27 March 2015
Shawn Clackett

Tackling TB and Malaria in the Indo-Pacific

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Minister for Foreign Affairs, speaking at World TB Day, Canberra

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.

23 March 2015
Shawn Clackett

Global Fund News Flash: Scientist Becomes a Fighter for Fairness

Posted on: 19 March 2015

Stefano Vella, left, Vice-Chair of Friends of the Fund Europe, witnesses a handshake between Pope Francis and Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. Photo by Marco Simonelli.

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.”

18 March 2015
Shawn Clackett

Pacific Friends welcomes new Chair, Professor Janice Reid AC

Professor Janice Reid AC, new chair of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund

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”.

18 March 2015
Shawn Clackett

Japan to Host Key Global Fund Meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

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.

16 February 2015
Guest Contributor

Global Fund signs Grants with Papua New Guinea for Malaria, TB and Health System Strengthening

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Lady Roslyn Morauta, Chairperson of the PNG Country Coordinating Mechanism and Dr Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund sign Grants to help end HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby – Lady Roslyn Morauta, Chairperson of the Papua New Guinea Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) for the Global Fund, said today that she was delighted that the Global Fund had continued its support to health programs in Papua New Guinea by signing three new grant agreements worth US$50 million to the end of 2017 for Malaria, Tuberculosis and Health System Strengthening.

Since 2004, the Global Fund has approved grants for Papua New Guinea worth US$187 million. In addition to this, a total of US$83 million has been approved by the Global Fund for Papua New Guinea for 2014-2017.

At the grant signing ceremony held at the National Department of Health, Lady Morauta thanked Dr Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund, and representatives of donors to the Global Fund.  The financial resources provided through the Global Fund come from many donors, represented in Port Moresby today by the Australian High Commissioner, and the Ambassadors of the United States and the European Union.

She also thanked the Minister for Health, Hon Michael Malabag and Health Secretary Pascoe Kase for working closely with the CCM to meet grant conditions and to finalise the grant proposals to the Global Fund.

The CCM is a multi-stakeholder body, including representatives from the Government, the private sector, churches, NGOs, academic institutions, multilateral and bilateral agencies, and people living with the diseases targeted by the Global Fund (HIV, TB and Malaria).  The CCM develops and submits grant proposals to the Global Fund based on the priority needs of the disease strategies of the National Department of Health.  After grant approval, the CCM oversees progress during the implementation, so it plays a key role in oversight of the grants.  Drawdown of funds is based on performance.

The Implementers/Principal Recipients for the new grants are Rotarians Against Malaria and Population Services International for Malaria, and World Vision for TB.  The TB grant also has an over-arching Health System Strengthening component.

“The key to success of these grants is not just the commitment and hard work of the Principal Recipients, but a close working relationship with the National and Provincial Health Departments and District Authorities, who in fact carry out a large bulk of the activities funded by the grants,” Lady Morauta said.

The CCM Chair noted that the Government’s investment in Global Fund supported programs was significant.  For the period 2012-2014 the government contribution to the programs totaled US$62 million.  This is expected to increase by 78% during 2015-2017, with an indicative budgeted amount of US$110 million.

“The CCM is proud that the PNG Government’s commitment to these programs is strong.  This is an important achievement.  The initial Global Fund programs in PNG were almost entirely funded by the Global Fund, which caused problems when the grants ended.  The close of the first HIV grant, for example, left many gaps in government and church HIV services, and also for patients.  The sustainability of these programs is critical.  The Government now recognises the importance of continuity, and is making a substantial co-financing contribution.”

Lady Roslyn also paid tribute to the Australian Government, the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS for the on-going technical and financial support they provided to the CCM.

The grant agreements were signed by Dr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, Gabriele Ganci, Country Director of Population Services International, Ron Seddon, Chairman of Rotarians Against Malaria, Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia, Curt Von Boguslawski, Country Director for World Vision, Roslyn Morauta as Chair of the PNG CCM and Heni Meke, representing civil society organisations on the CCM.

The two malaria grants, worth a combined total of US$32 million, will be used to fund purchase and distribution of 2.8 million mosquito nets and training of community health workers.  The grants will also support prompt diagnosis of malaria, strengthen monitoring and improve access to care for the country’s most disadvantaged communities.

The other US$18 million grant, to be administered by the international and Australian divisions of World Vision, aims to reduce the incidence and prevalence of tuberculosis in PNG. The grant will be used to improve the recruitment and retention of clinical staff. It will also strengthen the systems needed to enable access to quality drugs and laboratory diagnostics for HIV, TB and Malaria, helping to build a stronger health system as a whole.

Lady Morauta said that, thanks to previous funding from the Global Fund and the strategy followed by the National Government, Papua New Guinea had made tremendous progress in its campaign against malaria. According to the World Health Organisation, malaria prevalence has decreased from 12.1 per cent to 1.8 per cent. Key to this success has been an aggressive mosquito net distribution program. Approximately 82 per cent of households now own at least one net.

More cases of tuberculosis are being treated than before and case detection of the disease has risen to 89 per cent in 2013 from 61 per cent in 2010.

“The new grants build on the success of the previous Global Fund grant programs.  We look forward to further reduction in the incidence of malaria, and to an acceleration of the campaign against TB, which is now a very serious public health issue in Papua New Guinea,” Lady Morauta said.

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Pacific Friends operates under the auspices of the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales.

Pacific Friends

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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