24 March 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

World TB Day in Lae, Papua New Guinea

Today is World TB Day, a moment to focus attention on the burden of tuberculosis worldwide. In many places around the world there are commemorations, events and  even celebrations taking place to raise awareness and educate people about TB.

Tim and Michael from the Pacific Friends team are currently in Papua New Guinea where they managed to attend a big World TB Day event organised by World Vision in Lae yesterday. This morning in Port Moresby there was also a TB walkathon from the Murray Barracks to Ela Beach, to put the fight against TB in the spotlight.

The event in Lae yesterday drew a big crowd of people. It was encouraging to see so many people listening to speeches and songs about TB, watchting a drama role play, and enjoying the music of popular local band K Dumen. Below a  selection of photos, with more great pictures available on the Pacific Friends Facebook page and on Flickr.

23 March 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

World TB Day 2012: Stop TB in our lifetime

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global killer, it is the second-largest infectious killer of adults around the world causing some 1.4 million deaths in 2010. Despite the attention of the Global Fund and many other initiatives (like Stop TB Partnership, TB Alliance) to fight TB, it is still causing a lot of needless suffering.

Every year the world observes World TB Day on March 24, a day on which the disease receives full attention and push for more ambitious campaigns to stop the disease in this lifetime. This year’s theme is therefore “Stop TB in our lifetime”.

In a statement for World TB Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon therefore emphasised that “tuberculosis has not received sufficient attention”. Ban continues: “with the right interventions, we can make a major difference” and that we have to be “even more ambitious and ‘Stop TB in our lifetime'”.

My Stop TB offers you a way to make your own poster to raise awareness for the fight against TB and call for more action. Here are the posters made by the team at Pacific Friends:

Make your own poster at My Stop TB

9 March 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

The first AIDS-free nation: New Zealand?

Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and now Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, has challenged New Zealand to become the first country to wipe out the spread and stigma of HIV & AIDS. Moreover, she called upon the country for to increase awareness about safe sex, cautioning that New Zealanders are becoming complacent about the risks of HIV & AIDS. Together with UNAIDS executive director, Michel Sidibé, she stressed the point that a continued focus on HIV prevention work is absolutely critical and must not be compromised as a priority.

Helen Clark joins UNAIDS Executive Director Michael Sidibé to discuss the global fight against AIDS.

8 March 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

International Women’s Day: The Impact of Vaccines on the Health of Girls and Women

Today on March 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day, on which the GAVI Alliance highlights the power of vaccines to deliver good health to girls and women living in developing countries. With a focus today on two vaccines which can benefit the health of women – human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines against cervical cancer and rubella vaccines against congenital rubella syndrome.

First, the general impact of vaccines is discussed by GAVI CEO, Seth Berkley, in a post about Delivering on the promise for girls and women, next their Deputy CEO, Helen Evans, writes about Doubling our Impact in a Single Shot in the fight against rubella and measles, and finally HPV vaccine inventor Ian Frazer talks about how his idea of a HPV vaccine has become reality, in the interview below.

Professor Ian Frazer discusses his invention of the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.
Source: GAVI/2012

22 February 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Michel Sidibé’s Charm Offensive Against AIDS

Pacific Friends is looking forward to welcome to Australia next month UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé. In 2010 we already had the pleasure of a visit by Michel in which he spoke about the challenges and responses to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

This year’s Australian visit of the executive director comes just after The New York Times featured this week a wonderful article that chronicles Michel Sidibé’s so-called ‘charm offensive against AIDS’.

Michel Sidibe: A video interview with the executive director of UNAIDS on the importance of diplomacy and social change in fighting the AIDS epidemic. Source: The New York Times

Some excerpts from the not-to-be-missed article on The New York Times website:

With a combination of bonhomie and persistence, he has delivered difficult messages to African presidents very persuasively in his three years in office: Convince your men to get circumcised. Tell your teenage girls not to sleep with older men for money. Shelve your squeamishness and talk about condoms. Help prostitutes instead of jailing them. Ask your preachers to stop railing against homosexuals and order your police forces to stop beating them. Let Western scientists test new drugs and vaccines, despite the inevitable rumors that Africans are being used as guinea pigs.

Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s health minister, said Mr. Sidibe pursued him relentlessly at a United Nations conference in New York until they met. They became co-conspirators in getting Jacob Zuma, the country’s new president, to budget more money for AIDS drugs and to press drug companies to lower prices. “I was new to my office, and this man was just chasing me,” Dr. Motsoaledi said. “He insisted South Africa must take leadership on AIDS for Africa. I said: ‘What about Botswana?’ But he insisted.”

In a major speech in 2010, Mr. Zuma increased the national AIDS budget by 30 percent and, along with Mr. Sidibe, publicly took an AIDS test.

Globally, Mr. Sidibé says, he is trying to “be a voice for those without one.” The groups that most need help, he argues, are the ones that no politician wants to be photographed with: gay men, prostitutes, transvestites, heroin users.

Mr. Sidibé has also fought hard against harsh anti-gay laws in Africa, against hate crimes like the “corrective rapes” of lesbians by South African gangs — and against the widespread belief that homosexuality is a Western import.

“If we can win this one,” Mr. Sidibé will say, “I can go back home and sit under my mango tree and feel proud.”

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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