IHSJ Reader     December 2011     Issue 13         

Note: Triple asterisk (***) indicates subscription-only sources.



Decline in AIDS Funding Risks Jeopardizing Recent Gains Made By Countries (UNAIDS, November, 27, 2011)
The past decade has seen incredible gains in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, but this progress is facing severe threats from a decline in resources available for HIV/AIDS programs in low- and middle-income countries. In response to financial challenges, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) argues that new sources of funding are necessary to maintain the life-saving momentum of the AIDS response, including the implementation of a financial transaction tax and reprioritizing AIDS investment.

Board Cancels Round 11 and Introduces Tough New Rules for Grant Renewals (Global Fund Observer, November 23, 2011)
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM)—the most successful global health funding mechanism to date—has been forced to indefinitely suspend the financing of new grants. The cause is clear: both government and private sector donors have broken their financial promises to fund the fight against the world’s leading infectious killers.  Yet, in just ten years, the GFATM has saved more than seven million lives and fortified health systems in many of the world’s most impoverished nations. Partners In Health strongly urges the U.S. Congress to protect life-saving global health investments, including at least $6 billion for HIV/AIDS and PEPFAR with $1 billion for the GFATM in the 2012 State and Foreign Operations Bill.

How to Get to Zero: Faster. Smarter. Better.  (UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report, 2011) +
Nearly 50 percent of People Who Are Eligible for Antiretroviral Therapy Now Have Access to Lifesaving Treatment
(Press Release, UNAIDS, November 21, 2011)
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS released the 2011 World AIDS Day report last week. It presents the remarkable successes that have been made in the HIV/AIDS response over the past year. Between declines in HIV/AIDS related deaths and new infection rates, gains in the number of eligible people accessing treatment (6.6 million total or 47 percent) and research revealing that AIDS treatment reduces HIV transmission by 96 percent, the world is on the verge of a significant breakthrough in the AIDS response. Continuing this momentum and reaching ambitious targets, like zero new HIV infections, will be possible only if innovative partnership and investment continue.

HIV-Free Survival and Morbidity Among Formula-Fed Infants In a Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV Programs in Rural Haiti (Louise Ivers, Sasha Appleton, Bingxia Wang, et al., AIDS Research and Therapy, October 12, 2011)
The results from this study highlight the success and feasibility of using breast milk substitution for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) for non-breastfeeding mothers with HIV living in rural Haiti. Worldwide, an estimated 2.5 million children are living with HIV; most were infected through mother-to-child transmission either during pregnancy or through breastfeeding. But we have the tools to eliminate new infections among children. PIH and our sister organization Zanmi Lasante previously supported mothers enrolled in the PMTCT program who chose not to breastfeed with the tools necessary to exclusively formula feed during the first nine month of life—including infant  formula, food support, clean water, education and accompaniment. This report acknowledges that the feasibility of success in similar programs depends on access to clean water and the existence of strong health systems that are able to provide integrated health services, including community education.  Our programs in Haiti now offer women the option to use formula or take antiretroviral therapy according to new Ministry of Health protocols to avoid infecting their infants.



 Haiti Reconstruction: Factors Contributing to Delays in USAID Infrastructure Construction (United States Government Accountability Office, November 2011)
This new GAO report analyzes delays in USAID and State Department reconstruction projects across multiple sectors in Haiti. Most alarmingly, the report finds that USAID has expended a mere $3 million of the $412 million allocated for infrastructure projects due to perilous delays in the hiring and deployment of technical and program staff.  Partners In Health recommends increased transparency and reporting so civil society partners can work with USAID and other funding partners to help identify and pursue strategies to rectify implementation gaps.



The Famine Next Time (Samuel Loewenberg, The New York Times, November 26, 2011)
Drought has been plaguing the Horn of Africa for over a year, but media and donors failed to act until it was too late for many. When attention finally shifted to the casualties of the hunger crisis, international actors ignored the root of the problem—poverty—and attempted to treat the hunger by simply providing food supplies. These food packages cut the value of food aid in half, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and ignore the medium- and long-term needs of affected communities. Instead of dropping food packages, investment should be made in sending cash for local purchase and developing local agriculture and infrastructure. 



The Other Half of the Story: The HPV Vaccine in Rwanda(Patrick Adams, Dowser, November 23, 2011)
When Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, was asked if she was concerned about whether vaccinating preadolescent girls against human papillomavirus (HPV) might lead to promiscuity as social conservatives in the U.S. have warned, she responded “You believe that the day we have a vaccine for HIV, we are going to fight it? In Rwanda, people don’t link this vaccine with sex; they link it with a cancer that kills women.” This article highlights Rwanda’s roll-out of the third and final phase of the nationwide HPV vaccination for 12-15 year old girls. The progress that has been made in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide is remarkable and the success of this vaccination program reflects the dramatic improvements in access to comprehensive health services.



PEPFAR Opens the Door: Integrating HIV/AIDS with an NCD (Jeff Meer, Dialogue4Health, November 21, 2011)
Though the U.N. High Level Meeting on Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases held in September provided an opportunity to unite governments, activists, and experts, it failed to secure meaningful financial commitments. The Obama administration has recently stepped up to this task by agreeing to expand the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in collaboration with the George W. Bush Institute, to incorporate cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment. This new public-private partnership, known as Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, presents a good example of building upon successful global health platforms to integrate additional health services and provide comprehensive care to patients.

How the UN Can Undo Damage From Chronic Disease (Jean-Luc Butel, Fox News November 18, 2011)
Eighty percent of the 36 million deaths each year from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are felt in low- and middle-income countries. Such endemic diseases cannot be addressed by government and non-governmental organization action alone; rather they must join forces with multilateral agencies and private sector actors to foster partnerships that encourage innovative approaches to combating NCDs. Integrating NCD care into existing primary health care programs requires these diverse partners to work together to develop strong health systems and encourage the development of local infrastructure.

IDF’s Advocacy Guide to the Political Declaration From the 2011 UN High-Level Summit on NCDs (International Diabetes Federation, November 2011)
The International Diabetes Federation developed this Advocacy Guide following the September United Nations High-level Meeting on non-communicable diseases. It provides a detailed analysis of the promises made by governments in the U.N. Political Declaration, as well as guidance on how to advocate for expanded NCD programs at the national, regional and global levels. Partners In Health remains engaged in service and advocacy efforts aimed at increasing access to comprehensive health care for the poor, including the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases.