Friends Africa joins other Friends Organizations to applaud the Successful Fourth Voluntary Replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Despite Challenging Economic Climate, Donor Pledges Increased by 30%
Washington, D.C., December 3, 2013 — Today, international donors committed US$ 12 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at its Fourth Voluntary Replenishment meeting. This amount, which will provide funding for 2014 through 2016, represents a 30% increase over hard commitments made at the previous replenishment conference in 2010. As global advocates for the organization, Friends of the Fund Africa, Europe and Japan; Pacific Friends of the Global Fund; and Friends of the Global Fight in the United States want to applaud this significant milestone.
“This is an enormous success by any measure,” said Laurent Vigier, President of Friends of the Global Fund Europe. “But particularly in a time of constrained economies, the collaboration and generosity demonstrated by donor countries is a recognition of the tremendous work of the Global Fund and its ability to help turn the tide against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”
Every three years, countries from around the world gather to make financial pledges to continue the fight against the three diseases. This year’s meeting not only brought donor governments to the table, but also demonstrated the shared support and accountability of the broader international community.
“This mobilization of resources is truly a collective effort,” said Deb Derrick, President of U.S.-based Friends of the Global Fight. “In addition to the generosity of traditional donor governments, significant efforts by civil society organizations, communities, emerging economies, the private sector and implementing countries themselves all contributed to these results.”
“The Global Fund was designed to pursue its mission through a partnership model, and its gradual success at turning the tide for the three diseases is supported by a galvanized effort of all the above mentioned stakeholders. The role of public health advocates in achieving the objectives of the Global Fund cannot be over emphasized and we, the Friends organizations around the world, are proud to play a part in today’s collective success” continued Dr Akudo Anyanwu Ikemba CEO and Founder of Friends Africa.
The need for continued focus on global health is critical. Recent scientific developments, combined with improved epidemiology and a decade of implementation experience, present a unique opportunity to contain and ultimately defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Investments in the three diseases also serve as a platform for addressing the broader health of individuals.
“The Global Fund delivers the majority of international funding for tuberculosis and provides more than 50 percent of international funding for malaria and more than 20 percent for global AIDS relief,” said Wendy McCarthy, Chair of Pacific Friend of the Global Fund. “It is the best instrument we have to defeat these three deadly epidemics. Today’s announcement helps ensure that the work of the organization—helping to save more than 100,000 lives a month—will continue in the years to come.”
But today’s efforts are not the end rather they mark a beginning to a rolling, three-year resource mobilization effort.
“Over the next three years, the Friends organizations and the broader advocacy community will work together with the Global Fund to ensure the necessary resources are in place and used effectively,” said Ken Shibusawa, Director of Friends of the Global Fund Japan. “Together, we can work toward defeating these three diseases.”
Friends of the Global Fund organizations, Friends of the Global Fight, and Pacific Friends of the Global Fund work to end the worldwide burden of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Collectively, we educate, engage and mobilize decision makers to support the Global Fund, the world’s largest public health financier.
For more information about Friends of the Global Fund organizations, visit:
Friends of the Global Fight (U.S.): www.TheGlobalFight.org
Friends of the Global Fund Japan: www.jcie.or.jp/fgfj/e
Friends of the Global Fund Europe: www.afmeurope.org
Friends of the Global Fund Africa: www.friends-africa.org
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund: www.pacificfriendsglobalfund.org
THE GLOBAL FUND TO FIGHT AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS AND MALARIA
The Global Fund is an international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria. The Global Fund promotes partnerships between governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities, the most effective way to help reach those in need. This innovative approach relies on country ownership and performance-based funding, meaning that people in countries implement their own programs based on their priorities and the Global Fund provides financing where verifiable results are achieved.
Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has approved funding of US$27.7 billion for more than 1,000 programs in 151 countries. To date, programs supported by the Global Fund have provided AIDS treatment for 5.3 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 11 million people and 340 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria. The Global Fund works with partners and other bilateral and multilateral organizations to supplement existing efforts in dealing with the three diseases, to ensure that funding serves the men, women and children affected by these diseases in the most effective way.
As the World celebrated AIDS Day on Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan said in spite of the various challenges confronting the efforts to eradicate the virus, Nigeria was winning the war against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The president stated this at a ceremony to mark the day at the Bwari Area Council Secretariat in Abuja. Represented by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Jonathan observed that the progress being made was rather been impeded by huge resources gap.
He called on state governors and the private sector to support in the mobilisation of resource to fund the implementation of the Comprehensive Response Plan for HIV and related infectious diseases in the country.
Represented by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, the president urged all Nigerians to know their HIV status as a first step towards securing their future and preventing further spread of the virus.
Jonathan also informed the gathering that the African Union’s (AU’s) commitment to eradicate the virus remained on course, as African governments had made a commitment to end the HIV scourge on the continent by the year 2030.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Prof. John Idoko, speaking at the event, urged governments at all levels and the private sector to support the implementation of the President’s Comprehensive Plan for HIV, adding that it remained the most strategic plan to nib the spread of HIV/AIDS in the bud.
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon in a message, said there was optimism that the world was progressing in its response to HIV pandemic both in prevention and cure.
He observed that “there are significant decreases in new infections and deaths, and we are making good progress in realizing our target of ensuring 15 million people have access to antiretroviral treatment by 2015. This is crucial to halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic for good.
“But, as revealed in the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report for 2013, there are still worrying signals that some regions and countries are falling behind. We are making advances in reaching vulnerable populations through efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination, but there is still much to do to end this problem.”
It is less than 24hrs to the World AIDS Day novelty football match proudly brought to you by Friends Africa, Africa’s leading Health Advocacy organisation. This year’s edition is the 2nd edition of the fast growing year-long campaign to get to zero AIDS related deaths, stigma and discrimination.
Venue is Campos mini stadium, Lagos Island at 2pm. Meanwhile, there will be free voluntary testing and counseling at the same venue from 10am till the end of the football match.
A whopping 48% of Ugandans don’t know their HIV status, according to the Uganda AIDS Commission, prompting local leaders to set an example by getting tested in the run-up to World AIDS Day on 1 December.
Taking their cue from Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, who publicly got an HIV test in Kampala recently, local leaders in Teso flocked to Soroti Regional Referral Hospital for tests during the hospital’s AIDS Week (24 to 28 November). Their actions give more punch to the president’s campaign against the virus, encouraging people to know their own HIV status.
Ben Etonu, resident district commissioner in Soroti District, said during the launch of AIDS Week: “It’s the first time in history that we have initiated this type of campaign to engage leaders so they can also engage communities to go to the nearest health facility to test for HIV. This is the way to go and we shall carry this out every year. If this day had not been organised, many of us would have missed getting tested because of one reason or another.”
Leading by example
World AIDS Day encourages reflection on global commitments to people living with HIV. The day raises awareness about the challenges of the epidemic and stimulates thinking about new strategies for responding to its transmission.
Dr Charles Okadhi, district health officer in Soroti District, said: “HIV is still with us. We feel for those living with HIV or whose dear ones have been affected by HIV. But we are not sitting back. Indeed, a lot is being done. We are asking leaders to lead by example and get tested.”
The hospital has organised several activities for AIDS Week, including voluntary HIV testing and counseling, cancer screening, nutritional education, malaria testing, safe male circumcision, and drama performances.
Ignorance leads to new infections
The director general of the Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr Kihumuro Apuuli, contends that many Ugandans–especially men–are ignorant of their status and expose themselves to HIV infection through leading a reckless sex life.
“New infections are high, and there is need for a concerted effort to break the back of the virus,” he said, revealing that only 577,000 Ugandans out of the estimated 1.6 million living with HIV are accessing antiretroviral treatment.
There has been apprehension that Uganda is fast losing the gains made over the last two decades in its response to HIV, with the UNAIDS country coordinator, Musa Bangudu, revealing early this year that Uganda is the only country in eastern and southern Africa with rising HIV infection rates.
The findings from the last Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2011 are deeply disturbing. The proportion of Ugandans aged 15-49 who are infected with HIV has risen and now stands at 7.3% (and even higher in women at 8.3%), up from 6.4% in the 2004-05 survey. The main concern is that the number of new infections has been rising steadily: from 124,000 in 2009; to 128,000 in 2010; and then to around 145,000 in 2011.
In light of this data Dr Chris Wandira from Soroti Regional Referral Hospital explained the significance behind World AIDS Day’s theme this year. “Getting to zero means no more new infections, zero discrimination against HIV and also zero new deaths related to HIV. A big gift you can give yourself this year is to know your status.”
Kampala — Uganda has gotten plenty of kudos and some criticism over its roll out of the new antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women and their babies, known as Option B +.
Recommended by the World Health Organisation in June 2012, Option B+ consists in life-long provision of ARV therapy to pregnant women regardless of their CD4 count. CD4s, or helper cells, fight infections in the body.
Before, under Options A and B, mother and baby were given ARVs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Only women with CD4 counts under 350 were prescribed ARVs for life – but CD4-counting machines are expensive and scarce in Africa.
Uganda has done remarkably well. Over 70 percent of all health facilities offer Option B+ and it is well on track to reach its target of 35,000 women in the first year, with 27,000 women in treatment by March 2013.
“We are overwhelmed by the roll out so far,” said Godfrey Esiru, national coordinator of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) at the Ministry of Health. “It is the cheapest option for a country with limited resources for the health sector.”
Uganda’s seroprevalence is seven percent, or some 1.5 million people, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
AIDS activists welcomed the roll out but voiced some concerns.
“Option B+ denies a pregnant woman the right to decide whether to join the service or not,” said Dorothy Namutamba of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDs in Eastern Africa (ICWEA).
This criticism featured prominently in the focus groups organised by ICWEA in 2012 to discuss the experiences of women with Option B+ in Uganda and Malawi.
“The names Option A, B and B+ imply that pregnant women who test positive for HIV are being given a range of options to choose from, whereas in reality it is the government that chooses which option to implement,” reads the ICWEA report on the focus groups.
Young HIV positive women may not want to start lifelong ARV treatment when they still feel healthy, although the regime is simplified to one pill a day. Over time, about two out of 10 people on treatment develop resistance to ARVs and must switch to more expensive second or third-line drugs.
Africa’s leading health advocacy organisation, Friends Africa, has begun executing activities marking the observance of this year’s World AIDS Day in Nigeria.
The 2013 edition of the World AIDS Day celebrations was flagged off with a press conference at Four Points by Sheraton and a week-long, free, voluntary, counseling and testing scheduled to hold from 25th – 29th November, 2013 at the Campos Mini Stadium, Off Catholic Mission, Onikan, Lagos.
Observed on the 1st of December every year, World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness about the HIV, providing a platform to reflect on the achievements made in the response to HIV and AIDS and embracing with optimistic solidarity the challenges that remain.
World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988, and since then Governments and officials from all sectors in their respective countries have committed themselves to observing the day with speeches or forums on global and national themes aimed at reaffirming their commitments.
Starting November 25, 2013,free, voluntary HIV counseling and testing are available at the Campos Mini Stadium from 9:00am to 4:00pm daily.
The week-long activities will be climaxed on Saturday, November 30 with the popular World Aids Day Novelty football match to be played at the same venue of the free counseling and testing, Campos mini Stadium, Lagos Island between 2:00pm and 4:00pm
Statistics have shown that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007.
Despite recent improved access to anti-retroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, serious challenges including stigma and discrimination, denial of one’s positive status among others continue to pose challenges to the national HIV and AIDS response.
UP to eight children are dying weekly as a result of diarrhoea, the Deputy Minister of Health, Paul Chimedza told the Zimbabwean National Assembly last week.
Responding to Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya’s question on the recent death of three children after they had taken bilharzia drugs, Chimedza said diarrheal deaths were becoming prevalent in the country.
He said it has now been established that two of the three children died from diarrhoea which had nothing to do with bilharzia drugs. The cause of death for the third child could not be established as he was buried before a post-mortem could be conducted.
“If you go to my statistics of deaths, every week we will have six to eight children dying because of diarrhoea which has nothing to do with drugs,” Chimedza said.
Three children, aged between five and eight, recently died in Harare and Redcliff after taking the bilharzia drug. The children were said to have started vomiting and developed diarrhoea the same day they had taken the medication.
Chimedza said the government’s decision to freeze posts was making it difficult for his ministry to function smoothly.
“The problem we have at the moment is there is a government freeze on posts. At the moment the nurse to patient ratio in some areas is about one to 15 and the ideal is one to four,” he said.
Chimedza urged parliamentarians to make sure that government unfroze the posts.
“We have an acute shortage of nurses in the hospitals. It is our desire to put a nurse or nurses that are adequate to look after our people in each and every health centre including those farm houses that we have converted to clinics,” he said.
Chimedza said the ministry was currently engaging the Finance ministry on the issue.
He said most nurses go “into the streets” after college and losing the skills that they got after using the government’s resources.
“They lose the skill after three years, they cannot be nurses anymore. They will need to be retrained,” Chimedza said, “So it’s really something that as a ministry we are very worried about. We really want to have all nurses’ posts unfrozen as a matter of urgency for the benefit of this nation.”
Malaria researchers believe that better coordination and new technologies, such as the use of vaccines and sophisticated disease mapping, can inject new life into the ambitious goal of eradicating the deadly illness.
For the past three decades, the key mandate of the malaria community has been promote the use of bed nets to control and reduce the spread of the mosquito-borne disease, and focus on the most vulnerable – African children.
A child in Africa dies every minute from malaria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Some 3.3 billion people in nearly 100 countries worldwide are at risk of the disease, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
But because of recent interventions, including the use of bed nets, administrating rapid diagnostic tests, and boosting treatment with artemisinin combination therapies, or ACTs – which have become the new standard in medication – malaria rates have fallen 33 percent in Africa and over 25 percent globally in the past decade, WHO says.
Because of these recent advances and the availability of new tools to fight malaria, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a plan to synchronize the efforts of the malaria community worldwide towards the goal of global eradication, building on the foundation’s original eradication call of six years ago.
“One of the pivots in our strategy is investing in making things happen on the ground, as opposed to conceptual, upstream stuff,” said Dr. Alan Magill, director of the Gates Foundation’s malaria programme. “We think this is an extremely audacious goal – we know that. I also feel that literally hundreds of thousands of years of co-evolution have proven that we cannot live a healthy and productive life with malaria. We need to be without it.”
Magill spoke on the sidelines of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) conference held in Washington, DC, last week, where the Gates Foundation made its announcement.
From 1955 to 1978, WHO and partner organizations worldwide launched an ambitious malaria eradication effort. Health workers attacked mosquito-breeding sites by spraying with the insecticide DDT and screened communities for the disease. Mass drug administration programs were carried out, and anti-malarials were given to millions of people.
Then in the late 1970′s, drug resistance started to appear, first in Asia and then in South America. Political will began to falter and funding dwindled, so by 1978 the eradication effort was abandoned. After that, the use of bed nets became the main strategy for curbing the spread of malaria.
Johannesburg — New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have continued to fall, while record numbers of people in the developing world are on antiretroviral treatment, according to the latest UNAIDS report on the pandemic. But with new HIV infections on the rise in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, more funding is needed.
IRIN brings you the highlights:
New infections and AIDS-related deaths
About 2.3 million people contracted HIV in 2012, the lowest number since the mid-to-late 1990s, when there were roughly 3.5 million new infections every year. The most dramatic drop is among children: in 2012, an estimated 260,000 children became infected with HIV, 52 percent lower than in 2001.
UNAIDS noted, however, that there were “worrying signs” that some countries were not on track. New HIV infections have been on the rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia by 13 percent since 2006; and the Middle East and North Africa region has seen a doubling of new HIV infections since 2001.
AIDS-related deaths among people living with HIV have decreased by 30 percent since the peak in 2005 as access to antiretroviral treatment has expanded.
Record treatment figures, but children lag behind
Some 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries were taking ARVs in 2012 as a result of increased political commitment and smarter investments, as well as massive reductions in the cost of treatment.
First-line ARV treatment in some low- and middle-income countries now costs about US$140 per person per year. In the mid-1990s the cost was around $10,000 per person per year.
But the pace of scaling up treatment for children is still frustratingly slow. In some of the hardest-hit countries only three in 10 children receive HIV treatment. In 2012, 647,000 children under 15 years of age were receiving antiretrovirals globally, half of the treatment coverage for adults.
“We have seen tremendous political commitment to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV [and results], but we are failing the children who become infected,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “We urgently need better diagnostic tools and child-friendly medicines, irrespective of the market size.”
More than one week after a tropical cyclone tore through the Puntland region in Somalia, fears are emerging of an outbreak of waterborne diseases.
Kwame Darko, health delegate for the Somalia delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said the cyclone caused serious damage to vital infrastructure.
“Many wells in the provinces of Eyl and Dangorayo collapsed during the storm. There are also numerous dead livestock lying around. This has contaminated the water sources for thousands of people,” he said.
“We need to ensure clean drinking water is made available for those affected by the cyclone, otherwise there is a very strong chance we will start seeing cases of diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases.”
More than 100 people are confirmed dead, and hundreds more are missing, after heavy flooding washed away roads, homesteads and fishing boats, leaving entire villages submerged under contaminated water.
It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of livestock in the areas were killed. Those that survived are showing signs of ill health. The government has declared a state of emergency and appealed for international assistance.
With many areas inaccessible, it has been challenging to accurately assess the situation, however, as is the case following most disasters, immediate needs remain shelter, food, clean water and health care.
The Somalia Red Crescent Society has deployed two mobile medical health teams to support the Ministry of Health and, together with community volunteers, is providing various health care services, including first aid, psychosocial support and hygiene promotion.
The National Society is also providing survivors with health care services in three maternal and child health clinics in Eyl and Dogoyoro – two of the most affected communities – as well as Qarhis.
“Over the course of three days, the intervention team treated 757 people, most of them for skin-related diseases and acute respiratory infections,” said Darko.
“The team has also seen 14 cases of malaria in the areas of Labiedaab and Dirwerane villages, and has had to move in extra supplies as there was a shortage of materials available to treat these patients.”
Twenty-two volunteers and staff have received training on how to conduct assessments to determine the true nature of the current situation, which will help shape the response in coming weeks.
The Somalia Red Crescent Society is receiving support from IFRC through the release of more than 67,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. The funds are being used to assist staff and volunteers in conducting assessments, and to provide emergency supplies, health care and water, initially, to 300 families in four highly affected districts, as well as those not yet assisted in the most affected ‘triangle’ of Dongoyoro-Eyl-Bander Beyla.
Last weekend, a shipment of emergency supplies was airlifted into the Puntland region from IFRC’s warehouse in Nairobi.
“What is unfolding in Somalia is what we call a ‘silent’ disaster,” said Darko. “It is smaller than a large scale disaster and casualties are fewer. It also fails to capture the attention of the international community.
However, talk to those Somali families who no longer have a home because of this cyclone, and they will tell you, this is not a ‘silent’ disaster. It is our responsibility to make their voices heard.”