11 July 2014
Guest Contributor

UNAIDS welcomes Australia’s commitment to equal treatment of people living with HIV in its immigration policies

Press Statement by UNAIDS

Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé

GENEVA, 10 July 2014—UNAIDS welcomes confirmation from the Government of Australia that people living with HIV do not face an automatic exclusion, or unequal treatment when applying for entry, stay or residence visas. People living with HIV are treated similarly to other people with chronic health conditions and disabilities during the country’s immigration health assessment process. Applications for visas from people living with HIV will be assessed against criteria applying to anyone with a chronic health condition.

The announcement came ahead of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which will take place in Melbourne, Australia, from 20 to 25 July 2014.

“People living with HIV need equal opportunity to contribute to and benefit from today’s globalized world, where migration is increasingly important. Eliminating travel restrictions is not only a human right for individuals, it improves business prospects for communities,” said the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé.

UNAIDS advocates for the right to equal freedom of movement, regardless of HIV status. There is no evidence that restrictions on the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV protect the public’s health. In 2012, more than 40 chief executives from some of the world’s largest companies signed a pledge opposing HIV restrictions, calling them discriminatory and bad for business.

As part of its ongoing dialogue with countries on this issue, UNAIDS has sent communications to all countries, territories and areas that appear to have HIV-related entry, stay and residence restrictions, and has raised the issue during official high-level visits. Australia has made important reforms to its migration health assessment requirements and procedures since the conclusion of a parliamentary inquiry on migration and disability in 2010, including an annual increase to the “significant cost threshold”, the elimination of the cost assessment related to health services for humanitarian visa applicants and improvements to increase the transparency of the health assessment process. These reforms were assessed against the criteria outlined by the International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions, co-chaired by the Government of Norway and UNAIDS,  and it was concluded that Australia had met the task team’s standard.

4 June 2014
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Oil Search Announces Platinum Sponsorship of 20th International AIDS Conference

Oil Search_DSC1500 (Large)

Professor Sharon Lewin, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2014, Peter Botten, Managing Director of Oil Search Limited, and Jan Beagle, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS in Papua New Guinea, on a two-day tour hosted by the Oil Search Health Foundation

Port Moresby – Oil Search Limited’s Managing Director, Peter Botten, has announced the Company’s platinum sponsorship of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) that will take place from 20 – 25 July in Melbourne, Australia. Mr. Botten made the announcement at a dinner in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), after hosting a two-day tour of HIV treatment facilities for some of the world’s most pre-eminent leaders in the global HIV response.

Jan Beagle, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, and Professor Sharon Lewin, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2014, were among the delegates who participated in the tour of Hela Province in the country’s north, experiencing first-hand how the private sector is making significant inroads in addressing the HIV epidemic in PNG.

As guest of honour, Ms. Beagle addressed the high-level audience at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby, emphasising the importance of a multi-sectoral response and commended Oil Search for its public health interventions in PNG.

“The Oil Search Health Foundation, in partnership with the Government and civil society organisations, is providing impressive HIV-related services and using HIV as an entry point for broader health and development outcomes,” said Ms Beagle.

Local Co-chair of AIDS 2014, Professor Lewin, praised Oil Search for its generous support for the AIDS Conference as well as the Company’s innovative approach to delivering HIV prevention, treatment and care in PNG.

“I truly believe that companies like Oil Search are showing the leadership we need from the private sector and they should be applauded for the role they are playing in all our work to see the end of AIDS,” said Professor Lewin.

At the dinner, Mr. Botten highlighted the importance of bringing a slice of PNG to AIDS 2014, noting that the country’s geography, HIV prevalence level and Oil Search’s innovative public-private partnership with the PNG Government made a compelling case for the Company to sponsor the AIDS conference in Australia.

“I believe it is pertinent for Oil Search and our Health Foundation to demonstrate the impact the private sector can have on the response to HIV in PNG,” said Mr Botten. “Over the last two days, our guests have visited Tari Hospital and two health clinics to see for themselves how the public-private partnership we have established with the PNG National Department of Health is helping to overcome the challenges HIV patients and service providers face in treating and preventing HIV in remote locations.

“Using funds from the Global Fund Round 10 HIV grant, the Oil Search Health Foundation is working with the PNG Government and development partners to deliver better HIV programs, better counselling and treatment services and better outcomes in PNG than any of us could have achieved on our own,” said Mr. Botten.

Mr. Botten concluded by issuing a challenge to others in the private sector to follow Oil Search’s lead:

“Where national health systems are overburdened, the proactive participation of the private sector is not only needed, but an obligation. I encourage other industry leaders to rise to the challenge both in PNG and elsewhere around the world.”

3 June 2014
Shawn Clackett

$100 Million for Polio eradication and routine immunisations

01 June 2014 – Media Release


The Australian Government will commit $100 million over five years for polio eradication and provide routine immunisations.

$20 million will be provided in 2014/15 to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative providing immunisations to fight the re-emergence of polio.

Polio continues to strike the world’s most vulnerable, especially children.

This debilitating disease is on the verge of being eradicated. However progress is now at risk with outbreaks being reported in northern Africa and the Middle East.

It is endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Health systems have been weakened by factors such as conflict and are failing to deliver routine immunisation, exposing unimmunised children to the virus.

In response, on 5 May 2014, the World Health Organization declared polio a public health emergency of international concern.

Once eradicated, polio will be only the second major disease after small pox to be defeated. This will be a major global victory for public health.

Australia has a proud history of support for polio eradication and is committed to helping finish the job.

The last wild polio virus case in Australia was reported in 1972.

21 May 2014
Shawn Clackett

WHO and Global Fund Strengthen Partnership

Global Fund News Flash: 20 May 2014

Margaret Chan and Mark Dybul

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Margaret Chan and Executive Director of the Global Fund, Dr Mark Dybul

GENEVA – The World Health Organization and the Global Fund today strengthened their long established partnership with a new technical agreement to support countries in developing more strategic investments in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO, and Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, both stressed the importance of expanding partnerships to let country-led programs maximize the impact of health investments.

“This renewed partnership between WHO and the Global Fund will allow us to increase impact and reach more people by working together more closely with countries,” said Dr. Chan.

Dr. Dybul signed the agreement with Hiroki Nakatani, Assistant Director-General, WHO,  during the World Health Assembly, a week-long gathering of more than 3,000 delegates from all over the world.

Under the agreement, WHO will provide technical assistance to Global Fund applicants under the new funding model ahead of the submission of their grant applications, or concept notes. The new funding model promotes opportunities for health interventions with a bigger impact, so robust concept notes and sound national strategic plans in specific geographic areas are strongly encouraged.

“The new funding model captures the promise of partnership that is our core belief,” said Dr. Dybul. “This agreement gives us a clear focus, and reinvigorates the spirit of working together.”

Country Coordinating Mechanisms and civil society organizations can apply for WHO technical assistance. WHO will provide assistance through its country or regional offices and with the Roll Back Malaria and STOP TB partnerships.

By building on the progress made in recent years, by approaching health challenges holistically, the WHO and the Global Fund expressed common commitment to approach health challenges with ambition and determination.

Last month, UNICEF and the Global Fund reinforced their partnership with a new agreement to better align investments in commodities aimed at improving the health of mothers, newborns and children. The Global Fund looks forward to formalizing a partnership agreement with UNAIDS in the near future.

28 April 2014
Guest Contributor

The Battle to End Malaria: Senegal Leads by Example

Authors:
Awa Marie Coll-Seck – Minister of Health, Government of Senegal
Mark Dybul – Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

On the occasion of World Malaria Day, we would like to take you on a journey to a town in northern Senegal, along the western coast of Africa, that looks like many other thriving communities around the world: the children are happy and healthy, many of their parents are employed at a large sugar company, and the local economy is growing. But there is something important that sets this town, called Richard Toll, apart from other communities: its battle with a devastating disease.

Transmitted by the bite of a mosquito, malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people each year – most of them young children in Africa. Although the disease is endemic in Senegal, and the irrigated sugar cane fields (where many of Richard Toll’s residents work) are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, the area has only recorded a handful of cases of locally transmitted malaria in over a year. Thanks to coordinated efforts by the Ministry of Health and the sugar company itself, proven tools recommended by the World Health Organization have been used to roll back the disease. This includes ensuring the availability of effective treatments in health facilities, along with the introduction of handheld rapid diagnostic tests and the mass distribution of free mosquito nets. Now, malaria has been nearly eliminated in the area.

After years of investment and an incredible effort, Senegal now has committed to eliminating the disease across the entire country. It’s an audacious, long-term goal, and one that is being made possible with a strong partnership between the leadership and funding of the Senegalese government in coordination with faith- and community-based organizations, and support from major external funders like the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, the Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Although Senegal has significantly increased resources to combat malaria, eliminating the disease requires partnership.  The story of Richard Toll illustrates how Global Fund funding has helped “jump start” successful national malaria programs – and how investing in the development of durable health programs can rapidly bring down malaria cases and deaths. Coupled with the use of innovative new tools and strategies, Senegal has everything it needs to eliminate the disease. Well – almost everything.

Certainly, World Malaria Day is a time to consider the great progress we have made globally against the disease. But it is also an opportunity to consider what remains to be done to truly defeat it once and for all. Though malaria mortality has decreased by 26 percent globally over the past decade, there are some sobering facts to consider: In countries that have reduced malaria transmission in the last century, 75 resurgences have been recorded since 1930 and nearly all are linked to decreases in resources and the scaling back of malaria programs, according to an assessment published in the Malaria Journal. In addition, a recent report titled Cost of Inaction calculated that, if global funding for malaria were to decrease, the disease could kill up to 196,000 more people and sicken an additional 430 million each year – illnesses and deaths that otherwise could have been prevented. The evidence is clear: A well-funded Global Fund is imperative to be able to finish the work on malaria that we’ve started, and to support countries like Senegal as they chart new strategies to end the disease.

The alternative – trying to maintain high levels of malaria control and prevention measures with no end in sight – is like attempting to put out a wildfire by only extinguishing part of the flames. Experience shows us that if we pull back in our efforts even a little, we can see a resurgence in malaria cases in just a few months. Challenges like the parasite’s growing resistance to our best treatments and the mosquito’s increasing resistance to insecticides make elimination an even more urgent goal. Thus, we are at a pivotal moment in time: If the world was to decrease its commitments to fighting malaria now, it would put at risk everything we have invested — and the progress we have made — over the last decade.

So what is life like in Richard Toll, now that the region is nearly free from malaria? Fewer children are getting sick or missing school, there is increased productivity at work, money is being saved or reallocated that would otherwise have been spent on malaria-related costs, health systems are freed up to focus on other concerns, and the overall standard of living is on the rise. It’s wonderful progress, but we aren’t done yet.

The Global Fund launched its Fourth Replenishment in December 2013, the beginning of a rolling, three-year resource mobilization effort. The United States is matching pledges from other donors worldwide – $1 for every $2 donated by other countries, until September 2014. With every dollar absolutely critical to the fight, we must not leave any money on the table.

In the years ahead, the Global Fund will deepen its work with governments and encourage increased private sector investments and domestic co-financing. On this World Malaria Day, will you join us in mobilizing the resources needed to seize the opportunity to defeat malaria once and for all — and give all communities the chance to be malaria-free like Richard Toll?

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Wendy McCarthy AO
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Bill Bowtell AO
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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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