In 2001, when African leaders met in Abuja, Nigeria and each pledged to take measures to halt the spread of HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in addition to increasing their country’s funding for health to at least 15% of their annual budget. This pledge provided hope for many that a turning point in Africa’s history- a point where the continent would be able to emerge from decades of watching the potential of the citizens, communities, and countries be stunted by disease.

But, pledges do not pay doctors, nurses or community workers, they do not buy medicines, and they do not keep the lights running in hospitals.

In July, the leaders of Africa will gather once again in Abuja, Nigeria, to review progress made on HIV, TB and malaria and discuss the state of the continent’s health.

We hope that as Africa’s health reaches a critical crossroads, the African leaders use this opportunity to follow through with their commitments with concrete action and plans for the future that include effective monitoring of the implementation at country level.

There has undoubtedly been progress. A handful of African countries have reached the 15% target, with 27 African countries having increased their domestic investments in health. The U.N. Millennium Development Goals have catalyzed improvements on development across countries. Due to international investments channeled through the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria, we are now at a point where we can see the end of all three diseases.

However, Africa is still behind on reaching the U.N.’s goals related to improving maternal health and reducing child mortality, while our progress on the goal of fighting HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and other diseases is uncertain as the Global Fund looks to raise $15 billion to continue its life-saving work for the next three years.

Leaders can no longer look back on the 2001 Abuja Declaration and pat themselves on the back. It is crucial that they only look forward to the work that must be done, and turn pledges and promises into action and resources.

The leaders today will write the history of tomorrow, and they must keep the trust of the citizens who elected them to power. It’s not just promises at stake; it is the lives of millions of people.

– Matthew Jackoski

Sources: ONE, WHO
Photo: Belinda Otas

Jim Yong Kim
CARABAYLLO, Peru — This week, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, returned to the small village of Carabayllo in Peru, where he has been working for many years to reduce Tuberculosis. Kim co-founded the health NGO, Socios en Salud (SES), in 1994, and has since served an estimated population of 700,000 inhabitants of small shantytowns around the capital, Lima. A sister organization of Partners in Health (PIH), the history of SES provides a poignant lesson on fighting poverty.

When SES was founded, its main focus was primary healthcare, but this changed when a Boston priest working in Carabayllo died of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). President Kim launched an investigation, which soon found many others in the region suffering from drug-resistant TB. From there on, the organization came up against many challenges.

The government initially refused to treat the TB patients, and when they did agree, the costs were huge. After securing funding from a Boston philanthropist, 75 people suffering from MDR-TB were treated. In such a poor community, this was almost unprecedented. Only in Haiti had a small group of people been successfully treated in a similar setting. But, after four months of treatment, 90% of the patients in Carabayllo no longer had infectious TB, and it was this success that led the World Bank to support MDR-TB treatment in the developing world.

President Kim visited the small village in Peru, and made acute observations about the needs of the community, acknowledging that the fight against MDR-TB was not only a medical problem, but a social justice problem, too. Jamie Bayona, co-founded of SES, said of President Kim “his approach was fixing the problem from the root, not just from what was bothering them on the surface. Socios treated people, and also offered counseling, job training, and food packets.”

This represented a learning curve for both President Kim and the World Bank. Kim said in an interview that the World Bank is not just about financing and macro-economic policy, but also about working in communities like Carabayllo to address issues of poverty, and find lasting solutions. In addition to treating people with MDR-TB, SES took the decision to go one step further – to provide food, shelter and emotional support. “Doing all those things was a litmus test, a test for society. If [societies] could do that, my goodness, what else could you do for people and for the world?” Kim concluded.

– Chloe Isacke

Source: World Bank

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


The small nation of Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world, at 24%, and the fourth highest estimated TB incidence. The TB-HIV co-infection rates are the fifth highest in the world and multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is a growing challenge.

The Ministry of Finance of Lesotho recently signed two grant agreements with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria totaling $17 million. These grants will allow Lesotho to expand prevention and treatment of HIV and multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The Global Fund has also invited Lesotho as an interim applicant with US$25 million for HIV and AIDS.

The Minister of Finance, Leketekete, said that the grant agreements “will allow for greater predictability of funding and more strategic investment.”

The Tuberculosis grant will seek to address MDR/XDR-TB, TB/HIV co-infection, expand high quality TB treatment (DOTs), and engage communities in TB control.

Populations that are most at-risk will be reached through prevention interventions that include prevention messages, condom distribution, management of sexually-transmitted infections, and referrals to health facilities.

Lesotho has made great strides towards the reduction of the HIV epidemic. Incidence of new HIV infections declined by 16% between 2008 and 2011.

– Essee Oruma

Sources: allAfrica
Photo: Ezakwantu

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

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