome, and maintained a lifelong commitment to fighting injustice.
In his new position at Friends Europe, Dr. Vella hopes to articulate the sense of injustice that is still present around the world, not just in HIV but across global health. He aims to engage policymakers and ordinary Europeans, impressing upon them that better health for the world is better health for Europe. He hopes to reach out to the people of Italy, inviting them to play a part in helping reduce inequalities in the world. A photo exhibition that opens in Rome this week is just one avenue to a larger cause. Dr. Vella believes that using the successful model developed by the AIDS community as a roadmap can point everyone toward reducing inequality. The world must pursue that path, he said: “It is a human rights issue.”
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund warmly welcomes incoming Chair of the Advisory Council, Professor Janice Reid.
Pacific Friends Executive Director, Mr Bill Bowtell says “I am delighted that Jan Reid has agreed to become the Chair of the Pacific Friends Advisory Council. Jan has been an outstanding academic and administrator, and brings to her new role a deep commitment to health and development, and vital role of women and girls in improving outcomes in developing countries. The Advisory Council looks forward to working closely with Jan to secure a good outcome for the 2016 Global Fund replenishment.”
Professor Reid was Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Western Sydney from 1998 to 2013. She has served on the Federal Higher Education Council, the Executive of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA), the Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Federal Council for Australia-Latin America Relations and the 2002 Federal Higher Education Review Reference Group.
She has served on research and fellowship committees of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Trust and Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, and as Chair of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare from 1995 to 2001. She chaired the national review of nursing education in Australia in 1994 and has been a member of the boards of the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission and Agency for Clinical Innovation, public agencies charged with promoting safety and quality in health care. In 2013 she was appointed to the state advisory council of St Vincent’s Hospital (NSW).
In 2015 Professor Reid was made a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) for “eminent service to the tertiary education sector through executive roles, as an advocate for equitable access to educational opportunities, particularly for Indigenous, refugee and lower socio-economic communities, and to health, medical and health care research and cultural bodies”.
Global Fund News Release – 16 March 2015
TOKYO – The Government of Japan announced on 16 March 2015 that it would host the Global Fund’s Replenishment Preparatory Meeting in December 2015, an important milestone in the three-year funding cycle aimed at ending AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics.
The Replenishment Preparatory Meeting will be held in Tokyo on 17 December 2015, and will provide partners with key information on the impact achieved and the resources needed to accelerate efforts to end the epidemics over the next three years. A Replenishment Pledging Conference is planned for mid-2016.
The meeting also provides a forum for representatives of governments, civil society, the private sector and multilateral agencies to exchange views on innovative approaches to end the epidemics in partnership with the Global Fund. This is the first time the Preparatory Meeting has been held in Asia.
At a symposium to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke about the Government of Japan’s support for the Global Fund. “Japan was instrumental in the launch, and has worked tirelessly towards the development, with the fund aiming at ending the “big three” infectious diseases of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. This year as well, Japan will make a contribution of 190 million U.S. dollars to that Fund, and come December, we will host a meeting to discuss the future of the Fund in Tokyo.”
Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, welcomed Japan’s contribution as a strong vote of confidence in the Fund.
“Japan has been an unwavering supporter of the Global Fund since inception, providing both financial and intellectual leadership to our partnership,” Dr. Dybul said. “Prime Minister Abe’s commitment to ending these epidemics and promoting the achievement of universal health coverage demonstrates genuine global health leadership.”
Japan is the Global Fund’s fifth largest donor. Japan introduced infectious diseases to the G8 Summit’s agenda in Okinawa, which paved the path for the Global Fund’s establishment. Since then, and with the formal inception of the Fund in 2002, Japan and the Global Fund have been close partners.
The previous Preparatory Meeting was held in Brussels in May 2013, followed by the Global Fund’s Fourth Voluntary Replenishment Conference in Washington DC in December 2013, where US$12 billion was raised.
Global Health News
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.