ACKNOWLEDGING WORLD TB DAY
On March 24, World TB Day, the Global Fund (in its email newsletter) and several related advocacy organizations, including Friends of the Global Fund Europe and the Global Fund Advocates Network, highlighted the fact that TB is now the world’s leading killer infectious disease, killed 1.6 million people in 2017 (including 300,000 with HIV), and is expected to cost the world economy $1 trillion by 2030. The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) along with TBpeople distributed a joint press release calling for a ‘paradigm shift” putting people who have experienced TB and people who are living with HIV jointly at the center of the world’s collective responses to the two diseases.
On March 20, the Lancet Commission on Tuberculosis ‘Building a tuberculosis-free world’, a 54-page document available to all on the publication’s website, highlighting four fundamental points: Many people with tuberculosis cannot afford or access high-quality TB services; strategies to identify people with active disease in high-risk populations (such as the household contacts of people with active TB, people living with HIV, migrants, and prisoners) are implemented in a piecemeal manner; TB research and development is underfunded; and global efforts to end TB have been undermined by lack of political will and financial investments.
PAEDIATRIC FORMULATIONS OF ANTIRETROVIRAL DRUGS
Though paediatric formulations of HIV drugs have advanced substantially over the past decade and more, incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to dedicate more research and resources into paediatric drug development are still low. A series of market factors make these efforts costly and complex, discouraging drug manufacturers – especially those producing generics – from prioritizing investments in new paediatric treatment options. (An estimated 1.8 million children worldwide are living with HIV, and only 52% of them are on antiretroviral treatment.)
The International AIDS Society’s (IAS) Industry Liaison Forum recently developed a policy brief exploring the opportunities of advance procurement as a pragmatic approach for the largest antiretroviral (ARV) buyers – most notably national governments (particularly the Government of South Africa), PEPFAR and the Global Fund– to incentivize the development of priority paediatric drug formulations. The brief explores the concept of advance procurement as a method for reducing uncertainty within the paediatric ART market and spurring investment in adapted child-friendly drug formulations.
“Used in conjunction with other market-shaping approaches,” the brief says, “ […] advance procurement has the potential to help close the persistent gap between adult and paediatric treatment coverage.”
SHATTERING THE MYTHS AROUND ‘UNIVERSAL’ HEALTH COVERAGE
New research conducted by Aidsfonds, Frontline AIDS and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda and Ukraine, in a report called ‘Towards transformative integration of the HIV and AIDS response into Universal Health Coverage’ (UHC), reveals opportunities but also major areas of concern as countries move towards UHC, while at the same time transitioning from international to domestic funding for HIV programmes.
An excerpt from a blog by Mark Vermeulen, Executive Director of Aidsfonds, and Christine Stegling, Executive Director of Frontline AIDS, says, “This research shows that by pushing for active and meaningful involvement in UHC at a country level, civil society can bring the learnings of the past four decades of responding to HIV to help shape a vision for a rights-based, person-centred UHC that, if implemented, leaves no one behind.”