We were fortunate to attend a World AIDS Day event in Nairobi this morning sponsored by the National AIDS Control Council, the Kenyan government's HIV/AIDS coordinating body. It was a celebration of sorts - dancing and singing, balloons and banners. Speakers, including the Minister of Health and Vice President, noted that Kenya has seen a recent drop in its prevalence rate, albeit a small one. They attributed part of this achievement to a strong partnership with civil society. And indeed, there was a strong civil society presence at the event. Community-based organizations from all over Kenya had booths displaying their work and the representatives of these groups spoke knowledgeably about programs in prevention, treatment and care.
CGD Policy Blogs
Even though the TRIPS agreement and the subsequent Doha declaration contain public health safeguards that allow developing countries to produce or import generic medicines, the reality is that few countries have had the political will and technical support to use those safeguards. That's why it's especially encouraging that earlier this week, Thailand's government announced it would issue a compulsory license for the antiretroviral drug Efavirenz, currently patented there by Merck.
Is the new "combination therapy" for countries heavily burdened by HIV/AIDS going to be the potent mix of one former US President + funding from a French-led airline levy + the high volume-low margin business model of Indian drug manufacturers?
The current issues of both Nature and BMJ (subscriptions required) draw attention to the role of research universities in improving access to medicines in developing countries, emphasizing the work of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), a student organization with chapters at 35 universities in North America.
The Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator is pleased to announce the launch of www.PEPFAR.gov - a new online resource for the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This website features comprehensive information on PEPFAR's work around the world. Two new features include a series of issue briefs and resources for World AIDS Day.
In June 2005, President George W. Bush announced a $1.2 billion, 5-year initiative to combat the scourge of malaria with these words:
The toll of malaria is even more tragic because the disease itself is highly treatable and preventable. Yet this is also our opportunity, because we know that large-scale action can defeat this disease in whole regions. And the world must take that action.
In the midst of all the recent political developments in global health, there's an exciting surprise on the scientific front: a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that chloroquine cured 99% of malaria cases in a study of 105 children in Malawi, over 12 years after it was withdrawn due to treatment failure rates of over 50% (as reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and elsewhere).