Communities can be powerful forces in the fight against malaria

The war against malaria has racked up some significant successes over the past half century. The testing of a new vaccine and the possibility of genetically modifying malaria-carrying mosquitoes to prevent them from reproducing have some people hoping we will soon be able to eliminate the disease. That’s likely still a long way off. It needn’t be, though, if we embrace a powerful but untapped resource for fighting malaria: the communities affected by it.

The EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill, 2017The average maternal mortality ration in the EAC is 477 per 100,000 live births; the rate of female genital cutting is as high as 21% and 10% in Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania respectively; adult HIV prevalence is as high as 7.1% in Uganda yet only 1.3% in Burundi and the proportion of family planning demand satisfied by modern methods is only about 40%. Only half of pregnant mothers in the region attend the recommended 4 Antenatal Care visits and deliver under skilled care.

Although the recommended level of the “package” of physicians, nurses and midwives” and financing required to attain the SRG related SDGs are 44.5 per 10,000 population and US $86 per person per year, the status in the EAC as a whole is only 12 per 10,000 population and US $ 49 per capita per year respectively.

In a recent survey of 54 representatives from African civil society organizations and community groups, 76% reported previously accessing technical assistance (TA) to support their engagement in Global Fund processes. The survey was conducted in March 2017 by the Regional Platform for Communication and Coordination for Anglophone Africa, hosted by EANNASO. The Regional Platform forms part of the Global Fund’s Community, Right and Gender Special Initiative (CRG SI). Improving access to TA to support civil society and community groups to meaningfully engage in Global Fund processes is a key objective of the CRG SI.

Aidspan has been reporting on the CRG SI’s progress since 2015 (see GFO stories here, here, here and here). The survey is a follow-up needs assessment to one conducted in January 2015. Aidspan has previously reported on those results.

The survey includes perspectives on civil society and community engagement in Global Fund processes from 18 African countries: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

While 57% of survey respondents had heard about the CRG SI for 2014-2016, only 33% knew it had been renewed for $15 million over the 2017-2019 funding cycle (see GFO story). As the Fund has yet to issue requests for proposals for the next phase, this is not unsurprising.

Fifty-six percent of survey respondents knew that they could request TA from the Global Fund CRG department and its partners, which is a slight improvement from the 2016 survey findings (52%). However, respondents from key populations organizations were much less likely (25%) to know they could access Global Fund TA, compared to respondents from civil society organizations (CSOs) (67%) – a finding that is consistent with the 2016 survey. This knowledge gap may be particularly pronounced for transgender communities. Indeed, among male, female and transgender survey respondents, people who identified as transgender were the least likely to know they could access Global Fund TA (33%). These results underscore the continued need to increase knowledge of Global Fund TA among key populations.

Among those who have accessed Global Fund TA, the most commonly cited provider was the UNAIDS Technical Support Facility (TSF) for East and Southern Africa, located in Johannesburg, South Africa. Almost a third of all survey respondents have access TA through the TSF at some point in time (see figure).

                                  Figure: Number of survey respondents who accessed Global Fund TA from various providers

Source: What Communities Want: Informing the Global Fund’s Community, Rights and Gender Strategic Initiative in Anglophone Africa,
Regional Platform for Communication and Coordination, hosted by EANNASO, March 2017

EANNASO fighting to end TB in TanzaniaThis World TB Day, TB Europe Coalition is calling for world leaders to step up and support research and development into desperately needed new tools to fight tuberculosis amidst devastating predictions of the future impact of the epidemic.

New data prepared by KPMG highlights both the future human cost and economic impact of drug resistant TB to the world. In Europe alone, drug resistant TB is estimated to result in an astounding additional 2.1 million deaths in Europe by 2050, at an economic cost of US$1.1 trillion.

TB is the world’s leading cause of death from any infectious disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 10.4 million people fell ill with TB in 2015, and 1.8 million people died from the disease. Tuberculosis and drug resistant form of the disease are particularly a burden for low- and middle-income countries. However, this new data shows that these countries are not unique in being affected by TB, with responsibility falling on every country to act to end the disease.

TB bacteria have certain attributes which make them more likely to develop resistance to antibiotics.

fight against TB Momentum grows among advocates to end tuberculosisWashington, D.C. (Mar. 24) – World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, observed March 24th each year, comes with growing momentum among advocates to eradicate an ancient disease that continues to impact millions of people throughout the world. Alarmed by a steady rise in cases of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB; including multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), advocates have become more targeted in their calls for greater investment in research that will lead to less toxic drugs, modern diagnostic tools, and shorter treatment regimens for people who contract the disease. These efforts are beginning to draw responses.

At the Ministerial Meeting Towards Ending TB in the South-East Asia Region, New Delhi, on March 16, 2017, anurgent call to action was signedby 11 health ministers, committing to scale-up efforts targeted at ending TB. The strongly worded document noted that TB remains the leading cause of death among all infectious diseases in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) South-East Asia Region, having claimed nearly 800,000 lives in 2015 alone.

The Community Rights and Gender (CRG) Advisory Group*, a body that provides advice to the Global Fund’s CRG Department, oversaw this independent review, which was carried out by the Community Action and Leadership Collaborative (CLAC)**, and led by MSMGF. Preliminary findings and recommendations were validated by more than 100 people through community consultations and interviews in seven countries:

Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Moldova, the Philippines, Suriname, and Tunisia – and nineteen community key informants from Morocco, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Armenia, Ethiopia Argentina, Tanzania Nepal, South Africa, Thailand, Costa Rica and Tunisia.