Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, better known as “Friends”, is an advocacy organization that is working to expand and sustain U.S. support for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Global Fund was created in 2002 to support countries and programs in the fight against the three pandemics. From those distributing mosquito nets to protect families from malaria in Honduras, to those training peer counselors of teenagers diagnosed with HIV in South Africa, partners in tackling the deadly infectious diseases get support from the Global Fund. Friends has grown to become the leading source of information about the Global Fund in the United States, becoming its much needed voice in Washington, D.C.

Friends shares information with policy leaders and decision makers on the direction the Global Fund takes and the achievements it makes. Friends also ties together the two organizations’ communications and education goals by providing the Global Fund’s Secretariat, based in Geneva, Switzerland, with legislative counsel and strategic direction. Through these efforts, Friends is able to foster collaboration and mutual support between the Global Fund and the U.S. government’s AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria efforts.

As of December 2012, the Global Fund had approved about $23 billion in grant funding. These resources are provided to in-country partners that have donated HIV/AIDS treatment to 4.2 million people, detected and treated 9.7 million cases of tuberculosis, distributed over 310 million insecticide-treated nets, and reached 1.7 million HIV-positive mothers with services to prevent transmission to their children. Overall, efforts around the globe have reduced tuberculosis deaths by more than 40%, HIV incidence by more than 20%, and malaria deaths in Africa by 33%. In turn, communities have stabilized, human rights have improved, economic productivity has increased, and partnerships have been built.

Friends of the Global Fight was founded in 2004 to help advocate on behalf of the world’s largest public health financier. Since its founding, Friends has played a significant role in helping the Global Fund to increase funding from the U.S. government over the past few years. U.S. support for lifesaving programs increased from $345 million in FY2005 to $1.65 billion in FY2013. The following are just a few of the milestones that have led to Friends’ success:

  • 2004 – Philanthropist Ed Scott and Adam Waldman found Friends, led by well-known D.C. influencer Jack Valenti
  • 2004 – The U.S. Congress approves $435 million for the Global Fund for FY 2005
  • 2006 – The U.S. Congress approves $724 million for the Global Fund for FY 2007
  • 2008 – Friends collaborates with congressional office to facilitate the Global Fund’s Access to Life photo exhibit at the African American Museum and Library in Oakland, California and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
  • 2008 – The U.S. Congress approves $1 billion for the Global Fund for FY 2009
  • 2010 – The U.S. Administration makes an unprecedented pledge of $4 billion to the Global Fund for FY 2011 through FY 2013
  • 2010 – The U.S. Congress approves $1.05 billion for the Global Fund for FY 2011.
  • 2012 – Friends hosts highly attended event on Capitol Hill highlighting the Global Fund’s public-private partnerships with Coca-Cola, Chevron, (RED) and PEPFAR.
  • 2012 – Friends hosts high-level dinner timed during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C, resulting in a total U.S. contribution of $1.3 billion to the Global Fund for FY 2012
  • 2012 – The U.S. Congress approves $1.65 billion for the Global Fund in a continuing resolution for FY 2013
  • 2013 – Friends hosts Dr. Mark Dybul for his first official visit to the U.S. after his appointment as the new Executive Director of the Global Fund, planning and executing a four day roll-out in Washington, D.C., that included meetings and events with the U.S. Congress, the Administration and the global health advocacy community
  • 2013 – The House and Senate State and Foreign Operations appropriators allocate $1.65 billion for the Global Fund in their bills for FY 2014, a record funding level in the House

– Ali Warlich

Sources: Friends of the Global Fight, The Global Fund

Raising HIV Awareness in South Sudan
South Sudan has one of the highest rates for HIV infection in the world. It is estimated that only 100,000 people in South Sudan live with HIV. But out of those 100,000, only 4,678 people receive antiretroviral therapy (ARTs). The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis have launched a project in Southern Sudan to raise awareness and provide treatment to people who have HIV.

The project specifically focuses on HIV patients who are also at risk for Tuberculosis (TB). It provides information on prevention, surveillance, testing, and counseling to those living with HIV and TB. In 2012 the program offered treatment to 1,500 TB/HIV co-infected patients received ART treatment and 4,882 people with TB received treatment. From 2005 to 2012 those who received counseling for HIV or TB rose from 1 person to 12, 753.

Although this project is incredible for those in South Sudan who are already living with HIV, a key strategy for HIV reduction is raising awareness about prevention. A group in the state of Western Equatoria, where nearly seven percent of residents are infected with HIV, is going out into the community to spread the message of safe sex. Zereda AIDS information Center group has been influential in its community. It has grown to 470 members and encouraged dozen of community members to get tested.

“When I got the disease, I was very worried, but when I started getting counseling – before I thought I had no life in this world. But after joining the group I realized am still useful in this world,” said Angelina Baptist, who is a member of Zereda.

Projects and support groups such as these are necessary for raising HIV awareness and preventing the prevalence of HIV in Southern Sudan.

– Catherine Ulrich
Sources: UN, Voice of America News

In an interview with the British publication The Guardian, Philippe Douste-Blazy, special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on innovative finance for development, and chairman of the global health partnership Unitaid,  discussed his interest in development, its relationship to poverty and extremism, and the goals of his organization.

Douste-Blazy recounted how his interest in development was sparked by a conversation he had with former French President Chirac, who emphasized for him the  political importance of caring for the 1.5 billion people living in extreme poverty. Chirac’s arguments helped convince Douste-Blazy that the more the world becomes interconnected, the more inequality there is, and that “breed[s] ground for conflict.” Douste-Blazy personalized these issues by stating that if he were an 18-year old living in a developing country and he had to watch his family die from malaria because “the world could not give them less than a pound while knowing that in London or Paris a couple may spend 100 [euros] on dinner, [he could] understand how poverty can be a catalyst for extremist views.”

In his interview Douste-Blazy also described how Unitaid, which uses innovative financing to help facilitate accessibility to the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis in developing countries, started off with the concept of raising plane ticket prices by 1 euro and donating that 1 to raise these funds. Unitaid was established in 2006 by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway, and the U.K. Today, various members support this mission, including organizations from the global south. Douste-Blazy asserted that this mission’s key goal is to show the international community that this “levy tax on plane tickets” can produce solid results through new financing models further beyond the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. To address the financial problems of development, he said that there is a need for “new sources of innovative financing,” that invest in the poor of today so that they can become the “economic actors of tomorrow” cutting off the ties between poverty and extremism.

Leen Abdallah

Source: Guardian

Tuberculosis may be the world’s most romanticized disease. La Boheme’s Mimi, Les Miserables’ Fantine, Moulin Rouge’s Satine, among many others, have succumbed to the disease. Despite being a recurring theme in literature and art, the reality of tuberculosis is much uglier.

Tuberculosis, or TB for short, is second only to HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death from a single infection. It’s symptoms including coughing up sputum or blood, fever, night sweats, weakness and chest pain.

An infection of the lungs, TB is quite insidious. Highly contagious, it can be spread simply by inhaling a few particles from an infected person coughing, spitting or sneezing. It can lie dormant in many individuals, meaning that although they are carriers, they don’t develop the active disease, nor do they transmit it.

However, once infected with the active form of the disease, the symptoms are often mild and so individuals do not immediately seek treatment and often contribute to spreading the infection. People infected with HIV or diabetes are much more likely to get TB because of weakened immune systems. Environmental risk factors including overcrowding and malnutrition make TB a disease of the poor.

TB occurs in almost every country in the world, though mostly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Both treatable and curable, control of the disease is mainly preventative, done through vaccination. Once contracted, antibiotics can be administered to help those infected, though treatment is often difficult because of the resistant nature of the bacteria.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: WHO
Photo: Los Angeles Times

Global Partnership Develops New Vaccine for TB, Malaria, HIV

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided a $2.9 million grant for the development of vaccines against tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria. The grant was issued to Aeras, a nonprofit biotech advancing TB vaccines for the world, the University of Oxford, and Okairos, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in T-cell vaccines. The three groups will work together to develop scalable methods to enable large-scale production of multiple novel chimpanzee adenovirus vector constructs.

The Interim CEO of Aeras, Tom Evans, said the “effort to improve optimization and scale-up under current good manufacturing practices could also potentially benefit our peers in HIV and malaria vaccine development.”

The University of Oxford is currently developing multiple vaccines, including vaccines against HIV, malaria, and TB in clinical trials in the UK and Africa. Aeras has focused primarily on tuberculosis vaccine research and development.

This construct will be Okairos’ proprietary technology platform that uses potent chimpanzee adenovirus vectors to stimulate robust T-cell and antibody responses against selected antigens.

Chimpanzee adenovirus-based vaccines have been shown to safely induce exceptionally potent cellular immunity in adults, children and infants, and are in clinical trials involving over 1,000 vaccinees in seven countries.

– Essee Oruma

Source: allAfrica
Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The use of mobile telephone in Africa has spread so rapidly that in 2001 mobile phones first outnumbered fixed lines, and by the end of 2012, 70% of Africa’s population was expected to have a cell phone. Communication has never been so easy and it has opened up new opportunities across the globe.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in collaboration with technical partners, developed a low cost, user-friendly survey methodology that allows data to be collected using inexpensive and widely available cell phones.

The new system is called Rapid Mobile Phone-based survey (RAMP), which is sufficiently flexible to be used for a range of tasks in many fields. “We are now producing preliminary results within 24 hours and a full draft report of a survey within three days,” says Mac Otten, RAMP developer for IFRC. “This allows us to analyze the data quicker with the end result being that we can adapt interventions quicker to the needs of the most vulnerable.”

Recent results from a RAMP survey in the Kenya project are impressive: 90% of households own at least one net and net use is at 80%  for the total population. Net distribution, combined with a community approach to malaria treatment called the Home Management of Malaria project, demonstrates that empowering communities to respond comprehensively to malaria is part of the winning formula to beat the disease.

But malaria is not the only problem.

In Kenya, where 35% of children under five are stunted, 16% are underweight and, one Kenyan woman in 35 faces risk of maternal death, having the right information at the right time is vital to save the lives of both mothers and their children.

“There hasn’t been a nutrition survey in our project area for a long time,” says Mwanaisha Marusa Hamisi, Assistant Secretary General for Coast Province, Kenya Red Cross Society. “Although we knew nutrition was an issue, the information collected through RAMP will allow us to better target volunteer actions. We need to tackle specific attitudes and behaviours to achieve results.”

The project in Kenya is now moving towards comprehensive maternal and child health actions at the community level to provide broader health services closer to the people who need them most.

– Essee Oruma

Source: allAfrica

Indonesia's Fight Against Tuberculosis
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is currently working with the Indonesian government in the next step in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Indonesia has already had significant success in fighting the disease and USAID is helping fund research to help the country completely eliminate fatalities caused by TB.

Last year, USAID granted Indonesia The Champion Award for its exceptional accomplishments for the category of “Work in the Fight Against TB”. Indonesia’s work with the World Health Organization (WHO) has helped decrease the number of TB-related deaths and raise awareness about the disease, as well as bolster the opening of new treatment centers. Today in Indonesia, more than 88% of people with TB have been successfully treated.

When patients have only been partially cured through treatment, TB sometimes resurfaces as multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB. USAID’s latest initiative in Indonesia will focus on helping fund research and treatment centers to help find new solutions to the public health threat of MDR TB. Indonesia will likely accomplish the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of fighting TB in the very near future.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Global Post
Photo: CRW Flags

March 24th will be World TB Day, a day to raise awareness of tuberculosis and the numerous TB deaths each year. As the day of awareness approaches, the World Health Organization, along with The Global Fund, have sent out a plea for more funding into medicine research and distribution.

The WHO claims that $1.3 billion is the annual funding required to effectively combat the disease. In 2011 only $0.5 billion was made available for TB research to find a cure. As TB has historically changed to become vaccine-resistant, it is critical that funding continues to come in and grows in volume. Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), is worried by the shortcoming in research funding at a time when the number of medicine-resistant examples of the disease are increasing.

Along with working to increase funding to TB research, the WHO and The Global Fund are trying to make existing TB medications more easily available in the developing countries that are most often effected by the disease. They continue to work with big pharmacy companies like AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Otsuka to lower the cost of medications for people who currently can’t afford them. They are also allying with Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, to help address the many issues that surround the efficient distribution of such medicine. Learn more about the efforts of MSF.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: PM Live
Photo: Top News