Mark Dybul

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Global Fund hires new chief, fires watchdog and obfuscates on malaria | 

Today was a big day for news out of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The initiative, which has clearly helped turn back the spread of AIDS and these other killer diseases in poor countries, announced it has selected a new leader, Mark Dybul, decided to either kill off or modify a controversial malaria program and also fired its inspector general.

Oh, and it also announced it will give grants to countries that can show the quickest results.

Many, if not most, of these changes can be traced back to 2011 allegations of fraud and mismanagement at the Global Fund made by its inspector general, John Parsons, that were, arguably, highly exaggerated by the Associated Press and other media, and reported as if it was their own investigative reporting expose. Continue reading

AIDS 2012: Bill Gates skeptical of ending AIDS anytime soon | 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The International AIDS Conference, a mega-meeting of more than 20,000 people, has opened here to fanfare, protests, calls to action and (overly?) ambitious proclamations aimed at fighting complacency.

The world’s biggest AIDS conference has returned to the U.S. – to a city with HIV infection rates comparable to some African nations – after 22 years of ‘separation’ due to our government’s ban against HIV-infected visitors. The Obama Administration repealed the travel ban in 2010.

It appears to be a critical moment for the global response to AIDS. The theme of AIDS 2012 is “Turning the Tide Together.”

This positive message has been accompanied by many speakers and organizations here claiming, sometimes in verbatim echo, that we are on the crest of finding a “cure” for AIDS, of creating an “AIDS-free generation” or “the end of AIDS.

  • “We can, with the technology we have today, end the epidemic,” said Mark Dybul, former director of the President George W. Bush’s ground-breaking and successful initiative to get AIDS drugs to Africa known as PEPFAR.
  •  ”We look toward the end of AIDS as something realistic,” said Jim Kim, an activist physician who President Obama recently tapped to take over at the World Bank.
  • “We have everything we need to beat this epidemic,” said Michel Sidibe, director of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Most folks here are talking like that and it sounds great, very hopeful. But if you dig a bit deeper, it’s not clear if there’s evidence to support all these claims. Bill Gates, at a plenary talk today, joined the minority of skeptics questioning these rallying cries.

“We don’t have the tools to end the epidemic,” said Gates, citing the lack of an effective AIDS vaccine as the most critical weapon needed to defeat the pandemic.  “Only when we have these new tools can we seriously talk about moving toward the end.” Continue reading

The Fantastic Proposal for a Mega-Global Health Fund | 

Flickr, by AMagill

Circle of money

As we continue this week’s celebration (or denunciation, depending upon your perspective) of the world’s efforts to fight poverty, improve health and make the world a better place, it’s worth paying attention to a little side issue that keeps popping up.

Money. Everyone says we need more, of course. And everyone is also talking about making these efforts more “efficient” or “strategic.”

On the health front, some say what we need is a new, comprehensive Global Health Fund — to consolidate all of the various funding mechanisms that are now focused on single diseases or other health problems.

I think that’s just fantastic, as in a fantasy, and maybe even harmful. Continue reading