HIV & AIDS

In mid-June the United States Government continued to show its commitment to global health by announcing the first Global Health Initiative (GHI) Plus countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, and Rwanda. The GHI is a six-year, $63 billion initiative to help partner countries improve measurable health outcomes by strengthening health systems and building upon proven results. The GHI focuses on women, newborns, and children using an integrated approach including programs that address HIV & AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal and child health, nutrition, family planning and reproductive health, and neglected tropical diseases. These initial countries will receive additional technical and management resources to quickly implement GHI’s approach.  They will be used as “learning labs” – using best practices and lessons learned when implementing programs in other countries. MSH works in seven of the eight countries, so we asked our country experts: What’s working? Please stay tuned for a continuing series.

Last week, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report analyzing US Government foreign assistance spending on global HIV & AIDS and other health programs.

The report found:

In fiscal years 2001-2008, bilateral U.S. spending for HIV/AIDS and other health-related programs increased overall, most significantly for HIV/AIDS. From 2001 to 2003--before the establishment of PEPFAR--U.S. spending on global HIV/AIDS programs rose while spending on other health programs dropped slightly. From fiscal years 2004 to 2008, HIV/AIDS spending grew steadily; other health-related spending also rose overall, despite declines in 2006 and 2007.

The GAO commissioned this study in response to President Obama’s proposal to spending $63 billion through 2014 on global health programs under the new Global Health Initiative.

Read the full report.

Originally appeared in Global Health Magazine.

Over the last several decades, millions of dollars have been invested in capacity building interventions, and the chorus of capacity building enthusiasts continues to grow. Yet, both in description and practice, capacity building remains somewhat fuzzy. In many developing countries, one of the greatest obstacles to achieving the health MDGs - in particular those relating to child survival, maternal health, and combating major diseases such as HIV & AIDS - is the deep, persistent lack of organizational capacity among those responsible for attaining these goals.

Some of the essential capacity components that are often lacking include human capacity - adequate numbers of skilled, motivated and well distributed health providers who are supported by strong leadership; financial capacity - money management skills, financial accountability, and costing expertise; systems capacity - information and logistics, monitoring and evaluation, and governance structures and processes.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

As world leaders gather next week at the U.N. to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate poverty, hunger, and disease by 2015, a new integrated approach to funding and delivering health services in developing countries is critical if the UN's global health targets -- especially for women and children -- are to be met. Currently, the health goals are competing with each other for money, people, and other scarce resources. How can we get back on track?

There is much to celebrate next week: over four million people are currently receiving antiretroviral drugs to treat AIDS; eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV is within reach by 2015; malaria deaths have been reduced by over half in some countries; the global burden of TB is falling; and more than 500 million people are now treated for one or more neglected tropical diseases.

This article was originally posted on K4Health’s Blog.

Twelve months ago the K4Health project began its needs assessment to better understand how the flow of knowledge, information, and communications could be improved with regards to Family Planning and Reproductive Health, and HIV & AIDS, in support of the K4Health project.

Over 100 delegates from 30 countries participated in the “National Pharmacovigilance Systems: Ensuring the Safe Use of Medicines” conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, August 16–18, 2010.  Organized by Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the conference focused on the issue of medicine safety in the wake of increased access to medicines in the developing world through various global initiatives that promote treatment for HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.  The forum aimed at providing participants with a framework for building, strengthening, and optimizing medicines safety and pharmacovigilance (PV) systems at the country level.

Pick up any American newspaper these days, and all of the stories coming out of Haiti are negative: earthquake relief work is going slow, displaced people are still living in tented camps, men and women are still struggling to find work.  And while these facts can’t be disputed, there are many other stories that are being left untold.  Working in Haiti earlier this month, I encountered six women who are on the front lines of the battle against Haiti’s HIV & AIDS epidemic, who shared their stories with me.

Women in Haiti

During the opening ceremony of the International AIDS Conference, International AIDS Society President Julio Montaner declared “Consensus has arrived. Treatment and prevention are one thing and they are the way forward.” He went on to assert that Treatment 2.0 “is the most effective way forward to deliver on the universal access pledge.”

Later in the ceremony UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe proclaimed “Treatment 2.0 radically simplifies treatment to maximize the number of people who can benefit.”

Originally posted on Global Health TV's website.

Watch Video Coverage of Dispelling Myths About Haiti

The Global Health Council and its partners held a press conference at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, to bring the attention of the media back to Haiti six months after it was devastated by earthquake.

Experts such as Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jonathan Quick from Management Sciences for Health, Jeff Sturchio from the Global Health Council, and Dr. Jean William Pape from GHESKIO discuss the struggles and successes being made in the troubled nation - and try to dispel a few myths too.

The AIDS 2010 conference theme “Rights Now, Right Here” was delivered loudly, clearly, and passionately throughout the week in Vienna as delegates discussed the practical and urgent implications for truly gaining universal access to HIV treatment, prevention, and care. Over 10 million HIV positive people are without access to treatment, without universal access, the MDGs will not be achieved by 2015.

Human rights violations are a barrier to learning about the epidemic or receiving critical prevention information. Some HIV positive people are subject to unethical surveillance. Human rights violations contribute to transmission of HIV (such as from rape in prisons or domestic violence) and, in too many countries, being HIV positive is a criminal offense. Stigma, discrimination, and persecution are all huge barriers to HIV testing, care, and support. Universal access to human rights by all is what will lead to universal treatment, prevention, and care, not the reverse. Realizing the full protection of human rights is the first step to enhancing efficiency in these programs. The right to live life free of stigma and discrimination and the right to health care including treatment, prevention, care, and needle exchange and substitution treatment are essential.

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