Erin Hohlfelder

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The Sudden Death and Rebirth of the Global Health Council | 

 

GHClogoThe global health community was left bewildered when the Global Health Council suddenly announced last April that it was closing.

Members of the prestigious, decades-old organization were not warned in advance, participants in the upcoming annual meeting had to abruptly cancel their plans and the GHC’s cryptic explanation (scroll down to April) just left everyone scratching their heads:

“Times have changed… Funding that once existed to promote a broad-based health agenda is now focused on specific health issues. The fundamental shifts in the health landscape have led the Board to revisit the relevance of the organization and determine that the Council’s current operating model is no longer sustainable.”

But times have changed again, apparently.

The organization is being resurrected with a new board, a slightly new name (Global Health Coalition) and with purportedly a new and more relevant strategy. Continue reading

Wordy word AIDS Day | 

Flickr, Pink Sherbet Photography

No, that’s not a typo.

I’ve decided to mark this 30th anniversary of the recognized beginning of the pandemic as Wordy AIDS Day rather than use its official name, World AIDS Day, because most of what the international community is doing is saying they want to continue the fight against AIDS even as they retreat.

As Sarah Boseley of The Guardian writes, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is threatening to ‘collapse’ thanks to governments reneging on their promised donations. The bottom line here is that there is insufficient funding to meet the existing challenge while politicians like Sec. of State Hillary Clinton proclaim we are on the verge of an “AIDS-free generation.” Says Boseley:

If this were not so deadly serious it would be absurd. As Clinton declares the end of AIDS is nigh with one massive last push, the donor governments, mostly in Europe, sit on their wallets. HIV/AIDS has gone out of favour.

It needs to be said that there has been progress, with a remarkable scale-up in getting people on treatment (about 40 percent of those who need the drugs in Africa) and 20-25 percent reductions in mortality.

Recent scientific studies have shown that getting people on anti-HIV drugs prevents transmission of the virus so it is possible, in theory anyway, to halt the pandemic by getting everyone infected on treatment.

Yet even as we may be at a beneficial ‘tipping point’ in the fight against AIDS, the world community’s commitment to the fight is flagging. Funding for the global fight against HIV/AIDS dropped by 10 percent last year. IRIN called it a Deadly Funding Crisis.

Two old-time warriors in the fight ask, on CNN, if what we should be celebrating is Another 30 Years of AIDS?

One of the presumed bright spots in this gloomy landscape was celebrated today with President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. plans to “win this fight’ and has increased its global commitment to get anti-HIV drugs to two million more people by 2013.

Obama’s announcement was webcast by the ONE Campaign with commentary from a slew of other bigwigs like Bono, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The Obama Administration’s new commitment to the global fight will be good news if it actually happens. Little noticed was the fine print that said this would be accomplished not by donating more money but by “increasing efficiency.” Only the domestic HIV/AIDS needs got actual new money, $50 million.

Here are some other worthy links for this day, Wordy AIDS Day:

Alanna Shaikh at UN Dispatch: The End of the Beginning of the End of AIDS?

ONE’s Erin Hohlfelder: Act V, The End of AIDS

George W Bush in Wall Street Journal: No Retreat in the Fight Against AIDS

NPR: What a lack of funding could mean for Africa

The Independent: Victory is in sight but cuts in funding could spoil it all

Simon Bland of Global Fund: Yes, we’re alive but progress in peril