How COVID-19 is Affecting the Global Response to AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on the most vulnerable communities worldwide and threatens progress on HIV, TB, malaria, vaccination and other areas of health.

Below, you can find regularly updated information on the impact of COVID-19 on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and news items from around the world on important developments.

1. How the Global Fund is Responding to COVID-19
2. COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS
3. COVID-19 and Malaria
4. COVID-19 & Tuberculosis
5. Featured Articles
6. Latest News
7. Further Reading

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How the Global Fund is Responding to COVID-19

A new report from the Global Fund shows COVID-19 has massively disrupted health systems and health service delivery for HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia in 2020.

The report highlights the urgent need to scale up adaptive measures to continue HIV, TB and malaria services, to ramp up delivery of critical supplies for the COVID-19 response and prevent health care systems from collapse. The U.S. contribution of $3.5 billion for the COVID-19 related response in the American Rescue plan is allowing the Global Fund to respond to those urgent needs.

The data in the new report shows that for April to September 2020, compared to the same six-month period in 2019:

  • HIV testing fell 41%
  • TB referrals – where patients suspected of having TB are referred to the next step of diagnosis and treatment – declined by 59%
  • Malaria diagnoses fell by 31%
  • Antenatal care visits fell by 43%

The snapshot also shows that countries that implemented adaptive measures to counter the impact of COVID-19 on health service continuity fared better than those that did not adapt.

Results from the Global Fund’s latest biweekly survey show challenges for HIV prevention and HIV, TB and malaria case finding. In addition, the Global Fund is seeing cancelled or delayed prevention activities and laboratory staff being reassigned to COVID-19 – twenty percent of HIV and TB lab services are experiencing high or very high disruptions.

  • HIV: Prevention, testing and support for people living with HIV are still the most impacted. Nearly two thirds of countries are experiencing disruptions in HIV service delivery, with 10% of countries still experiencing high level disruption.
  • TB: Nearly two thirds of countries are experiencing disruptions in TB service delivery, with 11% of countries reporting high or very high disruption.
  • Malaria: More than half of countries are experiencing disruptions in malaria service delivery, with 15% of countries reporting high or very high disruption.

Activities are being canceled due to:

  • Lockdowns
  • Restrictions on gatherings of people
  • Transport stoppages
  • COVID-related stigma
  • Reluctance of health workers to attend to people suspected of having TB or malaria – which have many of the same initial symptoms as COVID-19
  • Clients not seeking health services as usual

“At the current rate, COVID-19 is killing about the same number of people every month as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. However, the death toll from these three diseases will have increased as a result of the knock-on impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, due to lockdowns, resources diverted to the new virus, and interruptions to lifesaving services. Moreover, some of the countries that have so far been spared the worst of COVID-19 itself may be hardest hit by its economic consequences,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “No country is immune to the spiraling economic costs of the pandemic; prolonged economic shocks leave deep scars, which will have profound effects on people’s health in the years to come.”

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COVID-19 & HIV/AIDS

  • Lockdowns had a marked effect on HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment in South Africa, according to the Lancet HIV.
  • A study in the United Kingdom found people with HIV seem to be at an increased risk of COVID-19 mortality.

COVID-19 & Malaria

  • New PMI head Raj Panjabi recently told NPR, “Just because COVID is infecting so many people doesn’t mean the malaria disease burden has gotten any less. It’s gotten worse because COVID has disrupted health care systems dramatically and that has put the strain on health workers and clinics, disrupted supply chains as well. We need to make sure nets and malaria tests and treatments get to people.”
  • Malaria programs have experienced only “moderate” disruptions, according to WHO, but those disruptions can lead to tens of thousands of deaths.

COVID-19 & Tuberculosis

  • Global Fund surveys show that due to COVID-19, 29% fewer people were tested for TB compared to 2019. In 2020, TB notifications dropped 42% in Indonesia, 41% in South Africa, 37% in the Philippines and 25% in India, compared to the previous year.
  • According to data from the Stop TB Partnership, the first year of COVID-19 eliminated 12 years of progress against TB.
  • New data from India and South Africa indicate co-infection with TB and COVID-19 leads to three times higher mortality than TB infection alone.

Chart provided by USAID. See slide deck for more.


9/20/21: HIV Is Africa’s Latest COVID-19 Problem (Bloomberg)

Africa is the world’s least vaccinated continent and it has also been the origin of a number of coronavirus variants. Now, scientists say they have found a possible reason. Africa is also home to the most immunocompromised people…. Throughout the continent the burden of disease is higher than in countries in most parts of the world. The longer Covid-19 persists in its host, the longer it sheds, or reproduces, and that’s when it mutates. ‘There is good evidence that prolonged infection in immunocompromised individuals is one mechanism for the emergence’ of Covid-19 variants, de Oliveira said. That’s the strongest argument yet to step up Covid-19 inoculation rates in a continent where just a tiny fraction of the 1.2 billion population is fully vaccinated. A higher vaccination rate could cut the spread of the disease and, in most cases, mean that infections weren’t as severe or as lengthy. That would limit the chance of new mutations forming.” READ MORE

9/9/21: Not the Shot in the Arm the World Expected: The Pandemic’s Collateral Victims (Politico)

“Even after the pandemic is over — and we’re far from that — the ripple effects of Covid-19 will continue for years to come. Because of the virus’ disruptions, fewer people across the globe got tested for tuberculosis, HIV and malaria over the past year, a new report by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria shows….Fear and stigma hold patients back: Many health care facilities treating tuberculosis switched to providing care for Covid-19, and many people failed to get tested fearing they would catch the coronavirus, Erlina Burham, a pulmonologist who specializes in TB and heads the Covid-19 team at the Persahabatan National Lung Hospital in Jakarta, told Global Pulse.” READ MORE

9/8/21: The Pandemic Has Set Back the Fight Against H.I.V., TB and Malaria (The New York Times)

“Before the arrival of the coronavirus, TB was the biggest infectious-disease killer worldwide, claiming more than one million lives each year. The pandemic has exacerbated the damage. In 2020, about one million fewer people were tested and treated for TB, compared with 2019 — a drop of about 18 percent, according to the new report…. There were a few glimmers of hope amid the bleak news: The crisis forced health agencies and ministries in many poor countries to adopt innovations that may outlast the pandemic. Among them: dispensing to patients multi-month supplies of TB and H.I.V. drugs, as well as condoms, lubricants and needles; using digital tools to monitor TB treatment; and testing simultaneously for H.I.V., TB and Covid-19. For example, in Nigeria, community health workers who tested people for Covid also looked for cases of H.I.V. and TB. As a result, the country became one of the few to see a rise in H.I.V. diagnoses compared with 2019.” READ MORE

9/7/21: COVID-19 Disruption Causing Many Deaths from TB, AIDS in Poorest Countries, Fund Says (Reuters)

“Hundreds of thousands of people will die of TB left untreated because of disruption to healthcare systems in poor countries caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a global aid fund said. In a few of the world’s poorest countries, excess deaths from AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) could even exceed those from the coronavirus itself, said the head of the Geneva-based aid body, known as the Global Fund. The Fund’s annual report for 2020, released on Wednesday, showed that the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis in countries where it operates fell by 19%. A decline of 11% was reported in HIV prevention programs and services. ‘Essentially, about a million people less were treated for TB in 2020 than in 2019 and I’m afraid that will inevitably mean that hundreds of thousands of people will die,’ Executive Director Peter Sands told Reuters.” READ MORE

8/13/21: Global Fund Grants U.S. $37 Million to FIND for Advancement of TB prevention and Control in India (The Global Fund)

“India accounts for more than one-quarter (26%) of the global TB burden and has the largest share of the global burden of drug-resistant TB. In this country, people newly diagnosed with TB rose from 1.2 million in 2013 to 2.2 million in 2019. But the impact of lockdowns, TB diagnostic services being reallocated to COVID-19, and pandemic-related disruption of procurement and transportation of medicines and laboratory consumables led to a drastic reduction in notifications between January and June 2020 despite the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic and mitigate its impact on TB programs. It is estimated that the notification rate fell by 25% compared with the same period in 2019.” READ MORE

7/26/21: COVID-19 Vaccine Pioneer BioNTech Plans to Make New Malaria and Tuberculosis Shots in Africa (The Wall Street Journal)

“BioNTech SE said it would invest some of the profits from the COVID-19 vaccine it markets with Pfizer Inc. into developing shots for malaria and tuberculosis in Africa. Monday’s announcement follows months of debate about how to tackle Africa’s shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, which emerged after rich nations bought most of the available doses and many governments, including the U.S. and the world’s biggest vaccine maker, India, restricted exports.” READ MORE

7/22/21: What the COVID-19 fight holds for TB?  (POLITICO Global Pulse)

“Encouraged by the speed at which Covid-19 vaccines were developed, global health advocates hope the world can achieve within five years what it hasn’t done in a century: deliver a new vaccine against tuberculosis…It doesn’t affect the powerful people, so that is why investment in TB has not been as much as we see in Covid,” he said.The only existing vaccine against tuberculosis is the century-old BCG, which protects babies from severe forms of the disease. However, it doesn’t stop transmission among adults, who account for most TB cases.” READ MORE  

7/20/21: PEPFAR is Still Without a Leader. HIV Activists Want to Know Why. (The New York Times)

“The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted access to H.I.V. prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as supply chains for condoms, lubricants and antiretroviral drugs, according to a recent report from UNAIDS. And the pandemic has reversed hard-gained progress on ending H.I.V., including a 23 percent annual decrease in new infections since 2010.” READ MORE

7/14/21: 2021 UNAIDS Global AIDS Update —Confronting Inequalities – Lessons for Pandemic Responses from 40 Years of AIDS (UNAIDS)

“The UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2021, launched today, highlights evidence that people living with HIV are more vulnerable to COVID-19, but that widening inequalities are preventing them from accessing COVID-19 vaccines and HIV services. Key populations and their sexual partners account for 65% of new HIV infections but are largely left out of both HIV and COVID-19 responses—800 000 children living with HIV are not on the treatment they need to keep them alive.” READ MORE

7/6/21: Why aren’t Diseases like HIV and Malaria, which still Kill Millions of People a Year, Called Pandemics? (STAT News)

“Once a pandemic stops being an acute threat to life in high-income countries, the urgency drops, the focus shifts, and resource flows dwindle. This is what’s happened with earlier pandemics, such as HIV and AIDS, and tuberculosis: Decisive action was taken to contain the threat to life in rich countries, but it was then allowed to linger in poorer, more vulnerable countries, killing millions. Despite the fact that HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria still kill millions of people each year across multiple countries and regions, these diseases are no longer talked about as pandemics, but are generally called epidemics, or endemic diseases. These distinctions have disturbing implications: By epidemic we actually mean a pandemic that no longer kills people in rich countries. By endemic we actually mean a disease the world could get rid of but hasn’t.” READ MORE

 


Latest News

9/22/21: Covid Coughs Up New Problem: A Greater Vulnerability To TB? (The Times of India)

“Is low immunity and lung damage caused by COVID-19 predisposing some people to get tuberculosis? Many doctors are raising this concern as there has been a significant surge in diagnosis of the bacterial infection over the past few months. Dr. Jugal Kishore, head of community medicine department at Safdarjung Hospital, said detection of TB has nearly doubled. ‘It’s possible that many patients who had TB are coming to hospitals now and getting tested, hence the increase in detection. But we cannot rule out the role of steroid use for COVID-19 management. It reduces immunity and predisposes those with latent infection to get active TB.,’ he added…. The increase in TB cases in the country was highlighted by public health experts in July too. The Union health ministry had then clarified that TB screening for all COVID-positive patients and COVID-19 screening for all diagnosed TB patients had been recommended.” READ MORE

9/21/21: COVID-19 Causes Major Interruption in Global HIV Progress (Medscape)

“From testing to treatment, Global Fund HIV services have been hampered by COVID-19. ‘We’ve been set back by COVID but we’ve seen remarkable resilience, a lot of innovation and creativity,’ Siobhan Crowley MD, Head of HIV at the Global Fund, told Medscape Medical News. ‘If you consider that 21.9M people are getting antiretrovirals at this point through the Global Fund, I think that needs to be appreciated. Ten years ago, that wouldn’t have been the case; all of those people would have disappeared into the ethers,’ she said. Through close partnerships with the US Agency for International Development, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and other Western countries and organizations, the Global Fund has invested $22.7 billion in programs to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, and $3.8 billion in tuberculosis (TB)/HIV programs, according to the organization’s 2021 Results Report.” READ MORE 

9/21/21: Troublesome Threesome for Vaccine Development (Technology Networks)

“The need for new vaccines for HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are all greater after the pandemic, but will vaccine advances for SARS-CoV-2 help? SARS-CoV-2 has been relatively easy to vaccinate against…. Not all pathogens are so straightforward. ‘SARS-CoV-2 was amazingly easy to control with a vaccine,’ says Wolfgang Leitner, who heads up the innate immune section at the National Institutes of Health. He acknowledges that three tough diseases remain a challenge for vaccine development: HIV, TB and malaria. Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19 on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria has been devastating, according to a recent global health report. Deaths from these diseases had dropped by almost half since 2004, but the pandemic has caused resources to be shifted away from these killers. It estimated, for example, that one million fewer people with TB were treated in 2020 compared with 2019.” READ MORE

9/19/21: Unequal Access to COVID-19 and AIDS Vaccines (Borgen Magazine)

“So, what does the idea that unequal access to COVID-19 and AIDS vaccines and treatments mean in a global context? A United Nations panel entitled “A Vaccine For All” took place last April. During which, Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) said that ‘any delay in response to the current crisis equates to more loss of life and increased poverty.’… PEPFAR and The Global Fund are a few of the organizations that spent billions on buying antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and sending them to developing countries. Its efforts saved more than 20 million lives. The world must continue to learn from the HIV/AIDS crisis and the discrepancy with which it affected people globally. It can start by recognizing how unequal access to COVID-19 and AIDS vaccines contributes to the prevalence of these viruses.” READ MORE

9/17/21: Vaccine Innovation and COVID’s Collateral Damage — the Week in Infographics (Nature)

“The problem is how to distribute COVID-19 vaccines equitably — something the world is failing at spectacularly…. Many researchers now say the best way to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is to enable countries in the global south to make their own. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “devastating” impact on the fight against other deadly infectious diseases, according to a report that compares 2019 and 2020 data on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in more than 100 low- and lower-middle-income countries. For HIV, the number of people reached by prevention programs that supply condoms or clean needles and syringes, for example, dropped by 11%. HIV testing has fallen by 22%, delaying treatment and contributing to transmission of the virus.” READ MORE

9/16/21: How Manila is using its COVID-19 response to find TB patients (Devex)

“During the second half of 2020, as Manila launched a COVID-19 testing initiative among market vendors, the city’s TB control team spotted an opportunity to find new cases: They set up TB screening and sputum collection in markets, in partnership with market administration officials and market vendor associations. This effort helped them to not only screen and identify TB patients, but also to tap into these local market offices as partners. Now, patients can now conveniently get their medicines in these offices instead of going to health centers…. Through partnerships, Recidoro hopes the number of TB patients they find would pick up this year — even if only an additional 20%, to top last year’s results. As of Sept. 8, Manila City has registered 5,564 TB cases for 2021 — 1.8% more than last year’s total. COVID-19 can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of infections people see on a daily basis. But she said that doesn’t mean TB should be neglected.” READ MORE

9/14/21: Pregnant Women and Children with HIV in Ghana Struggle to Access Life-saving Medicine During Pandemic (The World)

“Ghana faces an acute shortage of antiretroviral drugs, endangering the health  and the lives of tens of thousands of HIV-positive children and pregnant women. Health officials say this has pushed their efforts to end the AIDS epidemic backwards…. For the first time in 20 years, the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic has reversed course. Around the world, there were three times as many new infections than predicted for 2020 — a total of 1.5 million, according to a recent report released by the Global Fund organization. According to the United Nations, many children acquired HIV in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to lockdowns and school closures, children have less access to HIV prevention programs, as well as testing that could quickly identify when someone has the disease before they spread it. And even before the pandemic, pediatric HIV medication was in particularly short supply.” READ MORE

9/12/21: The Fight Against COVID-19 Should Not Cloud the Burden of African Endemic Diseases (Face2Face: Africa)

“The narrowed conversation driven by the impacts of the current pandemic is driving neglect of already neglected diseases across the world, especially in Africa. While malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS are still among the major causes of death in Africa, the existing refocusing of already limited resources on COVID-19 could lead to millions of excess deaths and disabilities through Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) mortality and morbidity…. Africa’s fight against the current pandemic must not be allowed to undermine the progress that has been achieved in control programs of African endemic diseases.” READ MORE

9/9/21: Peter Sands: HIV, TB, and Malaria Needs Even Greater Post-Pandemic (DEVEX)

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria launched a funding mechanism to help protect the gains made in the fight against the three diseases. But the damage from the pandemic was still significant…. ‘I think the thing that most worries me right now is that some of the countries — and I will include most of Africa here — that were less hard hit in 2020 by COVID are now being pretty hard hit. And that will inevitably have a knock-on impact on the other diseases,’ he added. All these mean the world is further off track in meeting the targets set out for the three diseases in the Sustainable Development Goals. To get back on track will require steeper reductions in deaths and infections, more money, innovations, and effective execution of interventions, Sands said.” READ MORE

9/9/21: COVID-19 Added Over $290 billion to the Global Cost of TB Deaths: Study (Down To Earth)

“Disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic added $290.3 billion to the global cost of tuberculosis (TB) deaths, found a new study. The economic loss due to these deaths was $17.5 trillion in 2020, with south Asia incurring the highest share ($7.1 trillion), according to the report published in the Lancet journal…. The analysis was done keeping in mind three scenarios: First, a steady 2 per cent annual decrease in deaths, referred to as the business-as-usual scenario, if the SDG is met by 2030 and by 2045, continuing in the same trajectory till 2050. In the business-as-usual scenario, if tuberculosis deaths continue to decline at 2 per cent annually until 2050, 31.8 million deaths can occur from 2020–2050, the researchers estimated.” READ MORE

9/9/21: Not the Shot in the Arm the World Expected: The Pandemic’s Collateral Victims (Politico)

“Even after the pandemic is over — and we’re far from that — the ripple effects of Covid-19 will continue for years to come. Because of the virus’ disruptions, fewer people across the globe got tested for tuberculosis, HIV and malaria over the past year, a new report by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria shows….Fear and stigma hold patients back: Many health care facilities treating tuberculosis switched to providing care for Covid-19, and many people failed to get tested fearing they would catch the coronavirus, Erlina Burham, a pulmonologist who specializes in TB and heads the Covid-19 team at the Persahabatan National Lung Hospital in Jakarta, told Global Pulse.” READ MORE

9/8/21: Global Fund Results Report Reveals COVID-19 Devastating Impact on HIV, TB and Malaria Programs (The Global Fund)

“The Results Report reveals the catastrophic impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the fight against TB worldwide. In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries where the Global Fund invests dropped by a staggering 19%, with those on treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB registering an even bigger drop of 37%. The number of HIV-positive TB patients on antiretroviral treatment as well as TB treatment dropped by 16%. The report also highlights significant declines in HIV testing and prevention services for key and vulnerable populations who were already disproportionately affected. Compared with 2019, people reached with HIV prevention programs and services declined by 11% while young people reached with prevention services declined by 12%…. Interventions to combat malaria appear to have been less badly affected by COVID-19 than the other two diseases. Thanks to adaptation measures and the diligence and innovation of community health workers, prevention activities remained stable or increased compared to 2019.” READ MORE

9/2/21: Ramping up of COVID-19 vaccination will bring more focus to TB (The Economic Times)

“Screening, diagnosing and treating tuberculosis taking a backseat with COVID-19 and to meet the target of making India TB-free by 2025, which is ahead of global target, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya urged all the states to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination, as it will help in bringing more focus to TB in addition to safeguarding the population from severe COVID-19.” READ MORE

9/2/21: Untreated HIV, Low CD4 Count or Unsuppressed Viral Load Raise the Risk of COVID-19 Death in South Africa (NAM)

“People with HIV not on antiretroviral treatment were 45% more likely to die after admission to hospital with COVID-19 compared to people taking antiretroviral treatment, a large study of in-hospital deaths from COVID-19 in South Africa has concluded. The study also found an increased risk of death in people with HIV with CD4 counts below 200 and in people with HIV with viral loads above 1000 copies/ml, irrespective of antiretroviral treatment.” READ MORE

9/1/21: WHO HIV PrEP Recommendations Associated with Global Increase in Use (Contagion)

“Adoption of World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis was associated with a global increase in PrEP use, but fell short of targets, a new study determined.… The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends towards de-medicalized, simplified, and differentiated PrEP service delivery, which could further remove barriers to uptake and use of PrEP.” READ MORE

9/1/21: Dengue, Malaria Cases Drop to Half Amid COVID-19 in Jharkhand (The Telegraph India)

“Cases of vector-borne diseases have dropped significantly in Jharkhand since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the state in March 2020, officials from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) said on Wednesday, indicating that the aggressive sanitization work done to tackle the SARS-CoV-2 virus coupled with added measures taken to prevent an outbreak of vector-borne diseases during the ongoing crisis might be the reason for the drop in cases of dengue, malaria.” READ MORE

 

 

Further Reading

8/31/21: Johnson & Johnson HIV Vaccine Trial Fails Mid-Stage Study (ABC News)

“In yet another setback in the decades long scientific quest for an HIV vaccine, a Johnson & Johnson HIV vaccine candidate failed to reduce the risk of infection in a clinical trial among women in southern Africa. The would-be vaccine uses the same underlying technology used successfully for COVID-19 and Ebola viruses, but this recent high-profile failure is another example of immense challenge of creating a vaccine against HIV.” READ MORE

8/30/31: Health Workers in FCT Raise Awareness on Protective Measures to Contain Spread of Infectious Diseases (WHO Nigeria)

“Considering the rapid increase in hygiene-related diseases in Nigeria, health workers from the Federal Capital Territory Public Health Department in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), embarked on health sensitization campaigns to communities in the state capital to enlighten them on preventing infectious diseases. The team provided health services such as Covid-19 and Malaria testing….In all, over 700 women and children received clinical consultation.” READ MORE

8/30/21: Ending Tuberculosis: How Health Workers Can Make a Difference (WHO-Europe)

“Provisional data compiled by WHO from 84 countries indicates that an estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for TB in 2020 than in 2019 – a reduction of 21% from 2019. WHO estimates that these disruptions in access to TB care related to COVID-19 could cause an additional half a million TB deaths.” READ MORE

8/27/21: BioNTech Eyes Rwanda, Senegal for Malaria, Tuberculosis Vaccine Production (Reuters)

“COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech said on Friday it was looking into building malaria and tuberculosis vaccine production sites in Rwanda and Senegal, narrowing its search for African locations. The future malaria and tuberculosis vaccines would be based on the so-called messenger RNA technology, also used in its COVID-19 shot, the German drugmaker said….The project to develop manufacturing expertise on the African continent marks a longer-term attempt to avoid a repeat of healthcare inequalities brought to the fore by the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO has criticised a COVID-19 vaccine supply gap between industrialised nations and low-income countries, particularly in Africa.” READ MORE

8/25/21 How COVID-19 Pandemic is Disrupting HIV/AIDS Efforts in
Nigeria? (People’s Gazette)

“A new report by the Global Fund shows that COVID-19 disrupted health systems and health service delivery for HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia since 2020. By spot-checking 502 health facilities in 32 countries in Africa and Asia between April and September 2020, the Global Fund gave an overview on the extent the pandemic disrupted these health services for HIV, TB and malaria, and how health facilities have responded. The data collected shows that between April and September 2020, HIV testing fell by 41 per cent. The fund chalks it up to state imposed lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings of people and the reluctance of health workers to attend to people suspected of having TB or malaria – which have the same initial symptoms as COVID-19.” READ MORE

8/23/21 Why Has COVD-19 had Less of an Impact in Africa? (Quartz Africa)

“There has been an increase in COVID-19 deaths across Africa since mid-July 2021. But the impact of the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa remains markedly lower compared to the Americas, Europe, and Asia… Lockdowns resulted in increased food insecurity, teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, and disruptions in treatment of malaria, TB and HIV. Africa’s 54 nations are not all the same, and local responses should be tailored to the health, social, and economic realities in specific countries.” READ MORE

8/22/21 Researchers from BRICS Nations to Study Impact of Severe COVID-19 on TB Patients (The New India Express)

“BRICS countries are working on a program to study the impact of severe COVID-19 conditions on tuberculosis (TB) patients, the Department of Biotechnology said….’This collaborative study is expected to provide valuable co-morbidity data pertaining to pulmonary TB patients with or without COVID-19 co-infection that is expected to be generated for better disease management.’” READ MORE

8/17/21 Kenyan Volunteers Work to Counter HIV Patients’ COVID Misinformation (Voice of America-Nairobi)

“Volunteers in Kenya are working to counter misinformation on the coronavirus among people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  Social media posts have been circulating harmful, false claims that the use of antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV can also prevent and even cure COVID-19.” READ MORE

8/14/21 Moderna’s HIV Vaccine to Start Human Trials Early As Wednesday, Uses mRNA Like COVID Shot (Newsweek)

“Biotechnology company Moderna is preparing to begin human trials on HIV vaccines as early as Wednesday, using the same mRNA platform as the firm’s COVID-19 vaccine. An entry posted Wednesday to the National Institutes of Health’s registry of clinical trials shows that the trials are estimated to start on August 19 and should be completed by spring 2023.” READ MORE

8/11/21: Tuberculosis (TB) Diagnosis Increases Chances of Acquiring COVID-19 Infection (Business Mirror-The Philippines)

“Dr. Ana Marie Celina Garfin, medical specialist and program manager of the Department of Health, National Tuberculosis Control Program, said TB cases dropped by 35 percent in 2020. ‘Fewer reported cases means that many Filipinos with TB are left untreated and may spread the infection to their loved ones,’ Garfin said. The Philippines has the highest TB incidence rate in Asia, with 554 cases per 100,000 people.” READ MORE

8/10/21: Malaria, Dengue Scare People After COVID in East Godavari District (The Hans India)

“Adding to the threat of contracting COVID, people in East Godavari district are facing trouble of malaria and dengue fevers. In Government General Hospital, Kakinada the ICU beds meant for malaria and dengue patients are completely filled and no bed is vacant. GGH Superintendent R Mahalakshmi told ‘The Hans India’ that patients suffering from dengue and malaria fevers are also coming in large numbers to seek admission in GGH. She said that 40 malaria cases have been registered and no ICU beds are vacant. District Medical & Health Officer Dr. KVS Gowreswar Rao said that 3,000 COVID active cases have been registered in the district. He said 458 COVID cases were reported on Monday.” READ MORE

8/9/21: Tuberculosis in India: 65% Cases Among 15-45 Years of Age Group (LiveMint-India)

“‘Globally, 2020 witnessed a sweeping COVID-19 pandemic devastate lives, economies, health systems and health programmes across the world with record-breaking speed. In just a few months, the pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight against Tuberculosis,’ said Bharati Pravin Pawa, minister of state for health. The onset of the pandemic in March last year triggered lockdowns, restrictions in movement, repurposing of available health system resources, infrastructure, diagnostics, treatment centres and manpower to fight COVID-19, disrupting ongoing TB elimination efforts and services across the country, the minister said.” READ MORE

8/6/21: Lockdowns Unleashing a Worse Epidemic: TB (PhilStar-Philippines)

“Lockdowns aim to contain the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. But they unintentionally unleash a worse killer, tuberculosis. Since March 2020, when the first lockdowns were imposed, TB consultations, testing and treatment dropped, according to the Filipino Department of Health. By the end of 2020, only 268,816 new and relapse TB cases were notified to DOH. It was a 35-percent decrease in reporting from 2019 figures.” READ MORE

8/5/21: Africa: UN Reports Dire Lack in Children’s HIV Treatment (Deutsche Welle- Germany)

An estimated 620,000 children living with HIV in the 21 African countries that the report focused on were not receiving any antiretroviral therapy. The reductions in treatment numbers among children also occurred in some countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Peter Ghys, Director of UNAIDS Strategic Information Department said that different countries’ public health systems were differently equipped to address the pandemic, with some systems simply being more evolved than others. Countries with overstretched public health systems appear to have made more mistakes such as neglecting HIV therapies in children.” READ MORE

8/5/21: As Virus Captures Attention, Tuberculosis Care Stalls (Global Press Journal)

“An infectious disease that often attacks the lungs, TB is a global scourge. Although it’s preventable and treatable, more than 1 million people died from tuberculosis in 2019, according to the World Health Organization, a higher toll than that of HIV/AIDS. That number still reflects a year’s long decline in TB incidence and deaths. The coronavirus pandemic may have wiped out that progress. Because of coronavirus fears, some people didn’t risk going to a medical center for TB testing and remained unwitting carriers. And those who sought help had a harder time getting it. In many countries, medical professionals, TB hospitals and diagnostic equipment were diverted to COVID-19 efforts, according to the international consortium Stop TB Partnership. Based on preliminary data from 84 countries, the WHO estimates that 21% fewer people were treated for TB in 2020 compared to the prior year. That could result in 500,000 more deaths worldwide.” READ MORE

8/5/21: COVID-19’s Unseen Toll in India—38% Dip in Screening for Tuberculosis (TB) that’s still a Major Health Crisis (The Print-India)

“Screening for tuberculosis has gone down significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, figures available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare show. This, despite the fact that because of the similarities in the symptoms of the two diseases, guidelines had been issued last August for bidirectional screening for COVID and TB. Officials in the Ministry of Health say that active case finding for TB suffered both because of lockdown, when it was not possible for health workers to visit people, and also afterwards, because of diversion of the available health workforce for COVID-19. In a press statement last month, the Press Information Bureau, the communication arm of the Government of India, said: ‘Due to the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions, case notifications for TB had decreased by about 25 per cent in 2020 but special efforts are being made to mitigate this impact through active case finding campaigns in the community by all states.’” READ MORE

8/4/21: How a Century-old Tuberculosis Vaccine May Help Fight Severe COVID-19 (Fierce Biotech)

“In the search for weapons against COVID-19, scientists have been repurposing existing drugs as a rapid way to lower the chances of hospitalization and death. Now, a research group in India has found that a century-old tuberculosis vaccine may have potential for fighting the disease. The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which has been widely used to fight tuberculosis, has a broad effect on reducing the blood levels of inflammatory molecules in elderly people, scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR’s) National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis reported in a new study published in Science Advances. Because uncontrolled inflammation is a key factor in severe COVID-19, the finding suggests that the BCG vaccine could be administered to high-risk adults who are unable to access vaccines as a way to fend off dangerous inflammatory responses should they contract the virus, the researchers said.” READ MORE

8/4/21: These Diseases are Making a Comeback on the Heels of COVID (MD Linx)

“As the pandemic has rolled on, recent data indicates there’s been an uptick in conditions like tuberculosis (TB) While some diseases are on the rise due to a lack of exposure, others are on the rise because efforts to keep them under control had to be temporarily put to the side. According to an April 2021 article published in Nature, this is the case with TB, a disease that kills roughly 1.4 million people in a typical year. Data collected in India in March 2020 showed that the detection of new TB cases dropped by roughly 70% in one month. Sounds promising on the surface except that health officials said this ‘showed that cases were going undiagnosed and untreated as many nations diverted medical resources to tackling COVID-19.’ In March of this year, the WHO issued a statement, warning that the number of patients receiving treatment for TB had dropped by more than 1 million globally. As a result, the fight against TB had been set back by more than a decade and an estimated 500,000 more people than usual may have died from TB infection in 2020.” READ MORE


 

8/3/21: Partnering to Ensure Essential Health Services During the Pandemic (WHO)
“Safeguarding continuity of essential health services amidst the pandemic is a global challenge: when health systems are overwhelmed, people struggle to access vital care. As a result, both direct mortality from COVID-19 and indirect mortality from preventable and treatable conditions have been on the rise. WHO and its partners support countries maintain and boost their health systems’ performance and save lives. National and international health stakeholders support the implementation of the National Health Development Plan (NHDP). WHO welcomes Burundi’s success in addressing the challenge of AIDS while fighting COVID-19. This was made possible as the country implements innovative national strategies for curbing the pandemics that have proven to have a broader impact.” READ MORE

8/2/21: South Africa’s Dr. Fauci Back to Battling the Long Pandemic of HIV (The Africa Report)

“In South Africa the COVID-19 rollout has been gathering pace after many delays. The start of the vaccine rollout followed the end of Professor Salim Abdool Karim’s year at the end of March as the lead scientist in the country on the COVID-19 pandemic. While he will still be in an advisory role on COVID-19 in the continent, Abdool Karim has gone back to focus on HIV, which still has a very high prevalence in South Africa. New technologies applied successfully to COVID-19 vaccines could help boost the search for an HIV vaccine, he says. Pfizer and Moderna have applied mRNA technologies successfully to their COVID-19 vaccines. ‘We are already using mRNA technologies to make HIV vaccines. So COVID will have those spin-offs for HIV. We are learning a lot about the immune system with COVID that’s helping us better understand HIV as well,’ Abdool Karim says. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, resources used for HIV were pivoted to help in the fight against Covid-19. For example, the machines used for PCR COVID-19 tests are also standard technology for HIV tests.” READ MORE

8/2/21: When All Eyes were on COVID, Tuberculosis (TB) Crept Up (Bangalore Mirror-India)

“Dr. Ramesh Chandra Reddy, state joint director of Tuberculosis, told Mirror that detection of TB cases had gone down as patients stayed away from hospitals during the peak of COVID, especially in May. ‘We are detecting TB patients through CT scans that were largely done to check for COVID. After we saw that many who recovered from COVID have TB, we decided to do a door-to-door survey to check for the four common symptoms.’” READ MORE

8/1/21: Experts Seek Partnership to Curb Malaria in Africa (The Guardian-Nigeria)

“Experts have called for concerted effort to achieve zero tolerance to malaria, which is still a leading cause of death in Africa. Countries, global health partners and other stakeholders have also been urged to intensify fight against malaria, especially as gaps in access to life-saving tools and COVID-19 pandemic are undermining efforts to curb the disease. CEO of Shalina Healthcare Limited, Shalina Clifford, reiterated commitment to make quality medicine available in Africa at affordable prices, adding that the company has begun construction of a manufacturing plant in the country to promote local production and employment. She said the company aims to provide quality medicine, which is available and affordable to the continent. Brand Manager, Analgestic and Anti-Malaria, Chiuba Nwaosu, said the firm has embarked on an anti-malaria campaign, which involves social media drive and dance challenge where health tips and consumer generated content will be used to raise awareness towards the achievement of the Zero Malaria target.” READ MORE

7/31/21: Government Cannot Win the Battle Against Malaria Alone (The Hindu Business Line-India)

“In these COVID pandemic times, a multi-sectoral approach is vital, with substantial help needed from the private sector. This year, Indian public health officials are focusing on boosting awareness and encouraging community participation to reduce the spread of malaria. The Centre says it is committed to practically eliminating the disease by 2030, but the COVID-19 emergency has understandably pushed malaria down the public health agenda this year. Malaria is just too damaging a condition for us to postpone these efforts — both directly in health, and indirectly in slowing development and destabilizing society. There are potentially huge economic benefits: the total economic burden of malaria in India alone, from factors such as school and work absenteeism, healthcare costs and lost tourism, is estimated to be around $2 billion, but even more significantly it’s been estimated by India’s health ministry that eliminating malaria by 2030 would add $4 trillion to the Indian economy.” READ MORE

7/28/21: HIV Vaccines and Immunotherapies “Would Be Further Along” if They Had the Resources of COVID-19, Says Leading Antibody Researcher (AidsMap)

“‘Money does solve problems, there’s no question!’ This was the answer by Professor Lynn Morris of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa to an audience member at the 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2021) last week, in a plenary dealing with HIV vaccines and immunotherapy with antibodies. If HIV vaccine research, she added, had had the sort of funding devoted to COVID-19 in the last 18 months, it would have enabled many more overlapping trials of different concepts. The finance would have encouraged the pharmaceutical industry to get more involved and use its ability to conduct large trials and manufacture successful products at scale.” READ MORE

7/27/21: How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Global Fight Against HIV and Malaria? (Global Citizen)

“One area of particular concern that is often overlooked, according to Chris Collins, president and CEO of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is the pandemic’s indirect impact on other areas of health. Collins recently spoke to Global Citizen to explain how lockdowns, public restrictions and transport stoppages impact health systems and health service delivery, particularly affecting two major health concerns: HIV and malaria.” READ MORE

7/26/21: BioNTech Says it Will Create an mRNA-based Vaccine to Prevent Malaria (Spectrum News 1)

“Fresh off of developing one of the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccines, BioNTech has its sights set on a new target: Malaria. ‘We are already working on HIV and tuberculosis, and malaria is the third big indication (disease) with a high unmet medical need,’ the company’s CEO and co-founder Dr. Ugur Sahin, told The Associated Press. ‘It has an incredible high number of people being infected every year, a high number of patients dying, a particularly severe disease and high mortality in small children. The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people’s lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal. We are committed to bringing our innovations to those who need them most,’ Dr. Sahin wrote in a press release.” READ MORE

7/26/21: COVID-19 Weighs Down Zimbabwe’s TB Fight (NewsDay- Zimbabwe)

“Zimbabwe’s gains from the Global Fund’s efforts to fight HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) are on a downward spiral due to the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to take its toll. The Global Fund provides 21% of international financing for HIV programmes and 73% for TB as well as 56% for malaria programmes. Global Fund Advocate Zimbabwe focal person, Itai Rusike yesterday said the Global Fund had been a game-changer in addressing inequalities and contributing to access to HIV, TB and malaria services as well as strengthening health systems.” READ MORE

7/25/21: A Turning Point for Children: Creating an AIDS-free Generation (StatNews)

“Deep inequalities continue to exist in the global response to HIV and AIDS, with gaps in rights and services preventing real progress. One of the most overlooked segments of the population has been children. Without a voice in the response, children have an unequal opportunity to call for solutions to their needs. COVID-19 has further intensified existing inequities, diverting funds and other resources away from critical health services. Yet even before COVID-19 took hold, the picture was troubling. New pediatric HIV infections were on the rise in a handful of African countries, pediatric treatment coverage had stalled, and the global community had failed to identify and reach almost half of the children living with HIV. None of the ‘Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free’ targets set for 2020 were achieved and were, in fact, missed by a wide margin.” READ MORE

7/23/21: Kenyatta Launches Youth Army to Fight Malaria (East African Business Week News)

“His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, Thursday launched the Kenya Malaria Youth Army, a social movement that brings together young people from all the 47 counties of Kenya to champion malaria control and elimination in the country. Kenya becomes the first country in Africa, and globally, to launch a national malaria youth army. The Kenya Malaria Youth Army has been established upon the premise that while significant progress has been made to combat malaria, action must be taken to accelerate progress, and overcome challenges from COVID-19.” READ MORE

7/23/21: Shifting COVID-19 Concerns in the HIV Community (Contagion Live)

“Late-breaking data presented at the International AIDS Society (IAS) 2021 Conference on HIV Science last week showed COVID-19 severity risks were not more significantly associated with hospitalized people living with HIV. The findings, presented by author Matthew S. Durstenfeld, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the UCSF Division of Cardiology, dissented from previously-held beliefs that people living with HIV—particularly those receiving therapy—may be at a greater risk of COVID-19 severe illness or even death due to their status.” READ MORE

7/23/21: Call to Prioritize People Living with HIV for the COVID Vaccine (Global Network of People Living with HIV)

“The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), and the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV (Y+ Global) are deeply concerned by the findings from a World Health Organization(WHO) report indicating that HIV infection is a significant independent risk factor for both severe and critical COVID-19 presentation at hospital admission and in-hospital mortality. The report found that the risk of developing severe or fatal COVID-19 was 30% greater for people living with HIV compared to people without HIV infection. As we internalize this news, we at the global networks of people living with HIV will be working with our peers at country level to create awareness and support vaccine uptake by people living with HIV, and continue to document and put attention to the challenges that we experience in accessing this very important intervention that could save millions of lives.” READ MORE

7/23/21: WHO Commends Nigeria’s Progress in Tracking Tuberculosis amid COVID-19 (Xinhua Net-China)

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has commended Nigeria’s efforts and measures taken to track and curb tuberculosis (TB) in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. There has been an increase in annual TB case notification due to strategic intervention by Nigeria’s National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP) in collaboration with the WHO and other agencies. ‘In 2020 a total of 138,591 cases were notified, 15 percent higher compared to 106,533 and 120,266 cases notified in 2018 and 2019 respectively,’ the statement said.” READ MORE

7/22/21: Nigeria Records Gain in Fight Against Tuberculosis amidst Coronavirus Pandemic (ReliefWeb)

“When the pandemic triggered lockdowns in March 2020, diagnosis and enrollment for TB treatment fell in many high TB burden countries. In Nigeria, the key component of the intervention began in the second quarter of the 2020 with WHO and partners integrating TB case finding into the COVID-19 structure in all outreach in 12 states. Speaking on the intervention, WHO National Professional Officer (NPO), Dr Moses Onoh says, ‘tuberculosis is curable and preventable, yet millions of people are infected annually, with many unable to access diagnosis and life-saving treatment. WHO will continue to support governments at all levels to ensure that the COVID-19 management programme takes the advantage of the extensive structures and human resource capacity available in the TB control programme to increase detection, diagnosis and management of cases at the community level.’” READ MORE

7/21/21: New Report Reveals Stark Inequalities in Access to HIV Prevention and Treatment Services for Children—Partners Call for Urgent Action (UNAIDS)

“In the final report from the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free initiative, UNAIDS and partners warn that progress towards ending AIDS among children, adolescents and young women has stalled and none of the targets for 2020 were met. In addition, COVID-19 and school closures are now disrupting many educational and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent girls and young women, highlighting the urgent need to redouble HIV prevention efforts to reach young women and adolescent girls.” READ MORE

7/21/21: Four Lessons from 40 Years of HIV: Why COVID Doesn’t End with Equitable Vaccine Access (Bhekisisa-South Africa)

“Today, the AIDS pandemic holds essential lessons for the latest disease outbreak — and in particular, the quest for an equitable — and effective — global COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Lesson 1: The role of funding in an equitable pandemic response. Lesson 2: Going beyond access to support local delivery systems. Lesson 3: Countering secrecy and fear, a fight against misinformation. Lesson 4: Know your epidemic and address data gaps.” READ MORE

 

7/20/21: State to Step Up TB Screening Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Give SPL Kits to Check Spread (The Times of India)

“In a bid to strengthen surveillance and control spread of tuberculosis (TB) in the Kolkata state, all patients diagnosed with the disease will get Airborne Infection Control (AIC) kits. ‘Due to the pandemic, TB screening has taken a backseat. We will now intensify screening patients to detect the infection,’ said a state official. State health officials also said that as COVID-19 took the centre stage, TB burden could have escalated in the state as everywhere else.” READ MORE

7/19/21: 1.5 Million Children are Living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’m One of the Doctors Treating these Young Patients Every Day (Johnson and Johnson)

“The COVID-19 pandemic put a lot of constraints on health systems delivering HIV care. Attention shifted toward COVID in most countries, including countries receiving HIV drug donations, and less attention and fewer resources were directed at HIV. ‘HIV is becoming a forgotten disease—and that is one of my big worries. If we didn’t have the New Horizons pipeline, Kenyan children could lose hope. During the COVID-related delay I’d see the question in their faces: ‘What will happen to me if the drug I need is not available?’ It was heartbreaking,’ said Dr. James Wagude, a physician who has treated children with HIV in Kenya for 17 years.” READ MORE

7/18/21: People with HIV Should be Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccination due to Higher Risk, WHO Recommends (aidsmap)

“People living with HIV should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week, following the release of research at the 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2021) showing that people with HIV have an increased risk of being admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19 and of dying from COVID-19. Although the increase in risk of severe COVID-19 is modest, it is especially important in countries like South Africa where the number of people with HIV is large, Dr. Silvia Bertagnolio of WHO told aidsmap. ‘This becomes important in stretched health systems where people with HIV may have more severe disease and require more health resources.’” READ MORE

7/17/21: Increase in TB Cases Due to COVID-19? Not Enough Evidence, says Health Ministry (Business Today- India)

“In a statement, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said that here have been some media reports alleging that a sudden rise in cases of tuberculosis (TB) has been noticed among patients who were infected with COVID-19 recently. However, ‘there is not enough evidence currently to suggest that there has been an increase in TB cases due to COVID-19 or due to increased case finding efforts’, it said. The ministry said that it has recommended TB screening for all COVID-19 positive patients and COVID-19 screening for all diagnosed TB patients. Admitting that restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic led to 25 percent decrease in TB cases in 2020, the ministry said that special efforts are being made to mitigate this impact. ‘The dual morbidity of TB and COVID-19 can be further highlighted through the facts that both the diseases are known to be infectious and primarily attack the lungs, presenting similar symptoms of cough, fever and difficulty in breathing, although TB has a longer incubation period and a slower onset of disease,’ the statement said.” READ MORE

7/16/21: Investing in New TB Vaccines: It’s Time to End the Century-Long Wait! (World Health Organization)

“The BCG vaccine is currently the only licensed vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) and provides moderate protection against severe forms of TB in infants and young children. Comparing this to the rapid advances made in the development and roll-out of safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19, we can see that political commitment backed by massive investments in research can lead to faster access to life-saving vaccines. Unprecedented public and private financing has supported COVID-19 vaccine research, development and manufacturing scale-up. This clearly shows, that we don’t need to wait for over 100 years to access new TB vaccines, but like with COVID-19, increased investments can be a game-changer and alleviate the suffering and deaths caused to millions due to TB – that remains one of the world’s top infectious killers.” READ MORE

7/16/21: In COVID Times, Some Respite: 2 Malaria Cases, None of Dengue in Noida (The Times of India)

“Health officials said since COVID-19 began, malaria cases have seen considerable drop in the district. The testing for malaria has also reduced since the local teams involved in testing have been diverted to COVID-19 duties. However, the cases are still disproportionately lower compared to the tests being done. Officials said that while most vector-borne disease are reported from July to November, there also seems to be fewer breeding places now as reported by health workers who are working on the communicable diseases awareness programme that is going on in the district. Rajesh Sharma, district malaria officers aid, ‘Since COVID started there has been much awareness about maintaining hygiene. It is possible that the people are more alert now about keeping their surroundings clean. There have also been regular sanitization drives across the district.’” READ MORE  

7/15/21: Health Experts Seek More Effective, Affordable Vaccines to Tackle Tuberculosis (Premium Times- Nigeria)

“Global Health experts have called on world leaders to improve funding for tuberculosis (TB) in a bid to reduce the burden of the disease. ‘What the world has achieved in the past year with regards to the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is astonishing and worth celebrating,’ the executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, Lucica Ditiu said. ‘Now is the time to invest the same level of energy and funding into developing new vaccines for another airborne, deadly infectious disease—tuberculosis.’ ‘But having a vaccine is not enough if it is not affordable and accessible to all. The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has clearly shown the inequalities and inequities of a system that favors the rich,’ Caroll Nawina, a TB survivor and advocate said. People who have TB are usually more vulnerable to other infections including being at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19 due to pre-existing lung damage.” READ MORE

7/15/21: $268 Million Funding Gap Hampering Tuberculosis Control (The Nation- Nigeria)

“The Stop Tuberculosis Partnership has stated that funding constraints remain the key challenge towards combating and eradicating tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria. Furthermore, it noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had varying short and long-term impacts on health, including TB services in the country, such as disruption of access to TB services as a result of prolonged periods of lockdown, treatment interruption potentially breeding drug-resistance, as well as the effects of stigma for both healthcare workers and clients among many others.” READ MORE

7/15/21: Tuberculosis to Claim 432 Nigerian Daily as COVID-19 Deaths Decrease (The Guardian-Nigeria)

“Medical experts have warned that as the population of people vaccinated against COVID-19 grows, the number of deaths with the virus will decrease but tuberculosis (TB) would keep killing 432 Nigerians and 4,000 others across the globe on a daily basis. The medics nevertheless admitted that the pandemic severely disrupted TB responses, stalling and reversing progress made over the years. Briefing reporters on the 2021 National TB Conference billed for November, Executive Director, KNCV Nigeria and Chair, Central Planning Committee, Dr. Bethrand Odume observed that tuberculosis patients were more vulnerable to other infections and COVID-19 complications owning to existing lung damage. Dr. Odume said funding constraints have remained a major challenge towards ending the ailment in the country.” READ MORE

7/13/21: West African Scientists are Leading the Science Behind a Malaria Vaccine (Smithsonian Magazine)

“Investment in malaria control in recent decades has reaped significant returns. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), innovations such as rapid testing and improved treatment have prevented 7.6 million malaria deaths. However, progress was also made more daunting by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19, with some similar symptoms, complicated the diagnosis and delayed treatment of many malaria patients, and travel restrictions limited the reach of health workers fighting the disease.” READ MORE

7/13/21: COVID-19 Pulls Resources from Malaria, Leading to Spikes in Deaths (Contagion Live)

“The number of deaths from malaria jumped by more than 100,000 in 2020 as antimalarial efforts were curtailed by the need to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Poonam Yadav, PhD and colleagues noted that regions where malaria is endemic, such as South America and sub-Saharan Africa, have been hit hard by the pandemic, forcing public health officials and nongovernmental organizations to shift their resources away from effective antimalarial strategies. For example, the investigators said programs to distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets and antimalarial medicines have been suspended in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.” READ MORE

7/11/21: Tuberculosis Remains a Threat Amid COVID-19 (The Phnom Penh Post- Cambodia)

When the project was first implemented, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) had tested migrants returning from Thailand at border checkpoints. But due to the spread of Covid-19, this changed in September last year and migrants were no longer tested for TB at border checkpoints. Dum Chanthida, the national project officer at International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that can pose a danger to lives if the patient is not treated. IOM seeks to detect the virus to identify TB in a timely manner so that TB-positive people cannot pass the virus on to family members or others. She added that the virus spreads by infection like Covid-19. In order to prevent it, they have to slow down transmissions to others when someone tests positive for TB. READ MORE

7/10/21: An Expert Explains: How China Eliminated Malaria and the Road Ahead for India (The Indian Express)

The entire world is now facing the once in a century pandemic of COVID-19. This has resulted in an over 32% decline in total blood smear collection for malaria surveillance in 2020 in India compared to 2019. India has to quickly overcome this and make the elimination process back on track and put all efforts to make India malaria-free by 2030. READ MORE

7/9/21: Angola with Malaria and new COVID-19 Restrictions (Prensa Latina- Cuba)

Angola on Friday began a new period of restrictions to fight COVID-19, in a national context marked by the outbreak of malaria, in which more than 5,000 people have killed this year. According to Health Minister, Dr. Silvia Lutucuta, Angola faces a ‘critical and challenging’ situation in relation to malaria, as the disease has affected more than two million people in the first five months of 2021 and at least, 5,573 deaths have been registered. READ MORE

7/9/21: Johnson & Johnson Launches Network of Global Health Discovery Centers that Aim to Speed Up Science and Tackle Pandemic Threats (KPVI)

Today announced the launch of the J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery (J&J Centers), a new, global network of unique research partnerships that will leverage the institutional strengths of Johnson & Johnson and leading academic institutions to accelerate discovery research to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges, including tuberculosis (TB), dengue fever, flavivirus, coronavirus and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). READ MORE

7/8/21: Zambian Study Finds No Link Between HIV Status and COVID-19 Severity, but Risk Quadruples for People with Severe HIV Infection (NAM AIDS Map- United Kingdom)

“Having HIV is not an independent risk factor for severe COVID-19 and death amongst patients hospitalised with COVID-19, according to a Zambian study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. However, patients with more severe HIV infection are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 or die of COVID-19 compared to those without complications. Like many sub-Saharan African countries, the prevalence of HIV in Zambia’s general population is very high (around 12%) and its healthcare system’s capacity to treat severe COVID-19 is limited. Understanding whether HIV increases the risk of severe COVID-19 and death is therefore of urgent importance in this context.” READ MORE

7/7/21: In Haiti and Beyond, We’ve Made Progress on Pandemics for 20 Years. We Must Keep at it (Miami Herald)

“The Global Fund was launched in 2002 to end the three pandemics responsible for hollowing out societies across Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, among other low-income areas, and there are clear signs that its strategies have been successful. Even when COVID-19 threw a curve ball in the tremendous momentum it had gained toward ending these epidemics for good in 2020, the partnership found ways to adapt. For instance, the Global Fund rapidly developed a COVID-19 Response Mechanism and found ways to support vital health systems across low-income nations. This has included protecting the critical work of civil society leaders, faith implementers and community health workers on the frontlines, sustaining care to those vulnerable to AIDS, TB and malaria.” READ MORE

7/7/21: Kenya Signs Sh48 Billion Grant for Tuberculosis (TB), Malaria Initiatives (The Star-Kenya)

“Kenya’s effort to fight malaria, tuberculosis and HIV has received a major boost after the signing of a Global Fund grant of Sh48 billion. The three-year grant will be implemented between July 2021 and June 2024. The grant is expected to support initiatives to find missing people with TB, ensuring patients on TB treatment adhere to medication, community case management of malaria and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria.” READ MORE

7/6/21: Why aren’t Diseases like HIV and Malaria, which still Kill Millions of People a Year, Called Pandemics? (STAT News)

“Once a pandemic stops being an acute threat to life in high-income countries, the urgency drops, the focus shifts, and resource flows dwindle. This is what’s happened with earlier pandemics, such as HIV and AIDS, and tuberculosis: Decisive action was taken to contain the threat to life in rich countries, but it was then allowed to linger in poorer, more vulnerable countries, killing millions. Despite the fact that HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria still kill millions of people each year across multiple countries and regions, these diseases are no longer talked about as pandemics, but are generally called epidemics, or endemic diseases. These distinctions have disturbing implications: By epidemic we actually mean a pandemic that no longer kills people in rich countries. By endemic we actually mean a disease the world could get rid of but hasn’t.” READ MORE

7/6/21: Lagos is Nigeria’s Tuberculosis Epicentre—Official (Premium Times- Nigeria)

“Data released by ‘Stop TB Partnership’ in March, 2021, shows that global treatment and diagnosis of TB cases witnessed a drastic decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected millions of people worldwide. The report also indicates that disruptions in services caused by the pandemic have led to further setbacks in progress already made against the disease. ‘So this boils down to the fact that we still have over 300,000 TB cases annually that are yet to be diagnosed,’ said director, technical programmes, USAID Tuberculosis Local Organisations Network (TB LON 3) project, Olugbenga Daniel, adding that; ‘If you do the geometric progression of that, knowing the number of people that will be infected annually by undiagnosed TB cases, which truly if you look at it critically, is an emergency.’” READ MORE

7/6/21: PF Malaria Hits Bordering Villages of Tripura Amid Fear of COVID Infection (United News of India)

“When the administration concentrated their whole efforts to fight against coronavirus, sudden spurt of malaria in Dhalai district of North Tripura has added concern for the health department. The plasmodium falciparum (PF) malaria infection during summer is common in Dhalai and Gomati districts of Tripura but last year there were not many reports of malaria infection due to COVID. However, with the beginning of rain last month, malaria cases were reported. ‘Mostly aged people and children were coming to local hospitals and all of them tested malaria positive. Their level of hemoglobin was found very low that made them susceptible to any critical disease including COVID,’ said a senior health official.” READ MORE

7/3/21: Mumbai: TB Cases Up, Especially Among Young Women, in 2 Months (Times of India)

“For the past two months, pulmonologist, Dr. Vikas Oswal, who works in Govandi, has been witnessing a worrying trend: an increase in the number of women in the 15-30 age group coming in with severe tuberculosis (TB). On June 14, the Kerala public health department issued a directive stating that post-COVID patients should undergo a TB screening test four to six weeks after recovery. Kerala health secretary Rajan Khobragade’s note said ‘temporary immunosuppressive effects and lung inflammation caused by COVID-19 might be leading to re/activation of the dormant bacilli to TB disease.’” READ MORE

7/3/21: Malawi Making Impressive Progress in TB Fight (Nyasa Times-Malawi)

“Tuberculosis (TB) expert, Dr. Daniel Nyangulu has said Malawi is making impressive progress in the fight against the disease. ‘A number of strategies have been outlined to fight, treat and reduce the cases among the people in the country.’ He bemoaned late reporting of cases to the hospitals as well as COVID-19 as major setbacks to the fight.” READ MORE

7/2/21: COVID Could Derail India’s Pledge to Eliminate Tuberculosis by 2025 — ICMR Medical Journal (The Print-India)

An editorial titled, ‘COVID-19 & the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme of India’ published Friday, noted that India may not be able to achieve its ambitious plan of ending TB by 2025 because of the increasing focus and diversion of resources to COVID-19. Other issues such as over-utilisation of laboratories meant for TB work, re-deployment of care workers, difficulty in movement of TB patients and supervisors to supervise treatment and lack of contact-tracing will adversely affect the outcomes, the article pointed out. READ MORE

7/1/21: Refugee Health Challenges Remain High Amid COVID-19 (UNHCR)

“Malaria remained the single most common cause of illness among refugees in 2020, while psychological distress caused by COVID-19, and acute malnutrition constituted major threats to refugees’ health and well-being, according to data released today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in its Annual Public Health Global Review. To fight malaria, UNHCR and partners work to secure access to early diagnosis and treatment, and help communities find ways to reduce exposure to mosquito bites, including through insecticide treated mosquito nets. They also advocate for environmental measures to reduce mosquito breeding sites.” READ MORE

7/1/21: Tuberculosis: The Forgotten Pandemic (The Scientist)

“Tuberculosis vaccine development is being complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts who spoke with The Scientist note that some TB vaccine trials have been delayed in starting or slowed down. ‘It has definitely set us back, because we would have finished this trial [with M72],’ trial investigator Robert Wilkinson says. Moreover, it is likely that cases of TB have gone unreported and that treatment has lagged during the pandemic, Helen McShane, a vaccine researcher at the University of Oxford adds. ‘Global lockdowns, focused on another pathogen, has disrupted TB control programs.”‘ READ MORE

6/30/21: Lessons From the AIDS Epidemic to Help India Fight COVID-19 Equitably (The Hindustan Times- India)

“Reiterating the urgency of ending HIV, Fauci acknowledged the debt COVID-19 vaccinologists owed to decades of ongoing HIV research. Nearly 90% of COVID-19 vaccines developed at a record pace today used diagnostics, animal models and clinical trials networks from previously ‘unsuccessful’ HIV vaccine trials. Learning from the injustices of AIDS, India’s COVID-19 response must frame its health and development agenda within concrete socio-cultural determinants of harm, healing and well-being. Critical inter-epidemic lessons must drive equitable global public health in India.” READ MORE

6/30/21: World Health Organization and Global Fund Sign Cooperation Agreement to Scale Up HIV, TB and Malaria Interventions and Strengthen Health Systems (Mirage News-Australia)

“The World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed a cooperation and financing agreement to implement 10 strategic initiatives to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics and strengthen systems for health. This new agreement, which will cover the 2021-2023 implementation period, aims to address some of the persistent challenges that impede progress against the three diseases and protect hard-won gains from new pandemics like COVID-19. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, reinforces the need to strengthen our partnership to achieve our shared goals of ending the epidemics,’ said Dr. Mubashar Sheikh, Director, Deputy Director-General’s Office, WHO.” READ MORE

6/27/21: Technion Develops ‘Quick, Non-invasive’ Method of Diagnosing Tuberculosis (The Jerusalem Post)

“The World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual tuberculosis (TB) report found that tuberculosis killed some 1.4 million people in 2019, not much less than the 1.5 million deaths it caused in 2018. The report warned that many countries are not on track to meet targets for successfully diagnosing and treating cases to stop the disease’s spread amid the coronavirus pandemic. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO’s report said, many countries had been making steady progress against TB, with a 9% reduction in incidence seen between 2015 and 2019 and a 14% drop in deaths during the same period.” READ MORE

6/27/21: COVID-19 in South Africa: Pandemic Could be a Setback for TB (ENCA News)

“It took years for the country to get on top of HIV and tuberculosis testing and treatment but the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse these gains. More than 30,000 people die of TB in South Africa each year.” READ MORE

6/24/21: HIV/AIDS Prevalence on the Rise Despite Lockdown (Daily Monitor- Uganda)

“Officials have said HIV/AIDS prevalence is on the rise in urban areas despite the coronavirus induced lockdown. Mr. Robert Wandwasi, the Mbale HIV/AIDS focal person attributed the rise in prevalence to the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, with less attention on other life-threatening diseases. ‘Ugandans have become complacent and as a result, we have reverted to the HIV/Aid risk lifestyles yet 50 per cent of our population do not know how to properly use a condom,’ Mr. Wandwasi said.” READ MORE

6/24/21: Malaria Tracker Expected to Drastically Reduce Cases by 2023 (The Statesman- India) 

“A new tracker has been launched to help Commonwealth countries monitor progress towards drastically reducing malaria cases by 2023, leading to its ultimate eradication by 2030. Despite country-level progress, as a grouping, the Commonwealth is currently not on track to reach the 50 percent reduction target. The report calls on countries to accelerate action in the coming years to reach the historic target in the face of severe disruptions in malaria services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahead of the launch, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: ‘Although COVID-19 has seized the world’s attention and resources, it is equally important for us to maintain focus on our pre-pandemic commitments and also sustain gains in malaria and other health conditions.’” READ MORE 

6/23/21: Explained: Double Burden of COVID19 and Tuberculosis (Gaon Connection- India) 

“Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted tuberculosis (TB) responses in low- and middle-income countries, stalling and reversing years of progress made against TB. In 2020, COVID-19 overtook TB globally as the most common cause of death from an infectious disease, but in low- and middle-income countries, TB deaths remain far higher than those from COVID-19.” READ MORE 

6/22/21: Fight Against Tuberculosis: Prioritizing COVID Sets Back Years of Progress (Deutsche Well- Germany) 

“Earlier in March, Stop TB Partnership, a group of organizations working to end tuberculosis (TB), published research that stated 12 months of COVID had erased 12 years of progress in the fight against TB. Data from nine countries representing 60% of the global TB burden saw large declines in diagnosis and treatment of TB infections in 2020, ranging from 16% to 41%. ‘The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,’ said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.” READ MORE 

6/22/21: 12 Researchers in WHO European Region Awarded Grants for Research on TB and COVID-19 (World Health Organization- Europe) 

“12 research projects from the WHO European Region are being funded by the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) following a call to identify and address barriers and bottlenecks to implementing tuberculosis-related services in the Region during the COVID-19 pandemic. Selected research projects will focus on ensuring that prevention, detection, treatment and care services for TB patients are maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic. The short-term and long-term effects of the pandemic on TB services, as well as the response of health systems, are the focus of research proposals from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.” READ MORE 

6/21/21: Learning from COVID-19 and the Continuing Malaria Fight (Open Access Government)  

“COVID-19 presented new challenges for implementing community-based malaria control interventions and threatened to disrupt long-lasting insecticidal net distribution. Major interventions were still possible despite COVID-19: amplifying community engagement ensured community-led activities helped address challenges around net distribution, overlaid with social and behaviour change approaches to help address deep-rooted, health-related behaviours that were limiting the adoption of COVID-19 transmission-prevention guidelines.” READ MORE  

6/20/21: Dengue, Malaria and COVID-19: How to Avert Co-infection (The Indian Express) 

“The onset of monsoon increases the risk of transmission of tropical, vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue. As we continue to live amid a pandemic. The risk has compounded with the infections caused by COVID-19 virus since many symptoms of dengue, malaria, and COVID-19 overlap, which can make treatment difficult and outcome dismal. ‘Preventing simultaneous infection of COVID-19 and malaria or/and dengue becomes a critical health intervention. Preventing co-infection will help to segregate and treat COVID patients more expeditiously while reducing chances of wrong treatment that may cause morbidity or death,’ said Dr. Maheshkumar M Lakhe, Consultant – Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease, Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune.” READ MORE 

6/19/21: A COVID Trigger for Tuberculosis? (The Hindu- India) 

“While there is no conclusive evidence yet to establish that COVID-19 can directly trigger an increase in tuberculosis (TB), TB cases have indeed been going up in the State, especially in the post-COVID phase. Emerging evidence from various studies suggest that COVID and TB share a dysregulation of immune responses and the possibility of COVID-19 activating dormant/latent TB infection or triggering re-infections in those recovering from COVID is indeed real.” READ MORE 

6/17/21: The Fight Against Malaria and Why We Must Learn from COVID-19 (The Guardian- Nigeria) 

“World Malaria Day reminded people around the world that despite COVID-19, diseases such as malaria are far from over. This deadly yet preventable vector-borne disease remains endemic in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide, including Nigeria. COVID-19 has extracted a heavy toll on health systems, particularly in Africa. This has undoubtedly impeded the fight against malaria. Nevertheless, the pandemic has provided new insights about how best to defeat malaria.” READ MORE 

6/16/21: Stem Cells May Hold a Key to Developing New Vaccines Against COVID-19 (EurekAlert!) 

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 may have the ability to reactivate dormant tuberculosis (TB). In a novel study, scientists report in The American Journal of Pathology  that infection with a specific coronavirus strain reactivated dormant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) in mice. This knowledge may help to develop new vaccines for COVID-19 and avoid a potential global tuberculosis epidemic.” READ MORE 

6/16/21: Tuberculosis Test Advisory for Recovered COVID Patients in Kerala (The Times of India) 

“Nearly ten tuberculosis (TB) cases were reported amongst post-COVID patients within four-six weeks of recovery from the viral infection in Kochi state. Most of them developed a cough weeks after recovery from COVID and in some cases it worsened. Later, a sputum smear test showed TB. ‘Temporary immunosuppressive effects and lung inflammation caused by Covid-19, along with steroid induced immunosuppression might be leading to re/activation of dormant bacilli to TB disease. A delay in diagnosis of TB has been reported since symptoms of post-COVID respiratory diseases mimics symptoms of TB,’ said health secretary, Dr. Rajan Khobragade.” READ MORE 

6/16/21: Health Department Cautions of Tuberculosis Risk Among COVID Recovered Patients (Mathrubhumi- India) 

“The health department has initiated preventative measures to check tuberculosis infection among people who have recovered from COVID-19. The preventative measures have been taken after a study report revealed that people face a high risk of tuberculosis as post-COVID health issue. Within 4 weeks, 10 tuberculosis cases were reported in Kerala.” READ MORE 

6/15/21: People Recovering from Covid Diagnosed with Tuberculosis, Guidelines Issued to Assure Treatment (Kerala Kaumudi- India) 

“There were reports that inactivated tuberculosis pathogens may become active in the body of Covid cured patients. In Kerala too, about 10 such Covid cured people have been diagnosed with tuberculosis. Temporary immunodeficiency and inflammation of the lungs caused by Covid lead to tuberculosis. Delays in the diagnosis of tuberculosis are more likely to occur because the symptoms of postpartum respiratory disease are similar to those of tuberculosis. In this case, the minister said, the guidelines were issued to find tuberculosis patients in Covid cured patients. TB screening will be implemented in all post Covid clinics. Awareness will be given to all patients coming to post Covid clinics.” READ MORE 

6/15/21: Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders): Governments Off Track on Providing Tools to Prevent TB, the Second Biggest Infectious Disease Killer After COVID-19 (Relief Web) 

“As the World Health Organization (WHO) convenes a ‘call to action’ tomorrow on the need to scale up access to preventive treatment for tuberculosis (TB), the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) urged all governments to support and ramp up the implementation of TB preventive treatment (TPT), and demanded that pharmaceutical and diagnostics corporations make all drugs and tests needed to implement TPT accessible and affordable for those in need. TB was only recently surpassed by COVID-19 as the world’s number one infectious disease killer. While treating people who are currently sick with TB is essential, another important measure to control and reverse the tide of the global TB burden is to promptly identify people at risk and prevent them from developing the disease through preventive treatment or TPT. Scale-up of TPT is even more critical in the context of COVID-19. Urgent action is required to reverse the negative impact of COVID-19 on TB control.” READ MORE 

6/13/21: Young Women in Sub-Saharan Africa Still the Most Affected by HIV/AIDS (Independent Online- South Africa) 

“Young women in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be the most affected by the virus, as six out of seven new HIV infections among adolescents aged 15–19 years in the region are among girls. AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among women in this age group. The same inequality-busting approaches needed to end AIDS will also help the world overcome Covid-19, be ready to tackle future pandemics ‘support inclusive economic growth, social stability, the human rights of all,’ said executive director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima. HIV remains a pandemic driven by inequalities and Covid-19 may have amplified many of these inequalities, according to the UNAIDS report. The people being left behind are those subjected to gender inequalities, ostracisation and criminalisation. ‘Gender inequalities and gender-based violence restrict the rights of women and adolescent girls, including their ability to refuse unwanted sex or negotiate safer sex, and to access HIV and sexual and reproductive health services,’ read the report.” READ MORE 

6/13/21: That Other Epidemic: TB (Philippine Daily Inquirer) 

“The Philippines is among ‘high-burden’ countries that continue to struggle with tuberculosis, a highly infectious but curable disease — and the mobility restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped. There has been a lag in detecting and treating TB cases. Worse, the country also accounted for the highest number of patients that did not return for follow-up evaluation or treatment. The COVID-19 lockdowns that limited people’s access to health facilities have only exacerbated the situation.” READ MORE 

6/13/21: Life Comes to Standstill for a Family of HIV Positive During COVID Pandemic (The Hindu- India) 

“For the past 18 years, Rema and her children have been living a life of neglect and social exclusion. The stigma of being affected by HIV is continuing to haunt them even today. The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has made their life more challenging. All three are now forced to stay in their home and are facing huge crisis as they have no job or a source of income to move forward.” READ MORE 
 

6/11/21: What Responses to HIV and COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific Led by Civil Society Can Teach Us (UNAIDS) 

“COVID-19 continues to threaten the gains made in the HIV response and has brought inequalities to the forefront, but civil society and community-based organizations in Asia and the Pacific have been quick to respond to the pandemic. From the start, networks of people living with HIV and key populations responded to the global health crisis by coming up with innovative courses of action ‘The valuable experiences of communities reflect their long-standing active participation in the response to the HIV epidemic. This is exhibited in the way they continue to innovate at the forefront of the response to HIV and, most recently, address the intersectionality that emerged out of having to respond to the impact of COVID-19 as well,’ said Vitavas Srivihok, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations.” READ MORE 

6/11/21: HIV Lessons for COVID-19 (New Frame- South Africa) 

“Francois Venter, a professor and deputy executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, pointed out that while it may be more difficult to roll out vaccines than antiretrovirals (ARVs) because of the urgency of the coronavirus, ‘you have to try and get to people, and you have to try and deal with the vaccine hesitancy, and to get to people who are not fit. We have so much experience from our ARV programme, which took us 17 years to get right. You have to de-bureaucratise and make this as easy as humanly possible.’” READ MORE 

6/9/21: UN Calls for More Action to Fight AIDS Amid COVID Setbacks (Al Jazeera)

“The United Nations’ General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a declaration calling for urgent action to end AIDS by 2030, noting ‘with alarm’ the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated inequalities and pushed access to AIDS medicines, treatments and diagnosis further off track. ‘Even in spite of all the setbacks, we can end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as we promised, if the world comes together’ Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said at the high-level meeting in New York. The declaration also calls for progress towards eliminating all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and for urgent work towards an HIV vaccine and a cure for AIDS.” READ MORE

6/9/21: Like HIV/AIDS, President Kagame Says, COVID-19 Should Offer Lessons for Africa (KT Press- Rwanda)

“President of Rwanda Paul Kagame says the COVID-19 pandemic taught Africa valuable lessons and revealed shortcomings in the healthcare systems, which must be addressed if the continent is to deal with future pandemics. He also said the quality and speed of response is still mostly determined by wealth and poverty. ‘Waiting to respond to HIV in Africa was a mistake, because the virus was spreading. A decade was lost, and many lives lost. The turning point in the fight against HIV in Africa was the consensus to invest heavily in national health systems, through key programs such as PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and others,’ he added. President Kagame concludes with saying, ‘that it is high time the world seized the moment to increase scientific research collaboration with Africa, and to invest in drug and vaccine manufacturing capacity on the continent.’” READ MORE

6/8/21: Caribbean Stakeholders Call for Focus on Key Populations and Community-Led Approaches to HIV and COVID-19 (UNAIDS) 

“The Guyana Health Minister and Caribbean representative on the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, Frank Anthony emphasized the new threat posed by COVID-19, noting that ‘finite financial resources had to be reprogrammed to meet these urgent demands.’ He called for increased vaccine equity and a review of plans to transition countries in the region away from international HIV funding. ‘We must use the platform available to us at this United Nations high-level meeting to ensure that we highlight our vulnerabilities to the HIV epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic,’ he said. During discussions, civil society participants also emphasized the profound negative impact of COVID-19 containment measures on lives and livelihoods. They said there was an additional need for solutions to provide nutrition, mental health and financial support to people living with HIV and members of key population communities. The Director of the UNAIDS New York Liaison Office, César Núñez, noted that in the response to both HIV and COVID-19, the role of communities is clear. ‘The response must include a key role for civil society at the table when frameworks are being put together and implemented,’ he said. READ MORE 

6/8/21: Altadena Anthropologist Presents Latest Research on HIV in Africa as Part of Sister Cities Speaker Series (Pasadena Now)

“Dr. Deborah Mindry, a research anthropologist said the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased people’s interest in global health, while at the same time diverting much needed resources away from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis prevention and treatment efforts. ‘But because most of the resources have been appropriated for COVID, there’s not the same labor force attending to some of these other issues. The other problem is with shutdowns in various parts of the world; people living with those diseases are not getting to the clinics and not getting their treatments and so forth’ she said. She added that there is concern among public health practitioners that COVID will result in a further setback in trying to achieve the goals of the UNAIDS’s 90-90-90 initiative, which aims to get 90% of the people who are estimated to be infected with HIV to get tested and know their status, 90% of those who test positive for HIV to get on antiretroviral treatment and 90% of those who are on treatment to adhere to their treatment.” READ MORE

6/8/21: New Global Pledge to End all Inequalities Faced by Communities and People Affected by HIV Towards Ending AIDS (UNAIDS)

“World leaders agreed to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections to under 370,000 and AIDS-related deaths to 250,000, eliminate new HIV infections among children, end pediatric AIDS and eliminate all forms of HIV-related discrimination by 2025. They also committed to providing life-saving HIV treatment to 34 million people by 2025. Countries also committed to ensure that 95% of people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV are protected against pandemics, including COVID-19. ‘The stark inequalities exposed by the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19 are a wake-up call for the world to prioritize and invest fully in realizing the human right to health for all without discrimination,’ said [UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie] Byanyima.” READ MORE

6/8/21: There’s Still No HIV Vaccine. Could COVID-19 Jab Technology- mRNA Shots or Modified Cold Virus- be the Answer? (South China Morning Post- Hong Kong)

“Vaccines against Covid-19 were developed in record time and have shown remarkable levels of safety and efficacy, helping drive down caseloads in the countries fortunate enough to have wide access. Many of these shots were developed using technologies that were previously being tried out on HIV – so why haven’t we had breakthroughs yet?‘The human immune system doesn’t self-cure HIV, whereas what was very clear was the human immune system was quite capable of self-curing Covid-19,’ said Larry Corey, principal investigator of HVTN, a global organisation funding HIV vaccine development. Covid-19 vaccines work by eliciting antibodies that bind to the virus’ spike protein and stop it from infecting human cells.” READ MORE

6/8/21: Peng Liyuan Addresses Opening of World Health Organization Meeting on Tuberculosis, AIDS (Big News Network- United Arab Emirates)

“Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping and a goodwill ambassador of the World Health Organization (WHO) for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, on Monday addressed via video link the opening of a WHO meeting on ‘Ending TB deaths among people with HIV: Step up the momentum.’ Peng said major infectious diseases are common challenges faced by the humanity, and it is people’s common wish to eliminate the threat of AIDS and tuberculosis. Peng noted COVID-19 brought more challenges to the prevention and treatment of AIDS and tuberculosis. She called for united efforts from the international community to protect lives and strive forward.” READ MORE

6/8/21: Surge in Malaria Deaths Cause for Concern (NewsDay-Zimbabwe)

“Indications that Zimbabwe is registering a surge in malaria cases and deaths at a time when the country’s health delivery system is battling the COVID-19 pandemic are cause for concern. Understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic, which claimed its first fatality in the country in March last year, has been the major focus of government. To focus on the COVID-19 scourge at the expense of surveillance on malaria cases and deaths, which are rising exponentially, is a futile exercise and the results are there for all to see. Malaria cases increased by 58% from 242,951 cases in 2019 to 384,956 in 2020, according to the ministry. The trajectory shows a reversal in the gains the country had made towards the elimination of malaria. Government should intensify its efforts to fight the malaria scourge.” READ MORE

6/8/21: HIV Patient had COVID for Over 7 Months, Infection Mutated Over 30 Times (The Jerusalem Post)

“An HIV-positive woman with a persistent coronavirus infection that lasted 216 days straight had the virus mutate within her over 30 times according to new research. The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed detailed the HIV-positive patient’s more than seven-month infection. The study notes that there is an association with COVID-19 patients who are immunosuppressed and an increased risk of more severe disease and death from a coronavirus infection. Additionally, the fact that the disease stays present within the body of immunosuppressed patients for longer periods of time compared to healthier individuals could mean that HIV patients could be an incessant source of transmission and mutations of the coronavirus.” READ MORE

6/7/21: HIV/AIDS and COVID: A Dual Battle (Think Global Health)

“The rapid and devastating movement of COVID around the world has eclipsed other health priorities over the last 18 months. In the shadow of this new pandemic, we have also seen some of the hard-won gains against HIV, TB, and malaria begin to unravel—especially in countries where COVID vaccination is scarce. The reality is, we cannot end AIDS or achieve other global health and development goals unless we beat COVID globally. However, it is also true that we cannot beat COVID without learning lessons from the global HIV response. To succeed in curbing either virus, the HIV and coronavirus pandemics must be fought simultaneously.” READ MORE

6/7/21: Just Like Covid, Our Fight to Rid the World of HIV is Held Back by Inequality (The Telegraph- UK)

“The pandemic remains devastating in many of the world’s poorest countries and communities. Inequality is usually the biggest hurdle to clear in the race to end diseases. We have been here before with the deadliest and the most recent pandemic – HIV. Stigma and discrimination, the marginalisation and criminalisation of communities and a lack of access to health, education and other essential services have pushed us off track of the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Covid-19 has disrupted HIV progress even further. In a recent Global Fund survey of more than 30 countries, HIV testing across all the facilities surveyed fell by 41 per cent. Even before Covid-19, we were not on track to meet the global targets for 2020, agreed in the 2016 Political Declaration on HIV.” READ MORE

6/7/21: Malaria is Far Deadlier in Africa than the Coronavirus. Why is the Vaccine Taking So Long? (Washington Post)

“The parasitic disease kills more than 400,000 people each year. The coronavirus pandemic, by contrast, has claimed about 130,000 lives on the continent in the past 15 months, according to World Health Organization estimates. Yet only the coronavirus hascommanded a surge of global resources that fast-tracked vaccines, smashing development records and reshaping attitudes toward what is pharmaceutically possible. ‘We are all frustrated in Africa to see how Covid gets so much attention compared to malaria,’ said epidemiologist Halidou Tinto, regional director of Burkina Faso’s Institute of Research in Health Sciences. ‘If malaria concerned the West, the attention would be much more focused.’” READ MORE

6/5/21: Double Trouble: Kisumu Hospitals Grappling with Surging Malaria, Covid Cases (The Standard-Kenya)

“Kisumu County recorded a surge in malaria cases with most patients also testing positive for Covid-19. The current situation has stretched health facilities in the region with JOOTRH Chief executive officer, Dr. George Rae, confirming the facility is full to capacity and ‘increased cases of malaria and double number of Covid-19 patients is worrying.’ Meanwhile, Kemri scientists are carrying out clinical trial testing for Coartem and Paramax drug (standard of care for malaria) to observe how they perform in presence of Covid-19. The scientists seek to establish if malaria is a risk factor for Covid-19 and whether patients diagnosed with both diseases develop severe symptoms compared to those with Covid-19 alone.” READ MORE

6/5/21: Silent Killer: Tuberculosis Claimed More Lives than COVID-19 in Telangana (The New Indian Express)

“Telangana wanted to eradicate TB from 10 districts, but the programme had to be postponed due to the pandemic. ‘TB is a bigger problem than Covid-19, but the number of deaths due to TB has not increased year after year. However, the pandemic has had an adverse impact on TB prevention work as the staff had to be put on Covid-19 duty,’ said Dr. A. Rajesham, joint director of State TB Cell.” READ MORE

6/5/21: USAID Dedicates $57 Million for Urgent Tuberculosis Recovery Effort in Seven Countries, Including South Africa. TB Kills 1.4 Million People Yearly (Today News Africa)

“’COVID-19’s far-reaching impact on the global TB response is projected to sicken an additional 6.3 million people with TB and cause an additional 1.4 million TB deaths by 2025. The pandemic’s toll puts the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations at even more risk for both TB and COVID-19. People with COVID-19 and TB are about three times more likely to die than those with only TB,’ said USAID.” READ MORE

6/4/21: The Genocide We’re Allowing in Amazonia (Counter Punch – United States)

“The Yanomami indigenous tribe of Brazil are facing a humanitarian crisis of 20,000 illegal gold miners (garimpeiros) on Yanomami lands bringing with them disease, malaria and COVID-19, and polluting the riverways of the Yanomami territory with mercury and other poisons from illicit mining operations. ‘Increasingly COVID-19 is infecting us, we see many people falling ill with coronavirus symptoms. But that is not all! The invaders also bring malaria, lots of malaria! Throughout the territory the communities are being infected, even where malaria had disappeared’ said by Yanomami and Ye’kwana leadership.” READ MORE

6/4/21: 473 TB Cases Found in a Month in Palamu (The Pioneer- India)

“It is not only COVID-19 that worries all. Tuberculosis is not far behind, but in this hard time of COVID-19 one only thinks of this pandemic sadly overlooking the cases of the TB which needs to be corrected to contain TB in the State.” READ MORE

6/4/21: Malaria, Dengue, TB Play Second Fiddle to COVID-19 (BioSpectrum)

“Although India worked relentlessly towards developing innovative testing solutions for COVID-19 throughout last year, the timely detection of a number of other infectious diseases got sidelined. In India, the range and burden of infectious diseases are enormous such as tuberculosis, malaria, filariasis, leprosy, HIV infection, typhoid, hepatitis etc… If India can develop more than 20 different diagnostic tests or devices in a single year against COVID-19, many more such innovations can be brought out to effectively detect other infections looming in our country.” READ MORE

6/4/21: Hope for a Malaria-Free Africa (The Independent-Uganda)

“Whilst the continent continues to battle COVID-19, we must do more to protect everyone at risk of malaria, as well as the tremendous strides made in fighting this disease. Worryingly, malaria diagnosis fell by 31% in 2020 due to COVID-related disruptions, according to the latest report from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We must ensure that Africans—especially children and pregnant women—continue to seek prompt diagnosis and treatment for malaria, which can literally be a matter of life and death.” READ MORE

6/4/21: For Indonesians with HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 Vaccination Mixed Bag (The Jakarta Post- Indonesia)

“Indonesia has followed other countries in allowing HIV-positive people to take part in its vaccination program. Despite this, the vaccine has reached people living with HIV/AIDS sporadically at best. Concerns about privacy, possible personal data leaks, stigma and the convoluted vaccine registration process have kept some away from the vaccine.” READ MORE

6/3/21: As COVID-19 Collides with HIV/AIDS, the Pandemic May be Taking an Ominous Turn (Los Angeles Times)

“As the world’s less affluent countries scramble for COVID-19 vaccine and contend with deadly surges of the disease, researchers in South Africa have just documented an ominous development: the collision of the pandemic with HIV/AIDS. Geneticists and infectious disease specialists uncovered potentially dangerous coronavirus mutations in a 36-year-old woman with uncontrolled HIV who was unable to shake the SARS-CoV-2 virus for close to eight months. The driving force behind the patient’s rapid accumulation of genetic changes is probably her impaired immune response due to her unsuccessfully treated HIV, the researchers said.” READ MORE

6/1/21: HIV in the Age of COVID-19 (The Lancet)

“The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on HIV/AIDS programmes. Vital services have been suspended and fewer people have been initiated on ART. The Global Fund stated, ‘There is no scenario in which we can achieve the progress we want against HIV…while COVID-19 remains unchecked and systems for health are threatened.’ For the majority of high-burden countries, the most severe disruption occurred from March to July 2020. HIV clinics closed or abbreviated their operating hours. Public transport was trickier to access, people with respiratory symptoms were discouraged from leaving their homes, and there was a general fear of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 at health-care institutions. Prevention and testing for HIV was drastically curtailed. COVID-19 dominated the political agenda, making it harder to [discuss] drug policy reform or sex education.” READ MORE

5/31/21: Ned Nwoko Urges Greater Focus on Malaria Vaccine Research (Vanguard-Nigeria)

“The Chairman of Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation and the founder of malaria eradication in Africa Programme, Hon (Dr.) Ned Munir Nwoko has stressed the need for greater public-private sector synergy including multilateral agencies in the quest to achieve a malaria-free Africa. Prince Nwoko observed vaccines were invented against COVID-19 at a stage when the true causative factors of the pandemic were still a mystery. He reasoned malaria, which has mosquito clearly identified as its cause, ought to present lesser challenge with regard to vaccine research. He also stated the same kind of speed with which the entire world came together to research and invent effective vaccines against COVID-19 can be applied to invent reliable vaccines that would deal a death knell on malaria scourge which is still ravaging Africa and some other parts of the world.” READ MORE

5/30/21: Let’s Seize the Moment of a Groundbreaking HIV Vaccine Approach and a COVID-19 Immunisation Success (Daily Maverick-South Africa)

“For those affected by HIV, watching the stunningly swift development of not one but multiple successful Covid-19 vaccines in less than a year, has been partly inspirational, but also partly disheartening. If a Covid-19 vaccine can be developed so fast, many would understandably ask why, after decades, are we still so far from having a vaccine for HIV? Surely, more can be done to speed up and better finance the development of an effective vaccine against HIV/AIDS.” READ MORE

5/29/21: World Health Assembly Adopts New Resolution on Malaria (Vanguard-Nigeria)

“The World Health Assembly has adopted a new resolution on malaria. WHO stated the new resolution was aimed at revitalizing and accelerating efforts to end malaria. According to the statement, the resolution comes at a critical time as global progress against malaria stalls and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further derail efforts to tackle the disease worldwide. It calls on countries to extend investment in and support for health services, ensuring no one is left behind; sustain and scale up sufficient funding for the global malaria response; and boost investment in the research and development of new tools.” READ MORE

5/29/21: The Potential Breakthrough for Malaria Vaccines (The Oxford Student)

“A new malaria vaccine developed by the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca SARS-CoV2 formula has been shown to be 77% efficient in a small-scale study, giving researchers grounds for cautious optimism. This news coincides with the UK’s decision to slash its expenditure on foreign aid by over four billion pounds, potentially jeopardising future research and distribution of treatments for diseases such as malaria. The case of the malaria vaccine is a vivid and timely illustration of the importance of investing in aid for developing countries, and a reminder of what could be lost with these funding cuts. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that wealthy nations are capable of mobilising resources to tackle a threat to global public health, and yet even then income disparities between countries come into play, reflected in the unequal accessibility of treatment and vaccines.” READ MORE

5/28/21: High Exposure to Malaria Can Modulate Immune Responses to COVID-19 Resulting in Less Severe Outcomes, Study Shows (Malaria Consortium)

“The results of ground-breaking research conducted by Malaria Consortium show that low previous malaria exposure is associated with more severe symptoms of COVID-19 and adverse outcomes compared with high exposure to malaria. Patients co-infected with malaria and COVID-19 tend to have a higher frequency of confusion and vomiting but co-infection was not detrimental to a patient’s outcome. The results were recently published in preprint in The Lancet.” READ MORE

5/28/21: Accelerate Efforts to End Malaria: World Health Assembly Adopts New Resolution (Down to Earth-India)

“The resolution has come at a crucial juncture, when efforts to curb the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have derailed efforts needed to tackle the disease. The resolution is led by the United States of America and Zambia. The aim of the resolution is to urge Member States to step up progress on containing the disease, in line with WHO’s updated global malaria strategy and the WHO Guidelines for malaria. It called countries to expand investment, scale up funding for global response and boost investment in research and development of new tools, according to miragenews.” READ MORE

5/28/21: Maharashtra: 50% Drop in Notifying Tuberculosis Patients Due to Pandemic (Times of India)

“Officials admitted that the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the significant decline in new TB cases being notified to the government. ‘Across the country, TB programme managers and on-ground officials were at the forefront in Covid management considering their expertise in managing infectious diseases. Also, TB diagnostic machines were used for Covid testing. Several hospitals were converted into Covid care facilities, which affected the passive surveillance. Routine surveillance declined as health staff was diverted to Covid duties’ said Dr. Archana Patil, director, family welfare, directorate of health services of Maharashtra.” READ MORE

5/28/21: 467K Patients with COVID-19, Respiratory Infections Screened for TB in Maharashtra (Hindustan Times- India)

“Last October, the central health department issued guidelines on ‘Bi-directional TB-Covid-19 screening and screening of TB among influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) cases.’ Following this, all hospitals were instructed to test symptomatic patients with ILI, SARI and Covid-19 for TB. ‘Most of these co-infection cases have been identified in new TB patients. They approached hospitals considering they have Covid-19. But when their CT scan report showed different forms of clouding in lungs, their sputum culture confirmed that they were also carrying the bacteria of TB,’ said Dr. Lalit Anande, a TB specialist.” READ MORE

5/27/21: Notes from the Field: Impact of the COVID-19 Response on Scale-Up of HIV Viral Load Testing—PEPFAR-Supported Countries (CDC)

CDC and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are committed to maintaining an international response to the HIV epidemic even as countries face the challenge of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19–related stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions affected essential HIV services worldwide. In the face of these challenges, CDC and PEPFAR are committed to sustaining the momentum necessary to achieve the target goal of facilitating testing and viral suppression among 95% of persons with HIV.” READ MORE

5/27/21: Continuity and Oversight of Country Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic (The Global Fund)

“The Global Fund took decisive, positive action to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on grant implementers and to facilitate program continuity, introducing measures such as grant flexibilities and new and redirected funding. Tuberculosis programs have suffered the most disruption, largely due to the similarities between the disease and COVID-19 in terms of symptoms and health care delivery. HIV treatment programs have continued with low-level interruption, however significant disruptions have been experienced in prevention and key population activities. Malaria programs have been least impacted by the pandemic.” READ MORE

5/26/21: How COVID-19 Has Put a Strain on Ghana’s Anti-TB Programme (Graphic Online)

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the [Ghana] is not only facing its usual health challenges, but has to deal with both the direct costs of COVID-19 and the indirect consequences of the virus. The community awareness programmes have been suspended meaning that citizens are not only receiving information but the screening programmes to detect those with TB have also been suspended because of the COVID-19 protocols. A patient diagnosed with regular TB needs to take his or her medications for at least six months while MDR TB patients have to continue their treatment for nine months without interruptions. Interruption in treatment was inevitable when the government instituted lockdown measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Health facilities have been giving patients additional medicines to continue treatment at home and minimise hospital visits. However, their most urgent needs —non-medical support including nutritional, economic and psychosocial support have not been met. The pandemic has adversely affected global plans to end TB by 2030.” READ MORE

5/26/21 Early Release: Effects of Coronavirus Disease Pandemic on Tuberculosis Notifications, Malawi (CDC)

“Fear of COVID-19 infection, temporary facility closures, inadequate personal protective equipment, and COVID-19 stigma because of similar symptoms to TB were mentioned as reasons for fewer people being diagnosed with TB. In our analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on TB notifications in Blantyre, Malawi, we found a substantial immediate decline in TB case notifications concurrent with the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in Malawi. Our findings are consistent with initial reports on COVID-19 effects on HIV and TB diagnosis and care from other settings. Malawi has high HIV and TB burdens. Data from our qualitative interviews with TB officers, who noted that, in the immediate period after the Malawi COVID-19 epidemic began, access to health facilities was extremely challenging.” READ MORE

5/25/21: UNAIDS Supports the Partnership for Accelerated COVID-19 Testing in Ghana (UNAIDS)

“The UNAIDS Country Director for Ghana, Angela Trenton-Mbonde, emphasized the importance of galvanizing HIV civil society to strengthen community engagement in the fight against COVID-19. ‘PACT will generate evidence for advocacy from communities, including people living with HIV, women’s groups and other vulnerable populations, to identify and inform health authorities of any disruption of essential health services, particularly HIV-related services at the community level, and will mobilize for greater uptake of those services,’ she said.” READ MORE

5/20/21: Severe Covid is More Often Fatal in Africa Than in Other Regions (New York Times)

“A study from the Lancet was the first to include a large proportion of patients with H.I.V., which nearly doubled the risk of death. The report states, “Our data suggests that H.I.V./AIDS is an important risk factor for Covid-19 mortality.” But the authors also said they did not have data on how the severity of the H.I.V. infection might affect the risk.” READ HERE

5/25/21: Can’t Afford Malaria and Dengue Crisis Now: Delhi High Court (Times of India)

“With the capital already reeling under the deadly wave of Covid-19, the Delhi high court on Monday asked all civic bodies and the AAP government to prepare to control the outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases. Due to pandemic conditions, steps that were being taken by municipal corporations and government to contain such infestation have taken a back seat. ‘If mosquito infestation is not contained urgently, with the ongoing pandemic, the rise in vector-borne diseases could lead to problems and complexities’ the High court noted.” READ MORE

5/25/21: Africa: Hope for a Malaria-Free Africa (allAfrica)

“However, the road to malaria elimination won’t be easy – as shown by the unprecedented events of 2020. Last year, fragile health systems across Africa faced the dual burden of preventing both malaria and coronavirus cases. Whilst the continent continues to battle COVID-19, we must do more to protect everyone at risk of malaria, as well as the tremendous strides made in fighting this disease.” READ MORE

5/21/12: G20 Reaffirms Commitment to ACT-A to Fight COVID-19 (The Global Fund)

“G20 leaders and heads of international and regional organizations reaffirmed their commitment to fight pandemics and support the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator –a ground breaking collaboration of global partners to accelerate the development, production and equitable delivery of new tests, treatments, vaccines and health supplies worldwide. ‘Investing in formal and community health systems worldwide is critical to our global health security and is the only way we will be able to fight existing epidemics like HIV, TB and malaria, new pandemics like COVID-19, and future health threats,’ said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ‘As demonstrated by the current COVID-19 crisis, new pandemics and health emergencies can have a devastating knock-on impact on the fight against existing pandemics like HIV, TB and malaria.’ The Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Mechanism supports countries to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on programs to fight HIV, TB and malaria, and finances improvements in health and community systems.” READ MORE

5/21/21: Africa has Far Higher Death Rate Among Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients, Study Finds (Independent-UK)

“Africa now has the highest death rate in the world among adults who become critically ill after contracting COVID-19, according to new data. People with pre-existing conditions were found to be at greatest risk. Having chronic kidney disease or HIV/AIDS almost doubled the chance of death, while chronic liver disease more than tripled the risk of dying.” READ MORE

5/20/21: Severe Covid is More Often Fatal in Africa than in Other Regions (The New York Times)

“As in other studies, chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and diseases affecting the heart, kidney or liver increased the risk of death from Covid. This study was the first to include a large proportion of patients with H.I.V., which nearly doubled the risk of death. The report states, ‘Our data suggests that H.I.V./AIDS is an important risk factor for Covid-19 mortality.’ But the authors also said they did not have data on how the severity of the H.I.V. infection might affect the risk.” READ MORE

5/20/21: Programmatic Innovations to Address Challenges in Tuberculosis Prevention and Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic (World Health Organization)

The World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Programme shared its first report of country case studies on programmatic innovations that are being implemented to overcome challenges in tuberculosis (TB) prevention and care created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Our best chance in overcoming these challenges is by embracing progressive and innovative approaches that TB programmes in different contexts can adapt to, and where appropriate, leverage the COVID-19 response, to deliver better care for people with TB’ said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme.” READ MORE

5/20/21: New Report Highlights Global Progress on Reducing HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections and Signals Need for Renewed Efforts to Reach 2030 Targets (World Health Organization)

“A new report released today, highlights achievements and gaps in the implementation of the global health sector strategies for HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from 2016-2021 and outlines key steps needed to eliminate these diseases as a public health threat by 2030. HIV testing, prevention and STI services have also been disrupted during COVID-19. The pandemic has forced all three disease programmes to innovate to deliver and maintain essential health services.” READ MORE

5/20/21: Western Cape to Launch COVID-Style Tuberculosis Dashboard (News24 – South Africa)

“According to Byron La Hoe, provincial health spokesperson, the aim of the dashboard is to follow the transparency model of COVID-19 and put TB numbers in real-time (as far as possible) in the public domain to create greater public awareness of the extend and impact of the TB epidemic.”  READ MORE

5/18/21: UNAIDS and its Partners Implement Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing in Madagascar (UNAIDS)

“UNAIDS is partnering with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to support the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) in Africa. ‘We are proud to be among the seven African countries to receive funds to support the deployment of PACT,’ said Jude Padayachy, the UNAIDS Country Director for Madagascar. ‘This project focuses on the COVID-19 response among people living with HIV, LGBT people, young people and adolescents, who have difficulty accessing care due to stigma and discrimination.’ Mahajanga, Madagascar has been chosen for the first phase because of its high HIV prevalence among key populations.” READ MORE

5/17/21: Finding an HIV Vaccine: Five Lessons from the Response to Covid-19 (Maverick Citizen – South Africa)

“The way in which the world has responded to Covid-19 has fundamentally changed ideas of what’s possible in vaccine development – but, regrettably, access to that scientific knowledge remains the property of a few drug companies and research institutions in wealthy countries. Covid-19 has shown us that the urgency to end an epidemic can be so great that billions of dollars in research funding can be found within months. It’s demonstrated that public institutions, universities, pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organisations can work together in ways we’ve never seen before to create lifesaving technologies. Such lessons can transform the development of an HIV vaccine – a vaccine that the world desperately needs.” READ MORE

5/17/21: The mRNA Tech We Used Against COVID Could Help Us Finally Beat Malaria (Engadget)

“In a report published to the April issue of The Lancet, Mehreen Datoo, study author and clinical research fellow at Oxford’s Jenner Institute, and her team revealed that they had developed a vaccine candidate that demonstrated efficacy of 77 percent after 12 months of inoculation. At least, it did as part of its Phase IIb trials, which involved more than 450 children, ages 5-17 months, living in Burkina Faso. Dubbed the R21 / Matrix-M Malaria Vaccine, this marks the first time that such a potential treatment for the disease has met or exceeded the World Health Organization’s Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap goal of 75 percent efficacy.”  READ MORE

5/16/21: Relative Burdens of the COVID-19, Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Epidemics in Sub-Saharan Africa (medRvix)

“For sub-Saharan African populations north of South Africa, recorded COVID-19 [disability-adjusted life years] lost in 2020 was 3.7%, 2.3% and 2.4% of those estimated for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria respectively. The predicted exacerbations alone of these comparator diseases were greater than the estimated COVID-19 burden. Including South Africa and Lesotho, COVID-19 DALYs lost were <12% of those for comparator diseases and dominated by them in all age groups below 65 years… The analysis suggests a relatively low impact from COVID-19. While all four epidemics continue, concentration on COVID-19 runs a high risk of increasing the overall health burden, further increasing global inequities in health and life expectancy.”  READ MORE

5/16/21: Kenya Recorded Sharp Drop in TB Cases Last Year, WHO Says (The Star – Kenya)

“WHO said it fears that globally, over half a million more people may have died from TB in 2020 simply because they were unable to obtain a diagnosis. ‘The effects of COVID-19 go far beyond the death and disease caused by the virus itself. The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general.”  READ MORE

5/14/21: Protecting Prisoners from HIV and COVID-19 in Mexico (UNAIDS)

“Georgina Gutiérrez knew that there was a need for action to protect the physical and mental health of people living with HIV in prison. She and others started a project against HIV and COVID-19 in the Santa Martha Acatitla Penitentiary. 180 people living with HIV in the prison received personalized face coverings and other personal protective equipment. ‘I have been able to see them change. They have told me many times that they feel safer with the tools and knowledge they have gained,’ said Ms. Gutiérrez.” READ MORE

5/14/21: Malaria Vaccine Offers Hope In Fight Against The Killer Disease (The Nigerian Voice – Nigeria)

“The UN has been supporting the Malawi’s Ministry of Health to ensure the continuity of essential immunization and malaria services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including malaria vaccination in pilot districts. The malaria vaccine pilot has continued without major disruptions. ‘We understand how COVID-19 has put pressure on our health system. It is important for us to ensure that child vaccination services, including the malaria vaccine programme, continue during this time because immunizations reduce child illnesses, save lives, and help relieve the strain on the health system,’ says Dr. Randy Mungwira, the WHO technical officer for the malaria vaccine pilot programme in Malawi.” READ MORE

5/13/21: Routine Testing for HIV, TB Patients to Mitigate Against COVID-19 Interruptions (South African Government News Agency)

“Deputy President David Mabuza says government has introduced routine testing for certain high-risk groups – those living with HIV and those diagnosed with TB in order to address a gap of patients lost due to COVID-19 interruptions. The Deputy President also said that the department is also running “Welcome Back to Care” campaigns that have been activated nationwide in order to bring back all those who were on HIV and TB treatment, but had treatment interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

5/13/21: New HIV/TB Plan Delayed By a Year Because of COVID-19 (Spotlight – South Africa)

“South Africa will delay introducing a new HIV and TB plan until 2024, Deputy President David Mabuza revealed on Wednesday. The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) hopes that a year’s extension on the country’s current plan will allow HIV and TB programmes — and targets — to recover from COVID-19. South Africa’s fourth plan began in 2017 and was set to run until 2022. However, SANAC now says the government will extend the current plan to 2023 to allow HIV and TB responses to recover from COVID-19-related disruptions. ‘The advent of COVID-19 derailed HIV, TB, and STI programmes for the greater part of last year,’ SANAC told Spotlight. ‘We use the same resources – financial, human, and otherwise – to fight COVID-19, TB, and HIV. It has been almost impossible to fight multiple pandemics at the same time.’ The national AIDS council continued: ‘Funding and budgets have also been cut across the board, and some community non-governmental organisations have closed down. We have to resurrect community-level structures and be realistic on what can be achieved.’” READ MORE

5/13/21: Health in SA ‘Chronically Underfunded’ as Nation Gears Up for Covid Phase 2 Vaccinations (Maverick Citizen – South Africa)

“Covid-19 deaths remains in the spotlight, given what’s called excess deaths, or deaths over and above what was expected if there was no pandemic. Over 157,000 excess deaths have been recorded in the past year, according to the Medical Research Council. Officially, the death toll from Covid-19 on Thursday, 13 May 2021, stood at 54,968. On Thursday, the negative impact of Covid-19 on health services and people seeking medical care was publicly acknowledged when Mkhize talked of ‘significant health-seeking deterrence.’ This meant the department, despite budget cuts, would have to step up to meet goals including eradicating malaria by 2023. ‘We are doing everything to claw back that lost ground,’ said deputy health minister Joe Phaahla, in reference to maternal health, HIV/AIDS and TB.” READ MORE

5/13/21: How India’s COVID-19 Crisis Is Exposing the Country’s Inequities in Health Care Access (Well and Good – India)

“[Shailey Prasad, MPH, executive director of the University of Minnesota Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility] adds the pandemic has just worsened existing problems faced by a country where infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria pose significant threat to public health and only 3.5 percent of the GDP goes to health (in comparison, the U.S. contributes nearly 17 percent). ‘What makes [this second wave] catastrophic is the significant loss of lives and the spillover effect in a country of nearly 1.4 billion people with rather poor health infrastructure. It makes it all the more challenging in the best of circumstances to handle any medical issue,’ Prasad says. ‘With other major health considerations in India that need ongoing attention, like tuberculosis, dengue fever, malaria, you put the second surge in a system that is already stretched, it makes the perfect storm.’” READ MORE

5/12/21: Delhi’s NITRD Designated Covid Centre with 111 Beds for Patients (Daiji World – India)

“The National Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases (NITRD) has been converted into a designated Covid care centre in the national capital, a notice in this regard issued by the Delhi government’s health and family welfare department on Wednesday announced. It has also directed Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS) to provide ambulances to meet the growing demand in the Capital amid the crippling surge in Covid-19 cases.” READ HERE

5/12/21: mRNA Vaccines Appear Effective vs India Variant; People with HIV at Higher Risk for Severe COVID-19 (Reuters)

“Among those who had recovered from COVID-19, antibody levels were significantly lower in people with HIV. That raises concern that HIV infection might blunt people’s immune response to the virus – and to vaccines, the authors said. ‘People living with HIV should be followed up after vaccination, with antibody and T-cell activity measured when possible, to ensure they mount a sufficient immune response to prevent cases of severe COVID-19,’ the researchers advise.” READ MORE

5/11/21: Community-led HIV Services Stepped up in the Philippines During the COVID-19 Pandemic (UNAIDS)

“Despite [a 61% decrease in HIV testing in 2020], civil society and communities stepped up to provide HIV services. One example is the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), a civil society health service provider and advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Services included online counselling and onsite services. Innovative programmes to deliver antiretroviral therapy to clients were established and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and condoms were frontloaded to community champions for distribution.” READ MORE

5/11/21: COVID-19 Impacts HIV/AIDS Services (Daily News – Botswana)

“’People living with HIV/AIDS [PLWHA] have compromised immune systems due to opportunistic infections and sometimes due to the side effects of the ARV therapy, so in the midst of this pandemic, we see PLWHA also losing their lives due to COVID-19 complications’ [Gaborone District AIDS Coordinator, Oageng Batshani] said. Mr Batshani pointed out that COVID-19 had had a significant impact on HIV health services, saying that they were experiencing a slight increase in the number patients who default on getting ARV treatment from facilities. This he said was due to the fact that some of their clients stayed far away in areas that may require a permit for them to come to Gaborone. He said some of them had decided to go to other clinics that were nearer to them, while others were defaulting. He said most had difficulty in accessing the travelling permits and therefore ended up not turning up for appointments.” READ MORE

5/10/21: Identifying Contextual Determinants of Problems in Tuberculosis Care Provision in South Africa: A Theory-Generating Case Study (Infectious Diseases of Poverty)

“The range of factors that perpetuate the South African TB epidemic have been rendered all the more complex with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already had dire consequences for TB care. Not only is little known about the incidence, risk and course of illness of COVID-19 in people with undiagnosed pulmonary, drug-resistant or complex TB presentations but COVID-19 shares many symptoms with TB, such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath, making differentiating between COVID-19 and TB challenging for healthcare workers. On the other hand, the normalisation of mask wearing and increased awareness around infection control practices has potential to destigmatise these measures for TB care in the longer term.” READ MORE

5/10/21: Eight Poorest States May Spend 30% Of Health Budgets For Covid-19 Vaccines (Bloomberg – India)

“’There is no way these states will be able to buy [COVID-19] vaccines unless they withdraw expenditure from all other areas,’ said [Amir Ullah Khan, health economist and adjust professor], ‘For example, Uttar Pradesh will need upwards of Rs 15,000 crore [150 billion USD] to vaccine its population. And its total provision for healthcare infrastructure, medical colleges, Ayshman Bharat and National Rural Health Mission is exactly the same. We will therefore see the state shift spending away from tuberculosis, malaria, maternal and child health and other focus areas.’” READ MORE

5/9/21: COVID-19 in India: Tackling Tuberculosis in the Middle of Coronavirus Pandemic (Doctors Without Borders – India)

“MSF’s drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) and HIV project is located in the M-East Ward, one of the TB high-burden areas in Mumbai. During the second wave, there was a high number of COVID-19 cases being reported, about 6,000-7,000 cases a day which forced authorities to impose a complete lockdown in the state. This week, the number of new cases of COVID-19 have reduced in Mumbai as we are seeing around 3,000 cases everyday. It is important that services are [not] interrupted for TB patients who have complex resistant patterns. In MSF’s independent clinic and the OPD run in collaboration with the National TB elimination programme, we’ve adapted to restrictions and for the last three weeks, we are physically present in the clinic on alternate days to see new patients and provide consultations to severely ill.  We’re still diagnosing a lot of new patients with TB who were unable to seek help due to the movement restrictions.” READ MORE

5/9/21: The Vision for Flow Chemistry Technology in Rewriting the Story on Life-saving Medicine (Daily Maverick – South Africa)

“Nelson Mandela University’s Professor Paul Watts believes flow chemistry technology is integral to setting up new manufacturing facilities, which will make life-saving medicine both affordable and accessible. Right now, says Watts, nearly all the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are imported and this costs South Africa billions of rands each year. This lack of local APIs has restricted production of many essential drugs, a fact reflected also in the slow and stuttering vaccine roll-out. ‘There is a shortage of drugs in the country and they are expensive,’ says Watts. ‘We’ve seen with Covid-19 that we need to start manufacturing drugs in the country at [a] lower cost and simultaneously create a new industry which will employ people.’ The coronavirus pandemic has led to supply chains collapsing, which disrupted access to APIs, with India and China the prime sources, and delayed access to life-saving medicines needed to treat illnesses such as HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.” READ MORE

5/7/21: Emerging From the Shadows of HIV (The Namibian – Namibia)

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, Amos says she was one of the people who benefited from 10 000 hygiene packs which were donated to the Ministry of Health and Social Services by the United Nations Programme on HIV-AIDS (UNAIDS) which were distributed among all 14 regions of Namibia. UNAIDS country director for Namibia Alti Zwandor says a rapid needs assessment in April 2020 found that 81% of respondents did not have sufficient personal and household protection against Covid-19.” READ MORE

5/6/21: UK HIV Funding Tap Closes: Big and ‘Shameful’ Blow to Africa (Maverick Citizen – South Africa)

“Local NGOs working to combat HIV/Aids have already felt a funding squeeze from reduced international donations and resource support over the past few years. Under the Trump administration and its ‘America First’ approach, the overseas spend by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief was cut in 2019 by $1.35-billion. The second blow for NGOs came in 2020 with resources and funding shifted to fighting Covid-19. Diversion of funds as part of coronavirus responses is the reason given by the UK government for its massive cut to UNAids funding in 2021.” READ MORE

5/7/21: Why Does COVID-19 Testing Still Matter as Vaccines Roll Out? (Global Citizen)

“The Global Fund is helping countries mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on programs to fight other infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria and support efforts to improve health care systems. A founding partner of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the organization is working to develop access to the tools necessary to end the pandemic. One of the ACT-Accelerator’s targets is providing 500 million COVID-19 diagnostic tests to low- and middle-income countries in 2021 and it has already procured 40 million tests. Global Citizen spoke with Diez-Bento about the need to continue using antigen tests and viral tests, what we can still learn from COVID-19 test results, what tactics will be required to end the pandemic and more.” READ MORE

5/6/21: Global Fund Fast-Tracks $75 Million for India’s COVID Battle (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy – India)

“With its aid announcement for India today, the Global Fund said the effort is designed to help the country meet its medium-range needs for oxygen, which along with corticosteroids is among the only proven lifesaving treatment for the sickest COVID-19 patients. Even before the pandemic, low- and middle-income countries faced oxygen shortages, and COVID-19 is pushing their health systems to the brink, the Global Fund said. India and its partners are addressing acute needs, and the group’s response is geared toward higher-output solutions that will help as the country’s outbreak unfolds. Peter Sands, PA, the Global Fund’s executive director, said India’s situation is heartbreaking. ‘Oxygen will save lives, but it is only part of the solution,’ he said. ‘We must massively scale up testing and vaccinations to stop the spread of COVID-19 in India and worldwide.’ The Global Fund said it can mobilize $10 billion this year to help countries battle COVID-19 and address the impact the pandemic is having on HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.” READ MORE

5/6/21: Global Fund Approves $75 million for India’s COVID-19 Response (The Global Fund)

“In 2021, the Global Fund could channel $10 billion to help countries respond to COVID-19 and mitigate its impact on HIV, TB and malaria. So far in 2021, with the generous support of the United States, as well as Germany and the Netherlands, the Global Fund has raised $3.7 billion for our COVID-19 Response Mechanism to support 107 eligible countries, and is seeking to secure a further $6.3 billion for 2021 to respond to the most immediate and urgent needs in the global fight against COVID-19.” READ MORE

5/6/21: COVID-19: Stretching Healthcare Systems to Breaking Point; Mothers, Children Most Vulnerable (National Herald – India)

“The second wave is obviously killing more people in the region, resources and services are being diverted more than ever before away from other non-COVID-19 medical facilities. Obviously, more children and mothers are losing their lives not only to COVID-19, but also to non-COVID-19 complications. The situation is fast worsening for other patients also but the children and mothers are the most vulnerable group along with the adolescents. According to an assessment, an additional about 6,000 adolescents in the region died during the first wave of the pandemic who were suffering from tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid, and HIV/Aids. They could not get medical help in time.” READ MORE

5/6/21: Scrapping gay sex bans key to fighting HIV, says UNAIDS ambassador (Reuters)

“In his new role at UNAIDS, which he takes up after stepping down as the speaker of Britain’s upper parliamentary chamber on April 30, he will be focused on highlighting the battle to combat AIDS as COVID-19 dominates global health concerns. ‘There’s a real danger that the world is going to forget about the crisis and problem of AIDS because obviously the COVID issue is foremost in people’s minds,’ Fowler said.” READ MORE

5/6/21: ‘350,000 new HIV cases identified in 18 months’ (The Nation – Nigeria)

“The Federal Government has revealed that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it has identified and brought to treatment 350,000 new persons with HIV in the last 18 months. It noted that this is a major breakthrough from the yearly 60,000 new persons with HIV identified and brought to treatment years back.” READ MORE

5/6/21: Experts reel out measures to achieve zero malaria in Nigeria (Guardian – Nigeria)

“He, however, called for increased private sector participation in anti-malaria programmes and initiatives, adding that with these realities, Nigeria can surmount the 23 per cent of global malaria death burden, which according to him, is at least 30 times greater than the COVID-19 fatality in Nigeria in 2019.” READ MORE

5/5/21: Updated WHO Information Note: Ensuring continuity of TB services during the COVID-19 pandemic (World Health Organization)

“As the world comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential health services and operations are continued to protect the lives of people with TB and other diseases or health conditions. WHO Global TB Programme, along with WHO regional and country offices, has developed an information note, in collaboration with stakeholders. This note is intended to assist national TB programmes and health personnel to urgently maintain continuity of essential services for people affected with TB during the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by innovative people-centred approaches, as well as maximizing joint support to tackle both diseases.“ READ HERE

5/5/21: Nigeria identified 350,000 Persons living with HIV in past 18 months – NACA (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“Despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s AIDS management agency, NACA, said about 350,000 Persons Living with HIV (PLWHIV) were identified within the last 18 months. The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Gambo Aliyu, made this known on Tuesday during a national dialogue on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV(PMTCT). The dialogue was organised by the National AIDS/STIs Control Programme of the federal ministry of health.” READ MORE

5/4/21: COVID Pushes Peru to Mobile TB Care (Global Health Now)

“But while TB is usually a top global health priority, most countries haven’t been able to adequately adjust to fight both COVID and TB—and ‘we’re going to see the effects of this pandemic for generations,’ says Harvard Medical School’s Carole Mitnick says.” READ MORE

5/4/21: ALMA Galvanises Efforts Towards ‘Zero Malaria’ in Africa (The East African)

“As the world continues to respond to COVID-19, it is critical to maintain momentum against malaria to ensure lives are saved and progress is not lost. Over the last two decades, the development of new and effective interventions has made malaria both preventable and treatable, yet according to the World Health Organization 225 million people suffered from the disease in 2019, more than 90 per cent of them in Africa. About 409,000 died, mostly children under the age of five. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline health workers and governments, with support from partners, heroically innovated to sustain more than 90 per cent of planned campaigns for mosquito net distribution and seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). This led to the distribution of more than 160 million mosquito nets and over 30 million children reached with SMC, averting the worst-case scenario of a doubling of malaria deaths due to COVID-19.” READ MORE

5/3/21: Opinion: In Putting Out the Blaze of the Pandemic, We Can’t Forget Other Raging Diseases (Washington Post)

“The pandemic has played havoc with the global response to other diseases. A recent survey by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria showed last month that about half of the countries where malaria is endemic reported moderate or high disruption in their programs. An estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for tuberculosis in 2020 than the year before. The WHO reports 60 mass immunization campaigns are currently postponed in 50 countries, putting around 228 million people, most of them children, at risk for diseases such as measles, yellow fever and polio.” READ HERE

5/3/21: COVID-19 And Tuberculosis: A Deadly Combination ­– We Can Do Better! (Forbes)

“Tuberculosis is still the leading cause of death from an infectious disease in adults around the world, with more than 10 million people being infected and around 1.4 million people dying each year. Although global health efforts have saved an estimated 63 million lives from tuberculosis since 2000, the annual rate of infection and mortality reduction appears to be insufficient. Not to mention Covid-19, its lockdowns, and the increasing amount of healthcare resources being directed away from tuberculosis and towards the pandemic has only made the situation worse.” READ MORE

5/3/21: COVID-19 And Tuberculosis: A Deadly Combination ­– We Can Do Better! (Forbes)

“Tuberculosis is still the leading cause of death from an infectious disease in adults around the world, with more than 10 million people being infected and around 1.4 million people dying each year. Although global health efforts have saved an estimated 63 million lives from tuberculosis since 2000, the annual rate of infection and mortality reduction appears to be insufficient. Not to mention Covid-19, its lockdowns, and the increasing amount of healthcare resources being directed away from tuberculosis and towards the pandemic has only made the situation worse.” READ MORE

5/3/21: Experts Urge Same Treatment for Malaria as COVID-19 Pandemic (The Guardian – Nigeria)

“Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, FYODOR Biotechnologies, Dr. Eddy Agbo, in his keynote address, said other countries had leveraged technology and increased investment in combating malaria as it kills more people than the COVID-19 pandemic. He said while a high momentum had been given to address COVID-19 in the country, malaria burden had been neglected as the cases and deaths are under-reported, with the few reported showing high death and infection rate.” READ MORE

5/3/21: Big Drops in the Cost of Antiretroviral Medicines, but COVID-19 Threatens Further Reductions (Reliefweb)

“While there remains significant scope for further price reductions in countries where generic antiretroviral medicines are not yet easily accessible, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could have the opposite effect. Lockdowns, disruptions to production, border restrictions and transport disruption threaten to affect the supply of materials and the manufacture and distribution of HIV medicines, with tighter supply factors possibly leading to pressure on market prices.” READ MORE

5/3/21: COVID-19 Greatly Disrupted Aids Programmes: NAC (Newsday – Zimbabwe)

“’COVID-19 definitely affected HIV programming in a big way. You are aware that when it started at the beginning of 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued guidelines on the lockdown, which involved barring of holding of gatherings. It included travel restrictions and this had an impact on programming in the sense that our clients and the populace as far as HIV prevention programmes are concerned include gatherings and interactions. So definitely they were affected.’” READ MORE

5/2/21: Papua New Guinea COVID-19: Mistrust Fuels Crisis as Infections Rise (BBC)

“The South Pacific nation is wracked by other communicable diseases, and has disturbing rates of HIV, as well as infant and maternal mortality. Covid-19 is heaping more pressure on a fragile medical system. ‘It is going to make other diseases worse if we continue the way we are going with health workers getting infected [with coronavirus] and staying away from work and allowing all the other infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria to continue to spiral out of control,’ Prof Pomat warned.” READ MORE

4/30/21: COVID-19’s Lessons are Key to Crushing the World’s Most Brutal Infectious Disease (CNN)

“Covid-19 threatens to reverse progress in the global TB response by up to 12 years, and result in an estimated 1.4 million additional TB deaths due to lack of access to TB services during lockdown and recovery through 2025, according to the Stop TB Partnership. The one TB vaccine we do have — Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) — is now 100 years old. BCG doesn’t prevent the most common form of respiratory TB in adults and is not completely effective against the most severe forms of TB, such as TB meningitis, in children. That’s why we need better TB vaccines now, more than ever, if we are seriously committed to eliminating the disease.” READ MORE

4/29/21: The Shifting Fight Against One of Nature’s Worst Killers (Politico)

“The pandemic and climate change are complicating the fight against malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that’s one of the world’s biggest killers – particularly of children. On the vaccine front, there are promising signs. Yet, new concerns about drug-resistant mutations are taking hold. And it’s hard to fully measure the pandemic’s impact on a disease that killed more than 400,000 people in 2019, most of them children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.” READ MORE

4/29/21: WHO Launches Initiative To Curb Spread Of COVID-19 (ZimEye – Zimbabwe)

“’The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose serious challenges to global health beyond the impact of the disease itself,’ said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. ‘For children, disruptions to immunization services have serious consequences. As we scale up delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, we have to ensure that this does not come at the cost of essential childhood vaccinations. We cannot allow today’s fight against COVID-19 to undermine our fight against measles, polio or other vaccine preventable illnesses. Prolonged immunization disruptions will have long-term consequences for children’s health. The time to catch up is now.’ Meanwhile, nearly 40% of countries are also reporting disruptions to one or more malaria services. While progress compared to 2020 – with about 10% fewer countries reporting disruptions to malaria diagnosis and treatment and 25-33% fewer countries reporting disruptions to malaria prevention campaigns (including distribution of long-lasting insecticide impregnated bed nets, indoor spraying and seasonal malaria chemoprevention), the reported level of disruption is still significant and needs to be urgently addressed.” READ MORE

4/29/21: How COVID Derails Fight Against TB, Measles, Polio (The Guardian – Nigeria)

“A recent study published in the journal Nature showed that COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the fight against other dangerous diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, polio, malaria and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). According to the Nature, after India went into lockdown in March 2020, the number of new tuberculosis (TB) cases detected there each day dropped by an alarming 70 per cent in one month.” READ MORE

4/29/21: ‘Don’t dissuade HIV/AIDS patients from taking anti-retroviral therapy’ (The Guardian – Nigeria)

“Community Support Adviser, UNAIDS Nigeria, Gabriel Undelikwo, said the fact that COVID-19 exists, does not undermine other problems such as HIV, that are there. ‘So we have problems of HIV, poverty, human rights abuses and inequality that COVID-19 has accentuated. These are things that have for a long period acted as structural barriers to ending AIDS and ensuring people have access to better health services. We need to ensure that we end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 that is the target that we have given ourselves.’” READ MORE

4/29/21: Despite Covid-19, Number of Nigerians Receiving HIV Antiretroviral Drugs Surge (This Day – Nigeria)

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has continued to help the Government of Nigeria to accelerate efforts toward HIV/AIDS epidemic control despite the COVID-19 pandemic, through U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). A scientific article recently released titled: Rapid Scale-up of an Antiretroviral Therapy Program Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic- Nine States, Nigeria, March 31, 2019- September 30, 2020, showed that progress was made in the number of those who made themselves available for HIV treatment despite the prevalence of COVID-19.” READ MORE

4/28/21: How eight African Countries Stamped Out Malaria (SciDev)

“With human and financial resources deployed to fight the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that healthcare services are facing major disruption. The results of a World Health Organization (WHO) report on malaria released this month (21 April) shows that about a third of countries around the world reported disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the first quarter of 2021.” READ MORE

4/28/21: Malaria Makes Comeback Amid COVID-19 Pandemic (Missions Box)

“In the face of COVID-19, Okefu Oyale Okoko, deputy director of the National Malaria Elimination Programme in Nigeria, said it would still be important to ensure continuing deployment of vector control interventions to not only sustain gains in malaria elimination, but ensure against its resurgence. According to a report in The (London) Telegraph, researchers concluded that treating children with fever as if they have malaria, even if not diagnosed with the disease, could save nearly 200,000 lives. And, of course, prompt distribution of bed nets could prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths. When final statistics are available, researchers from the Imperial College of London predict if control programs were halted due to COVID-19, the number of cases during 2020 could double compared to 2019. In Nigeria alone, they said cutting treatment and delaying the distribution of bed nets could result in 81,000 additional deaths.” READ MORE

4/27/21: Eradicating Malaria in COVID-19 Times (The New Indian Express – India)

“While we cannot take the focus away from the already seen devastating impact of COVID-19, ending endemic diseases like malaria support responses to pandemics like COVID-19. In fact, efforts to combat COVID-19 and sustain malaria control are inextricably linked – COVID-19 shares 7 out of 10 primary symptoms with malaria. If there are any lessons to be learned from COVID-19 for malaria, TB and other emerging communicable diseases, it is optimizing surveillance and real-time data to inform program planning at local and district levels. This must be combined with a sustained emphasis on district level long-term capacity building for disease program management. To reach the last mile in malaria elimination for India, this is critical.” READ MORE

4/27/21: Rich Countries Close Their Eyes to the Global Covid Surge at Their Own Peril (The Guardian)

“When a health system is paralysed, non-Covid patients are unable to get treated too, and resources are sucked away from longer-term public health campaigns – meaning that the burden of diseases such as HIV and malaria may increase. Demography is not the only reason for the developing world’s continuing vulnerability, in other words.” READ MORE

4/26/21: Measles, Polio Vaccines Reach Most PH children (Manila Standard– Phillippines)

“As the country joins in the global celebration of World Malaria Day 2021, the Department of Health and its partners called for renewed support to the program with the need to make up for the lost time during the pandemic and remain on track with the 2030 target. Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted by a bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The first phase of the vaccination campaign was conducted in October to November 2020 in most Luzon regions and the whole of Mindanao. The second phase, conducted in February 2021, covered Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and the Visayas. The DOH also acknowledged that the number of children who completed the routine childhood immunization in 2020 was ‘more than 30 percent below the national target’ due to the pandemic. ‘Many people were reluctant to leave their homes and have their children vaccinated because of fear of being exposed to people with COVID-19,’ [Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire] said during an online forum. ‘Many of our healthcare workers on the ground were also unavailable because of redeployment to COVID-19 response duties,’ Vergeire also said.” READ MORE

4/26/21: Fighting Malaria in 2021: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going? (News Medical)

“Even before the pandemic, progress towards eliminating malaria in the highest-burden countries had begun to stall due to a plateau in funding and political will. We must not think of this as a zero-sum game. It is not either focus on COVID-19 or malaria; rather, we must focus on both. It is important to remember that both diseases present with fever, so approaching the diagnosis and management of febrile patients in an integrated way – while ensuring health care workers are protected – is critical in the fight against both. Further investments in ending malaria will reduce the burden on health systems and better equips them to prevent, detect, and respond to future epidemics and pandemics.” READ MORE

4/26/21: HIV Drugs Run Short in Kenya as People Say Lives at Risk (Los Angeles Sentinel – Kenya)

“Some 136,000 people live with HIV in Kisumu, or about 13% of the city’s population, said local rights activist Boniface Ogutu Akach. ‘We cannot keep quiet and watch this population languish just because they can’t get a medicine that is lying somewhere, and that is happening because the government wants to tax a donation,’ he said. Erick Okioma, who has HIV, said the government’s attention has been diverted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected even community perception. ‘People fear even getting COVID than HIV,’ Okioma said, asserting that local HIV testing and treatment centers were empty.” READ MORE

4/26/21: Nigeria to Spend N1.89 Trillion to Wipe Out Malaria – Ehanire (This Day – Nigeria )

“The minister said the quality of care and standards in malaria case management were rolled out in some states, providing the platform for states’ teams to carry out assessments at health facilities, based on three pillars of quality of care including structure, process and outcome. “As part of efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage and household ownership of Insecticide Treated Nets in Nigeria, 17,267,410 ITNs were distributed in six states, using single-phase door-to-door and double phase door-to-door strategies, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

4/26/21: How Effective Are Drones in Rwanda’s War on Malaria (The New Times – Rwanda)

“On this note, Mbituyumuremyi added that funds are needed to sustain and increase the coverage of malaria control interventions, multi-sector collaboration and community engagement in malaria response. Tackling malaria during a global pandemic. More than one year into the global Covid-19 pandemic, substantial disruptions to health services persist across the globe, information from the World Health Organisation indicates. According to the results of a new WHO survey, approximately one-third of countries around the world reported disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services during the first quarter of 2021.” READ MORE

4/26/21: Waging Health-tech: The Pandemic Silver Lining to Win the Malaria Endgame (ET Health World)

“On top of these challenges, the overwhelming impact of Covid-19 has further reduced the treatment-seeking, and therefore the surveillance required to detect Malaria. The pandemic has an impact on Malaria surveillance and treatment on two accounts: first, the consumption of resources and time of the health workforce to deliver the services for Covid-19; and second, the disruption of routine Malaria surveillance and response system, especially in the hard-to-reach areas.” READ MORE

4/26/21: World Malaria Day – Reaching the Zero Malaria Target: Nakul Pasricha (ET Health World)

“While India made remarkable progress during recent years in reducing malaria incidence, there are some challenges that need to be addressed immediately. The Covid pandemic is also going to impact the ability of health systems to effectively diagnose and treat febrile illnesses, including deadly cases of malaria, which are still likely to increase due to the pandemic. Further, there are ongoing threats related to drug & insecticide resistance and falsified medicines. WHO has declared antimicrobial resistance as one of the 10 global health threats in 2019. Falsified medicines contribute to the development of drug resistance and are one of the key reasons malaria still kills so many people. Globally, each year, more than 400,000 people die of malaria – a treatable disease.” READ MORE

4/26/21: Get Malaria Eliminated (Ghanian Times)

“The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), undoubtedly, has pushed concerns with other equally-dangerous diseases to the background. In other words, COVID-19 attracts more attention, probably because it is a pandemic. What that means is that if we are not careful, certain dangerous diseases endemic only in certain places can be given free space to devastate or even take lives. One of such diseases is malaria, which is described as a tropical disease because it is indigenous or endemic in the tropical areas of the world.” READ MORE

4/26/21: Interactive Multistakeholder Hearing Takes Place Ahead of United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS (UNAIDS)

“’By taking on board lessons learned through HIV, fighting COVID-19 can aid in reimagining systems of health to accelerate the health-related commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the same time the HIV experience helps to inform COVID-19 responses, the unfolding response to the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly yield lessons that can benefit both the HIV response as well as broader efforts to strengthen health systems.’” READ MORE

4/25/21: Sierra Leone: ‘Covid-19 Will Go, We Need to Focus on Malaria” (BBC)

“According to the government 76 people died from Covid-19 in Sierra Leone during 2020 while 7,000 people die annually from malaria. In November 2020 during peak rainy season and time when most children come down with malaria, Kamakwie had it first Covid case. ‘A lot of people are scared of coming to the hospital. They thought that if they come to the hospital they will be infected with the virus. Malaria can be prevented if they come to the hospital on time,’ said Dr. Fasomoyin Oluwaseyi.” READ MORE

4/23/21: New Malaria Vaccine Proves Highly Effective- and Covid Shows how Quickly it Could be Deployed (The Conversation)

“In Africa, for example, malaria has probably caused four times as many deaths as COVID-19 over the past year. Thankfully, our new research shows that an effective vaccine against malaria could now be closer than ever before. The speed and success of developing COVID-19 vaccines shows what’s possible, and should be an inspiration to get this malaria vaccine finished, licensed and distributed. It’s important not just because of the threat malaria poses, but also because investing in vaccines can help prepare us for the next pandemic.” READ MORE

4/23/21: Ancient Killer vs Novel Threat: How the Fights Against Malaria and COVID-19 Compare (The Telegraph)

“’For a large part of the world, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria – which they’ve had to live with for the last 10,000 years – is like Covid-19 to the rest of us, every year,’ [Dr. Pedro Alonso, the WHO’s malaria programme head] said. So why has malaria been such a tough nut to crack, compared to Covid-19? ‘It’s fear, isn’t it? Very few people in rich countries are worried about malaria,’ said [Simon Bland, chief executive of the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE)], who calls the approach ‘shortsighted.’ ‘They were worried about contracting Covid-19 and dying. So the world does something about it,’ he added. Covid itself has also stolen focus and investment from malaria, as well as hitting some prevention programmes during country-wide lockdowns – but the worst case scenario, of a doubling of deaths, has largely been avoided.” READ MORE

4/23/21: World Malaria Day: WHO identifies 25 Countries with Potential to be Malaria-Free by 2025 (Down to Earth)

“A look at the progress report of South Africa, the hot-spot of COVID-19 in Africa, has shown that malaria cases increased there by 44 per cent between 2019 and 2020. Botswana too faced a challenging situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with over a 5-times increase in malaria cases, according to the WHO report. This has happened due to reverse migration from urban to rural areas in anticipation of lockdowns to contain COVID-19, the WHO report said.” READ MORE

4/23/21: COVID-19 Continues to Disrupt Essential Health Services in 90% of Countries (WHO)

“’The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose serious challenges to global health beyond the impact of the disease itself,’ said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. ‘For children, disruptions to immunization services have serious consequences. As we scale up delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, we have to ensure that this does not come at the cost of essential childhood vaccinations. We cannot allow today’s fight against COVID-19 to undermine our fight against measles, polio or other vaccine preventable illnesses. Prolonged immunization disruptions will have long-term consequences for children’s health. The time to catch up is now.’ Meanwhile, nearly 40% of countries are also reporting disruptions to one or more malaria services. While progress compared to 2020 – with about 10% fewer countries reporting disruptions to malaria diagnosis and treatment and 25-33% fewer countries reporting disruptions to malaria prevention campaigns (including distribution of long-lasting insecticide impregnated bed nets, indoor spraying and seasonal malaria chemoprevention), the reported level of disruption is still significant and needs to be urgently addressed.” READ MORE

4/23/21: World Malaria Day: Fighting the Disease During Covid-19 (Independent Online – South Africa)

“The World Health Organization warned in its 2020 World Malaria Report that the consequences of disrupting malaria prevention services in sub-Saharan Africa due to the pandemic and societal measures aimed at curtailing the spread of Covid-19 transmission, will likely result in a rise in malaria deaths. In many malaria-affected countries, Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of people and goods have led to delays in the delivery of insecticide-treated mosquito nets or indoor insecticide spraying campaigns – two of the most effective vector control measures to prevent the spread of malaria. Malaria diagnosis and treatment services have also been interrupted as many people were unable, or unwilling, to seek care in health facilities because of the pandemic – a dangerous outcome as some of symptoms of Covid-19 (fever and fatigue) are similar to the onset of malaria.” READ MORE

4/23/21: Oxford Malaria Vaccine Proves Highly Effective in Burkina Faso Trial (The Guardian)

“Gareth Jenkins, of Malaria No More UK, said: ‘We can end malaria in our generation but only if governments invest in the research needed to deliver the new medicines and products that can accelerate the end of this terrible disease. The Jenner Institute’s groundbreaking work on both the new Covid-19 and malaria vaccines is a great example of this and demonstrates just how much humanity’s safety is dependent on new science.’” READ MORE

4/22/21: FMoH Seeks Partnership with Media on Tuberculosis Awareness (The Sun – Nigeria)

“’In Nigeria, TB has killed more people than COVID-19. During the pandemic lockdown period, there was significant decline in TB testing and treatment. So, we are organising this training because we want the media to give the same publicity that is given to COVID-19 to TB to ensure that everybody becomes aware of the devastating impact of TB, even in rural communities, and explore the safety window to get treated,’ [Director of Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation in the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Itohowo Uko] said. Uko said if the people in both urban and rural communities are adequately informed, they would be adequately empowered with knowledge to make informed decisions.” READ MORE

4/22/21 The Covid Tool Every Nation Still Needs (Politico)

“Before Covid-19, tuberculosis was the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing almost 4,000 people per day in 2019. Once the pandemic recedes, global health experts expect that tuberculosis will reclaim its top killer status. Their hope, though, is that the partnerships forged between governments and drugmakers during the pandemic, as well as global efforts like the COVAX program for distributing vaccines, would become a model for a tuberculosis vaccine for adults that is so desperately needed. The only available TB vaccine, the century-old Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), is used to protect babies from severe disease but doesn’t stop transmission of pulmonary TB in adults due to a combination of the protection wearing off after 15 years and different circulating strains of TB bacteria. Though governments committed to invest in accelerated vaccine research in 2018, the pandemic set back TB control programs while resources for vaccine research stayed flat, WHO said.” READ MORE

4/22/21: Protect Ghana’s Covid-19 Strides – GHS Advises Increased Adherence to Protocols (Joy Online– Ghana)

“According to [Country Director for UNAIDS Angele Trenton-Mbonde], ending Covid-19 requires all hands on deck and societal approach from government to civil society organisations, development partners among others. She explained that ‘training of facilitators who will help community-based groups, including groups of persons living with HIV to integrate COVID-19 response activities in their work plans. The project will generate evidence for advocacy from community actors, including persons living with HIV, women’s groups and other vulnerable populations to identify and inform health authorities of any disruption of essential health services, particularly HIV related services at the community level and mobilize for greater uptake of these services,’ she added.” READ MORE

4/21/21: Community-led HIV Self-Testing for Men Who Have Sex with Men in Lebanon: Lessons Learned and Impact of COVID-19 (Health Research Policy and Systems – Lebanon)

“[HIV self-tests (HIVST)] implementation in Lebanon serves as an example of introducing a self-care intervention as part of a community-led effort. In order to maintain HIVST services at the same improved level, reorganization of care is needed within each NGO following the adaptation process due to COVID-19, along with continuous monitoring and evaluation of HIVST reported data.” READ MORE

4/22/21: Fighting One of the World’s Biggest Killers During a Pandemic (UNDP)

“But the last year has been very different. The COVID-19 crisis has taken centre stage, and among the less reported consequences of the pandemic are its effects on efforts to fight life-threatening diseases such as malaria. A recent report from the Global Fund shows that in 2020 COVID-19 severely disrupted health systems and delivery of HIV, TB and malaria services in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia. Where COVID-19 is disrupting health services, it is vital to adapt to ensure that the most vulnerable are still reached. Different countries approached the challenges in different ways.” READ MORE

4/22/21: Changes Generation, Today’s Youth Are the Generation That Will End Malaria (This Day – Nigeria)

“World Malaria Day is an important initiative that requires us to reflect upon and recognise the global efforts that have saved more than 7 million lives since 2000 and supported in over 20 countries to end malaria for good. It is unfortunate and disheartening that despite the progress made since 2000, malaria continues to claim lives and COVID-19 has exasperated this endemic disease. Therefore, it is our duty as citizens of this continent to come together to build formidable partnerships that will rival some of Africa’s biggest issues.” READ MORE

4/22/21: With Global Solidarity, Mozambique Can Overcome Health, Humanitarian, Climate and Economic Crises (Reliefweb – Mozambique)

“2.2 million Mozambicans are living with HIV, the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world after South Africa. Every hour in Mozambique, four adolescent girls or young women acquire HIV. Covid and conflict in Cabo Delgado have knocked back the life-saving and life-changing progress that had been made in Mozambique towards overcoming HIV and AIDS. Critical services including sexual and reproductive healthcare and HIV treatment have been disrupted, many people living with HIV and vulnerable populations have faced further stigmatization, and the impact on school attendance has heightened the risk of new HIV infections for adolescent girls. I have been told that there has been an 18% increase in Gender Based Violence cases compared to 2019.” READ MORE

4/22/21: COVID-19 Causes Setbacks For TB Treatment (Tribune – Nigeria)

“The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) has identified the global COVID-19 pandemic as being responsible for the higher cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria, due to disruptions to health services, and delays in diagnosis and treatment. To this end, the NTBLCP said the tuberculosis incidence rose significantly in Nigeria in 2020 with death toll rising, killing about 157,680 Nigerians.” READ MORE

4/22/21: Queen Ester Looks Out for Community Health During the Covid-19 Crisis (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation)

“Ester highlights other ways in which COVID-19 has been a hindrance. The lack of effective communication with adolescents and young people living with HIV has hampered the sharing of experiences, adhering to antiretroviral (ARV) medication, and attending health appointments. This lack of communication and self-isolation by many, she said, then hindered the flow of accurate information–which has increased stigma, especially through false reports that people living with HIV had minimal chances of recovery if they contracted COVID-19.” READ MORE

4/21/21: Strides Against HIV/AIDS In The U.S. Falter As Resources Diverted To Fight COVID-19 (NPR)

“For the last two decades, HIV/AIDS has been held at bay by potent antiviral drugs, aggressive testing and inventive public education campaigns. But the COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound disruptions in almost every aspect of that battle, grounding outreach teams, sharply curtailing testing and diverting critical staff away from laboratories and medical centers.” READ MORE

4/21/21: Civil Society from Asia and the Pacific Join the First Regional Consultation on the High-Level Meeting on AIDS (UNAIDS)

“The participants also considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities in the region. The diversion of resources and health workers to respond to the more immediate COVID-19 pandemic presents a real risk, threatening the hard-fought-for gains of the HIV response. ‘We should ensure that the focus on HIV remains strong while dealing with COVID-19, and regular HIV services and uninterrupted supply of antiretroviral therapy should be guaranteed,’ said a community leader. Communities also stressed the importance of a new political declaration that considers how COVID-19 has impacted community-led responses to HIV. ‘There should be financial commitments, a crisis fund or financial safety networks for key populations because they suffered immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ one participant said.” READ MORE

4/21/21: World Malaria Day: WHO Launches Effort to Stamp Out Malaria in 25 More Countries by 2025 (World Health Organization)

“In 2020, COVID-19 emerged as a serious challenge to malaria responses worldwide. Since the early days of the pandemic, WHO has urged countries to maintain essential health services, including for malaria, while ensuring that communities and health workers are protected from COVID-19 transmission.” READ MORE

4/21/21: Three Million COVID Deaths is a Grim Milestone (Nature)

“Although vaccines have been developed in record time, more than 10,000 people are dying each day — around one-third of whom are in Brazil or India. And, as we report in a Feature this week, deaths from other infectious diseases are likely to rise, because diagnosis and treatment of these diseases has suffered as COVID-19 has been prioritized. The greatest impact seems to have been on tuberculosis (TB), with the number of people having treatment down by more than one million. Partly as a result, an extra 500,000 people might have died from TB last year, in addition to the 1.4 million who die from it annually. Scientists say that this has set back TB treatment efforts by at least a decade.” READ MORE

4/20/21: Why Nigerians Should Fear TB More Than Covid-19 – NGO (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“Tuberculosis, a pulmonary disease characterised by persistent coughing, killed more Nigerians in 2019 than the COVID-19 pandemic has so far done, health officials have said. The 2020 WHO ‘global tuberculosis report’ indicated that an estimated 150,000 Nigerians died of TB in 2019 alone while the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said 2,061 persons have died of COVID-19 in the country since the index case in February 2020. The different datas suggest that COVID-19 has so far killed only about 1.4 per cent of the number killed by TB in 2019 alone.” READ MORE

4/20/21: HIV Epidemic Spreading at Alarming Rate in Pakistan, Says Dr Shah (Daily Times – Pakistan)

“[Dr. Sharaf Ali Shah, HIV/AIDS expert] says that the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected overall delivery of health care and prevention services globally and Pakistan is no exception. As of 28 September 2020, Pakistan had reported 310,841 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 6,466 deaths. People living with HIV with advanced disease (e.g. not on treatment or not virally suppressed) may be at greater Covid-19 risk. Data related to PLHIV with Covid-19 or deaths due to coronavirus infection are not available in Pakistan.” READ MORE

4/19/21: Parents Preventing Kids From Taking Malaria Vaccine Over Coronavirus Fears (Ghana Web)

“Parents in the Ketu North District of the Voltage region are preventing their children from taking malaria vaccine shots over COVID-19 fears. This, according to the Municipal Disease Control Officer, is a result of misconceptions relating to the Covid-19 Pandemic. This subsequently had some effect on the uptake of health services, including for malaria, in the Municipality.” READ MORE

4/19/21: Does Shuttering HIV Services to Stop COVID-19 Save More Lives? (POZ)

“’Ministries of health take into account many factors in deciding when and how to offer essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ said Meg Doherty, the director of the WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes, in a WHO press release on the analysis. ‘This work shows that taking the longer view, the benefits of continuing key HIV services are far larger than the risks of additional COVID-19 transmission; innovative and safe delivery of services must continue as the pandemic is brought under control.’” READ MORE

4/14/21: The Pandemic’s Impact On Our World is Only Just Beginning (Vox)

“’COVID-19-related disruptions to essential health services — such as vaccinations, aid delivery, and maternal and child health programs — will increase the likelihood of additional health emergencies, especially among vulnerable populations in low-income countries,’ the intelligence community assesses. One specific example in the report is how millions in Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced disruptions to HIV/AIDS treatments, along with a downturn in polio and measles vaccination campaigns ‘in dozens of countries.’ Such lags in medical support will likely persist well into the future: The coronavirus doesn’t have to infect everyone to threaten their health.” READ MORE

4/13/21: Benefits of Continuing to Provide Life-saving HIV Services Outweigh the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission by 100 to 1 (World Health Organization)

“UNAIDS and WHO have supported mathematical modelling to establish the benefits of continuing HIV services compared to the potential harm of additional COVID-19 transmission. The analysis shows that maintaining HIV services would avert between 19 and 146 AIDS-related deaths per 10,000 people over a 50-year time horizon, while the additional COVID-19-related deaths from exposures related to HIV services would be 0.002 to 0.15 per 10,000 people. The analysis demonstrates that the benefits of continuing to provide HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic far outweigh the risk of additional COVID-19-related deaths.” READ MORE

4/13/21: New Global Fund Report Shows Massive Disruption to Health Care Caused by COVID-19 in Africa and Asia (The Global Fund)

“Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, tuberculosis was the world’s leading infectious disease killer, preying on poor and marginalized communities. In countries where the Global Fund invests, TB deaths (excluding HIV positive) since the Global Fund was founded in 2002 have been reduced by 25%. These gains are now being threatened. Compared to HIV and malaria, TB was the disease most off-track in 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic is wiping out painstaking progress made in the past 20 years to accelerate the fight against TB.” READ MORE

3/31/21: The City Losing Its Children To HIV (The New York Times)

“Now another virus has been threatening to undo this progress. Over the course of barely a year, the coronavirus has infected more than 120 million people worldwide, directly claiming the lives of more than 2.7 million. Coronavirus infections have disrupted medical services, scrambled drug-supply chains and necessitated the redeployment of public-health staff. According to the Global Fund, an international organization that finances health initiatives, about 75 percent of H.I.V. programs have already been moderately or severely disrupted.” READ MORE

3/26/21: South Africa Launches TB Mobile Clinics Amid COVID-19 Disruption (Reuters – South Africa)

“TB kills around 60,000 people every year in South Africa and health experts fear the focus on COVID-19 may divert attention and resources away from the disease, which affects poorer nations worst. Last year the World Health Organisation warned of a global increase of up to 400,000 TB deaths as COVID-19 led to reduced testing and diagnosis. South Africa saw a 48% plunge in diagnostic testing volumes between Feb. 3 and May 3 last year, said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Restrictions on movement, the closure of clinics and a lack of cash to get to clinics that were open as people lost their incomes in lockdown all contributed.” READ MORE

3/25/21: WHO: Pandemic Is Prolonging Countdown To Halt Tuberculosis (Axios)

“Last year’s 23% average drop in diagnosis and treatment of TB patients presents a serious problem, as 1 million untreated people with TB in 2020 could lead to roughly 15 million new infections in 2021, says Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, which is a UN-hosted entity. ‘It’s like a snowball effect.’ ‘1 million [untreated people with TB] brings us to basically the figure that we had 12 years ago,’ Ditiu says. She expects to see an ‘explosion’ of community-based TB. ‘What we already see is more advanced stages of TB at home, because people don’t want to go’ into the hospital, Ditiu says, leading to increased reports of people with lung cavities coughing blood.” READ MORE

3/23/21: As COVID-19 Derails TB Progress, Advocates Demand Renewed Commitment To End TB (Forbes)

“In March last year, I had written about the potential negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tuberculosis (TB) services. I had expressed concern that TB services might be one of the biggest casualties. A year later, the verdict is in: the pandemic has had a devastating impact on TB services. According to WHO, an estimated 1.4 million fewer people received necessary care for TB during 2020 compared with the previous year, because of COVID-19. According to the Stop TB Partnership, 12 months of COVID-19 eliminated 12 years of progress in the global fight against TB.” READ MORE 

3/18/21: Uganda Launches COVID-19 Rapid Test Kit, Eyes Africa Market (Reuters)

“[Uganda] has long experience of infectious diseases like HIV and Ebola which it has drawn on to develop diagnostics expertise. ‘This is a point-of-care test that can be used within equatorial Africa village settings, remote areas where there’s no laboratory, there’s no electricity, there’s no expert,’ said Misaki Wayengera, a researcher at Makerere’s Department of Pathology. ‘We’ve had a history of developing rapid tests for infectious diseases…So when COVID came we were like, ‘OK, we have the skills, why don’t we do this,’ Wayengera, who also helped to invent a rapid test for Ebola.” READ MORE

3/17/21: Covid ‘Tornado’ Hitting Papua New Guinea’s Fragile Hospitals, Say Health Workers (Reuters)

“Papua New Guinea has high rates of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV in the community and health workers fear if they are overrun with COVID cases treatment of these other diseases will suffer.” READ MORE

3/15/21: Papua New Guinea Faces Coronavirus Crisis As Infections Rise (Reuters)

“The Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is facing a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections around the capital Port Moresby, which neighbouring Australia and aid groups fear could overwhelm the country’s small and overstretched health system. The Pacific Friends of Global Health warned if health services are overwhelmed by COVID-19 the treatment of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis would also collapse.” READ MORE

2/8/21: Ebola, COVID-19 And The Elusive Quest For Global Health Equity (Forbes)

“‘I worry about this every morning, noon, and night, as I’m sure many others do. To see recent gains against AIDS, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, and other problems so imperiled by COVID-19 lockdowns and the ensuing recession is nothing short of hearTBreaking. Then again, we have more tools to mitigate these disruptions than we did even a few decades ago, to say nothing of when the last big one occurred, in 1918. We just need to get these tools into deserts. As hard as this work is, I can’t point to a single example of a decently funded and well-planned health equity effort that hasn’t succeeded with sustained attention. And the more desiccated the medical desert, the greater the possibility for rapid change’.” READ MORE

2/5/21: South Africa Looks To Curb TB Infections Amid COVID-19 Disruptions (Reuters – South Africa)

“As COVID-19 pummelled South Africa since first being detected in March last year, many TB clinics in poor communities closed temporarily due to contamination. People were banned from public transport during lockdown restrictions while others stayed indoors for fear of catching the coronavirus. A disease of the poor, TB is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria and is spread easily in shantytowns where a simple cough helps fuel the preventable disease. ‘The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health services and TB in particular is well documented. A lot of effort will be required to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19,’ Health Minister Zweli Mhkize said at the release of a national TB prevalence survey carried out between 2017 and 2019.” READ MORE

12/28/20: How The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Impacted People With HIV In Sub-saharan Africa (Forbes)

“The prevalence of HIV is significantly higher in sub-Saharan Africa and the availability of ART is lower. Because of these differences, the effects of COVID-19 on people living with HIV could be greater.” READ MORE

12/14/20: The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Threatening Decades Of Progress In Global Health (Forbes)

“This pandemic is also threatening to undermine gains in controlling infectious diseases that impact both children and adults. Malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis (TB) are often known as the big three infectious diseases because of the large number of people these diseases infect each year. The impact of COVID-19 on malaria has been of special concern to public health officials. Some models predicted that malaria deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa could as much as double if prevention and treatment were severely hindered. Thankfully, this has not been the case, but there has been an increase in the number of malaria cases and deaths in the wake of COVID-19. HIV testing has significantly decreased during the pandemic. This could lead to more new infections of HIV as individuals may unwittingly spread the virus if they are unaware of their HIV-status. Similarly, the number of undiagnosed cases of TB is increasing due to COVID-19 as people may be unable to access healthcare facilities in the middle of the pandemic. This will also likely result in an increase in the number of new TB cases around the world, as those who do not know they are infected with TB may continue to spread the bacterium to others.” READ MORE

4/18/21: HIV Infection Rates Drop – Experts (Monitor ­– Uganda)

“Last year, reproductive healthcare and services providers complained that they were finding it hard to reach people with condoms which are essential in preventing sexually transmitted disease due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown. Dr. Musoba said they are shocked at the reduction in HIV infections considering the many challenges experienced due to the pandemic. ‘When we were interacting previously and in light of the challenges posed by the pandemic, we thought new HIV infections could rise but the data is showing us the reverse. We are still trying to understand what could have caused it,’ he said.” READ MORE

4/16/21: COVID-19 Situation Report (The Global Fund)

“Disruption to health services means that people are not being as widely tested, diagnosed, or treated for HIV, TB and malaria, threatening the gains that the Global Fund has made so far in the fight against these three diseases. Moreover, the availability of COVID-19 commodities is critically low, hampering the global response to the pandemic.” READ MORE

4/14/21: TB & HIV Slip Through COVID-Weakened Safety Nets (Global Health Now)

“Various regions across Russia introduced heavy fines for breaches of COVID-19 restrictions. In Moscow, people undergoing home-based COVID-19 treatment were required to download an app to monitor their movements. In central Russia’s Chelyabinsk region, near the Ural Mountains, NGOs continued providing services, but had to curb their frequency to limit their risk of fines and sanctions; one Chelyabinsk NGO reported cutting back their outreach by half. Restrictions left at least 10% of people living with HIV in Russia without access to sterile needles and syringes, and at least 16% without access to condoms. Many in the HIV and TB community live and work in the informal economy. In Moldova, for example, formerly incarcerated people predominantly work as construction workers and lost all income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Loss of incomes drives people to become heavily focused on securing housing and food, which can be a factor for TB treatment dropout.” READ MORE

4/14/21: TB and HIV Slip Through COVID- Weakened Safety Nets (Global Health Now)

“COVID-19 has affected the delivery of routine health care and eroded social safety nets around the world—and that has been especially true for vulnerable communities in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Balkans. And for people with HIV and TB, who face elevated levels of stigma, discrimination, and criminalization, the effects are particularly acute. People who use drugs, sex workers, and previously incarcerated persons are all at higher risk of HIV and TB—and even pre-pandemic, they’d faced numerous barriers to accessing health care.” READ MORE

4/14/21: After Setbacks, Rollout of New TB Prevention Pills to Start in Six Districts (Spotlight – South Africa)

“’We know that under the right conditions rifapentine manufacturers can go lower than $15 for a course of 3HP. Governments have created these conditions by investing in 3HP scale-up, and communities have paved the way by building demand for TB prevention services. Now it’s time to achieve further price reductions for rifapentine so that the 3HP regimen becomes affordable for everyone at a price government can sustain over the long term. This advocacy has become even more important in the face of COVID-19,’ he says. But price was not the only delaying factor. Mvusi points out that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns around the world impacted the production and delivery of rifapentine to South Africa. ‘Rifapentine is produced by one supplier, Sanofi, in a factory in Italy. The production capacity is limited to 1.2 million annually. The lockdown affected the monthly deliveries as agreed upon in our demand plan,’ she says.” READ MORE

4/14/21: Community Health Volunteers Bridge Healthcare Accessibility Gap (The Star – Kenya)

“During times of crisis, essential health services often decline, which can ultimately kill more people than the pandemic itself. One of the greatest dangers of a pandemic such as Covid-19 is interrupting care for other conditions by overwhelming already under-resourced health systems. There is increasing evidence that the effective engagement of [community health volunteers] can improve access to primary healthcare, especially where health services are not readily accessible. For example, during the Ebola epidemic, access to healthcare services fell by half, dramatically increasing deaths from malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB. The vulnerable bore the brunt of the epidemic: Childhood immunisations were significantly reduced and, in some areas, the number of pregnant women delivering in health facilities decreased by more than 80 per cent.” READ MORE

4/14/21: Grip on TB is Slipping (The Hindu Business Line – India)

“Drug-resistant TB is a growing threat and poses another serious challenge to controlling the spread of the disease. WHO data show that India accounts for a quarter of all global and multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases. In many cases, the patient goes undiagnosed due to lack of proper screening tests and infrastructure and, in some cases, even if they are diagnosed, the patients do not get the right treatment or proper counselling with respect to the medication process. Unfortunately, only 58 per cent of overall estimated new and relapsing TB cases are notified in India. According to the latest WHO report, the number of people who were provided with TB preventive treatment had increased four-fold, from one million in 2015 to over four million in 2019. However, the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to negate the gains made over recent years. The impact of the pandemic on TB services has been severe since there is sharp decrease in TB notifications in 2020 in India.” READ MORE

4/14/21: Breaking: TB Kills 18 Persons Per Hour in Nigeria – Report (Vanguard – Nigeria)

“[National Tuberculosis & Leprosy Control Program Director Itohowo Uko] said that about 150,000 persons died of tuberculosis in Nigeria in 2019 alone according to the WHO report. According to the NTLCP Director, the inability of TB patients to access medication during the COVID-19 lockdown worsened the spread of tuberculosis in the country.” READ MORE

4/11/21: HIV Patients Finally Receive ARVs After Months of Shortage (The Star – Kenya)

“The shortage came months after the World Health Organization raised the alarm, saying nearly 70 countries were at risk of running out of HIV/AIDS drugs due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has interrupted supplies.” READ MORE

4/11/21: A Dialogue On World Health Day 2021 (Daily Times – Pakistan)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on certain priority health problems such as the silent pandemic of tuberculosis, maternal and child health, nutrition and immunization. Some time ago, a seminar was held in Islamabad with the support of the Stop TB Partnership advocating the accessing of TB care services as an inalienable human right. Celebrities were engaged at Stop TB ambassadors to promote civil society engagement.” READ MORE

4/8/21: ARVs Shortage to ‘Hit Remote Areas Hardest’ (Daily Nation – Kenya)

“[HIV and AIDS activist Ms Qabale Tache] said that their greatest fear following the current shortage includes side effects such increased viral loads and the ineffectiveness of therapies should they default the strict observance of Antiretroviral Therapy. Ms Tache also noted that access to antiretroviral therapy by HIV patients had substantially played a key role in reducing HIV transmission risk, HIV-related morbidity and mortality. To curb the shortage, she suggested that the government should set aside funds to settle the Sh90 million tax. The health activist warned that the shortage would affect more than 2,000 patients in Marsabit County, who will be forced to adjust treatment strategies or stop taking their medicine altogether. The shortage comes just months after the World Health Organization (WHO) said nearly 70 countries were at risk of running out of HIV and Aids AIDS due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has interrupted supply chains.” READ MORE

4/8/21: Still On Tuberculosis (Leadership – Nigeria)

“While there is 25 per cent increase in case notifications in 2020 in the country, TB case detection is still an issue in Nigeria that should be addressed. It continues to remain underfunded, and with COVID-19 taking over, there’s a need to lay emphasis on test for the disease as well. Nigerians should know that access to TB treatment can be found in all the district hospitals in the FCT as well as the National hospital. Both test and treatment are free. While TB is contagious, it is not easy getting infected as one is more likely to contract it from someone they live or work with. Those with TB and have had treatment for about two weeks are no longer considered contagious.” READ MORE

4/8/21: COVID-19: Protracted Crises, Worsening Inequalities – Indirect Negative Health Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Protracted Crises (Norwegian Red Cross)

“While it may be too early to see the long-term effects, such as deaths from vaccine preventable diseases like TB, local and international restrictions on mobility have exacerbated the challenges of reliable data collection in areas of protracted crisis. As a result of the re-deployment of human and physical resources towards pandemic efforts, and measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, the capacity of many National Statistics Offices has been reduced, particularly in already resource stretched settings.” READ MORE

4/8/21: Broke Counties Hit By HIV Drugs Shortage (The Standard – Kenya)

“[Anyang’] Nyong’o, who is the Kisumu governor, said lack of paediatric ARVs regimen in the country compromised the health of children living with HIV, especially newborns. ‘Currently there are serious challenges with the paediatric ARV medication. The component of this regimen called Kaletra is missing in totality in the country. This means that children are not accessing the full range of ARVs hence there is treatment failure among the children,’ Nyong’o said on Wednesday. Speaking on the counties’ preparedness on coronavirus pandemic, the governor noted that the committee has written to National Aids and STIs Control Programme (Nascop) requesting it to provide guidelines directing the inclusion of Nevirapine into the children’s ARV medication to ease the suffering of children living with HIV.” READ MORE

4/8/21: Overcoming COVID-19 Will Require Tackling Inequality (The European Sting)

“COVID-19 has dramatically widened the gaps between men and women in terms of wealth, income, access to services, the burden of unpaid care, status and power. Pre-pandemic, 132 million girls were out of school – and 20 million more secondary school-aged girls could be out of school post-pandemic. Many will not go back, putting them at greater risk of violence, HIV, teenage pregnancy, child marriage, poor health and poverty. Because of COVID-19, 2.5 million more girls are at risk of child marriage in the next five years, and rates of violence against women and girls have increased precipitously. During the pandemic, women have borne the brunt of job losses and comprise the majority of frontline health workers, many of whom are under-protected and under-paid.” READ MORE

4/8/21: Ensuring Gains in the Fight Against TB Are Not Reversed By Current Pandemic (Financial Express – India)

“After the country-wide lockdown triggered by the Covid pandemic was imposed, diagnosis and enrollment for TB treatment fell dramatically in many high TB-burden countries. A study also revealed that such a decrease could reverse hard-fought gains achieved in the last five to eight years and thus, it is critical for policymakers and key stakeholders to accelerate efforts to ensure that gains earned in fighting TB are not reversed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.” READ MORE

4/8/21: 69 Percent of Males Engaged in Sex with Men Used Condoms in 2020 – NAC (New Zimbabwe )

“The Global AIDS Monitoring report was released last month and also shows 73.3% of MSM living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the past 12 months with 91.4% transgender during the same period. At least 43.4% of female sex workers also reported having used a condom with their most recent client. However, the report noted in 2020 there was no recorded data of female sex workers living with HIV as compared to previous year which recorded 42.2%. This could be attributed to the Covid-19 restrictions, which restricted most movement in 2020.” READ MORE

4/6/21: Drawing The Line On Malaria (all Africa)

“A recent survey conducted by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Gallup International shows that African youth are determined to end malaria. Conducted across six countries – Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa – the findings reveal that 9 in 10 youth in Africa believe that we can have an impact against the disease. These statistics come as light at a dark time in the malaria response due to the socioeconomic recession brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has swept across Africa at an alarming rate, threatening the remarkable progress made in malaria care and treatment in the last decade.” READ MORE

4/5/21: Raising HIV/AIDS Ambassadors (The Nation – Nigeria)

“The agency has identified poverty and gender inequality as key drivers of the virus in Nigeria. Over the years, numerous studies, including the Gender Assessment of National HIV/AIDS Response in Nigeria, identified undeniable links between poverty, violence against women, sexual violence and HIV infection. The economic downturn due to COVID-19 pandemic, lack of livelihood skills, food insecurity, among other factors, including gender-based violence, other forms of discrimination, and inequality increase the vulnerability of individuals to HIV, especially among women and girls. Besides, the newly developed National HIV/AIDS Community Care and Support Guidelines also identified economic empowerment as one of the critical strategies to prevent the spread of the virus, especially among young people, key and vulnerable populations. Among other things, the guidelines recommend the implementation of interventions to ensure individuals and groups are empowered considering the additional economic burden experienced within the COVID-19 pandemic situation. This is critical for achieving the global targets of ending AIDS by 2030.” READ MORE

4/5/21: Zimbabweans Used Over 85 million Condoms in 2020 (New Zimbabwe)

“National AIDS Council (NAC) said it had projected a target for male condoms at 100 million and over 5 million for female condoms on 2020. However, both targets were missed. A staggering 85 million condoms were distributed in Zimbabwe last year as the country strives to achieve global HIV testing and condom use targets by 2030. NAC 2021 Global AIDS Monitoring Report shows that 83 million male condoms were distributed with female condoms standing at 2.9 million. ‘Both targets for male (100m) and female (5.5m) condoms were missed attributed to service disruption due to COVID-19,’ Among NAC monitoring and evaluation director said last Friday.” READ MORE

4/3/21: Kenya Experiencing Acute Shortage of Antiretroviral Drugs (CGTN)

“Kenya is experiencing an acute shortage of Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs which has hit public hospitals, greatly affecting people living with HIV/AIDS. The shortage comes just months after the World Health Organization (WHO) said nearly 70 countries were at risk of running out of HIV/AIDS drugs due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has interrupted supplies.” READ MORE

4/2/21: COVID-19 Pandemic Worsening Prognosis of Tuberculosis (The Daily Star – Bangladesh)

“Twenty-five-year-old Shulekha Ghatual, who lives with five-member family in a tea garden in Sreemangal, said, ‘I was suffering from a mild cough and fever in May last year. Then I began to lose weight rapidly.’ Her husband Sadhon Ghatual said, ‘Sometimes I buy her some medicines for fever. But I didn’t find anyone to talk about my wife. I did not find any TB assistant either.’ ‘Later, I used some local medicine for treatment when she became very weak,’ Sadhon also said. Wishing anonymity, a TB assistant said ‘Some children and pregnant women are coming here with fever, cold and coughs without masks. But we don’t have personal protective equipment (PPE). And if the situation goes on this way, we can be infected with Covid-19 anytime.’ The coronavirus pandemic has affected the tuberculosis situation in the country. Hence, not only a large number of common TB patients were not diagnosed, but also drug-resistant tuberculosis patients remained unrecognized. Health experts believe that these patients are increasing the risk of further spread of TB infection remaining out of treatment.” READ MORE

4/2/21: Nurses, Heros Overwhelmed (Loop – Nigeria)

“Over the years, the health workers were forced to plead for resources, with [Nurses Association Morobe President Siling Awasa] questioning why they had to [plead] when they are skilled and experienced service providers who can help treat and stop the transmission of diseases. ‘We already have a big problem with TB, we already have a big problem with malaria, maternal mortality rate is not improving and then with COVID here, it’s really complicating the situation.’” READ MORE

4/1/21: WHO Says The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Derailed The Efforts To End Tuberculosis By A Decade (Medical Market Report)

“The executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, Peter Sands has said that the COVID19 pandemic has claimed nearly 1.8 million lives around the world and TB as well might have led to the same number of deaths. He has said that if this disease is not tackled properly, it might lead to another risk to humanity in the future in the form of multidrug-resistant TB. The WHO has said that there is a need for urgent interventions in screening to diagnose the people who might be dealing with TB. The WHO officials have said that the use of molecular rapid diagnostic tests, chest radiography, and TB screening for HIV-positive people should be increased. Joanne Carter, the vice-chairperson of the Stop TB Partnership Board has said that governments should increase the funds despite the strain on budgets to contribute to the effort to eradicate tuberculosis. He has said that health experts cannot choose between fighting the COVID19 and fighting TB.” READ MORE

4/1/21: $204m Global Fund Grant for Ghana (Graphic Online – Ghana)

“[Ghanaian] President [Nana Addo Dankwa] Akufo-Addo said Ghana appreciated the COVID-19 related support offered by the [Global Fund] for testing and the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), insisting that previous support from the fund had enabled Ghana to deploy antiretroviral therapy and TB e-track which were essential in ensuring accurate and appropriate data and documentation, and the sensitive quality health delivery. He explained that the fund also supported the supply chain system for the programme that had helped to prevent avoidable shortages at regional level using the Ghana integrated logistics management information system.” READ MORE

4/1/21: TB Pandemic Continues During COVID-19 (North Coast Courier – South Africa)

“Tuberculosis is the leading infectious killer in the world. The disease kills someone every 22 seconds, about 1.4 million people in 2019 alone, according to TB Alliance. This ongoing pandemic world-wide has been overshadowed by Covid-19 but for which education programmes on prevention and treatment remain critical to stopping the spread.” READ MORE

3/31/21: Zimbabwe Scores Gains in Tuberculosis (TB) Treatment and Control Despite COVID-19 Disruptions (WHO Africa)

“Communities have also played a major role in Zimbabwe’s TB response. At least 12% of the notified TB cases were referred by the community for TB services in 2020 alone. The support groups and awareness campaigns conducted saw an increase in early referrals of presumed cases as well as providing psychosocial and treatment adherence support for patients in care. Despite these gains, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in TB notifications for both drug sensitive and drug resistant forms of TB. The lockdowns enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in reduced accessibility to health services leading to delays in TB diagnosis and treatment initiation.” READ MORE

3/31/21: Turning threats into opportunities: how to implement and advance quality tb services for people with hiv during the covid-19 pandemic and beyond (Journal of the international aids society)

“Until COVID‐19, tuberculosis (TB) was the leading infectious disease killer globally, disproportionally affecting people with HIV. The COVID‐19 pandemic is threatening the gains made in the fight against both diseases.” READ MORE

3/31/21: scaling up covid-19 vaccination in africa – lessons from the hiv pandemic (the new england journal of medicine)

“The identification of populations at high risk for HIV and the development of tailored strategies to engage them in HIV prevention and treatment has been critical for the success of national HIV control programs. Given the limited supply of Covid-19 vaccines and the surges in new cases and deaths throughout Africa, it will be crucial to vaccinate populations at greatest risk for infection and severe disease. These related challenges will vary among subregions and countries, given differences in demographic structure, prevalence of underlying conditions, and numbers of essential workers. Addressing the challenges of equitable vaccine distribution will require careful planning and global cooperation; computational models can be used for prioritization and rollout strategies.”  READ MORE

3/31/21: B’bang Seeks Support For HIV+ Kids (The Phnom Penh Post – Cambodia)

“The Battambang provincial Department of Health is inviting the public to provide support for over 200 HIV-positive children at the top referral hospital in the province who face growing difficulties in their daily lives due to the ongoing pressures caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.” READ MORE

3/31/21: Regional Director Meets TB Patients And Policy-makers In Kyrgyzstan As COVID-19 Continues To Threaten Health Care Across The Region (World Health Organization – Kyrgyzstan)

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat, health systems have in some cases been forced to make difficult choices with regards to longer-term health threats. But World TB Day offers a potent reminder that during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, health systems and governments will face a monumental task in providing care for patients with existing conditions.” READ MORE

3/31/21: Zimbabwe: Data-driven Decisions Maintain Availability And Access To Essential Health Services During The COVID-19 Response (World Health Organization)

“When COVID-19 arrived, the government developed an emergency response and preparedness plan comprising 8 pillars, one of which was case management and continuity of essential health services. It aimed to ensure that essential service delivery did not grind to a halt as a result of the pandemic. This has been a challenge even in well-developed health systems. For Zimbabwe, as elsewhere in Africa, the need to continue non-COVID-19 services such as immunization, access to medicines, sexual and reproductive health including treatment of HIV, and diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) was vital.” READ MORE

3/30/21: Health Minister Releases Document On India’s Response To Pandemic (NDTV – India)

“On how the success on the front of COVID-19 can be replicated in the fight against tuberculosis, [Health Minister Harsh Vardhan] said, ‘Another goal in front of us is to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025. Our efforts of testing, tracing and treating in COVID-19 can be replicated for treatment of tuberculosis. The experience from the pandemic can be used to achieve the goal of eliminating TB by 2025.’” READ MORE

3/30/21: Despite COVID-19 Setback, Bauchi To End Tuberculosis By 2030 (Leadership – Nigeria)

“Bauchi State government says despite setback posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic it was determined to ending Tuberculosis (TB) by the year 2030. The state commissioner of health, Dr. Aliyu Maigoro, expressed the commitment yesterday during the opening ceremony of the 2021 world TB day commemoration with the slogan ‘Check am o!’ organized by the Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria (BACATMA) in partnership with USAID Breakthrough Action Nigeria held at TB treatment centre in Bayara general hospital, Bauchi. Maigoro said although the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic posed a challenge to the treatment of TB patients, the state government was determined to meet FG’s recommendation of ensuring TB-free Nigeria before 2030. The commissioner who said over 400,000 people in the country have TB at the moment also regretted that many go undetected. He said those exhibiting symptoms of TB avoided tests because it has almost similar symptoms with the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

3/30/21: UK Research Into Malaria Set To Be Halted After Government Cuts Vital Funding (Independent – UK)

“Malaria No More UK (MNMUK) warned that cuts to malaria research and development budgets will ‘ultimately serve only to make the British people, and children around the world, less safe.’ Estimates suggest that malaria kills over 400,000 people every year, the majority of whom are children under the age of five. And the World Health Organisation is fearful this figure may have risen in the last 12 months due to disruption to prevention and treatment efforts caused by COVID-19.” READ MORE

3/29/21: TB Is Treatable But You Must First Know Your Status (The East African – Kenya)

“Before 2020, things were looking up with efforts to achieve the audacious goal of ending TB by 2035 taking root, but the pandemic has disrupted the progress. The fear that came with contracting COVID-19 in large gatherings means it will be even harder to reach marginalised populations for diagnosis. For the first time in four decades, it was demonstrated that short course treatment of four months was effective at controlling drug susceptible TB. Great strides were made with a new Phase 2b vaccine (M72/ASO1E) showing 50 per cent efficacy in preventing TB disease. Studies in monkey models of TB demonstrated that it is possible to achieve sterile immunity (totally prevent infection after administering vaccine) against TB. As the world marks yet another World TB day, key challenges remain, including availability of drugs that are short course, less toxic and (urgently needed) formulations that are well tolerable in children. Diagnostics of TB need urgent refinement if we are to capture the ‘walking sick’ within our communities. Diagnosis has been particularly impacted because Gene Xpert machines designed for TB diagnosis have been “repurposed” to diagnose COVID-19 patients.” READ MORE

3/29/21: COVID-19 Has Reversed 12-year Progress In Fighting TB: Rusike (News Day – Zimbabwe)

“The response to the COVID-19 pushed aside TB outreach and services, resulting in a 20% drop in diagnosis and treatment worldwide. TB remains a major obstacle to attaining the sustainable development goal of health, development and prosperity for all in Zimbabwe. COVID-19 has disrupted TB programmes just like other essential health services as the government has been focusing on the COVID-19 response and also channelling most of the financial and human resources to fighting the pandemic.” READ MORE

3/28/21: Battle Coronavirus, But Don’t Relegate Other Killer Diseases (The Standard – Kenya)

“An acute shortage of antiretroviral drugs has hit public hospitals. This as Kenya stares at a possible third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered cessation of movement into and out of five counties; Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Nakuru and Machakos, classified as one zone. He also adjusted curfew hours to start at 8pm and end at 4am in the five counties. The socio-economic implications of this directive are clear.” READ MORE

3/26/21: TB Case Notification Rate Dropped By 35% In 2020 Amid Pandemic — Doh (GMA News – Philippines)

“’The year 2019 saw us…increasing our TB program budget and TB notification cases by 20%, resulting in the logging of 1.1 million cases of tuberculosis from 2017 to 2019,’ [Health Secretary Francisco] Duque was quoted as saying. ‘However the year 2020 presented us with the global COVID-19 pandemic, a health challenge of unprecedented scale that required immediate and thorough action.’ The World Health Organization (WHO)’s 2020 global TB report found that the Philippines had the highest BT incidence rate across Asia, with 554 cases for every 100,000 people. The Philippines has received support for its TB response from the WHO, United States Agency for International Development, Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis, StopTB Partnership, and Global Fund against HIV, TB, and Malaria. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous health and economic impacts even affecting our TB response. But let us come together and bring out TB response back on track,’ Duque urged.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Alarm Raised Over Rising TB Infections In Turkana County (Daily Nation – Kenya)

“Authorities in Turkana County have raised the alarm over a spike in tuberculosis (TB) infections in the recent months. According to the County TB Coordinator, Dr Job Okemwa, Turkana, which is among the top 10 high TB burden counties, has already recorded 600 infections since January this year… [County Health Executive Jane Ajele] asked locals with signs of coughing and chest pain not to shun away from going to hospitals for fear of being tested for COVID-19, noting that any of the two will be treated if detected. County Health Chief Officer Augustine Lokwang noted that the attention given to COVID-19 prevention and control has overshadowed all other diseases including TB, resulting to the current spike in cases.” READ MORE

3/25/21: In-depth – South Africa At Cutting Edge Of TB Vaccine Research (Spotlight – South Africa)

“It is a hundred years since the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine, the only registered vaccine proven to offer some protection against tuberculosis was first used in people. A relative shortage of public funding and little interest from pharmaceutical companies to develop new unprofitable TB vaccines has frustrated scientific research in this area for most of the last century. To add to the problem, much-needed resources are now being diverted to the COVID-19 pandemic setting back the fight against TB by as much as 12 years, according to the Stop TB Partnership. Although COVID-19 overtook TB in 2020 as the most common cause of death from an infectious disease, TB still kills more people than COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries and its longer-term death toll far exceed that of other infectious diseases.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Ghana Records 15% Decline In Tuberculosis Detection (Joy News– Ghana)

“According to [The Programmes Manager for the National Tuberculosis Programme, Dr Yaw Aduse-Poku], the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 further worsened the detection rate of TB because people shunned from visiting the health facilities with the fear of being diagnosed with Covid due to the similarity of symptoms it has with TB. ‘People would not come to the health facility. Even when they come, would not disclose they are coughing because you and I know why because at that time, it was a high stigma because people are afraid to be stigmatized that they were having Covid,’ Mr Aduse-Poku told Joy News.” READ MORE

3/25/21: David Mabuza Calls On Men To Get Tested For TB To Prevent Further Spread (Times Live – South Africa)

“’To some extent, national lockdowns and restrictions of movement contributed to the disruption of access to health services and the reduction in the number of TB detections as patient contact and tracing services became more and more difficult during the lockdown period.’ [Deputy President David Mabuza].” READ MORE

3/25/21: India Tuberculosis Registrations Fall 24% In 2020 Due Covid-led Disruptions (Mint – India)

“India reported a 24% year-on-year fall in tuberculosis registrations last year, to an estimated [1,805,000], due to the pandemic-led disruptions and lockdowns, as per the India TB Report 2021… The report also found that between January and February 2020, registrations rose 6% on year. And by December, the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme had closed the gap on ‘missing TB cases’, reporting 11% more cases as projected in April.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Lakshadweep, District Budgam In J-k Declared TB Free (Economic Times – India)

“[Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare] … said, ‘We are working tirelessly to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and regain lost momentum. The experience gained from COVID-19 can be replicated in achieving the aim of elimination of Tuberculosis. The scale on which India increased the testing of COVID-19 from just a few tests in a day to more than a million tests a day is commendable. We can adapt this experience to enhance testing in TB also. Not only we have administered more than [50 million] doses in our country, but we have exported the vaccines to many other countries also. We have adopted pre-emptive strategies like the integration of TB and COVID-19 bi-directional screening, ramping up laboratory services, diagnostic and treatment capacity upgrades, and procedures for co-located testing for TB and testing for COVID-19 (among notified TB patients) at health centres and hospitals to boost surveillance and TB case-finding efforts,’ he added.” READ MORE

3/25/21: 295 Persons With Twin Infection Of COVID-19 And TB Detected In Maharashtra Between October And December 2020 (The Indian Express – India)

“March 24 is World TB Day and global studies have shown the impact that COVID-19 pandemic has had, with fewer TB cases being reported to the government health systems. In India, there was an overall decline in TB notification by 26 per cent between January and June 2020 as compared to the previous year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state TB officer admitted that almost all districts had shown a reduction in TB notifications and from January till December last year, the state was able to detect [160,000] new cases of TB. According to data with the State TB office, [227,000] new cases of TB were detected in 2019.” READ MORE

3/25/21: ‘COVID-19 Fears’ Prevent Many Africans From Accessing Malaria Treatment (Globe Health News)

“At a virtual media briefing organised by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the African Media and Malaria Research Network last week (15 March), experts said that many people are falsely associating fever solely with COVID-19. This contributed to an increase in the number of malaria deaths in 2020 of more than 40,000 globally from the previous year. ‘Thirty-one per cent of people with fever in Sub-SaharanAfrica did not get access to health facilities due to lockdowns and fear of being exposed to the [COVID-19] pandemic while a similar percentage of those who accessed [malaria treatment] did not get tested,’ said Kalu Akpaka, WHO regional malaria advisor for Africa.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Tuberculosis Kills 500,000 Annually In Africa – Who (Punch– Nigeria)

“[The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti] further decried that the COVID-19 pandemic compounded difficulties in accessing TB services. ‘For instance, in South Africa, monthly notifications of new TB cases fell by more than 50 per cent between March and June 2020. In some countries, TB staff and testing equipment were reallocated to COVID-19 responses,’ he said.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Has The Pandemic Displaced America’s Biggest Health Concerns? (MDLinx)

“Coronavirus travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders have not only hampered efforts to stamp out diseases like polio, HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, they may have set progress back a couple of decades. ‘COVID-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago,’ said Pedro L. Alonso, MD, director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program, in a New York Times article. According to the UN, roughly 80% of tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria treatment and vaccination programs worldwide have reported disruptions in services since the beginning of the pandemic, the article noted. Likewise, the WHO reported that at least 120 countries have seen a decrease in the number of tuberculosis patients visiting clinics.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Pandemic Year Lowered TB Transmission Rates (Times Of India – India)

“District TB control officer Dr N Vasundhara said, ‘While it is true that wearing masks and social distancing measures will help to some extent in checking tuberculosis transmission, we also will have to take into account the pandemic shortfall in 2020. Due to the focus on COVID-19 and lockdown, testing was far less compared to other years and as a result, number of new cases registered was also less. Therefore, we cannot come to a definite conclusion unless we observe the trend of low transmission rate continuing this year as well.’” READ MORE

3/25/21: Myanmar’s Post-coup Healthcare Breakdown (The New Humanitarian – Myanmar)

“Some health services are still working: Doctors are volunteering emergency services, some clinics or hospitals are open, and community groups have stepped in to fill gaps in HIV treatment, for example. But any public health system relies on a complex network of patient referrals and supply pipelines, and these have largely broken down as services get disrupted or blocked, aid groups say. Myanmar’s national programmes for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have ‘shut down,’ according to Médecins Sans Frontières, which previously worked with the Ministry of Health and Sports on HIV and TB. ‘That’s raising really big flags for us about the hundreds of thousands of patients on anti-retrovirals for HIV,’ Pavlo Kolovos, MSF’s outgoing head of mission in Myanmar, told The New Humanitarian. ‘It means there’s a lot of people whose lives are at risk.’” READ MORE

3/25/21: Opinion: What Is The Way Forward For PEPFAR Amid COVID-19 (Devex)

“President Joe Biden’s administration has made early progress on returning the United States to global health engagement. Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the World Health Organization on Jan. 21 — the first full day of his presidency. Now, the U.S. must consider the incredible equities that exist from decades of fighting HIV and AIDS. COVID-19 is threatening some of the most hard-won gains against HIV/AIDS in affected countries. Programs supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief have had to adapt to COVID-19 to continue providing essential HIV services.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Tuberculosis Kills 162,000 Nigerians Annually – NTS (Leadership – Nigeria)

“He said that the theme of World TB Day 2021, ‘The Clock is Ticking’, is quite apt considering the current global health and economic challenges, and lamented that despite strong commitments made by world leaders, efforts to end the disease have been relegated to the background as countries grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Fight Against TB Continues – VP Chiwenga (The Herald – Zimbabwe)

“The national campaign against COVID-19 should not cut back the campaign to slash the incidence of tuberculosis, which remains one of Zimbabwe’s major public health threats, Minister of Health and Child Welfare Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday during a virtual summit on World TB Day. But the pandemic had slowed down progress in the national TB response.” READ MORE

3/25/21: UNDP Redoubles Efforts To End TB Despite COVID-19 Pandemic (The Times Of Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan)“To date, TB is the deadliest infectious disease in the world, accounting for 1.4 million yearly deaths (data for 2019) and the death of a child every 2 minutes. These numbers are bound to worsen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s more than ever crucial to re-commit to the fight against TB. COVID-19 has strongly hindered TB programs in Kyrgyzstan, which is among the 30 high burden countries for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB). The number of notified TB cases in 2020 has dropped by 30% (3814 in January–September 2020 vs 5361 in the same period of 2019), which, according to scientific predictions, will lead to additional deaths.” READ MORE

3/30/21: Despite COVID-19 Setback, Bauchi To End Tuberculosis By 2030 (Leadership – Nigeria)

“Bauchi State government says despite setback posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic it was determined to ending Tuberculosis (TB) by the year 2030. The state commissioner of health, Dr. Aliyu Maigoro, expressed the commitment yesterday during the opening ceremony of the 2021 world TB day commemoration with the slogan ‘Check am o!’ organized by the Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria (BACATMA) in partnership with USAID Breakthrough Action Nigeria held at TB treatment centre in Bayara general hospital, Bauchi. Maigoro said although the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic posed a challenge to the treatment of TB patients, the state government was determined to meet FG’s recommendation of ensuring TB-free Nigeria before 2030. The commissioner who said over 400,000 people in the country have TB at the moment also regretted that many go undetected. He said those exhibiting symptoms of TB avoided tests because it has almost similar symptoms with the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

3/30/21: UK Research Into Malaria Set To Be Halted After Government Cuts Vital Funding (Independent – UK)

“Malaria No More UK (MNMUK) warned that cuts to malaria research and development budgets will ‘ultimately serve only to make the British people, and children around the world, less safe.’ Estimates suggest that malaria kills over 400,000 people every year, the majority of whom are children under the age of five. And the World Health Organisation is fearful this figure may have risen in the last 12 months due to disruption to prevention and treatment efforts caused by COVID-19.” READ MORE

3/29/21: TB Is Treatable But You Must First Know Your Status (The East African – Kenya)

“Before 2020, things were looking up with efforts to achieve the audacious goal of ending TB by 2035 taking root, but the pandemic has disrupted the progress. The fear that came with contracting COVID-19 in large gatherings means it will be even harder to reach marginalised populations for diagnosis. For the first time in four decades, it was demonstrated that short course treatment of four months was effective at controlling drug susceptible TB. Great strides were made with a new Phase 2b vaccine (M72/ASO1E) showing 50 per cent efficacy in preventing TB disease. Studies in monkey models of TB demonstrated that it is possible to achieve sterile immunity (totally prevent infection after administering vaccine) against TB. As the world marks yet another World TB day, key challenges remain, including availability of drugs that are short course, less toxic and (urgently needed) formulations that are well tolerable in children. Diagnostics of TB need urgent refinement if we are to capture the ‘walking sick’ within our communities. Diagnosis has been particularly impacted because Gene Xpert machines designed for TB diagnosis have been “repurposed” to diagnose COVID-19 patients.” READ MORE

3/29/21: COVID-19 Has Reversed 12-year Progress In Fighting TB: Rusike (News Day – Zimbabwe)

“The response to the COVID-19 pushed aside TB outreach and services, resulting in a 20% drop in diagnosis and treatment worldwide. TB remains a major obstacle to attaining the sustainable development goal of health, development and prosperity for all in Zimbabwe. COVID-19 has disrupted TB programmes just like other essential health services as the government has been focusing on the COVID-19 response and also channelling most of the financial and human resources to fighting the pandemic.” READ MORE

3/28/21: Battle Coronavirus, But Don’t Relegate Other Killer Diseases (The Standard – Kenya)

“An acute shortage of antiretroviral drugs has hit public hospitals. This as Kenya stares at a possible third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered cessation of movement into and out of five counties; Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Nakuru and Machakos, classified as one zone. He also adjusted curfew hours to start at 8pm and end at 4am in the five counties. The socio-economic implications of this directive are clear.” READ MORE

3/26/21: South Africa Launches TB Mobile Clinics Amid COVID-19 Disruption (Reuters – South Africa)

“TB kills around 60,000 people every year in South Africa and health experts fear the focus on COVID-19 may divert attention and resources away from the disease, which affects poorer nations worst. Last year the World Health Organisation warned of a global increase of up to 400,000 TB deaths as COVID-19 led to reduced testing and diagnosis. South Africa saw a 48% plunge in diagnostic testing volumes between Feb. 3 and May 3 last year, said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Restrictions on movement, the closure of clinics and a lack of cash to get to clinics that were open as people lost their incomes in lockdown all contributed.” READ MORE

3/26/21: TB Case Notification Rate Dropped By 35% In 2020 Amid Pandemic — Doh (GMA News – Philippines)

“’The year 2019 saw us…increasing our TB program budget and TB notification cases by 20%, resulting in the logging of 1.1 million cases of tuberculosis from 2017 to 2019,’ [Health Secretary Francisco] Duque was quoted as saying. ‘However the year 2020 presented us with the global COVID-19 pandemic, a health challenge of unprecedented scale that required immediate and thorough action.’ The World Health Organization (WHO)’s 2020 global TB report found that the Philippines had the highest BT incidence rate across Asia, with 554 cases for every 100,000 people. The Philippines has received support for its TB response from the WHO, United States Agency for International Development, Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis, StopTB Partnership, and Global Fund against HIV, TB, and Malaria. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous health and economic impacts even affecting our TB response. But let us come together and bring out TB response back on track,’ Duque urged.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Alarm Raised Over Rising TB Infections In Turkana County (Daily Nation – Kenya)

“Authorities in Turkana County have raised the alarm over a spike in tuberculosis (TB) infections in the recent months. According to the County TB Coordinator, Dr Job Okemwa, Turkana, which is among the top 10 high TB burden counties, has already recorded 600 infections since January this year… [County Health Executive Jane Ajele] asked locals with signs of coughing and chest pain not to shun away from going to hospitals for fear of being tested for COVID-19, noting that any of the two will be treated if detected. County Health Chief Officer Augustine Lokwang noted that the attention given to COVID-19 prevention and control has overshadowed all other diseases including TB, resulting to the current spike in cases.” READ MORE

3/25/21: In-depth – South Africa At Cutting Edge Of TB Vaccine Research (Spotlight – South Africa)

“It is a hundred years since the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine, the only registered vaccine proven to offer some protection against tuberculosis was first used in people. A relative shortage of public funding and little interest from pharmaceutical companies to develop new unprofitable TB vaccines has frustrated scientific research in this area for most of the last century. To add to the problem, much-needed resources are now being diverted to the COVID-19 pandemic setting back the fight against TB by as much as 12 years, according to the Stop TB Partnership. Although COVID-19 overtook TB in 2020 as the most common cause of death from an infectious disease, TB still kills more people than COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries and its longer-term death toll far exceed that of other infectious diseases.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Ghana Records 15% Decline In Tuberculosis Detection (Joy News– Ghana)

“According to [The Programmes Manager for the National Tuberculosis Programme, Dr Yaw Aduse-Poku], the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 further worsened the detection rate of TB because people shunned from visiting the health facilities with the fear of being diagnosed with Covid due to the similarity of symptoms it has with TB. ‘People would not come to the health facility. Even when they come, would not disclose they are coughing because you and I know why because at that time, it was a high stigma because people are afraid to be stigmatized that they were having Covid,’ Mr Aduse-Poku told Joy News.” READ MORE

3/25/21: David Mabuza Calls On Men To Get Tested For TB To Prevent Further Spread (Times Live – South Africa)

“’To some extent, national lockdowns and restrictions of movement contributed to the disruption of access to health services and the reduction in the number of TB detections as patient contact and tracing services became more and more difficult during the lockdown period.’ [Deputy President David Mabuza].” READ MORE

3/25/21: India Tuberculosis Registrations Fall 24% In 2020 Due Covid-led Disruptions (Mint – India)

“India reported a 24% year-on-year fall in tuberculosis registrations last year, to an estimated [1,805,000], due to the pandemic-led disruptions and lockdowns, as per the India TB Report 2021… The report also found that between January and February 2020, registrations rose 6% on year. And by December, the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme had closed the gap on ‘missing TB cases’, reporting 11% more cases as projected in April.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Lakshadweep, District Budgam In J-k Declared TB Free (Economic Times – India)

“[Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare] … said, ‘We are working tirelessly to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and regain lost momentum. The experience gained from COVID-19 can be replicated in achieving the aim of elimination of Tuberculosis. The scale on which India increased the testing of COVID-19 from just a few tests in a day to more than a million tests a day is commendable. We can adapt this experience to enhance testing in TB also. Not only we have administered more than [50 million] doses in our country, but we have exported the vaccines to many other countries also. We have adopted pre-emptive strategies like the integration of TB and COVID-19 bi-directional screening, ramping up laboratory services, diagnostic and treatment capacity upgrades, and procedures for co-located testing for TB and testing for COVID-19 (among notified TB patients) at health centres and hospitals to boost surveillance and TB case-finding efforts,’ he added.” READ MORE

3/25/21: 295 Persons With Twin Infection Of COVID-19 And TB Detected In Maharashtra Between October And December 2020 (The Indian Express – India)

“March 24 is World TB Day and global studies have shown the impact that COVID-19 pandemic has had, with fewer TB cases being reported to the government health systems. In India, there was an overall decline in TB notification by 26 per cent between January and June 2020 as compared to the previous year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state TB officer admitted that almost all districts had shown a reduction in TB notifications and from January till December last year, the state was able to detect [160,000] new cases of TB. According to data with the State TB office, [227,000] new cases of TB were detected in 2019.” READ MORE

3/25/21: ‘COVID-19 Fears’ Prevent Many Africans From Accessing Malaria Treatment (Globe Health News)

“At a virtual media briefing organised by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the African Media and Malaria Research Network last week (15 March), experts said that many people are falsely associating fever solely with COVID-19. This contributed to an increase in the number of malaria deaths in 2020 of more than 40,000 globally from the previous year. ‘Thirty-one per cent of people with fever in Sub-SaharanAfrica did not get access to health facilities due to lockdowns and fear of being exposed to the [COVID-19] pandemic while a similar percentage of those who accessed [malaria treatment] did not get tested,’ said Kalu Akpaka, WHO regional malaria advisor for Africa.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Who: Pandemic Is Prolonging Countdown To Halt Tuberculosis (Axios)

“Last year’s 23% average drop in diagnosis and treatment of TB patients presents a serious problem, as 1 million untreated people with TB in 2020 could lead to roughly 15 million new infections in 2021, says Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, which is a UN-hosted entity. ‘It’s like a snowball effect.’ ‘1 million [untreated people with TB] brings us to basically the figure that we had 12 years ago,’ Ditiu says. She expects to see an ‘explosion’ of community-based TB. ‘What we already see is more advanced stages of TB at home, because people don’t want to go’ into the hospital, Ditiu says, leading to increased reports of people with lung cavities coughing blood.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Tuberculosis Kills 500,000 Annually In Africa – Who (Punch– Nigeria)

“[The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti] further decried that the COVID-19 pandemic compounded difficulties in accessing TB services. ‘For instance, in South Africa, monthly notifications of new TB cases fell by more than 50 per cent between March and June 2020. In some countries, TB staff and testing equipment were reallocated to COVID-19 responses,’ he said.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Has The Pandemic Displaced America’s Biggest Health Concerns? (MDLinx)

“Coronavirus travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders have not only hampered efforts to stamp out diseases like polio, HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, they may have set progress back a couple of decades. ‘COVID-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago,’ said Pedro L. Alonso, MD, director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program, in a New York Times article. According to the UN, roughly 80% of tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria treatment and vaccination programs worldwide have reported disruptions in services since the beginning of the pandemic, the article noted. Likewise, the WHO reported that at least 120 countries have seen a decrease in the number of tuberculosis patients visiting clinics.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Pandemic Year Lowered TB Transmission Rates (Times Of India – India)

“District TB control officer Dr N Vasundhara said, ‘While it is true that wearing masks and social distancing measures will help to some extent in checking tuberculosis transmission, we also will have to take into account the pandemic shortfall in 2020. Due to the focus on COVID-19 and lockdown, testing was far less compared to other years and as a result, number of new cases registered was also less. Therefore, we cannot come to a definite conclusion unless we observe the trend of low transmission rate continuing this year as well.’” READ MORE

3/25/21: Myanmar’s Post-coup Healthcare Breakdown (The New Humanitarian – Myanmar)

“Some health services are still working: Doctors are volunteering emergency services, some clinics or hospitals are open, and community groups have stepped in to fill gaps in HIV treatment, for example. But any public health system relies on a complex network of patient referrals and supply pipelines, and these have largely broken down as services get disrupted or blocked, aid groups say. Myanmar’s national programmes for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have ‘shut down,’ according to Médecins Sans Frontières, which previously worked with the Ministry of Health and Sports on HIV and TB. ‘That’s raising really big flags for us about the hundreds of thousands of patients on anti-retrovirals for HIV,’ Pavlo Kolovos, MSF’s outgoing head of mission in Myanmar, told The New Humanitarian. ‘It means there’s a lot of people whose lives are at risk.’” READ MORE

3/25/21: Opinion: What Is The Way Forward For PEPFAR Amid COVID-19 (Devex)

“President Joe Biden’s administration has made early progress on returning the United States to global health engagement. Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the World Health Organization on Jan. 21 — the first full day of his presidency. Now, the U.S. must consider the incredible equities that exist from decades of fighting HIV and AIDS. COVID-19 is threatening some of the most hard-won gains against HIV/AIDS in affected countries. Programs supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief have had to adapt to COVID-19 to continue providing essential HIV services.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Tuberculosis Kills 162,000 Nigerians Annually – NTS (Leadership – Nigeria)

“He said that the theme of World TB Day 2021, ‘The Clock is Ticking’, is quite apt considering the current global health and economic challenges, and lamented that despite strong commitments made by world leaders, efforts to end the disease have been relegated to the background as countries grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Fight Against TB Continues – VP Chiwenga (The Herald – Zimbabwe)

“The national campaign against COVID-19 should not cut back the campaign to slash the incidence of tuberculosis, which remains one of Zimbabwe’s major public health threats, Minister of Health and Child Welfare Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday during a virtual summit on World TB Day. But the pandemic had slowed down progress in the national TB response.” READ MORE

3/25/21: Undp Redoubles Efforts To End TB Despite COVID-19 Pandemic (The Times Of Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan)“To date, TB is the deadliest infectious disease in the world, accounting for 1.4 million yearly deaths (data for 2019) and the death of a child every 2 minutes. These numbers are bound to worsen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s more than ever crucial to re-commit to the fight against TB. COVID-19 has strongly hindered TB programs in Kyrgyzstan, which is among the 30 high burden countries for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB). The number of notified TB cases in 2020 has dropped by 30% (3814 in January–September 2020 vs 5361 in the same period of 2019), which, according to scientific predictions, will lead to additional deaths.” READ MORE

3/24/21: Urgent Action Needed On TB And HIV To Curb Impact Of COVID-19 (Frontline AIDS)

“In UKraine since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen increased coordination among government and civil society stakeholders to undertake decisive actions to address COVID-19. But, uptake of diagnosis and treatment for people affected by HIV and TB has declined. And the attention of the healthcare system shifted to COVID-19. Now UKraine is struggling to find new cases of active TB, similar to other countries with a high TB burden, resulting in 30% fewer new TB cases found compared to 2020. People avoid going to clinics and are reluctant to test because of COVID-19 risks.” READ MORE

3/24/21: Tuberculosis Stigma Shouldn’t Be Forgotten (Excalibur)

“COVID-19 has impacted the TB epidemic drastically, setting back years of progress towards the global goal to eliminate TB by 2035. The level of stigma associated with COVID-19 has been a problem during this pandemic. The fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 has led to the stigmatization of certain groups, communities, and those who exhibit similar symptoms of this new disease. Like COVID-19, TB is an airborne disease. Both diseases present similar symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. ‘You can not cough in peace, as any cough is mistaken as COVID-19,’ said an advocate from Kenya. This not only puts the fear of discrimination as a top concern to those living with TB, but also presents a challenge to an effective TB response. ‘Fear has gripped our TB patients as some of the symptoms look the same as the people with COVID-19. Due to this, they don’t seek medical attention like they used to,’ said an advocate from Ghana. Essential diagnostic and treatment resources that were once used to fight the TB epidemic are being redirected towards the COVID-19 response. The plummeting global TB notification rates and increased stigma are indicating to us that fewer people with TB are seeking and receiving the care they need.” READ MORE

3/24/21: Uzbekistan: Video-based Support For Tuberculosis Treatment Helps Patients During Lockdown And Beyond (Doctors Without Borders – Uzbekistan)

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Uzbekistan last March, the government imposed a strict lockdown that also disrupted [directly observed treatment (DOT)] and other health services. With travel restrictions in place, a lack of transport options, and some health facilities closing their doors, many patients had difficulties getting to their ‘DOT corner’—a designated area in a local health center. Some decided not to travel for fear of contracting coronavirus. Health workers also found it challenging to visit patients in their homes to provide DOT.” READ MORE

3/24/21: Diagnosis Of New TB Cases In The Americas Reduced By 15-20% During 2020 Due To The Pandemic (Pan American Health Organization)

“On World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, observed today, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned that diagnosis of new cases of the disease in the Americas declined by 15% to 20% during 2020 compared to the previous year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduction jeopardizes progress toward ending TB in the region.” READ MORE

3/24/21: Africa Needs Local Solutions To Face The COVID-19 Pandemic (The Lancet)

“An important conclusion from the Article by Salyer and colleagues is the need for country-specific solutions. No one-size-fits-all approach will succeed within a continent as diverse as Africa. Countries with a high number of COVID-19 deaths desperately need vaccination to prevent further illness and deaths from severe COVID-19. Some countries might not request the vaccines because of their COVID-19 epidemiology, whereas other countries have a greater need but will be limited by the 20% allowance. By contrast, countries with low case fatality ratios could instead invest in community engagement, health system strengthening, surveillance, and case reporting to adequately handle high case counts during this wave and beyond. Mental health issues have become an increasing concern during the pandemic, with a high prevalence of anxiety and depression, while extant infectious diseases such as measles and cholera have gained a stronger foothold, evidenced by increasing case counts and inadequate vaccination. During the pandemic, prevention and treatment services for tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria have been disrupted and concerted investments and efforts are needed to strengthen endemic disease programmes. Focusing on such efforts could help countries better adjust local measures to balance COVID-19 transmission control with other health needs and economic opportunity and stability.” READ MORE

3/24/21: World Tuberculosis Day –  How COVID-19 Is Affecting TB Treatment, Intervention (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“While efforts to end COVID-19 have continued to gather steam with the successful roll out of vaccines in several countries, health experts believe the pandemic’s ripple effect – disrupting other health targets – will have an adverse impact on the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis.” READ MORE

3/24/21: TB Testing In 2020 Dropped Drastically Due To COVID-19 (The Global Fund)

“On World Tuberculosis Day, new data shows the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the fight against another deadly airborne disease: tuberculosis. Global Fund surveys in 13 countries with the highest TB burden in the world reveal that 29% fewer people were tested for TB compared to 2019. Worse, in those same countries, there were 45% fewer people tested for multidrug-resistant TB – one of the most frightening forms of antimicrobial resistance.” READ MORE

3/24/21: What’s Holding Up Simultaneous Testing Of Tuberculosis And COVID-19 (Devex)

“More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, countries have witnessed a decline in the number of people diagnosed and treated for tuberculosis. But public health experts and health organizations are now identifying efforts being made in countries to reverse this trend, including screening and testing patients for TB who test positive for COVID-19.” READ MORE

3/24/21: Tackling TB Amidst A Pandemic (Nepali Times – India)

“A 2018 survey by the National Tuberculosis Control Center revealed that close to 70,000 Nepalis contract the infection every year, much higher than previously estimated. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. Nationwide lockdowns and restricted mobility meant that in lack of screening, many people went undiagnosed and patients like Magar had harder time accessing free medications.” READ MORE

3/24/21: People Shun Malaria Testing Over ‘COVID-19 Fears’ (Scidev – Kenya)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented almost a third of people in Sub-Saharan Africa suffering from a fever from accessing malaria treatment in health facilities, health experts say. Malaria continues to be a major global health challenge, with six African countries including Nigeria and Tanzania accounting for around half the 409,000 people globally who died from the disease in 2019, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).” READ MORE

3/24/21: The Challenge Of Treating HIV In Mothers And Babies In Malawi (Pursuit – University Of Melbourne)

“The onset of COVID-19 has only worsened the situation. Lockdowns and border closes have hampered both the production and distribution of antiretrovirals. As a consequence, modelling predicts new child HIV infections in Malawi will rise by 162 per cent.” READ MORE

3/23/21: Tackling TB Amidst A Global Crisis (United Nations Development Programme)

“Vulnerable people around the world affected by tuberculosis (TB) cannot wait any longer for quality testing, treatment and care. According to the Stop TB Partnership, COVID-19-related disruptions for TB services have reversed nearly 12 years of progress against the deadly infectious disease. Marginalized groups, such as refugees and mobile populations with limited access to health care, are bearing the brunt of these overlapping crises.” READ MORE

3/23/21: Opinion – Engage Communities And Leverage COVID-19 Innovations To Address South Africa’s TB Crisis (Spotlight – South Africa)

“While COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the South African health care system, another airborne infectious killer has continued to silently spread through communities, despite being preventable and curable. As early as May 2020, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases released data demonstrating a catastrophic 48% drop in the number of molecular Xpert MTB/RIF tests done to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa, meaning that thousands of people with TB had missed or delayed diagnoses.” READ MORE

3/23/21: World Tuberculosis Day: Ifrc Calls For Increased TB Detection And Treatment Amid Pandemic (IFRC)

“The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is urging decision-makers to ensure tuberculosis (TB) patients receive life-saving treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, after new research showing the pandemic has set back TB detection by 12 years. Research by the Stop TB Partnership shows that during the pandemic, the number of people detected, diagnosed with and treated for TB in the world dropped by approximately one million, falling back to 2008 levels.” READ MORE

3/23/21: 1.4 Million With TB Lost Out On Treatment In First Year Of COVID-19 (United News Of Bangladesh)

“’WHO fears that over half a million more people may have died from TB in 2020, simply because they were unable to obtain a diagnosis,’ WHO said, adding that this is by no means a new problem; before COVID-19 struck, the gap between the estimated number of people developing TB each year and the annual number of people officially diagnosed with the virus was about three million The pandemic has greatly exacerbated the situation.’” READ MORE

3/22/21: Imperial COVID-19 Response Team: A Year Tracking The Global Pandemic (Imperial College London)

“The [Imperial College COVID-19 Response] team also investigated the indirect impact of COVID-19 and estimated that some low and middle income countries may see deaths related to HIV, TB and malaria increase by up to 10, 20 and 36% respectively over five years due to the COVID-19 pandemic” READ MORE

3/22/21: 1.4 Million With Tuberculosis, Lost Out On Treatment During First Year Of COVID-19 (UN News)

“Latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) from more than 80 countries, showed a reduction in treatment of 21 per cent in the first year of the pandemic, compared with 2019. The biggest differences were in Indonesia (down 42 percent), South Africa (41 percent), the Philippines (37 percent) and India (25 percent). ‘The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,’ said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.” READ MORE

3/22/21: Digital HIV Education For Jamaican Young People During COVID-19 And Beyond (USAID)

“‘The results of the HIV U-Report quiz have reinforced the need for efforts to be made to address the decline in knowledge on information on HIV among young people in Jamaica,’ said the UNAIDS Country Director for Jamaica, Manoela Manova. ‘Particularly in the context of COVID-19, it is critical that we innovate to ensure that this messaging and engagement takes place on digital platforms and with a view to ensuring that no child or young person is left behind.’” READ MORE

3/22/21: COVID-19 Highlights Urgent Need To Reboot Global Efforts To End Tuberculosis (World Health Organization)

“‘The effects of COVID-19 go far beyond the death and disease caused by the virus itself. The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. ‘These sobering data point to the need for countries to make universal health coverage a key priority as they respond to and recover from the pandemic, to ensure access to essential services for TB and all diseases.’” READ MORE

3/22/21: WHO/Europe And Ecdc Joint Press Release: Ending Tuberculosis Is A Race Against Time And Drug Resistance (World Health Organization – Europe)

“The decrease in TB burden put the Region on course to reach the End TB Strategy milestone for 2020 and the regional action plan target for reduction of the TB incidence rate. However, there are grave concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic may jeopardize recent progress. Negative impacts have already been observed in TB service delivery and notifications in high-burden countries, this is believed to indicate that fewer people have been tested, meaning that people with undiagnosed TB are not getting the treatment they need and run the risk of infecting others.” READ MORE

3/22/21: We Went All-out To Tackle COVID-19­ – TB Needs The Same Approach (The Telegraph)

“TB, an age-old monster, has probably killed more than one billion people over the past 2,000 years. It still kills almost 4,000 people every single day, and affects 10 million people each year, but has never received even a fraction of the attention given to global respiratory infection that most people learnt about last year: COVID-19. In fact, the approaches to these two potentially deadly infectious diseases could not stand in starker contrast to one another.  In less than a year, over $90 billion have been poured into COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, and attention has been given to almost every aspect of the disease. The global funding for TB R&D during 2019 was less than $1 billion.” READ MORE

3/22/21: Half A Million More TB Deaths In 2020 Due To Pandemic Disruptions: WHO (Down To Earth – India)

“Fewer cases of tuberculosis (TB) were notified in 2020 because of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and this led to half a million excess deaths from the disease globally, according to data released by World Health Organisation March 21, 2021. There was a 21 per cent decrease in TB notification owing to lockdowns and other disruptions caused by the pandemic. While 6.3 million TB infections were notified in 2019, the figure fell to 4.9 million last year.” READ MORE

3/21/21: COVID-19 Vaccine Progress Could Mean Good News For Malaria Vaccine (NPR)

“We want to give you some positive news in the fight to vaccinate against one of the world’s deadly diseases. And – drum roll – we are not talking about COVID-19. We are talking about malaria. In 2019, there were 229 million cases of malaria worldwide. And one of the reasons it continues to be so hard to treat is that the one existing malaria vaccine is only about 30% effective. But – and here’s the positive part – the scientific community’s intense focus this year on a COVID vaccine, specifically, ones that use RNA like those developed by Pfizer and Moderna, could offer some lessons for malaria vaccine development.” READ MORE

3/19/21: Fight Against Tuberculosis Set Back 12 Years By COVID-19 Pandemic, Report Finds (The Guardian)

“Twelve months of COVID-19 has reversed 12 years of global progress against tuberculosis, worse than previously estimated. The pandemic has resulted in nearly a 25% decrease in diagnosis and treatment around the world, according to research published on Thursday by a coalition working to end TB. Due to the impact of the Covid pandemic on services, the number of people diagnosed and treated for TB in the worst-affected countries has dropped back to 2008 levels, said Stop TB Partnership’s executive director, Lucica Ditiu. A modelling study published last year estimated a setback of five to eight years.” READ MORE

3/18/21: How COVID-19 Led To Decline In TB Diagnosis, Treatment — Report (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“The Minister of Health and Family Welfare in India, Harsh Vardhan, said the COVID-19 pandemic distracted everyone from other burning health issues. ‘TB didn’t go anywhere when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people just got distracted, health workers were directed, and health systems became overwhelmed,’ he said. ‘Recovery efforts succeed with political leadership and substantial resources, along with an insistence that COVID-19 outreach and prevention efforts include TB work, instead of replacing it.’” READ MORE

3/18/21: COVID-19 Disruptions: India Projected To Register Surge In Child, Maternal Deaths (The Wire – India)

“Across South Asia as a whole, an estimated 5,943 additional deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and typhoid are anticipated as a result of reduced treatment coverage. India is expected to be hit hardest with an additional 3,412 adolescent deaths.” READ MORE

3/17/21: Falls To Turn Red For Awareness Of Tuberculosis On March 24 (Niagara Falls Review)

“Like COVID-19, TB is an airborne disease. Before the pandemic, TB was the world’s leading infectious disease causing death. Resources that would normally be used to fight the TB epidemic have been diverted to respond to the threat of the novel coronavirus, making it more difficult for people with TB to access essential health services. Lockdowns have further prevented the timely diagnosis and treatment of TB.” READ MORE

3/18/21: UNAIDS Welcomes Bold Support From The United States Of America In Response To Colliding Pandemics (UNAIDS)

“While 26 million of the 38 million people living with HIV are accessing life-saving treatment, which doubles as prevention by stopping the spread of the virus, another 12 million remain without. The rate of new HIV infections, especially for adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa and members of key populations, remains high. In 2019, a further 1.7 million people worldwide were newly infected with HIV and 690 000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses. The rate of new HIV infections and deaths, especially among the hardest to reach populations, means that continued success requires greater effort, focus and commitments. This is doubly true as COVID-19’s impact puts added pressure on the HIV response.” READ MORE

3/18/21: ‘We Clap If None Die’: Covid Forces Hard Choices In Sierra Leone (The Guardian)

“The pandemic has had a serious impact on healthcare in other ways. Rising numbers of malaria cases are in line with the WHO’s fear that progress in combating the mosquito-borne disease could go into reverse as resources are reallocated to deal with Covid. Early in the pandemic parents refused to go to hospitals for fear of catching the virus or, since Covid and malaria share fever as a symptom, people were afraid of being quarantined.” READ MORE

3/18/21: One Year Of COVID-19 Eliminated 12 Years Of Progress In Global Fight Against Tuberculosis (The Indian Express)

“One year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a new report released on Thursday showed that nine of the countries (including India) with the most tuberculosis (TB) cases —representing 60% of the global TB burden — saw a drastic decline in diagnosis and treatment of TB infections in 2020, ranging from 16% to 41% (with an average of 23%).” READ MORE

3/17/21: Who Publishes New Clinical And Service Delivery Recommendations For HIV Prevention, Treatment And Care (World Health Organization)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for the continuity of HIV care, and it is critical to ensure that the progress of the past decade is not undone. WHO also remains committed to ensuring the principles for provision of people-centered, harmonized and simplified care, within a public health approach, to enable equitable, evidence-based guidelines leading to greater health impact.” READ MORE

3/17/21: In Your Hands: Caribbean Partners Call For HIV Self-Testing During COVID-19 (UNAIDS)

“Even before COVID-19, the Caribbean was not on track to achieve the 90% testing target due at the end of 2020. In 2019, 77% of all people living with HIV in the Caribbean knew their HIV status. A survey conducted by the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) showed that during 2020 facility- and community-based HIV testing services were reduced in 69% of countries due to COVID-19.” READ MORE

3/17/21: As We Battle COVID-19, We Shouldn’t Forget About TB (The Standard – Kenya)

“On March 24 every year, the world commemorates World TB Day. In this year’s theme, ‘The Clock is Ticking’, World Health Organisation (WHO) reminds us to refocus and reinvigorate the fight against TB that causes 4,000 deaths and infects 28,000 people daily globally. The situation, ostensibly, is worsening due to COVID-19 that is inopportunely dissipating medical resources and attention away from providing necessary life-saving diagnosis, medicine and care to people suffering from TB.” READ MORE

3/16/21: Tuberculosis In Children – These Surmountable Challenges That Continue To Persist (Cameroon Tribune)

“Overall, the difficulties in managing TB in all age groups in Cameroon are numerous. ‘For others, it is the long distances to treatment centres. Also, the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, has seen fewer people seek help in health facilities,” Dr. Mbassa Vincent explains. “To address these challenges, the Ministry of Public Health offers free anti-tuberculosis treatment for all age groups and brings treatment closer to the people by creating new services,’ he discloses.” READ MORE

3/16/21: Support For Some TB Patients Just A Phone Call Away (Spotlight – South Africa)

“There also seems to be increasing recognition from the side of the government. Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize in a speech following the recent launch of the National TB Prevalence Survey said COVID-19 has shown us many innovative ways of providing health services in an integrated manner for efficiency and these innovative ways should include leveraging of digital technologies for TB screening, contact tracing and treatment adherence.” READ MORE

3/15/21: Why HIV Patients Are Scared Of COVID-19 (The Standard – Kenya)

“The shortage of vital HIV drugs in times of the coronavirus pandemic is complicating lives of those living positively with the condition. The drugs in short supply help in fighting opportunistic illnesses and many are afraid of contracting COVID-19 under the circumstances. The shortage of drugs related to HIV has been occasioned by withdrawal of donor funding and the government concentrating its medical efforts and money in fighting COVID-19. This situation has made Beatrice Konyiha, a 50-year-old widow from a village in Kisumu, a scared woman for a couple of months. Like many Kenyans living with HIV, she has been unable to access septrin, an antibiotic that helps fight against opportunistic infections for those living with HIV.” READ MORE

3/15/21: Towards 10-10-10 In Eastern Europe And Central Asia (UNAIDS)

“According to [UN Women Europe Program Specialist Enkhtsetseg Miyegombo], the COVID-19 pandemic has largely erased progress in this area and exacerbated existing inequalities: lockdowns disproportionately affected the workload of women who do unpaid domestic work, reduced women’s economic opportunities due to job losses, limited their mobility and increased documented violence against women. These new circumstances were superimposed on existing problems—a lack of awareness about HIV, barriers to discussing safer sex with a partner, revival of patriarchal stereotypes, religious restrictions—as a result of which, women find themselves under growing pressure. Ms Miyegombo highlighted that investment in gender equality programmes is critical to the effectiveness of the regional HIV response.” READ MORE

3/14/21: First Ever National Survey Shows The Extent Of South Africa’s TB Problem  (The Conversation – South Africa)

“More than 35,000 people participated in this survey. This is a massive undertaking and the only way to get a more accurate picture of how many people in the country truly have TB. This knowledge is critical because TB remains one of the leading causes of death in South Africa. It claims more lives annually than the COVID-19 pandemic has so far. This is despite TB being a curable disease.” READ MORE

3/12/21: COVID-19 Situation Report (Global Fund)

“The U.S. government approved US$3.5 billion in emergency funding for the Global Fund’s effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in low- and middle-income countries. This unprecedented support, which is part of a nearly US$11 billion global COVID-19 response package included in the American Rescue Plan Act of a US$1.9 trillion relief package, will rapidly accelerate the Global Fund’s response to the pandemic, which is critical to save lives and protect the gains our partnership has made against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria over the last two decades.” READ MORE

3/11/21: Blind Spots: What COVID-19 Revealed About Global Development’s Biggest Gaps (Devex)

“Dr. Paul Wekesa is CEO at the Centre for Health Solutions – Kenya, a Nairobi-based nonprofit organization that works on HIV, tuberculosis, and health systems programs alongside international donors and Kenya’s Ministry of Health. ‘The reality is that when the pandemic hit, a lot of [international] experts went back home,’ Wekesa said. Wekesa said he hopes the pandemic has demonstrated the value of investing in local institutions — an area where Kenya still has significant gaps, he noted — so that local leaders can emerge as the network for coordination with international expertise.” READ MORE

3/11/21: HIV Treatment Still Expensive For Many Nigerians – Report (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“The National Coordinator, NEPWHAN, Ibrahim Abdulkadir, highlighted the importance of community monitoring in the fight against the disease. Mr. Abdulkadir lauded the support received from development partners in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the support from various partners made it possible for [people living with HIV] to access drugs and other services despite the lockdown imposed to limit spread of the COVID-19 virus. He said the CLM report is key to monitoring the fight against HIV/AIDS as it will help to improve access to healthcare services.” READ MORE

3/11/21: New Report Shows Poor Women And Girls Lack Sufficient Family Planning Services (Capital FM – Kenya)

“President Kenyatta spoke on Monday at State House, Nairobi when he delivered the opening address at this year’s Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC21) held virtually. The President said health challenges facing young Africans such as HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance abuse had been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. To make the [Universal Health Coverage (UHC)] aspiration a reality, the President said African nations need to focus more on the expansion of primary health, increase access to health services, make healthcare affordable and harness the innovativeness of its youth. The Head of State also called for stronger collaboration and coordination among stakeholders, improvement of health security and more political will to advance the UHC agenda.” READ MORE

3/11/21: New Report Reveals How The U.S. Can Renew Its Leadership In Global Health R&D (Eurekalert)

“[Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) in a new report suggests] “increasing funding for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), particularly for its Center for Global Health, the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, and the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination and its Tuberculosis Trials Consortium. The report notes these programs have been ‘operating on tight and relatively stagnant budgets’ and that the fight against COVID-19 compounded the problem by diverting resources and expertise. Meanwhile, the analysis points to the need to revitalize CDC’s global health work as part of the broader effort to rebuild an agency that was ‘politicized and undermined’ during the COVID-19 response.” READ MORE

3/11/21: Africa’s Battle With COVID-19 Continues, One Year On (Deutsche Welle)

“The fight against other diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS has also stalled in the past year ‘The COVID pandemic is now pushing us even further away from our goals,’ Winnie Byanyima, director of UNAIDS, said. The impact of COVID-19 could cause an additional 148,000 people to die from HIV/AIDS, according to UNAIDS. One of the reasons for this is that HIV-positive people are afraid of entering hospitals, where in addition to COVID, many other airborne diseases could spell a major episode of immune compromisation for them. But there are also more nefarious reasons behind these statistics: ‘Sexual violence is a major cause of new infections, especially in Africa,’ Byanyima added. Furthermore, another reason for the predicted influx of HIV cases is the fact that since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, fewer people are getting tested for other diseases, with the vast majority of public health programs turning their attention to COVID.” READ MORE

3/10/21: COVID-19: 77,000 TB Patients Left Undetected (Prothom Alo – India)

“Tuberculosis services, like other health and medical services, have been affected in many parts of the world due to coronavirus. In an article published in the medical journal ‘Lancet’ in September last year, it was stated that in the countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis, the risk of death may increase by 20 per cent in the next five years. Coronavirus pandemic is not over yet. After evaluating the present tuberculosis situation, the officials of NTP said it is difficult to distinguish between coronavirus and tuberculosis as both the diseases show common symptoms like cough, breathing difficulties and fever. General people and health workers rarely visited the health centres due to fear of contracting coronavirus. However, the authorities concerned have made a plan to compensate for the damage.” READ MORE

3/10/21: After A Year Of Pain, Here’s How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out In 2021 And Beyond (Menafn)

“In low- and middle-income countries, there may be a reduction in severe cases, freeing them to rehabilitate health services that have suffered in the past 12 months. These include maternal, newborn, and child health services, including reproductive health; tuberculosis, HIV and malaria programs; and nutrition. However, reviving these services will need rich countries to commit generous and sustained aid.” READ MORE

3/10/21: For The Global AIDS Response To Be Successful, Women And Girls Must Be Safe, Healthy, And Educated (Georgetown University Medical Center)

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder that advances in public health, human rights, and prevention of violence against women and girls cannot be taken for granted. This is especially the case in the global fight against HIV, where, despite heroic and successful efforts to expand treatment, we are falling short when it comes to preventing new infections. Initial declines have stalled and we’ve reached a dangerous plateau of 1.7 million new HIV infections each year. Each infection represents a person – in many cases, a young woman, who already faces many challenges – who now faces a lifelong medical condition that puts them at risk for stigma, gender-based violence, and diminished economic opportunities for themselves and their family.” READ MORE

3/10/21: Global Health Transitions And COVID-19: Seven Critical Priorities (HealthAffairs)

“COVID-19 is not only presenting massive challenges to the financing and delivery of the world’s health systems but is also fostering discussions on the strategic direction of many critical global health priorities, including global health transitions. In recent years, some countries that in the past relied on outside development assistance have begun reaching higher income levels and commenced the process of transitioning away from external financing—a prominent priority for the global health community, and rightly so. Whether it’s the millions of lives saved through immunization or in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria, leveraging donor and domestic financing to catalyze impact is undoubtedly a development success story. With its implications on macro-economic stability, disruption to health programs, and the potential to reset priorities of health and finance ministries, COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate concerns about the impact of transitions from external global health financing.” READ MORE

3/10/21: Other Deadly Diseases Spreading Globally Because Of COVID-19 Disruption (Roll Call)

“Additionally, many adults around the world are now at heightened risk of catching and spreading sexually transmitted diseases, including deadly ones such as HIV, because fewer people are seeking testing and treatment as a result of some of the obstacles created by the pandemic. ‘Remember, we still have a second pandemic, which has been swept underneath the carpet now, which is the HIV pandemic,’ John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said during an online Brookings Institution discussion in February.”

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3/10/21: UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, Meets With President Of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari (UNAIDS)

“The UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, has met the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to discuss the country’s response to the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19. The meeting was part of Ms Byanyima’s three-day visit to the country, which also included visits to communities on the frontline of the response and events to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March.” READ MORE

3/10/21: Millions Of Children At Risk Of Death From Famine And Disease As COVID-19 Wipes Out 20 Years Of Progress (Mirage News)

“As the world focuses on access to COVID-19 vaccines, lockdowns have restricted essential health services, causing millions of children to miss out on vaccines against other diseases. Twenty years of hard-won gains are at risk. More than five million children under five face the threats of cholera and diarrhoea, and the pandemic could wipe out 20 years of progress in tackling HIV, TB and malaria, potentially doubling annual death tolls. The WHO estimates the likelihood of a child born today being vaccinated with all the globally recommended vaccines by the time they turn five, is now less than 20 per cent.” READ MORE

3/10/21: Child TB Emerging Health Challenge For Bangladesh: Experts (The Financial Express)

“But people and media in general do not give due importance to transmission of TB as in the case of the spread of coronavirus, they opined. Although annual mortality rate from TB in Bangladesh is much higher than Covid, people are more concerned about the deadly virus for which they wear masks, they noted.” READ MORE

3/10/21: Impact Of COVID-19 On HIV Testing In Children And Adolescents (Contagion Live)

“‘Pediatric and adolescent HIV testing and diagnoses dramatically declined in many sub-Saharan African countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries – like Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria – that maintained or increased index testing during COVID-19 had the lowest declines in case finding,” the authors wrote. “To mitigate the effects of COVID-19, programs may consider strategies to maximize index testing for children and adolescents (<19) of people living with HIV.’” READ MORE

3/9/21: COVID-19 And HIV/AIDS. Where They Do And Do Not Overlap: Epidemiology And Science (AIDSPAN)

“Thanks to AIDS, the world was in a stronger position to face COVID-19. In a document on COVID-19 and HIV, UNAIDS noted: ‘Unlike the HIV response, which essentially had to build an infrastructure from the ground up, COVID-19 responses have the potential to piggyback on the important infrastructure that HIV investments have created. For example, the newly trained and credentialed health personnel that HIV investments have deployed, including more than 280,000 new health-care workers trained by PEPFAR (the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) alone, are currently assisting as first responders to COVID-19 in many low- and middle-income countries.’” READ MORE

3/8/21: Generation Equality: Movement Building And Solidarity To End AIDS (Frontline AIDS)

“COVID-19 has threatened to derail the global HIV response as well as setting women’s rights back by a decade, but we have also witnessed the extraordinary resilience of communities to adapt, innovate and mobilise in the face of this global emergency.” READ MORE

3/8/21: Tackling Gender Inequalities And Gender-based Violence During The COVID-19 Pandemic In Asia And The Pacific (UNAIDS)

“‘It was hard for us before COVID-19, but it has become even harder now,’ said Ayu Oktariani, the National Coordinator of the Indonesia Positive Network of Women Living with HIV (IPPI). For more than 10 years, she has been working with women and adolescents living with HIV who have been subjected to domestic violence in Indonesia, providing them with psychosocial support and counselling. Since the first COVID-19 outbreak, she has seen increased requests for help, as violence has escalated alarmingly.” READ MORE

3/8/21: As Peru Battles COVID-19, Tuberculosis Finds New Footing (Undark)

“Tuberculosis kills around 1.5 million people a year, making it a top priority for public health organizations. The United Nations aims to end the epidemic of tuberculosis by 2030, but Covid-related disruptions to TB treatments may push that goal out of reach — and end up propagating strains that are resistant to treatment, which also tend to be the deadliest.” READ MORE

3/7/21: The Woman With HIV Helping Others Have A ‘Good Death’ (BBC News)

“The World Health Organization calls [Eswatini] ‘the epicentre of the global HIV and AIDS epidemic’ – an epidemic experts say is worsening as a result of COVID-19. While significant strides have been made with the country’s handling of the virus in the past few decades, the country of 1.3 million people still has the world’s highest prevalence rate of HIV, estimated at 26%.” READ MORE

3/7/21: Un: COVID-19 May Push 8 Million Women Into Poverty In 2021 (This Day – Nigeria)

“He said that the 36-member states in the African region have integrated at least one gender-responsive measure in their national COVID-19 response plans. ‘We have trained 155 health workers in 22 African countries to support women suffering from gender-based violence and to continue to safely deliver sexual and reproductive health and HIV services in the context of COVID-19.’” READ MORE

3/4/21: A Global Campaign Against Malaria (This Day – Nigeria)

“Recording over 60 million cases in 2019 and 95,000 deaths, Nigeria is the country with the highest number of malaria cases and deaths in the world. The DTL campaign launches at a critical time, with setbacks to malaria progress suffered amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the country set to unveil the new National malaria elimination strategy which will run from 2021-2025.” READ MORE

3/4/21: How COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts Could Help Defeat Other Diseases (World Economic Forum)

“The number of estimated AIDS-related deaths declined by 39% between 2010 and 2019, but a target of 500,000 or fewer deaths by 2020 will be missed – despite increased access to antiretroviral therapy. Experts have warned the global AIDS response could now be set back by a decade or more, depending on how much COVID-19 disrupts HIV services.” READ MORE

3/4/2021: Senate Relief Package Earmarks $10b For Global Coronavirus Response (The Hill)

“The bulk of the money is directed toward aiding the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious and communicable diseases, with hundreds of millions of dollars more helping fund the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other global assistance funds through September 2022. This includes providing $8.675 billion for the global response to the pandemic. Of this sum, $3.75 billion is being directed to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and $3.09 billion for international disaster relief, including reconstruction, health services and emergency food security needs.” READ MORE

3/4/2021: New U.S. Malaria Czar: Why We Should Care About The Disease, Even In A Pandemic (NPR)

“Just because COVID is infecting so many people doesn’t mean the malaria disease burden has gotten any less. It’s gotten worse because COVID has disrupted health care systems dramatically and that has put the strain on health workers and clinics, disrupted supply chains as well. We need to make sure nets and malaria tests and treatments get to people.” READ MORE

3/4/2021: Global Health Security Requires Endemic Disease Eradication (The Lancet)

“The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Malaria programmes will continue to face operational and financial challenges, and the attention and resources of the malaria programme staff and researchers will be stretched to additionally address COVID-19. The global economy is hard hit and malaria funding, which has been stagnant for the past several years, is poised to decline in the near term as malaria-endemic countries face budget shortfalls and major donors cut their aid budgets. Existing health inequities within and between countries that exacerbate the spread and severity of malaria are being deepened by COVID-19.” READ MORE

3/3/2021: Time To Rethink ‘malaria Elimination’ (Economic Times – India)

“To put it in retrospect, while countries like Sri-Lanka, China and number of European nations had the space to dedicatedly focus on COVID during the pandemic, India also had to strive to keep in check other diseases like dengue, malaria, encephalitis etc. The diversity of issues may not have just impacted our case load and mortalities, but would’ve made it a tedious task to create ever-compassing health-response strategies. This becomes a harsh wake-up call to swiftly and efficiently deal with existing public-health priorities.” READ MORE

3/3/21: Opinion: What COVID-19 Tells Us About Battling Malaria, Other Infectious Diseases In Africa (Devex)

“Unlike COVID-19, malaria is easily treatable and preventable. If we can muster even a fraction of the effort COVID-19 has rightly inspired, we can rapidly accelerate progress to save lives and livelihoods at a time when the African economy urgently needs a social and economic boost. Evidence suggests that investments in the fight against malaria can in turn strengthen health system preparedness and help protect against the next pandemic.” READ MORE

3/3/21: Covid: Don’t Neglect Basic Care And Oxygen If Resources Are Scarce (The Africa Report)

“COVID-19 has exacerbated the global shortage of health workers, already estimated to be over seven million before the pandemic. Where there are not enough doctors and nurses to deliver medical care, one solution is to move certain tasks to less specialised health workers, a process called task-shifting. There is extensive public health experience with task-shifting and substantial evidence that this can reduce costs and improve efficiency in the areas of HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and other diseases.” READ MORE

3/2/21: WHO: Sudden Surge In COVID-19 Cases Rise Not Surprising (Dhaka Tribune – Bangladesh)

“Dr Michael Ryan, WHO executive director, spoke about the difficulty in reaching conflict areas such as the Tigray region in Ethiopia, where government and regional forces have been fighting since November. He said the situation is of grave concern, as water, sanitation, essential health services, and COVID-19 intervention have been disrupted. Many people are living in displacement camps, and facing an increased risk of diarrhoeal disease, malaria, and other illnesses.” READ MORE

3/2/21: Faith-based Project Against Paediatric HIV Launched In Côte D’ivoire (UNAIDS – Côte D’ivoire)

“’The COVID-19 pandemic that we are facing is a very worrying health and social emergency that requires a strong response. Many of the people affected are children living with HIV,’ said Bruno Yedoh Essoh, the President of Caritas Côte d’Ivoire. ‘Gaps in the diagnosis and care of children living with HIV are notable and an effective national partnership with faith-based organizations in Côte d’Ivoire can help fill these gaps,’ said Jean-François Somé, a UNAIDS PEPFAR/Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Implementation Adviser who represented UNAIDS at the launch.” READ MORE

3/2/21: We Must Embrace Our Interconnectedness (Health Affairs)

“The cost of COVID-19 means that we are going to see significant reversals of much of the progress we’ve built over previous decades. Maternal and infant mortality are increasing while the important gains we’ve made in malaria are reversing. The health equity gap is widening, and many of the world’s most devastating crises, such as those in Yemen, Venezuela, and Lebanon, have continued to deteriorate away from the world’s eye.” READ MORE

3/2/21: HIV Prevention Forward: Choices For The Future (HIV.Gov)

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic has led to challenges with conventional access to HIV prevention services and HIV testing, some positive developments emerged, including evidence showing that longstanding efforts to increase access to HIV prevention tools have achieved important successes. For example, responses to disruptions in service delivery fostered an increased use of telehealth and HIV self-testing programs. The lessons learned through the realities of HIV and COVID-19, as well as recently conducted research, have been mutually beneficial. HIV research and advocacy has informed breakthrough research for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The COVID-19 experience is providing HIV researchers with new insights, methods, and innovations to advance HIV prevention.” READ MORE

3/1/21: Us$ 64 Million To Respond To HIV, TB And Malaria In Congo (Africa News – Congo)

“’In the context of the country’s financial crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the grants allocated to Congo are a breath of fresh air. They provide renewed impetus to the government’s action in favour of populations affected by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria,’ said the Prime Minister of Congo, Clément Mouamba. The United Nations Development Programme will implement the HIV and tuberculosis grant, while Catholic Relief Services will implement the malaria grant.” READ MORE

3/1/21: COVID-19 Vaccines And Its Power Dynamics Where Does Africa Stand (Front Page Africa)

“Given the power dynamics surrounding medicines, especially the current pandemic, rich and powerful nations primarily address the challenges facing their people in receiving the vaccines. In contrast, Africa continues to play at the dictates of these nations. This probably gives annoying reasons why many would think that the future of Africa remains bleak, and the possibility of attaining our vaccines remains questionable. This worrying situation continues to undermine the global efforts against Coronavirus and several preventable diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, among others.” READ MORE

3/1/21: Reporting The Realities Faced By Lgbti People And People Living With HIV In Asia And The Pacific (UNAIDS)

“The newsletter is also a testament to how community-led organizations have used the structure and networks from the HIV response to ensure timely access to information about COVID-19 while preventing disruption to HIV services. Examples of these initiatives include how community-led HIV services provide antiretroviral therapy, HIV testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to key populations and fundraising efforts for food packages.” READ MORE

3/1/21: Us$ 64 Million To Respond To HIV, TB, And Malaria In Congo (UNAIDS)

“‘The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Government of Congo and health partners have announced two new grants worth more than US$ 64 million to strengthen prevention and treatment services to respond to HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and to build resilient and sustainable systems for health in Congo.” READ MORE

2/26/21: COVID-19 Situation Report (The Global Fund)

“There are significant further needs for immediate funding, including for personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and treatment, and to mitigate the impact on lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs. To defeat COVID-19, the Global Fund advocates a comprehensive approach that brings together testing, treatments, vaccines and the health systems and medical supplies to make it happen – vaccines alone will not be enough.” READ MORE

2/25/21: UNAIDS Welcomes The United Nations General Assembly Decision To Hold A High-level Meeting On HIV And AIDS In 2021 (UNAIDS)

“Even the gains already made against HIV are threatened by the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The high-level meeting creates an opportunity to ensure that the world bolsters the resiliency of the HIV response to date, commits to rapid recovery post-COVID-19 and applies the lessons learned from the colliding epidemics of HIV and COVID-19 to create more resilient societies and health systems that are ready to meet future health challenges.” READ MORE

2/25/21: COVID-19 Spurs On Multimonth Dispensing Of HIV Treatment In Cambodia (UNAIDS)

“The UNAIDS Country Director for Cambodia, Vladanka Andreeva, had feared the worst when COVID-19 shut down the country. “The biggest and oldest HIV treatment site in the capital was repurposed to serve as a COVID-19 centre and our outreach activities had to cease with public venues closed to the public.” But UNAIDS, with the national AIDS programme and communities, worked together and helped with moving people to another treatment site, while providing face coverings and hand sanitizer to people living with HIV. UNAIDS also advocated that people living with HIV be integrated in the emergency cash transfer programme. As a result, more than 2500 households benefitted. And more importantly, UNAIDS and partners pushed to introduce the home delivery of treatment and the rollout of multimonth dispensing of HIV medicine at the national level. ‘We have used COVID-19 as an accelerator to further scale up and promote the multimonth dispensing of medicine,’ Ms Andreeva said, pictured above.” READ MORE

2/25/21: Unitaid And Partners Launch COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce (News Ghana)

“‘Since the start of the pandemic, affordable and sustainable access to oxygen has been a growing challenge in low and middle-income countries, where COVID-19 has put a huge pressure on health systems,’ the spokesperson said, adding that 25 countries currently are reporting surges in demand, the majority of them in Africa. According to the spokesperson, the taskforce will need immediate funding of 90 million U.S. dollars for up to 20 low-income countries, and that figure is projected to grow to 1.6 billion U.S. dollars for the next 12 months.” READ MORE

2/25/21: The Deadly Duo: TB And COVID-19 (Linkedin)

“TB and COVID1-9 make a deadly combination and pose additional challenges as TB and COVID-19 both affect the lungs. Globally, there is mounting evidence that patients with chronic respiratory diseases, including TB, are at increased risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ‘Global estimates suggest that unless additional measures are put in place, the lockdowns that have been implemented across the world to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, and the slow return to services after these lockdowns, could lead to an additional 6.3 million cases of TB during 2020–2025 and an additional 1.4 million TB deaths. This will set the world back five to eight years in the global fight against TB.’” READ MORE

2/25/21: Vcna Partners With Zero Malaria Starts With Me Movement To Inspire Young People In The Fight Against Malaria (Bella Naija – Nigeria)

“ViacomCBS Networks Africa (VCNA) has joined forces with the Zero Malaria Starts With Me (ZMSWM) movement to inspire and engage young people in the fight against malaria – the generation that can end this preventable disease. VCNA’s commitment to malaria and its powerful platforms will provide a unique opportunity to draw attention to the oldest and deadliest disease on the continent. This partnership comes together at a crucial time in the fight against malaria. Despite the progress made since 2000, malaria continues to claim lives and COVID-19 has made the fight even harder. While 90% of life-saving malaria prevention campaigns were delivered as planned in 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that disruption to malaria diagnosis and treatment could still lead to thousands of additional deaths across the African continent where 74% of the population is below the age of 35. Therefore, it is crucial to building partnerships that can reach young people and ensure their engagement so that malaria doesn’t steal their futures.” READ MORE

2/25/21: Arti Q&A: Tackling Two Deadly Diseases One Health System At A Time (Devex)

“’Health systems that are resilient, that serve everyone — which is the goal of achieving universal health coverage — are the same health systems needed for health security and emergencies. COVID-19 — and as was demonstrated earlier by Ebola — is reliant on resilient, equitable health systems. Whenever we have seen that we don’t have resilient, equitable health systems, the impacts of health emergencies like COVID-19 become even more severe, disrupting the social and economic fabric of society. So we know that when we work on TB and malaria — not as a vertical intervention, but horizontal interventions where we build community health systems and policy intervention — we’re building systems that last beyond these two interventions in Kenya and Ethiopia … We’re seeing this intervention not in its limitation of the two geographies and the two vertical interventions, but as something horizontal that will affect other interventional areas and build health systems for the future and for the next pandemic beyond COVID-19’ [Dr. Githinji Gitahi, CEO of Amref Health Africa].” READ MORE

2/25/21: COVID-19 Must Not Disrupt TB, Malaria Control (Financial Express – India)

“While India targets to eliminate TB in the next four years, the drop in the reported number of TB cases last year—a sign of COVID-19 having interrupted TB detection—would suggest the chances of achieving the target may not be too great. This is not to say that India hasn’t accorded priority to the control efforts—indeed, with significant health and social support programmes, there has been meaningful progress over the years. However, there is still a large gap to bridge, and there is a very real chance of the gap becoming wider because of the pandemic’s disruptive effect” READ MORE

2/24/21: Siya Kolisi, Sherrie Silver & More: African Stars Join Forces To Draw The Line Against Malaria (Global Citizen – Nigeria)

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged public health systems around the world, it has caused severe disruption in over 80% of malaria programs globally, resulting in undetected cases and missed treatments for millions of people worldwide. Malaria is transmitted by female mosquitoes carrying the parasite. When one of these mosquitoes bites someone, they can become infected with the disease and experience a range of flu-like symptoms and fever. In April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa could double to 770,000 per year — twice the number of deaths reported in the region in 2018 — basically charting a path to malaria mortality levels last seen in the year 2000. The WHO notes that children under the age of 5 are the most vulnerable to the disease, accounting for 67% of malaria deaths in 2019. More than 90% of all malaria cases worldwide occur in Africa but countries in Asia and Latin America are also facing similar challenges due to lockdowns and other coronavirus restrictions.” READ MORE

2/24/21: New Global Fund Grants To Increase Access To Health Services In Congo (United Nations Development Programme – The Republic Of Congo)

“’This is a critical time for the Republic of the Congo, as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the hard-won health and development gains of recent years,’ said UNDP Administrator Steiner. ‘The Global Fund grants will play a pivotal role in supporting the Ministry of Health to strengthen the health system in the country and help people access the vital services they need.’ ‘These new investments represent an important milestone in our partnership with the Government of the Congo and our health partners,’ said [Peter] Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ‘We acknowledge the progress made by the country over the past three years and we must work even harder to step up the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and strengthen health systems. We must all rise to the challenge.’” READ MORE

2/24/21: Covid‐19: Learning From The HIV/AIDS Pandemic Response In Africa (The International Journal Of Health Planning And Management)

“…it is important to note that the COVID‐19 response should not side‐line HIV counselling and treatment services as the HIV pandemic is still ongoing. A balance needs to be achieved as discontinuation of HIV treatment during the coronavirus pandemic could result in more than 500,000 needless deaths…” READ MORE

2/24/21: Drug-resistant Malaria: A Public Health War Nigeria Cannot Afford To Fight (Nigeria Health Watch)

“ACT-resistant malaria is a public health war we do not want to fight. A lot of public health resources have been spent in the battle against COVID-19. So, it will take some time for healthcare to recover from the strain and damage incurred due to COVID-19. The last thing we need is a variant of malaria that we cannot manage. While efforts have continued for the development of a new generation of malaria drugs, championed by Medicines for Malaria Venture, we are still some distance from a new class of effective malaria drugs.” READ MORE

2/24/21: Health System Boosted To Respond To COVID-19 (Sanews.Gov.Za)

“In total, the health expenditure function will over the medium term make up 14.2 percent of total government spending, declining from R247 billion in 2020/21 to R245 billion in 2023/24. ‘Provincial health departments receive about 92 percent (R678.7 billion) of these medium-term allocations. Reductions to the sector, mostly focused on compensation spending, are estimated at about R50.3 billion over the 2021 MTEF period,’ the document reads. To achieve this, other reductions would be required from health departments to increase efficiency. This included generating savings through centralised procurement of certain goods, reducing variations in unit costs in HIV programmes and improving management of overtime costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the South African health system. As at 16 February 2021, the country had 1.5 million confirmed cases and over 137 000 excess deaths as reported by the South African Medical Research Council.” READ MORE

2/24/21: African Youth Influencers Launch ‘zero Malaria’ Campaign (Kt Press – Rwanda)

“The new campaign launches against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic and although 90% of life-saving malaria prevention campaigns were delivered as planned in 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that disruption to malaria diagnosis and treatment could lead to thousands of additional deaths across the continent. Before the COVID-19 pandemic half of the world’s population was already living with the threat of malaria and, despite promising progress since the beginning of the millennium, the parasite is fighting back.” READ MORE

2/24/21: Irc Receives $17.8m USAID Grant To Scale Up Health Services In Liberia (Front Page Africa– Liberia)

“IRC Liberia has received a $17.8 million grant from USAID; the United States Agency for International Development to support the government of Liberia’s National Community Health Program. Approximately 29% of the Liberian population, and 60% of the rural population live more than 5km from a health facility. With a host of health challenges in the area including high incidence of Malaria, anemia and a lack of reproductive health services, this USAID funded program will enable IRC to support the Liberian Ministry of Health to meet the health needs of underserved populations in Bong and Lofa counties.” READ MORE

2/24/21: The Health Crisis In Ethiopia’s War–ravaged Tigray (Ethiopia Insight)

“While existing outbreaks such as COVID-19 are likely to worsen due to the war, the collapse of the primary health care system and disease prevention activities mean that outbreaks of other infectious diseases, including malaria, measles, cholera, and yellow fever may re-emerge. Furthermore, WHO reports indicate signs of acute watery diarrhea cases, and other new emerging illnesses have the potential to become significant outbreaks.” READ MORE

2/24/21: New Global Fund Grants To Increase Access To Health Services In Congo (Mirage)

“The Global Fund, the Government of the Republic of Congo and health partners today launched two new grants to strengthen prevention and treatment services to fight HIV, TB and malaria and build resilient and sustainable systems for health. The two grants, worth over US$64 million, represent a 97% increase from the previous allocation and will run from 2021-2023. UNDP will implement the HIV and tuberculosis grant, while Catholic Relief Services will implement the malaria grant.” READ MORE

2/23/21: 14 Years After: HIV Transmission, Deaths Declining – Naca (Daily Trust – Nigeria)

“Some of the successes recorded by the agency include facilitating and organising the response to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and the placement of over one million persons on antiretroviral, provision of strategic frameworks and guidance to the HIV response, and forming strategic partnerships with key stakeholders. Chairman of the governing board of the agency Senator Oladipo Odujinrin said recent times have been critical for the HIV/AIDS response worldwide particularly with the COVID-19 and its challenges. While saying the agency has achieved a lot in its 14 years of existence, he said there is still a lot to be done to end AIDS by 2030.” READ MORE

2/23/21: Report Highlights Tremendous Burden From Infectious Diseases In Sear Countries (Eurekalert)

“COVID-19 has disrupted the control of other infectious diseases in myriad ways, hindering routine vaccination programs, impeding the distribution of bed nets against malaria, and reducing TB services, among others. With the rollout of vaccines against the novel coronavirus and the ebbing of COVID-19, it will be essential to devote our full collective attention to the control of infectious diseases that have long plagued this region and continue to constitute a significant proportion of the avertable disease burden. ‘As the battle against the pandemic continues, so too must our progress against communicable diseases, for which WHO will continue to pull out all stops in support of our Member States, partners, and the Region’s near 2 billion people,’ said Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO SEARO.” READ MORE

2/23/21: Non-covid Patients ‘neglected’ (The Namibian)

“While Namibia has made significant progress in fighting malaria, statistics from the ministry of health show that in the first three months of 2020, 11,600 malaria cases were recorded countrywide, including 32 deaths. In June 2020, the ministry said it was not overly alarmed by the rise in malaria cases as it was malaria season and that measures were being taken to deal with the problem.” READ MORE

2/22/21: Why Does The Pandemic Seem To Be Hitting Some Countries Harder Than Others? (The New Yorker)

“’The telltale signatures of COVID-19 just aren’t there,’ [Ajay Shah, Indian economist] said. He won’t venture any hypotheses about the cause of the excess deaths. But among the possible candidates are indirect consequences of the pandemic: wage loss, displacement, malnourishment, forced migration, and disruptions in health care—the skipped clinic visit for malaria, diabetes, TB, or hypertension. According to World Health Organization analyses, disruptions in medical care and prevention programs related to malaria, TB, and H.I.V. will have cost many more lives in sub-Saharan Africa in the past year than the coronavirus. In poorer regions, especially, infection isn’t the only way that the pandemic can cost lives.” READ MORE

2/22/21: Govt, Un, Hail Nigeria’s HIV Response (Leadership – Nigeria)

“’When COVID-19 came, like in March, April and May, Nigeria was down in terms of the number we are capturing, in terms of the number we are getting to place on treatment but look at June, July and August, it has never happened in any country in the world. Nigeria [rebounded] and because of that, Nigeria is being recognised as one of the six countries that have survived the COVID-19  impact. In the past 18 months, Nigeria has added about 400,000 on treatment and about 1,000 of these are key affected population’ [National Agency for the Control of AIDS Director General (DG) Dr, Gambo Aliyu]. The DG, however, stressed the need for domestic funding and local manufacturing of commodities.” READ MORE

2/22/21: To Decolonize Global Health, We Must Examine The Global Political Economy (Think Global Health)

“African countries face collective financial losses from the pandemic of over $115 billion, which will push 40 million people into extreme poverty. Lockdowns and disrupted health care will lead to rising cases of other infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS, doubling deaths from them.” READ MORE

2/21/21: Sierra Leone: Drugs + HIV Or AIDS + COVID-19 = Deadly Mix (Mail & Guardian – Sierra Leone)

“The problems faced by people living with HIV during this pandemic are not limited COVID Sierra Leone. In South Africa, efforts to prevent and treat HIV stalled at the beginning of COVID-19. Currently, South Africa has the most CVODI-19 infections and deaths in Africa, with cases exceeding 1,400,000, and more than 40,000 deaths. Worst still, data from the country shows an increase in COVID-19 deaths for people living with HIV and tuberculosis. Last year, about 690,000 people died from HIV-related causes around the world and 1.7-million people were newly infected. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a need to redouble efforts to avoid the worst-case scenario of half a million excess deaths in sub-Saharan Africa because of interruptions in HIV responses. Although the HIV prevalence rate remains relatively low in Sierra Leone, disruptions in testing, tracking and treatment could have severe consequences. In 2019, UNAIDS estimated that 1.6% of adults aged 15 to 49 live with HIV in Sierra Leone.” READ MORE

2/22/21: Naca: Nigeria Among Six Countries Defying COVID-19 Impact On HIV/AIDS (This Day Live – Nigeria)

“Gambo said the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the assistance from the Global Fund among other development partners are responsible for the milestones. ‘COVID-19 struck when we were least expecting and when we were not ready. In March, April and May, Nigeria was down in terms of the numbers we were capturing and getting to place on treatment, but after May, we jumped. What happened in June, July, August in Nigeria has never happened in any part of the world’.” READ MORE

2/20/21: While Waiting For COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Or Treatment (Modern Ghana)

“Some examples of essential services that cannot be sacrificed because of COVID-19 include routine vaccination; reproductive health services including care during pregnancy and childbirth; care of young infants and older adults; management of psychological and mental conditions, non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases like HIV, malaria, and TB; critical inpatient therapies; management of emergency health conditions; auxiliary services like basic diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, blood bank services, among others.” READ MORE

2/18/21: Coronavirus Increasing Self-medication (Ghana Web – Ghana)

“Statistics indicate that Ghana is among the 15 highest malaria burden countries in the world and reported the highest increase in absolute case numbers of 500,000 new cases from 2017 to 2018. Despite this worrying situation, herbal preparation or home remedies and self-medication appear on the increase due to COVID-19 and the fear of hospital visitations. This is against the global malaria 3Ts (Test, Treat and Track), campaign, which was doing just good in hospitals across the country before Ghana started recording COVID-19 cases. A visit by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to some drug stores and herbal retail shops in Ashaiman and Okaishie Drug Lane in the Greater Accra Region indicates that the preference was not only linked with cost but some trust in the potency of the local mixtures and home remedies.” READ MORE

2/18/21: U.S. Will Pay Over $200 Million In Who Contributions, Says Antony Blinken (The Hindu)

“’The United States believes that multilateralism, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, are essential not just as an effective international COVID-19 health and humanitarian response but also building stronger global health capacity and security for the future,’ [U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken] told his counterparts on Wednesday. ‘We plan to provide significant financial support to COVAX through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. And we’ll work to strengthen other multilateral initiatives involved in the global COVID-19 response – for example, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria,’ Mr. Blinken said.” READ MORE

2/18/21: Prioritizing Public Health Pays Off In Africa’s Covid Fight, But ‘moral Catastrophe’ Looms (Homeland Security Today)

“’We will go to war with what we have. What we have is our health systems, what we have is our people,’ [Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong] said. ‘But we count on the resilience of our people, of Africans, who have fought these viruses over and over and over — the HIV, the malarias, the Ebolas — that we’ll be able to deliver these vaccines in a timely fashion.’ HIV kills more than 500,000 Africans a year. Over the next 30 years, over 4 million Africans could die every year from antimicrobial resistance. Nkengasong said he fears ‘COVID is going to aggravate’ these along with the killers tuberculosis and malaria. ‘We see the light at the end of the tunnel because of the COVID vaccines,’ he said. ‘But I always caution that we should recognize that our only failure in this fight against COVID-19 will be the failure for us to admit some of our own failures… we just have to make sure innovation keeps growing and we keep sharing.’” READ MORE

2/18/21: HIV Testing, Art Initiation In South Africa Falls Nearly 50% In COVID-19 Lockdown (Contagion Live – South Africa)

“’We were surprised that ongoing ART provision was not more heavily impacted,’ [Jienchi Dorward, BSc, MBChB, MRCGP, MSc] said. ‘Modelling studies…had suggested that decreases in ART provision related to COVID-19 would have the largest impact on HIV related mortality in Africa. So it is good news that ART provision was not so heavily impacted.’ Rates of HIV testing and ART initiation gradually improved as the pandemic restrictions were eased from the implementation of the national lockdown, which began at Level 5 on March 27 and was eased to Level 4 on May 1 and Level 3 on June 1. There were 76,706 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal province by July 31, 2020. ‘It is crucial to ensure access to all aspects of HIV care through the COVID-19 pandemic’ Dorward said. ‘This will require innovation to ensure that people can continue to test, start treatment and continue receiving uninterrupted ART.’” READ MORE

2/17/21: Unprotected African Health Workers Die As Rich Countries Buy Up COVID-19 Vaccines (Science Magazine)

“[Robert Schooley, an infectious disease researcher at the University of California, San Diego] thinks the United States should take a more active role in protecting health care workers in countries such as Zimbabwe. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, launched in 2003, has saved countless lives by providing more than $80 billion in the fight against HIV, he notes. ‘We have worked with our counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa for 2’ years to try to help them build a more resilient health care infrastructure,’ Schooley says, “and we’re sitting on our hands watching that be torn apart by the coronavirus.’” READ MORE

2/18/21: Opinion: The Fight Against TB, Paused By COVID-19, Must Resume (Devex)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives, economies, and health systems, across the world with record-breaking speed. In doing so, it has seemingly pushed aside tuberculosis, another deadly airborne infectious disease. But TB didn’t go anywhere. People just got distracted, health workers were redirected, and health systems became overwhelmed. In just a few months, the pandemic reversed years of progress made in the fight against TB. Recovering from this setback is an urgent priority.” READ MORE

2/18/21: Opinion: Covid Has Strengthened Our Health Systems (The Hindu Business Line)

“While India has managed to keep the COVID-19 mortality rate at low levels, there is consensus among India’s policymakers that public spending needs to go up. Increased spending will help to upgrade health infrastructure in the country, including at the primary level, over the next six years. This will strengthen primary healthcare and extend the reach of malaria services in rural and remote areas, for the most vulnerable populations, where malaria is increasingly concentrated.” READ MORE

2/17/21: Learning From COVID-19 To Accelerate Malaria Vaccines Development (Medical Xpress)

“It is likely that malaria cases have been underreported during this pandemic. The challenges for health systems for coping with COVID-19 and malaria at the same time are onerous due to complex interactions between both diseases. Malaria and COVID-19 signs and symptoms can be similar, complicating diagnoses. Thus, malaria may go undiagnosed in people presenting with fever and testing positive for COVID-19. Symptomatic malaria-infected individuals could also be deterred from seeking healthcare because of fear of COVID-19 infection and the stigma thereafter.” READ MORE

2/17/21: Updates On Sdg Goal 3 In Kenya (Borgen Magazine)

“As of 2018, the tuberculosis incidence rate in Kenya was 292 per 100,000 people. With disruptions in healthcare, children are at increased risk of contracting such preventable diseases. In addition, COVID-19 has impacted health outcomes for people with HIV/AIDS, malaria and neglected tropical diseases.” READ MORE

2/16/21: It’s Vital To Prioritize TB Preventive Therapy For Almost A Million South Africans – Right Now (Daily Maverick)

“The results of a 2018 national TB prevalence survey were released on 5 February 2021, showing that there are 390,000 people living with TB in South Africa. With an average household size of 3.3 people, this means that 897,000 people – in all likelihood more, due to the impact of COVID-19 on TB services – were exposed to TB in the household. It is clear that enhanced strategies for preventing close contacts of TB patients from contracting the disease are urgently needed.” READ MORE

2/16/21: African Union Chalks Huge Success In Combating Malaria Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic (News Ghana – Ghana)

“Beating malaria remains a major public health challenge in Africa. During the COVID-19 pandemic African governments mounted effective responses that ensured access to malaria services which averted many thousands of deaths on the continent. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of investing in and strengthening health systems and the need to work together to find solutions. The response to COVID-19 has set a challenge, to apply the same vigour, in the fight against malaria, for Africa to accelerate the elimination of malaria by 2030.” READ MORE

2/16/21: Innovation, Collaboration, And Policy During COVID-19 (Health Europa)

“As observed during previous crises, the indirect morbidity and mortality effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may be as important as the direct effects of the pandemic itself. With regards to other infectious diseases, there are widespread disruptions to HIV, TB and malaria service delivery programmes globally with shortages in medical supplies, treatments and diagnostics. It is estimated that the disruption of routine childhood immunisation services across the globe puts at least 80 million children under one at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, yellow fever, typhoid, cholera and tetanus. The effects of the disruption to these and other, non-communicable disease programmes including mental health and maternal health programmes will be seen for years to come.” READ MORE

2/16/21: Let Us Rekindle The Fight Against The Spread Of HIV/AIDS (Ghana Web – Ghana)

“Samuel Opoku-Afriyie, a medical practitioner at the Effiduase government hospital, has stressed the need to rekindle the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. He said HIV/AIDS was still causing havoc in society and there was the need for broader stakeholder engagement and investments to help fight the disease in communities. Mr Opoku-Afriyie made the call at a durbar to commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day celebration at Asokore, in the Sekyere East District. He said the outbreak of the COVID-19 seemed to have overshadowed the education and awareness creation on HIV/AIDS in the communities and called on stakeholders to help promote sustainable education on the disease. Mr Opoku-Afriyie called on religious leaders, traditional leaders, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and others to lead the educational campaign to help reduce the spread of the virus in communities.” READ MORE

2/16/21: Ngo Rolls Out COVID-19 Social Cash Transfer Initiative (Nyasa Times – Malawi)

“The National Association for Young People Living with HIV (NAYPLHIV) has rolled out a social cash transfer initiative aimed to alleviate economic hardships among the vulnerable and marginalized groups during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The association’s executive official Edward Phiri said the initiative is mainly targeting 64 Adolescents and Young People Living with HIV (AYPLHIV) in the realm of transgender, adolescents living with HIV orphans, supporting active COVID-19 adolescent living with HIV and young people living with HIV. Other beneficiaries are young pregnant women and widowed mothers below the age of 25, young positive couples most in need, young people living with HIV who lost their job during COVID crises and adolescent girls and young women to support with sexual reproductive health services aged 10-30 years.” READ MORE

2/15/21: Don’t Neglect Ongoing Battle Against TB (The Straits Times)

“COVID-19 has gripped the attention of the world this past year. As a nation, we have demonstrated that through a combination of decisive public health policy and the willingness of our people to work together for a common goal, it is possible to limit the effects of COVID-19 on the community and economy. However, COVID-19 has effectively stolen the limelight from the many other diseases that have continually plagued and harmed people for decades. This includes TB. Globally and locally, the burden of TB remains high. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2019, 1.4 million lives were lost to TB. The effects of TB, like COVID-19, are far-reaching. With a single positive case, TB can insidiously infect many people as it is an airborne disease.” READ MORE

2/15/21: Malaria Outbreak Hits North-west District (The Voice – Botswana)

“As part of addressing the situation, [acting head of Ngami District Health Management Team (DHMT), Sandra Maripe-Ebutswe] revealed that they have since started a Malaria campaign that has since reached a total of 6488 people. The malaria awareness messages, she said, are passed through community mobilization. Ebutswe however highlighted that they are faced with a challenge of shortage of resources. ‘We are short staffed; the same people who are on the front lines fighting COVID-19 are the ones who are also engaged in the Malaria outbreak.’ She added that, both malaria and COVID-19 require contact tracing and noted that they do not have enough resources including transport to arrest both situations.” READ MORE

2/15/21: New UNAIDS Country Director Pledges Continued Support To Liberia’s HIV Response (Front Page Africa – Liberia)

“Madam [PepUKai] ChikUKwa [UNAIDS Country Director to Liberia] explained that she started working in Liberia from September 2020, but Madam ChikUKwa assured Minister Kemayah of UNAIDS’ commitment for the HIV response, saying right now there is quite a lot of anxiety for HIV responses and other global priorities. With COVID crisis ongoing around the world, Madam ChikUKwa stated that she does not know how the world is going to look like. According to her, countries are trying to recover from the COVID crisis, and so financially there might be some bit of hesitance and reluctance to commit to HIV.” READ MORE

2/15/21: President Kenyatta Highlights The African Union Progress In Defeating Malaria Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic (African Leaders Malaria Alliance)

“President Uhuru Kenyatta, chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, announced the progress that has been made in responding to malaria amidst the COVID-19 public health emergency. The third Zero Malaria Starts With Me annual Africa Malaria Progress Report highlights the achievements, challenges, and future directions in Africa’s battle to defeat malaria. Since the launch of the Zero Malaria Starts with Me Campaign in 2018 by African Presidents, 19 countries have launched the initiative. The public-facing campaign calls for communities and leaders to take personal responsibility to end malaria. ‘At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO predicted a doubling of malaria deaths if severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines were experienced. While we are now in the second wave of the pandemic, I am delighted to say that through the strongest in-country leadership, this predicted doubling in malaria deaths was averted,’ said President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who chairs the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.” READ MORE

2/15/21: Closing Inequality Gaps Will Halt HIV Infections – Byanyima (The Independent – Uganda)

“On rights, 34 million girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are not in secondary school even before the disruption caused by COVID-19. Yet we know that a full round of secondary education reduces the HIV risk to girls by 50%. Let us offer every girl an excellent education and build community organizations to help them realize their rights. We will never end AIDS if we do not make HIV prevention a renewed urgent priority nor will we succeed if communities are not the front and centre of our responses.” READ MORE

2/15/21: What Coronavirus Taught Us About Developing Nations (America Magazine)

“The coronavirus’s rapid and unpredictable spread has disrupted global health systems. It has also threatened to reverse decades of progress we have made on fighting illnesses like H.I.V. and malaria. According to a recent World Health Organization study, 14 African countries have seen a decline of more than 50 percent in critical health services. Children have missed out on vaccinations. Mothers have missed their pre- and postnatal care. And there has been a sharp decline in families’ access to healthy and nutritious food.” READ MORE

2/14/21: Drc Bracing To Contain Ebola Outbreak, As Guinea Another African Country Announces Cases (World Vision – Democratic Republic Of Congo)

“’Since March 2020 we adapted our programmes to augment the COVID19 standard operating procedures, and thankfully most of the measures like frequent handwashing, and physical distancing work for Ebola prevention as well,’ World Vision East Zone Director, David Munkley adds. WHO and the government have commenced shipment of vaccine doses to Butembo and ensuring shipment of cold chain equipment to the affected zone, as well as working to strengthen laboratory capacity. This part of the country suffers cycles of violent conflict that complicate surveillance efforts, and constrain access to affected areas by responders. Ongoing health emergencies such as COVID-19, malaria, common cholera and measles outbreaks further stretch the country’s ability to rapidly detect and respond to new Ebola cases.” READ MORE

2/14/21: How Brazil Gambled On Unproven Drugs To Fight COVID-19 (Cnn– Brazil)

“In September, the Health Ministry’s strategic medicines office confirmed to CNN Brasil that it was in the process of acquiring more chloroquine with resources earmarked for combatting COVID-19 because its stockpile had fallen to 375,500 doses. It did not specify how much it was ordering or how much it would cost. ‘In 2020 the malaria program has seen an increase in the number of cases in Brazil, and as has been announced daily, the number of cases of COVID-19 in Brazil is still high,’ the department said in a written response. ‘Therefore it is expected that the demand from states and municipalities for this medicine will remain high in the second half of 2020.’ They did not specify what part was used for its malaria program and what part for combatting COVID-19, but according to figures obtained by CNN Brasil, a total of 3.23 million pills were produced by the Brazilian army’s pharmaceutical unit in 2020. That compares with 265,000 pills produced in 2017 and none produced in 2018 or 2019. And according to the Health Ministry’s own figures, the number of cases of malaria was 60,713 in the first six months of 2020, 16 percent lower than the first half of 2019.” READ MORE

2/13/21: What COVID-19 Has Taught The World On Data (The Standard – Kenya)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been more far-reaching and devastating than even loss of lives, jobs and economic growth would suggest. It has worsened poverty, childhood malnutrition, and domestic violence and halted or reversed gains made in nearly half of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many people, including mothers and young children, have died not from the virus, but because of disruptions and delays in care. Up to a decade of progress against HIV, tuberculosis, malaria has been erased.” READ MORE

2/12/21: COVID-19 Situation Report (The Global Fund)

“12% to 14% of countries are reporting high disruption in service delivery for all three components. However, the risk trend continues to decrease for all of them. For malaria, more than half of the countries where the Global Fund invests have reported no or low disruption to health service delivery. 1% of countries are still reporting very high service delivery disruption for HIV and TB components.” READ MORE

2/12/21: As HIV And COVID-19 Collide, Questions Loom Over PEPFAR’s Future (Devex)

“For many communities where PEPFAR operates, the health and economic devastation wrought by COVID-19 are more pressing concerns than HIV at the moment. “I look at some of the communities we work with, where people are literally looking at you and thinking, ‘you know, this is not my problem right now. My bigger problem is to stay alive in the truest sense of the world and to feed myself and my family.’” said Cristine Stegling, executive director of Frontline AIDS. At the same time, Stegling added, Frontline AIDS made the conscious decision when it rebranded in 2019 to retain its specific focus on HIV as a reminder that ‘the epidemic is not over.’ In fact, COVID-19 has put HIV targets further out of reach. Even before the pandemic erupted last year, forcing lockdowns and disrupting health care services, the world was not on track to meet the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS — or UNAIDS — global HIV goals. Of particular concern was the rate of new infections, Beyrer said.” READ MORE

2/12/21: New Tools To Help End Pakistan’s HIV Epidemic (Samaa – Pakistan)

“Like every other health programme, the provision of HIV services was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though progress was stalled, there was no disruption in treatment services, said Dr Isani [Deputy National Coordinator Common Management Unit AIDS]. ‘We started multi-month dispensing which helped greatly.’ This meant that medicine were dispensed every three months instead of monthly. Courier services were used to dispatch medicines and food supply. Healthcare staff was trained through virtual sessions. ‘Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is here, we need to gear up our act and head out again,’ said Dr Isani.” READ MORE

2/12/21: Predicted Doubling Of Malaria Deaths In Africa Averted (Devex)

“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization predicted that malaria deaths in Africa could double if people’s access to malaria prevention programs and treatments were severely interrupted. ‘I am however delighted to say that the predicted doubling in malaria deaths was averted,’ said Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who chairs the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, during a press conference on Thursday. Instead, over 90% of planned net distribution campaigns went forward over the past year and more children in areas of highly seasonal transmission were reached with antimalarial medicines than in previous years, according to a press release. Around 160 million nets were distributed door-to-door, which was done in adherence with COVID-19 protocols, Kenyatta said.” READ MORE

2/12/21: Former United Nations Envoy Stephen Lewis Takes On Big Pharma (Global News)

“’It’s really awful, particularly for a continent like Africa,’ [Stephen Lewis, Canada’s former ambassador to the United Nations] told me. ‘Health systems are being eroded. There’s not enough money for other infectious diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Think of the economic disrepair that has resulted as low-income countries have their economies set back hugely by the impact of the lockdowns.’” READ MORE

2/12/21: Health Department Ups Ante On Use Of Condom (The Manila Times – Philippines)

“Department of Health Regional Director Cesar Cassion urged the community to participate and cooperate in stepping up efforts on prevention, testing, treatment, adherence and health education. ‘HIV is one of the critical public health programs that should continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Safe Love campaign, we challenge individuals and communities to do their share in ending this epidemic by practicing safe sex,’ he said.” READ MORE

2/12/21: Experts Worry About Pandemic’s Impact On Malaria Progress In Nigeria (Voice Of America – Nigeria)

“A warning by the World Health Organization that the COVID-19 pandemic could harm efforts to eradicate malaria appears to be coming true in Nigeria. Nigerian officials say people are refusing to get treatment for fear of catching the virus at a clinic. Fatima Mohammed is in her home at a camp for displaced people in Abuja, tending to her two sons who are currently down with malaria. She says she’s can’t afford huge hospital bills and is afraid that taking them to the hospital could potentially expose them to COVID-19 or result in a misdiagnosis.” READ MORE

2/11/21: COVID-19 In Africa: Who Urges Vaccination As Death Toll Rises (Premium Times)

“Because Africa has widespread health problems, it makes people of the continent ‘particularly susceptible’ to the virus; also, ‘of all the continents, Africa has the highest prevalence of certain underlying conditions like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS,’ the UN report said. Barely one year after this projection, the continent only accounts for 3.5 per cent of global COVID-19 cases and 4 per cent of global deaths, according to the WHO. While the African region is faring better compared to other regions, the pandemic has caused a harrowing economic impact which has triggered the continent’s first recession in 25 years, according to the World Bank.” READ MORE

2/10/21: Transcript: A Washington Post Live Special; Melinda And Bill Gates (The Washington Post)

“’Well, so we haven’t given up any of that other work. We are still full steam ahead. And all the money that you spoke about, that 1.75 billion, that’s all new money for COVID. But what we have to do is remind people that the world has been set back, immunizations have been rolled back during this time by the equivalent of 25 years in 25 weeks. You know, things like malaria, our work there has been set back for five years. So, we need to remind everybody we are a global community, and these issues matter as well. It’s not just COVID. We don’t want to leave anybody behind if we really believe in an equitable world, which we do as a foundation.’” READ MORE

2/10/21: HIV Research Has Fast-tracked Development Of COVID-19 Vaccine – Prof Kaleebu (The Observer – Uganda)

“Seeing the huge effort to get the COVID-19 vaccine within a year since the pandemic broke out, one wonders why such similar effort is not put into the fight against Malaria and HIV/AIDS, which kill more people annually than COVID-19. Some critics even suggest that it could be deliberate because malaria and HIV/AIDS have not ravaged western nations like COVID-19… There are a number of reasons why getting a COVID-19 vaccine has moved very fast. A lot of the technology has come from the investments put in research for the HIV/AIDS vaccine as well as other infections like malaria and tuberculosis.” READ MORE

2/10/21: Making A Mark On The COVID-19 Pandemic: Joint Efforts To Meet The Needs Of Young Key Populations In Asia And The Pacific (UNAIDS)

“Throughout the region, civil society organizations like Y-PEER Pilipinas began looking into ways of overcoming the barriers and challenges that prevent young people from accessing HIV services due to COVID-19 restrictions. For example, Y-PEER gained support from local governments with special travel passes to enable the delivery of antiretroviral therapy from the hospital straight to the doorsteps of young people living with HIV.” READ MORE

2/10/21: Three Pandemics, Zero Vaccines: Nb AIDS Workers Take Distressing Calls From Southern Africa (Cbc.Ca)

“Dr. Bernhard Kerschberger says there’s been a lot of pressure to put more resources into the COVID response. As project manager with Médecins Sans Frontières in Eswatini, Kerschberger has been occupied with HIV and the country’s high burden of tuberculosis. In 2011, the government declared TB a national emergency. ‘We can see it’s very difficult now for the health system to actually cope with this triple pandemic — HIV, TB and corona,’ said Kerschberger.” READ MORE

2/10/21: As COVID-19 Cases Rise In Nigeria, A Government Policy Is Creating Crowds And Chaos (Cnn – Nigeria)

“Nigeria’s healthcare system was already fighting endemic diseases before the pandemic. The country accounted for over a fifth of global malaria deaths in 2019; northern Nigeria lies within the sub-Saharan “meningitis belt” and the nation has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world. ‘COVID isn’t the biggest killer in Nigeria, but it has made healthcare more difficult,’ said Adebowale. ‘What it is doing to the health system can be compared to strangling an asthmatic patient.’” READ MORE

2/9/21: Wapcas Donates HIV Diagnostic Test Kits To Ghana Health Service (News Ghana)

“The Ghana-West Africa Program to Combat AIDS and STI (WAPCAS) with support from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on Tuesday, donated HIV rapid diagnostic test kits worth 1.1 million dollars to the Ghana Health Service (GHS). The donation would help fill the stock-out gap of essential HIV Rapid Diagnostic Kits (RDT) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and also to help Ghana to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 3.3 aimed at ending AIDS as a public health threat.” READ MORE

2/9/21: Indoor Mosquito Spraying Exercise To Cost U.S. $36 Million (The New Times – Rwanda)

“THE ONGOING COVID-19 crisis will not deter the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), an exercise aimed at eliminating malaria-causing mosquitoes to a tune of a whopping $36 million. Indoor Residual Spraying involves the application of a residual insecticide to internal walls and ceilings of housing structures where malaria vectors may come into contact with the insecticide.” READ MORE

2/8/21: Inside Malawi’s COVID-19 Wards, The Impact Of Vaccine Nationalism Is All Too Clear (Cnn)

“The coronavirus has also impacted health in Malawi indirectly, by scaring people away from seeking treatment for other issues. Many worry they won’t receive care from an overburdened staff, or worse that they will catch COVID-19 during their visit. After finishing her COVID-19 rounds for the day, [Dr Tamara] Phiri heads to one of the hospital’s general wards, to prep a final year student for his last internal medicine exam. He carefully exams the only patient in a row of empty cots, reporting back to Phiri. The general ward has more than sixty beds and is usually full of malaria cases and patients with chronic problems, but it is now largely empty. People are just too afraid to come to the hospital, Phiri says. ‘It is a disaster waiting to happen.’” READ MORE

2/8/21: Ebola, COVID-19 And The Elusive Quest For Global Health Equity (Forbes)

“‘I worry about this every morning, noon, and night, as I’m sure many others do. To see recent gains against AIDS, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, and other problems so imperiled by COVID-19 lockdowns and the ensuing recession is nothing short of hearTBreaking. Then again, we have more tools to mitigate these disruptions than we did even a few decades ago, to say nothing of when the last big one occurred, in 1918. We just need to get these tools into deserts. As hard as this work is, I can’t point to a single example of a decently funded and well-planned health equity effort that hasn’t succeeded with sustained attention. And the more desiccated the medical desert, the greater the possibility for rapid change’.” READ MORE

2/7/21: Burkina Faso Hospitals Struggle With New Wave Of COVID-19 (Star Tribune)

“Health experts worry that as COVID-19 cases and deaths rise, doctors and nurses will be diverted from treating patients with the country’s endemic diseases. ‘If this second wave of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the additional strain placed on Burkina’s health system, already weakened by the first wave and ongoing conflict, can likely increase disability and death from other causes such as malaria, malnutrition and other respiratory infections,’ said Donald Brooks, chief executive officer of Initiative: Eau, a U.S. aid group focused on water and sanitation that has been assisting in Burkina Faso’s pandemic response. Once it begins, the vaccine rollout will also likely use resources the country can’t afford to reallocate, he said.” READ MORE

2/6/21: South Africa Looks At ‘innovative Ways’ For Screening And Treating TB (The South African)

“The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa is being felt across the country in the homes of those who have lost loved ones, those suffering long-term complications, and those who have been victims of the financial fallout of the pandemic. Many health experts shared the same fears that one of the ways that COVID-19 would disproportionately affect South Africa’s poor would be through lack of access to TB and HIV treatment. Since the start of the outbreak, TB clinics in poor areas have been closed where there was a need to control the virus’s spread.” READ MORE

2/5/21: Many South Africans Are Living With Undetected TB, Survey Finds (South Africa)

“Meanwhile, government remains resolute to fight the disease amid the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the entire world. The Minister believes that advocacy work will need to adopt a multi-sectoral approach and partner with civil society, social partners and those in the communication sector to spread the word. In addition, the State will develop strategies to address stigma and discrimination. Mkhize, urged for the analysis of dynamics that resulted in findings that men above the age of 60 and between 35 and 44 are least able to access TB services. He further acknowledged the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health services, particularly, TB. ‘A lot of effort will be required to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 and still ensure that we attain our set targets,’ he said.” READ MORE

2/5/21: Tens Of Thousands Of People With TB In South Africa Not Diagnosed, Survey (Spotlight)

“Mkhize noted that the TB response suffered under COVID-19 but that the lessons learnt from the new pandemic can be used in the fight against TB. ‘We need to begin to look at how to integrate COVID, together with TB, because TB screening has suffered from a focus solely on COVID. Integration needs to be prioritised – a lot of work needs to be done,’ he said. Dr Helene-Mari van der Westhuizen, of the activist organisation TB Proof, in a press release noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic it was evident the difference high quality data on disease prevalence makes to inform a co-ordinated and targeted public health response. ‘We do not have the same quality data for TB, and based on the national TB prevalence survey, it seems like the true prevalence of TB is substantially higher (about 20%) than initially thought. Health workers and patients will benefit from knowing the exact extent of the TB pandemic, as it will help determine where the biggest gaps in care are and inform care seeking behaviour,’ she said.” READ MORE

2/4/21: Why Africa Is Now Better Prepared To Beat COVID-19 (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“’There is a strong argument for [vaccinating primary health care givers first] because they are not just caregivers for COVID patients but also caregivers to patients with other diseases like malaria, HIV, TB. If we allow COVID-19 to affect our health workers, then we run into a big risk of our health system collapsing because they constitute the backbone and we have a limited number of them. For a continent of 1.3 billion people, we have only about three million health workers; that is not a lot and we have to protect them jealously.’ [John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC]” READ MORE

2/4/21: The Impact Of The COVID-19 Lockdown On HIV Care In 65 South African Primary Care Clinics: An Interrupted Time Series Analysis (The Lancet HIV – South Africa)

“Our findings suggest that, in one of the regions most affected by both HIV and COVID-19, the worst modelled scenarios of the impact of COVID-19 on HIV are unlikely to play out. We did not find evidence of large disruptions to ART provision, which is the main driver of morbidity and mortality in published models. Instead, efforts to continue providing treatment to people in the ART programme appear to have been largely successful. Although this evidence is reassuring, COVID-19-related disruptions to ART supply chains and future COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns still pose a threat to HIV programmes. Furthermore, our findings suggest that people who are not yet in HIV care were most affected by the lockdown. As countries in Africa consolidate health systems after the first wave of COVID-19, and manage potential second waves, efforts to catch-up with HIV testing and initiation of ART should be prioritised.” READ MORE

2/4/21: New Malaria-carrying Mosquito Poses Major Threat To African Cities (Global Citizen)

“With the global community currently fighting the infectious disease COVID-19, the appearance of a new malaria-carrying mosquito species is especially concerning. The pandemic exposed the inequalities in accessing health care and how easily health infrastructure can be overwhelmed by the spread of infectious disease.” READ MORE

2/3/21: COVID-19 Outcomes Among Persons Living With Or Without Diagnosed HIV Infection In New York State (Jama Network Open)

“In a cohort study of linked statewide HIV diagnosis, COVID-19 laboratory diagnosis, and hospitalization databases, persons living with an HIV diagnosis were more likely to receive a diagnosis of, be hospitalized with, and die in-hospital with COVID-19 compared with those not living with an HIV diagnosis. After demographic adjustment, COVID-19 hospitalization remained significantly elevated for individuals with an HIV diagnosis and was associated with elevated mortality.” READ MORE

2/3/21: A New TB Preventive Therapy Aims To Increase Patient Compliance (Devex)

“Though TB is both preventable and treatable, it is one of the top 10 causes of death globally. It was the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent until it was overtaken by COVID-19. In 2019, 10 million people suffered from TB, and close to 1.5 million people — over 95% of whom were living in lower- and middle-income nations — died due to the disease. ‘Right now, COVID is killing more people — but for maybe the first six months of the pandemic TB was killing more people than COVID. But nobody speaks about TB,’ said Emilio Jose Valverde, Aurum Institute country director in Mozambique.” READ MORE

2/3/21: Global Fund Engages Partners To Develop New Strategy (Relieweb)

“More than 300 representatives from across the world convened virtually today to kick off the Partnership Forums, a series of consultations to help shape the next multi-year Global Fund strategy. The Partnership Forums are unique in the global health sector, providing a broad and inclusive platform for representatives from all Global Fund implementers, partners and people affected by diseases to discuss the organization’s future strategic direction. Key areas of focus include how the Global Fund can strengthen its impact and contribution to the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goal targets for HIV, TB, malaria, build strong community and health systems, increase focus on equity, human rights, gender and the most vulnerable, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic which threatens to reverse the health gains of the last two decades.” READ MORE

2/3/21: Nigeria’s Early Adoption Of Differentiated Services Delivery Model Buffers Effect Of COVID-19 Pandemic Among People Living With HIV (Reliefweb – Nigeria)

“As the COVID-19 pandemic gained momentum across the world with many countries, including Nigeria going on lockdown, there arose fears that the people living with HIV (PLHIV) might not have access to Antiretroviral (ARTs). The fears of the outbreak disrupting ARTs supplies to PLHIV in Nigeria was, however, not as devastating because the country had already adopted the Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) model in December, 2019. The gains of the model became noticeable during the imposed lockdown by the government.” READ MORE

2/3/21: Turning The Tide For Women And Girls Caught In The Cabo Delgado Crisis (Reliefweb – Mozambique)

“While the number of displaced people continues to surge, protection risks are exacerbated by pre-existing vulnerabilities, including poverty, marginalization, and harmful social and gender norms, such as child marriage. COVID-19 has compounded the problem: critical services such as sexual and reproductive health care, immunization activities, and continuity of care for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera have been disrupted due to restrictions on movement and gatherings, as well as disruptions to livelihoods.” READ MORE

2/2/21: African Nations Lead The World In Offering Prep HIV Prevention Drug (New Scientist)

“[Kate] Segal [AVAC] says there are still opportunities to expand access in [sub-Saharan Africa], such as making PrEP available at local pharmacies and other outlets, and informing the public about the drug. ‘Many of the general population still don’t know that PrEP exists or what it is or how to access it. So we really need to normalise it and increase demand,’ she says. John Nkengasong at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may hamper these efforts. ‘COVID-19 has impacted all our health programmes, not just HIV. I suspect that there’ll be a lot of effect on PrEP initiations in Africa this year,’ he says. ‘We know and we anticipate that there will be harm to our HIV and other programmes.’’’ READ MORE

2/1/21: Potential Disruptions In HIV, TB, And Malaria Response Due To COVID-19 (Contagion Live)

“…during the Ebola outbreak in 2014/2016, all eyes were on the impact of this hemorrhagic fever, which often led to neglect of other health outcomes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that there were over 10,000 additional deaths due to untreated conditions in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone alone. In terms of other infectious diseases, the CDC found 1,091 additional deaths due to HIV, 2,714 additional estimated deaths due to tuberculosis, and 6,818 additional deaths due to malaria. These same concerns are being raised for COVID-19 and the potential impact on HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria in low-income and middle-income countries.” READ MORE

2/1/21: Updating Who’s Global Strategy For Malaria (World Health Organization)

“Despite the remarkable gains seen in driving down malaria cases and deaths over the last 2 decades, progress in recent years has levelled off, and many high burden countries are losing ground. The emergence of the COVID-pandemic in 2020 has posed a serious additional challenge to malaria responses worldwide. Urgent and concerted action is needed to change the global trajectory of the disease. Addressing participants in the webinar, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, noted that while meeting the strategy’s 2030 targets would be a challenge, malaria-endemic countries and partners must remain firm in their commitment to achieving them.” READ MORE

2/1/21: Africa In Better Place Now To Beat COVID-19 Scare – Cdc Boss (Premium Times)

“The need to prioritize health workers for vaccination is key if Africa is to succeed in the war against the virus as Mr Nkengasong noted: ‘There is a strong argument for that because they are not just caregivers for COVID patients but also caregivers to patients with other diseases like malaria, HIV, TB. If we allow COVID to affect our health workers then we run into a big risk of our health system collapsing because they constitute the backbone and we have a limited number of them. For a continent of 1.3 billion people, we have only about 3 million health workers; that is not a lot and we have to protect them jealously.’” READ MORE

2/1/21: Updating Who’s Global Strategy For Malaria (Mirage News)

“Despite the remarkable gains seen in driving down malaria cases and deaths over the last two decades, progress in recent years has levelled off, and many high burden countries are losing ground. The emergence of the COVID-pandemic in 2020 has posed a serious additional challenge to malaria responses worldwide. Urgent and concerted action is needed to change the global trajectory of the disease. Addressing participants in the webinar, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, noted that while meeting the strategy’s 2030 targets would be a challenge, malaria-endemic countries and partners must remain firm in their commitment to achieving them.” READ MORE

2/1/21: Unicef Burundi Humanitarian Situation Report No.4 (Reliefweb)

“The epidemiological situation in Burundi has remained a focus throughout 2020 with episodes of cholera, a relatively high incidence of malaria and measles cases. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country in March and while trends have been relatively low, a worrying increase in the number of cases has been reported at the end of the year.” READ MORE

1/28/21: New Amfar Grants Target Intersection Of HIV And COVID-19 (Amfar)

“Since the emergence of the pandemic, researchers have expressed concern regarding COVID outcomes among people living with HIV (PWH). After an extensive analysis of more than 4,500 coronavirus research papers covering the first six months of the pandemic, an amfAR team led by Vice President and Director of Research, Dr. Rowena Johnston, concluded that PWH were not at increased risk of either hospitalization or death. ‘The effects of COVID-19 on people living with HIV has been a driving concern for us,’ said Dr. Johnston. ‘We look forward to finding answers to the next set of issues concerning longer-term consequences of co-infection and how these may impact future care.’” READ MORE

1/28/21: Covid 19 And The Consequences In The Fight Against HIV (European Sting)

“Access to health at the time of being an HIV positive person is interrupted by the social stigma that makes us believe that we do not all have the same right to reproductive and sexual health and today, in addition to stigma, there is a disruption in HIV treatments, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that challenges every health care professional to rethink the way we are trying to solve this disease, with a notable lack of medical supplies, few personnel for counseling and halting of prenatal care plans for HIV-positive mothers.” READ MORE

1/28/21: Uwi, Health Ministry Sign Mou To Govern Operations Of Health Connect Jamaica (Jamaica Observer – Jamaica)

“Jason Fraser, country director, USAID’s PEPFAR said, ‘Despite the coronavirus, gains made are being sustained with progress toward the acceleration of HIV epidemic control in Jamaica. However, the infrastructural and human resource constraints will require alternative health care delivery models to address the health care needs of the population. The current partnership between the Ministry of Health and Wellness and The [University of the West Indies (UWI)] provides an opportunity to address these concerns in a manner that eases the burden on public facilities while providing affordable and accessible care to people living with HIV in Jamaica.’” READ MORE

1/28/21: Malaria: Poverty, Govt’s Neglect Endanger Pregnant Women’s Lives (New Telegraph – Nigeria)

“Malaria cases are projected to rise against the backdrop of service disruptions occasioned by coronavirus pandemic. According to the RBM [Partnership To End Malaria], giving at least three doses of quality-assured SP to all eligible women in sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria, can increase the coverage and uptake of [intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp)] by 2025. Highlighting some of the challenges of services for preventing malaria in pregnancy in the country, the Malaria Technical Director, [National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP)] at the [Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH)], Mokuolu, said late registration for antenatal care is a huge hindrance.” READ MORE

1/28/21: COVID-19 Situation Report (The Global Fund)

“The Global Fund has awarded $980 million to 106 countries and 14 multicountry programs to support their responses to COVID-19, but has now fully deployed all its funding for this purpose. Forecasted funding gap is now US$313 million. There are significant further needs for immediate funding, including for personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and treatment, and to mitigate the impact on lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs. To defeat COVID-19, the Global Fund advocates a comprehensive approach that brings together testing, treatments, vaccines and the health systems and medical supplies to make it happen – vaccines alone will not be enough.” READ MORE

1/28/21: Will Global Health Learn From COVID-19 Collateral Damage? (Devex)

“COVID-19 killed an estimated 1.8 million people in 2020, but the number of deaths due to tuberculosis won’t be available until October 2021, said Peter Sands, executive director at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. He estimated that 1.5 million people died of tuberculosis in 2020 but said the infectious disease does not get ‘the kind of money and attention’ COVID-19 does. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis by as much as 25%-30% in some high-burden countries, Sands said, adding that there have been similarly devastating impacts on HIV/AIDS and malaria.” READ MORE

1/28/21: Scientists Warn Africa Off 2030 Target In HIV Rates Reduction (The East African)

“A modelling by the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that if efforts are not made to mitigate and overcome interruptions brought about during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy (ARTs) could lead to more than 500,000 extra deaths from HIV/AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 and 2021. These interruptions could effectively set the clock on AIDS-related deaths back to 2008, when more than 950,000 such deaths were observed in the region.” READ MORE

1/27/21: Africa: Additional Funding Urgently Needed As The Global Fund Runs Out Of COVID-19 Funding (AIDSpan – Nairobi)

“The Global Fund has disbursed close to $1 billion to support the COVID-19 response and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria programs. The institution recently announced that it had fully deployed all the funds to 106 countries and more than ten multi-country programs. However, it still has to honor country requests amounting to over $355 million, which is likely to increase as more countries submit their requests.” READ MORE

1/27/21: South African Scientists Discover New Chemicals That Kill Malaria Parasite (The Himalayan Times)

“The World Health Organisation said in November that deaths from malaria due to disruption during the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria killed more than 400,000 people across the world in 2019, according to the latest WHO figures, all but a few thousand of them in Africa. There were 229 million cases across the world, 215 million of them on the continent.” READ MORE

1/27/21: From Food Coupons To A Fund To Provide Laptops And Tablets To The Poor – Niti Aayog’s Public Policy Analyst Has A Whishlist Too (Business Insider India)

“While India has fared much better on COVID-19 management than most would expect, the outbreak has also shone a spotlight on the underlying gaps and inequities in the health system in terms of access to and quality of physical infrastructure, human resources as well as drugs and medical devices. Further, the lockdown, which was a necessary response for gearing up the health system to respond to COVID-19, resulted in disruptions to some essential services in areas like maternal and child health, tuberculosis, and non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiac ailments and chronic kidney disease.” READ MORE

1/27/21: Promising Breakthroughs In HIV Prevention (Africanews)

“A once-monthly pill intake has shown promising results in the quest to prevent HIV infections, scientists have said. Islatravir is the first oral drug in phase three development for HIV prevention and treatment. At the ongoing virtual session of the HIV research for prevention conference, scientists expressed optimism that the drug will appeal to persons at risk of the virus. ‘COVID-19 has disrupted research around the world, so it’s especially exciting to see this new progress,’ President of the International Aid Society, Adeeba Kamarulzaman said. She added that ‘These research advances on options like broadly neutralizing antibodies and injectable PrEP could help significantly strengthen our HIV prevention toolkit.’” READ MORE

1/26/21: Q&A: How COVID-19 Is Impacting HIV Care In Asia-pacific (Devex)

“In the Philippines, there’s been a more than 70% delay or reduction in the number of visits to HIV clinics since the arrival of COVID-19, according to a survey conducted by Gilead Sciences and partners. Restrictions on mobility as a result of the pandemic were blamed. As a result, 64% of individuals at-risk reported a decrease in testing and more than half reported having either decreased or stopped taking their preventive medications.” READ MORE

1/26/21: Botswana: Ngamiland Records 104 Malaria Cases (Daily News –botswana)

“Dr. Maripe- Ebutswe said malaria was a deadly disease which needed collective efforts. She decried shortage of resources to fight malaria pandemic noting that recorded cases had stressed their little resources as malaria needed contact tracing just like COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE 

1/26/21: Humanitarian Crises Monitoring: Coronavirus In Developing Countries: Secondary Impacts (Relief Web)

“Routine immunisation programmes, such as measles, polio and diphtheria, are all stalling, with 70% of countries reporting disruption to routine immunisation. It was also estimated that 11.5 million people were affected by disruptions to anti-retroviral services for HIV/AIDS between April and June last year. It is alarming that progress over recent decades in tackling these healthcare challenges appeared to be unravelling. Tackling COVID-19 was diverting funding, exhausting staff, absorbing resources, and scaring off patients with other illnesses from accessing healthcare.” READ MORE

1/26/21: Covid Destruction Could Lead To Total Reshaping Of Sub-saharan Africa Healthcare (The New Times – Rwanda)

“’Mosquitos don’t practise social distancing, they don’t wear masks either’ says Bill Gates. As COVID-19 spread around the globe it’s important to remember that deadly mosquito-borne diseases like malaria haven’t taken a break during this pandemic.’ According to the WHO (World Health Organization), Africa carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden and in 2019, the region was home to 94% of global malaria cases and deaths. The continent has been in a decades-long battle with the disease, and since 2000 1.5 billion cases and 7.6 million malaria deaths have been averted through the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying. And then came COVID-19. In the World Malaria Report 2020, the WHO says that 20 years worth of progress is now hampered by the global pandemic, the global 2020 target for reducing malaria cases will be missed by 37% and the mortality reduction target will be missed by 22%. This means millions of patients, and hundreds of thousands of mortalities.” READ MORE

1/25/21: What The Global Response To HIV/AIDS Can Teach Us About COVID-19 Recovery – And Social Justice (Maverick Citizen)

“The HIV epidemic remains in a critical condition where gains can still be rolled back. Too many have lost their lives in the process, and continue to lose their lives. However, we have come far from the scenarios of its manifold and devastating impacts at the turn of the century. Many people owe their survival to the activism and professionalism shown by HIV advocates from the abovementioned communities and their allies. There can be no doubt that they have been the real leaders of the 21st century… We need to return to the global HIV/AIDS response and make its diverse lessons a building block in securing a better trajectory through this century, including in COVID-19 recovery.” READ MORE

1/25/21: COVID-19 And Global Hunger: A Zimbabwe Case Study (Anglican Journal – Zimbabwe)

“In recent years important strides have been made in eliminating extreme poverty. However, these gains were significantly stunted in 2020 by the global pandemic. Hunger, malnutrition and lack of access to medication for HIV or malaria due to supply chain and transport deficiencies are all cruel side effects of the deadly coronavirus.” READ MORE

1/25/21: HIV Prevention Research And COVID-19: Putting Ethics Guidance To The Test (Biomed Central Medical Ethics)

“There are reasons to believe that HIV prevention research is in no way being made redundant by the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the ethics of setting priorities in global health research is complex; in this case, it is simply not clear to what extent research resources should allocated to a novel, highly infectious disease like COVID-19 rather than more longstanding ones (like HIV or TB) associated with high mortality. Currently, part of the complexity relates to the fact that COVID-19 is likely having a detrimental impact on HIV services, including prevention services, in many countries around the world.” READ MORE

1/25/21: Community Health Workers Must Be Better Supported In 2021, The Year Of The Healthcare Worker (Ein News)

“’All health workers are important, but [community health workers (CHWs)] particularly so, because they work on the frontlines and often receive the least amount of attention, education, capabilities-building and remuneration – yet in the global pandemic we put so much pressure on them to go actively seek out those people who’ve been infected. They carry a burden like a mother, because they go out there and look after their communities, even when it is hard. They are the essence of where fighting disease begins, at grassroots level,’ says Ilona Smart, Client Director at Vantage Health Technologies – part of BroadReach Group. Smart said many CHWs had to be redirected from TB, HIV and other serious conditions in 2020 towards COVID-19, which had become the greatest public health crisis of the year.” READ MORE

1/23/21: Amu Medical Team Pulls Out All Stops For Vaccine Trial (The Hindu – India)

“Describing the Bharat Biotech vaccine as a desi (indigenous) tool that is likely to succeed in Indian conditions, Prof. Shameem, who works in the TB and Chest Diseases Department, said, as the vaccine uses the whole dead virus, it was likely to cover mutations. ‘Had I not gotten infected with the virus in June, I would have taken the vaccine as well,’ he said. However, he cautioned, that the pandemic should not take away the focus off tuberculosis. ‘While fighting COVID-19, our goal to eradicate tuberculosis should not get lost.’ he warned.” READ MORE

1/23/21: Fauci Announces Us Intention To Resume Major Role In Global Health (Saudi Gazette)

“Addressing the WHO executive, Dr. Fauci also announced US plans to work with other countries ‘to counter the erosion of major gains in global health,’ specifying HIV/AIDS, food security, malaria and epidemic preparedness. ‘It will be our policy to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in the United States, as well as globally,’ the US official added.” READ MORE

1/21/21: Deepening Malaria Elimination Fight Despite COVID-19 (New Telegraph – Nigeria)

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 hindered many people with complicated malaria and the not-so-severe cases, from accessing care in facilities during peak of the coronavirus lockdown from April to June 2020. Most patients, including those who suffered malaria infection, [were] deliberately kept away from hospitals. With inadequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), the umbrella association of medical doctors in the country, advised its members to view every medical case in hospitals as potential COVID-19 case. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. From then onwards, seeking care at public facilities, which was affordable for many less privileged and low-income citizens, became like a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Those were the days when the ordeal of malaria patients and those seeking care for other ailments, was not pleasant; while some resorted to ignoring medical care, others chose self-medication, both with dare consequences.” READ MORE

1/21/21: Change Financing Priorities To Address COVID-19, Conference Hears (Inter Press Service New Agency)

“’The onset of COVID-19 pandemic affected the implementation of the [International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)] 25 programme of action on several fronts. First, there was a significant diversion and stretching of limited human, material, and financial resources to respond to the pandemic,’ [Dr Ademola Olajide, country representative, UNFPA Kenya Office] said. Simultaneously, ‘mixed messaging’ resulted in communities not fully understanding the pandemic, and as a result, many avoided utilising facilities. Curfews and lockdowns significantly impacted essential maternal and child health services, family planning, HIV and GBV wellness services. There were also livelihood challenges with people losing their jobs and income. Adequate protection measures within school systems to monitor teenage pregnancies, FGM, GBV was significantly disrupted. Vulnerable populations began to be pushed further to the back in terms of development, he said.” READ MORE

1/20/21: Progress Towards Ending TB At Risk (Reliefweb)

“While the COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency, there is another infectious airborne disease that has at best similar or arguably worse impacts and is inextricably linked to poverty and lack of access to health care – tuberculosis (TB).” READ MORE

1/20/21: Centering The HIV Response On Adolescent Girls Key To Meeting Targets In Africa (Devex)

“Though UNAIDS says that the global AIDS response was off track before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the organization found that the spread of COVID-19 has created additional setbacks. As a result, there could be an estimated 123,000 to 293,000 additional new HIV infections and 69,000 to 148,000 additional AIDS-related deaths between 2020 and 2022.” READ MORE

1/17/21: India’s COVID-19 Inoculation Drive Will Be One Of The Biggest And Fastest In The World. Here’s How They Are Doing It (Abc News – India)

“There are concerns the COVID-19 inoculation drive will undermine other important health and immunisation programs. For example, health experts suspect the number of tuberculosis cases last year halved because detection equipment was diverted to help the fight against COVID-19. India has also postponed its 2021 polio vaccination drive, citing ‘unforeseen circumstances.’ ‘In programs like the [tuberculosis] elimination program, some of the gains that have been done over decades might be reversed,’ [Epidemiologist Giridhar Babu from the Public Health Foundation of India] warned.” READ MORE

1/17/21: Dr. Fauci Fears About Vaccine’s Efficacy Against South African Variant (The News International)

“[Dr. Anthony Fauci] said after the outbreak of coronavirus, the persons living with HIV among other infections suffered direct as well as indirect consequences of the pandemic outbreak. Under indirect effects of COVID-19, Dr. Fauci predicted the deaths due to HIV, tuberculosis and malaria over five years could increase by up to 10%, 20% and 36% respectively compared with time of before COVID-19 pandemic. The disruptions due to COVID-19 led to decline in ART services by 32% in 101 nations; malaria diagnosis and treatment by 46% in 68 nations; and TB cases detection and treatment by 42% in 101 nations..” READ MORE

1/17/21: What India Can Learn From COVID-19 To Build A Healthier Nation (Forbes – India)

“’India let the fear of COVID-19 disrupt general healthcare services in a way that was avoidable,’ said Oommen Kurian, a health expert with the Observer Research Foundation. ‘India’s preparedness could have been significantly boosted had the foundation of a robust public health system existed,’ said Urvashi Prasad, a public policy expert at Niti Aayog. ‘The widely prevalent fear, stigma and paranoia associated with COVID-19 is likely to have long-term psychological sequelae,’ said Lance Pinto, a pulmonologist at the Hinduja Hospital. Stigma also reduced testing for other diseases such as TB. ‘A plan to run non-Covid clinics would have helped people to a great extent,’ said Vijayashree Yellappa, a public health expert, and fellow at Niti Aayog.” READ MORE

1/14/21: Airlines, Caribbean Scrambling After Cdc Orders COVID-19 Test For Us Travel (Bradenton Herald – Haiti)

“’Even if we were to have all three labs fully operational, and if we were only doing travelers, which mean we would not be able to do patients who are symptomatic…it may still not be sufficient,’ [Dr. Jean William Pape, leading infectious disease specialist in Haiti said]. New laboratories would need to be opened, he said, and in turn require both equipment and trained staff. ‘[The COVID-19 test] is a sophisticated test; you cannot take any technician who is doing their job quite well for other tests to do this test,’ Pape added. ‘We still have [Tuberculosis] that’s also a cause of concern so we cannot move technicians who can do the test for TB, to do it for COVID. We have a human resources limitation. It’s going to be very stressful.’” READ MORE

1/14/21: TUKkies Discovers New Chemical That Has Potential To Eliminate Malaria (Independent Online – South Africa)

“Last month, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) warned that, with special attention being paid to COVID-19, malaria care was declining. The institute said it was mandatory to test anyone presenting with flu-like symptoms, especially those who live in a malaria endemic area or have travelled to those areas. ‘Regardless of suspected COVID-19 conditions, pending COVID-19 tests or even a positive COVID-19 test, using a rapid diagnostic test or blood smear microscopy can obtain results urgently. Malaria should be considered in a patient with a progressively worsening febrile illness of unknown cause even if (there is) no travel history to a malaria endemic area,’ NICD said.” READ MORE

1/13/21: Africa: COVID-19 Could Cause A Million Excess Deaths From These 3 Diseases (World Economic Forum)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has weakened Africa’s already fragile health services raising concerns over excess deaths from other diseases. A 50% disruption to anti-malaria treatment could result in 100,000 additional deaths, according to the WHO. Tuberculosis could result in up to 400,000 excess deaths, while AIDS-related deaths could go back to levels not seen since 2008.” READ MORE

1/12/21: Global Fund Signs A Record-breaking $8.54 Billion In Grants To Fight HIV, TB And Malaria (The Global Fund)

“‘This is an exceptional achievement that will help more than 100 countries continue the critical fight against HIV, TB and malaria – epidemics that kill more than 2.3 million people every year,’ said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ‘As the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelms health systems around the world, it is now more important than ever that we ensure countries have the resources they need to fight HIV, TB and malaria and to strengthen the systems for health needed to respond to all four diseases.’” READ MORE

1/11/21: Y+ Global Launches COVID-19 Fund To Support Young People Living With HIV (Economist- Namibia)

“Communities of people living with HIV have been at the forefront of the community-led response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of that response, the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV (Y+ Global), with support from UNAIDS, has launched the Y+ Social Aid Fund for young people living with HIV.” READ MORE

1/11/21: New Loan Guarantee Facility Unlocks Over $30m To Shore Up Private Sector Health Care In Five African Countries During COVID-19 (The Rockefeller Foundation)

“Private sector healthcare providers deliver nearly 50 percent of all healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, including life-saving interventions such as early malaria diagnosis and treatment, ante-natal care and routine vaccinations. If left unaddressed, these vital health needs could overwhelm already overburdened health systems and add to the loss of life during the pandemic. Projections in 2020, for example, estimated that moderate disruptions in treatment seeking could lead to as many as 100,000 additional malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. As countries have shut down sectors of their economies and asked citizens to remain at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, all health providers have seen a decrease in demand for services. For private healthcare providers, this also means decreased revenues, putting them at risk of closing during a time when access to care is already a challenge.” READ MORE

1/11/21: COVID-19 Depletes Attention To HIV, Tuberculosis, Others (Pulse – Nigeria)

“The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, has lamented the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health sector, citing the neglect it had caused to the care and attention given to HIV, tuberculosis and other ailments.” READ MORE

1/10/21: Campaign Brings Out Undetected TB Cases (The Pioneer – India)

“The State’s ‘catch-up’ campaign to detect tuberculosis cases that may have gone undiagnosed during the COVID-19 pandemic between June and August, screened over six lakh people, tested 29,166 and diagnosed 802 people with tuberculosis (TB) between October and December 2020. The dip in tuberculosis cases detected between June and August 2020, when compared to figures as part of the Akshaya Keralam project.” READ MORE

1/7/21: Accessing The Syndemic Of COVID-19 And Malaria Intervention In Africa (Infectious Diseases Of Poverty)

“The pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused substantial disruptions to health services in the low and middle-income countries with a high burden of other diseases, such as malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on malaria transmission potential in malaria-endemic countries in Africa.” READ MORE

1/7/21: Covid Makes Matters Worse For TB Patients (The Pioneer – India)

“A patient with COVID-19 symptoms was brought to Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow last week. He was also suffering from TB and his lungs were in poor shape. He died within 24 hours of admission to the hospital. These are not solitary cases as TB and HIV patients have been the prime victims during the unlock period.” READ MORE

1/7/21: South Africa To Get Vaccines For Health Workers This Month (Bloomberg)

“Mkhize’s plan will require about 6,300 full-time vaccinators, delivering 316,000 doses a day, he said. After health workers, a second phase will prioritize essential workers and adults with co-morbidities, such as HIV, tuberculosis and obesity.” READ MORE

1/6/21: Responding To Neglected Crises In The Sahel (Doctors Without Borders)

“MSF supported local COVID-19 responses in all six countries, but our focus remains on other emergencies, including seasonal peaks of malaria, mental health needs, malnutrition, and the increase in violence and displacement.” READ MORE

1/5/21 Indonesia Must Not Stop Malaria Fight, Despite COVID-19 (Jakarta Post)

“The Y+ Social Aid Fund will be piloted in Nigeria and Malawi, where, with the support of national networks of young people living with HIV ,Y+ Global will offer financial support to young people living with HIV who have been impacted by COVID-19-related restrictions.” READ MORE

1/5/21 Y+ Global Launches COVID-19 Fund To Support Young People Living With HIV (UNAIDS)

“The Y+ Social Aid Fund will be piloted in Nigeria and Malawi, where, with the support of national networks of young people living with HIV ,Y+ Global will offer financial support to young people living with HIV who have been impacted by COVID-19-related restrictions.” READ MORE

1/2/21: A New Strain Of Drug-resistant Malaria Has Sprung Up In Africa (Scientific American)

“We must act now to increase surveillance and monitoring for signs of new K13 mutations, even as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to basic tactics like increasing people’s access to insecticide-treated mosquito nets, here’s what can help make a difference.” READ MORE

1/1/21: Tuberculosis And Malaria In The Age Of COVID-19 (The Lancet Infectious Diseases)

“The bottom line is that while health-care workers in endemic countries have battled exceptionally hard on three fronts, policy makers cannot forget that tuberculosis and malaria are greater long-term threats than COVID-19, and planning of resource allocation must account for that.” READ MORE

1/1/21: HIV Infection And COVID-19 Death: A Population-based Cohort Analysis Of UK Primary Care Data And Linked National Death Registrations Within The Opensafely Platform (The Lancet HIV)

“People with HIV in the UK seem to be at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality. Targeted policies should be considered to address this raised risk as the pandemic response evolves.” READ MORE

12/31/20: Even As COVID-19 Is Still Around, Tuberculosis Remains India’s Biggest Health Crisis (Scroll.In – India)

“With similar clinical symptoms, TB and COVID-19 present a deadly mix for India’s health system. TB, though curable, remains India’s severest health crisis killing over 1,200 Indians daily with delays in diagnosis, treatment, access and possibly increased suffering, mental health issues for those affected.” READ MORE

12/30/20: HIV And COVID-19: What Do We Know Now? (Poz)

“Larger studies suggest people living with HIV might have a modestly higher risk of severe COVID-19, but much remains to be learned.” READ MORE

12/29/20: Inside The Fight To Include HIV-positive People In COVID-19 Vaccine Trials (Nbc News)

“[Dr. Larry Corey] said there was never ‘any worry’ in the advocacy world that people successfully managing their HIV infections on antiretroviral therapy would have bad responses to the COVID-19 vaccine. Other experts at the Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS, the British HIV Association and AIDSmap have also said the COVID-19 vaccine should be considered safe and effective for people with HIV.” READ MORE

12/28/20: Malaria Prevention Pushes Forward In Africa Despite Pandemic (Undark)

“The COVID-19 pandemic will still leave a mark when it comes to malaria. While the worst of the model predictions may not unfold, Africa is still likely to see an increase in malaria deaths according to the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, a group with more than 500 partners including the WHO.” READ MORE

12/22/20: In UK Study, People With HIV At Increased Risk For Death From COVID-19 (Healio)

“A study of more than 17 million people in England revealed that those living with HIV had a higher risk for death from COVID-19 than people without HIV.” READ MORE

12/18/20: Resurgence Of COVID-19 Could Result In More Malaria Deaths – Nigerian Govt (Daily Post – Nigeria)

“The Federal Ministry of Health has raised alarm over the threat of an increase in mortality rates associated with malaria, especially as the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak looms in Nigeria. The government also warned against disruptions in the provision of services, lamenting that the fear and stigma associated with COVID-19 has continued to hinder free access to malaria treatment and care. Prof[essor] Olugbenga Mokuolu, a Technical Director at the National Malaria Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, who raised these concerns at a media dialogue, explained that the pandemic threatens to undermine gains made in malaria control, following disruptions in supply chains, interventions and diversion of government resources to coronavirus.” READ MORE

12/18/20: ‘let’s Cut New HIV Infections’ (The Herald – Zimbabwe)

“[Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga] said COVID-19 had derailed meeting the HIV targets by 2020. ‘Here in Zimbabwe, COVID-19 has been with us since March 2020 and has resulted in the country instituting containment measures, including lockdowns to try and mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19,’ he said. ‘This pandemic resulted in collateral damage as essential services for women and children were negatively impacted. Our womenfolk must visit health care facilities to receive antenatal care and delivery services to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Children should also receive post-delivery care.’” READ MORE

12/17/20: Gates Foundation’s Total Commitment To Global COVID-19 Response (This Day – Nigeria)

“’We will also be really helping countries with the preparation – what do you do in terms of the vaccine delivery infrastructure that’s needed, how can you help build that in a way that’s actually going to help support wider primary health care needs across Africa and Asia, and other parts of the developing world. We know that, while COVID-19 is an acute crisis, it is certainly not the only crisis, and Africa in particular still suffers from a range of continued health challenges. From HIV/AIDS to tuberculosis, we’ve seen a drop off in regular vaccination rate and we’ve seen the wider economic impact of COVID and we need to be tackling all of those at the same time’ [Bill Gates].” READ MORE

12/17/20: Malaria Prevention – 13 Million Children Reached In 9 States – Govt (Leadership (Abuja) – Nigeria)

“On Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), [National Coordinator, NMEP, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Audu Bala Mohammed] informed that the programme had planned to replace over 31.5 million ITNs to cover 56.7 million people across eleven states of Adamawa, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Enugu, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kwara, Oyo, Plateau, Osun, and Zamfara. Except for States without donor support like Bayelsa, Borno, Enugu and FCT. However, he said over 17 million ITNs were distributed in the six states with some achieving the 95vper cent target. On challenges, he identified stigma and fear that tended to hinder individuals from attending health facilities as part of the challenges. Others, according to him were ‘Abiding by preventive guidelines motorists decreased number of passengers and increased the transport fares further alienating some who could not afford the charges. Health workers required additional resources to protect themselves from COVID-19. Impact of the lock down on access to interventions. Supplies of commodities suffered severe disruptions with several health facilities experiencing stock-outs for relatively long times.’” READ MORE

12/16/20: Ahf Applauds Canada For Contribution To Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response (Business Wire)

“’COVID-19 has been devastating on its own, but it’s also endangering progress made in battling HIV, TB and malaria—particularly in developing countries,’ said [AIDS Healthcare Foundation] President Michael Weinstein. ‘And while there are still many countries not stepping up to help developing nations, Canada is setting the example by supporting those who truly need it. We applaud this significant contribution by Canada to the Global Fund’s efforts and encourage other countries to follow its lead.’ In addition to being invaluable in maintaining precious progress made in battling the three infectious diseases—the Global Fund has been instrumental in getting relief to developing countries for their respective COVID-19 responses. Since the pandemic’s onset, it has provided $825 million to more than 100 countries to protect health workers, adapt lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs, and support fragile health systems. The Fund has also provided 33 million novel coronavirus tests and 73 million daily kits of personal protective equipment for health workers.” READ MORE

12/16/20: Pmc’s TB Drive Detects 79 New Patients In Just 15 Days (Hindustan Times – India)

“The detection of TB cases is part of campaign which usually starts in October but could not be started this year. The campaign included detection of ‘hidden’ cases through their door-to-door survey and will be conducted in two phases. In the first half of the month the detection campaign will be active while in the second half the detected and confirmed patients would be followed up for treatment and medication. Dr Sanjay Dabhade from Jan Aarogya Manch and a public health activist said, ‘It is a welcome step that [Punjab Maharashtra cooperative (PMC)] is considering the drive. Due to lack of attention due to the Covid19 pandemic on other ailments could mean that the mortality rate because of other ailments could go higher. With respect to tuberculosis, we need to study if the use of masks due to Covid lead to any prevention of TB too which is another respiratory ailment.’” READ MORE

12/15/20: Support Needed Community-led HIV Programs West And Central Africa (Doctors Without Borders)

“As the West and Central Africa (WCA) region continues to lag behind in the HIV/AIDS response—leading to people with HIV going without antiretroviral therapy (ARV) treatment—the support of donor countries like the US for community-led HIV interventions is key to reaching people with the virus and improving public health. In 2019, WCA accounted for 21 percent of new HIV infections worldwide and 30 percent of deaths from AIDS-related illnesses. Adolescent girls and young women remain particularly at risk of acquiring HIV as they accounted for 58 percent of the estimated 240,000 new infections in the region the same year.” READ MORE

12/15/20: Global Funding Must Be In The Next COVID-19 Emergency Supplemental (The Hill)

“The indirect impacts of COVID-19 need to be addressed as well. Safe health care workers and robust health systems are needed to deliver the vaccines. This month’s COVID-19 stimulus provisions must include protections for health systems and delivery of diagnostics and treatments and mitigation of damage to AIDS, TB and malaria programs (through the Global Fund and PEPFAR, among others). All these investments pave the way for vaccine delivery while preventing further health system disruption. Congress must act immediately to include robust global funding as part of COVID-19 legislation.” READ MORE

12/15/20: Coming Together To Address The Cost Of Inequality (UNAIDS – United Republic Of Tanzania)

“The COVID-19 crisis has adversely impacted the livelihoods of people living with HIV in the United Republic of Tanzania, exacerbating the challenges they face. These include HIV service delivery and widening social and economic inequalities. ‘Corona has been a very difficult time. I lived with a lot of worry and stress. Driving a bodaboda (motorbike taxi) requires going into crowds and working closely with people. It has been difficult not to fall into anxiety and depression, balancing getting my HIV treatment and work. I had moments thinking of stopping taking my meds, but I didn’t,’ said Aziz Lai, a motorcycle driver who also lives in Dar es Salaam. Although the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19 are hitting the poorest and the most vulnerable the hardest, through national resource mobilization the COVID-19 crisis has created an opportunity for partners to mobilize in support of the communities they serve.” READ MORE

12/14/20: Global First Responders: 5 Things To Know About Doctors Without Borders’ COVID-19 Strategy (The Guardian)

“MSF has also been working to mitigate disruptions to HIV services in many parts of the world. A modeling study by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimated that a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy treatment could lead to more than 500,000 additional deaths from AIDS-related illnesses. One of MSF’s top priorities from the start has been addressing the devastating secondary impacts from the coronavirus and ensuring that crucial medical activities – including measles vaccinations and treatment for HIV and tuberculosis – can continue and adapt to meet the moment.” READ MORE

12/14/20: Let The People Lead If Responses To Tackle HIV Are To Be Effective (Mail & Guardian)

“The COVID-19 pandemic compounds inequalities and heightens the vulnerability of people living with HIV. The World AIDS Day 2020 report recognises the importance of communities playing a key role. It noted that a community-focused response starts by tailoring services to reach those who need them most. This calls for comprehensive HIV services, context- specific integration of services and removal of societal and legal impediments to an enabling environment for HIV services.” READ MORE

12/14/20:  Extra-long Malaria Season In Borno Claims Lives (Medeicins Sans Frontieres – Nigeria)

“The seasonal malaria chemoprophylaxis campaign in Borno state was challenging to implement, given the unstable context and the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is likely to have saved many children’s lives. To save even more lives in a country that accounts for more than half of all malaria cases in West Africa, MSF is calling for seasonal malaria chemoprophylaxis to be given to all children aged from three months to ten years. ‘We’ve noticed the positive effects of the campaign,’ says Dr Emmanuel Berbain, MSF medical team leader in Gwange hospital. ‘Children under five mostly weren’t affected by malaria during the peak season. However, there were deaths among children over five. Because of the death rates, I think we should lobby for next year’s malaria prevention campaign to cover children up to the age of 10. It’s certainly possible, but it will require coordination, resources and preparation.’” READ MORE

12/14/20: Worry Over Malaria Cases Being Missed As Symptoms Are Similar To Those Of COVID-19 (Independent Online – South Africa)

“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has warned that, with special attention being paid to COVID-19, malaria care was declining. The NICD said: ‘The current focus on COVID-19 has led to malaria being missed. Early symptoms of malaria and COVID-19 are similarly non-specific – fever, headache, fatigue. More specific are muscle and joint pains. Symptoms also shared between these infections (are) respiratory difficulties, including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.’ The institute said it was mandatory to test anyone presenting with flu-like symptoms, especially those who live in a malaria endemic area or have travelled in those areas in the past six weeks. ‘Regardless of suspected Covid19 conditions, pending COVID-19 tests or even a positive COVID-19 test, using a rapid diagnostic test or blood smear microscopy can obtain results urgently. Malaria should be considered in a patient with a progressively worsening febrile illness of unknown cause even if no travel history to a malaria endemic area.’” READ MORE

12/11/20: A 2-front Battle: COVID-19 Must Reinvigorate The Fight Against T (Global Health Now)

“Strengthening community surveillance, which can cover both diseases, can reach presumptive TB cases early at home—key as some people may avoid health facilities due to fear of COVID-19 and stigma. After all, TB and COVID-19 are both infectious diseases attacking primarily the lungs, with similar symptoms (cough, fever, and difficulty breathing) that could indicate either disease.” READ MORE

12/11/20: How Investments In Health Can Help Defeat Malaria And COVID-19 (Devex)

“When COVID-19 stopped the world in its tracks, it also threatened to roll back decades of progress against another major public health challenge — malaria. As of last year, malaria mortality rates had declined by 60% since 2000, and significant progress had been made in increased access to bed nets, diagnostics, and treatments. But the World Health Organization estimates that up to 100,000 additional malaria deaths could occur this year as the pandemic disrupts access to these lifesaving tools. However, we do not have to choose between protecting communities from either COVID-19 or malaria. To save lives, we can, and must, respond to both. Through creativity, innovation, and by bringing diverse partners to the table, we can help build resilient health systems that can respond to a wide range of health threats, not just COVID-19.” READ MORE

12/10/20 Put Human Rights At The Centre Of Our Battle Against COVID-19 (Mail & Guardian)

“Health services that have taken years to build are suffering major setbacks, leaving people who are already vulnerable to other diseases now at greater risk of COVID-19. Human Rights Watch warns that inability to access HIV testing during lockdowns has put LGBT people at particular risk of suffering serious illness or death from COVID-19. COVID-19 has also exacerbated human rights violations related to health, including stigma, discrimination, gender-based violence and police brutality. In some countries, vulnerable groups have been turned into scapegoats for the new pandemic. Sixty-one percent of respondents of a major survey reported increases in stigma, as well as misinformation, as serious challenges to an effective TB response due to COVID-19.” READ MORE

12/10/20: Global Action On Malaria Is Stalling. In Some Countries It Could Be A Greater Threat Than Covid (World Economic Forum)

“…the WHO is concerned that even moderate COVID-19-related disruptions in access to effective malaria treatment could lead to a considerable loss of life. The report finds, for example, that a 25% disruption in access to effective antimalarial treatment in sub-Saharan Africa could lead to 46,000 additional deaths. In fact, malaria could kill more people than COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa this year, according to Pedro Alsonso, director of WHO’s malaria programme. ‘It’s very likely that excess malaria mortality is larger than the direct COVID mortality,’ Alsonso said. The WHO is calling on countries and global health partners to step up the fight against malaria and says a key strategy to reignite progress is the ‘high burden to high impact’ (HBHI) response. This is led by 11 countries – including 10 in sub-Saharan Africa – that account for approximately 70% of the world’s malaria burden.” READ MORE

12/10/20: Fg Adopt Strategies To Check Mother To Child Infection Of HIV (This Day – Nigeria)

“Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who spoke at this year’s World AIDS Day, noted that there has been improvements in HIV treatment coverage despite COVID-19 induced disruptions. He said that World AIDS Day commemoration -provided ‘an opportunity to reflect on where we stand today and remind ourselves where we want to be with regard to the fight against HIV/AIDS.’ He said Nigeria had 1,228,100 patients on ART, 150,000 patients more than the number in June last year. ‘Without doubt, there is need to continue to raise awareness about HIV, promote the rights of people living with HIV, and importantly, ensure access to life-saving HIV medicines for them. This year has been unique because of the new challenges to our health system and our lives brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, in spite of which, I am pleased to note we are still on track to ending the AIDS epidemic in Nigeria.’” READ MORE

12/10/20: Fund To Help Key Populations During COVID-19 Launched (UNAIDS)

“’Key populations are among those disproportionally impacted by COVID-19,’ said Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director. ‘COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated the profound and widening economic and social inequalities. We must act to support and protect the people who are most impacted by the pandemic.’ Experience from the COVID-19 and HIV pandemics, and from other diseases, such as Ebola, has shown that key populations are more likely to be impacted by food insecurity, face barriers to health care and access to medicines, and suffer losses of livelihood, unemployment, homelessness and domestic violence.” READ MORE

12/9/20: State Minister Commends Support For National HIV/AIDS Programme (Jamaica Information Services – Jamaica)

“The [State Minister for Health and Wellness, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn], in the meantime, commended UNAIDS for bringing the global community together to mark World AIDS Day despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. She pointed out that although COVID-19 has been all-consuming across the globe, the entity ensured that the world paused to observe the day. ‘The COVID-19 global pandemic has presented myriad challenges to the HIV/AIDS response on an international scale and it is heartening to see us coming together to achieve global solidarity through our shared responsibility,’ she noted” READ MORE

12/9/20: Venezuela Threatens Latin America’s Efforts For Eliminating Malaria (Caracas Chronicles – Venezuela)

“…while disruptions in health coverage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to severely undermine recent progress on malaria control in many lower-middle-income countries (LMIC), their effect in Venezuela is harder to foresee. Malaria remains a heavily focalized problem in the country, with most cases originating from mining activity in Bolívar. Reduced access to healthcare services could definitely lead to more malaria deaths this year, particularly in remote areas where indigenous groups might be disproportionately affected. However, mobility restrictions caused by quarantine measures (and widespread shortages of fuel) have almost certainly reduced the number of people traveling to high-transmission areas, and therefore, the transmission of disease.” READ MORE

12/9/20: COVID-19 Situation Report (The Global Fund)

“Service delivery returns to relatively normal in countries. However, nearly 15% of countries still report disruption in service delivery for all three components. Disruption has been mitigated in some countries thanks to increased availability of personal protective equipment for service providers. But decreased attendance at health facilities continues to impact service delivery for all three diseases. Even as supply stabilizes, the demand continues to be depressed. On HIV, challenges are still being observed in some countries with reports of increasing loss to follow up among people on treatment, and complete halt or challenges in restarting interventions dedicated to key populations. On TB, improvement in notification is observed across many settings and community case finding is restarting in a number of settings with volunteers starting to conduct follow-up of patients and defaulter tracing. On malaria, programs suffer from delays in mass distribution campaigns of long-lasting insecticidal nets. Countries are now adopting door-to-door distribution.” READ MORE

12/8/20: State Minister Commends Support For National HIV/AIDS Programme (Jamaica Observer – Jamaica)

“[State Minister for Health and Wellness, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn] noted that challenges are being faced in the form of disruptions to service delivery due to curfews and quarantine, supply chain management issues because of country lockdowns, increased demand for personal protective equipment and re-prioritisation of laboratory services for testing. She is imploring everyone to work together to safeguard the health and wellness of those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS, while paying respect to those who have lost their lives to the disease. The state minister, in the meantime, commended UNAIDS for bringing the global community together to mark World AIDS Day despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. She pointed out that although COVID-19 has been all-consuming across the globe, the entity ensured that the world paused to observe the day. ‘The COVID-19 global pandemic has presented myriad challenges to the HIV/AIDS response on an international scale and it is heartening to see us coming together to achieve global solidarity through our shared responsibility,’ she noted.” READ MORE

12/7/20: Getting Gauteng’s HIV And TB Response Back On Track (Spotlight – South Africa)

“A Second Quarter Performance Monitoring report tabled in the Gauteng Legislature last month confirmed the impact COVID-19 and the associated lockdown had on HIV and TB services in the province. Although the province met its HIV testing target, its performance on the other 90-90-90 targets, including getting 90% of people diagnosed with HIV on ARVs and 90% of those on ARVs virally suppressed, were below par…The report shows that the number of people tested for HIV in Gauteng increased from 728 532 tests done in the first quarter (April to June) to 1.78m by the end of the second quarter (July until September) which means the province exceeded its target of 1.75m tests for the two quarters. The provincial health department in the report says the ‘good performance was due to the catch-up plans it developed and implemented along with integrating the COVID-19 response to routine health services.’” READ MORE

12/6/20: India Can Still Achieve TB Elimination Target By 2025 (Issue Wire – India)

“Dr. Jerry Paul, President, Indian Association of Respiratory Care said, ‘Tuberculosis is one such chronic respiratory disease affecting millions of patients in India. It was once considered an incurable disease, which became a potentially curable disease with new drugs during the latter part of the last century. Unfortunately, it is becoming incurable again. Keeping this in mind the Government of India has announced its plan to eliminate TB by 2025 during the Union Budget 2017–2018. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has added on to this threat and limited the resources to tackle TB. A joint effort by the government, medical practitioners, respiratory therapists, society, and researchers at large is essential to take control of this disease.’” READ MORE

12/5/20: Half A Million Died Of AIDS Last Year (National Herald – India)

“This year, India has officially achieved the target of 74 % PLHIV, 84 % of these are put on ART and of these ART cases 82 % are virally suppressed. In 2018, 81% received testing, 67% received treatment, and 59% had achieved suppression of the HIV virus with reduced risk of infecting others globally.Dr Ishwar Gilada, President of AIDS Society of India (ASI), who also represents Asia Pacific region in the Governing Council of International AIDS Society (IAS), said that with just a month left for 2020 to end, it is unlikely that India will meet the WHO target. ‘We can blame the spread of Covid pandemic for this delay,’ Dr Gilada told this reporter from Mumbai.” READ MORE

12/4/20: World AIDS Day (Mail & Guardian – South Africa)

“…the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health services across South Africa; most worryingly, HIV services have also been negatively impacted, and getting back on track may be a challenge. According to figures from the national health depaprtment, HIV testing at public hospitals and clinics decreased by more than half during the first month of lockdown when movement was considerably restricted with the aim of reducing infections and ‘flattening the curve.’ Although HIV testing services were operational throughout lockdown, people did not go to health facilities for testing. About 1.6-million HIV tests were conducted in March. In April that number dipped to just fewer than 690 000 tests, just after the lockdown was instituted at the end of the previous month. Additionally, more than twice as many people tested for HIV in April last year compared to this year, showing one of the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on access to healthcare services.” READ MORE

12/4/20: Coronavirus In Government Focus, Malaria Cases Soar In Odisha (The New Indian Express – India)

“’The [malaria] cases rose in some of the districts due to disruption in distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and awareness drives in the remote areas due to the prolonged lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak. The activities have been intensified and we hope the situation will improve in the remaining months of this financial year,’ said a senior health official. There is, however, a silver lining as six high burden districts, Khurda, Koraput, Ganjam, Gajapati, Nabarangpur and Sundargarh have witnessed a decline despite the unavoidable circumstances.” READ MORE

12/3/20: New COVID-19 Infections Fall Globally For First Time Since September (Modern Diplomacy)

“For millions, COVID-19 is only one health [risk] they face, [Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus] said. People living with HIV also may have an increased risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19, he said. A record 26 million people are on antiretroviral treatment – but the pace of increase has slowed, leaving 12 million people who are living with HIV without treatment. ‘12 million is big,’ he assured. A WHO survey of 127 countries earlier this year found that more than one quarter reported partial disruption to antiretroviral treatment. However, with support from WHO, the number of countries reporting disruptions in HIV services has declined by almost 75 per cent since June. Only nine still report disruptions and only 12 report a critically low stock of antiretroviral medicines.” READ MORE

12/3/20: The Forgotten HIV/AIDS Pandemic (In Depth News)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in sharp drops in diagnosis and treatment of other perilous diseases as many essential services (clinics and laboratories) are being diverted to fight COVID-19. In almost all countries, activities related to HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are being disrupted due to COVID-19 lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings of people, transport stoppages, resources diverted to the new virus, reluctance of health workers to attend to people suspected of having TB or malaria that often display similar symptoms as COVID-19. And most importantly, almost all countries have been severely affected by its economic consequences – thereby limiting the vital human and monetary resources indispensable to maintain crucial healthcare services. These are insurmountable barriers to HIV, TB and malaria patients who need to constantly gain access to medical attention, care and treatments.” READ MORE

12/3/20: Snapshots On How UNAIDS Is Supporting The HIV Response During COVID-19 (UNAIDS – China)

“A survey of people living with HIV in China devised and jointly launched by UNAIDS found in February that the COVID-19 outbreak was having a major impact on the lives of people living with HIV in the country, with nearly a third of people living with HIV reporting that, because of the lockdowns and restrictions on movement in some places in China, they were at risk of running out of their HIV treatment in the coming days. The lockdowns had also resulted in people living with HIV who had travelled away from their home towns not being able to get back to where they live and access HIV services, including treatment, from their usual health-care providers. The UNAIDS China Country Office worked with the BaiHuaLin alliance and other community partners to urgently reach the people at risk of running out of their medicines to ensure that they got their medicine refills. By the end of March, special pick-ups and mail deliveries of HIV medicines arranged by UNAIDS had reached more than 6000 people in Wuhan. UNAIDS also donated personal protective equipment to civil society organizations serving people living with HIV, hospitals and others to help in the very early stages of the outbreak.” READ MORE

12/3/20: TB Testing Took Severe Knock During Lockdown (Independent Online – South Africa)

“Tuberculosis (TB) testing, the mainstay of [South Africa]’s TB programme, took a severe knock during lockdown which left many South Africans with undiagnosed TB, experts have said. One of South Africa’s foremost TB researchers, Dr Francesca Conradie, a principal investigator at the Clinical HIV Research Unit (CHRU), has called for a renewed focus on TB testing in South Africa to help find new TB cases that ‘went missing’ during the COVID-19 lockdown.” READ MORE

12/2/20: Fighting HIV In Times Of COVID-19 (Africa Renewal Online)

“There is evidence that the AIDS-related death toll could double in sub-Saharan Africa from 2020 to 2021 if HIV services are severely disrupted – this would mean and additional 500,000 AIDS-related deaths. But not only that, new infections among children through mother-to-child transmission could increase by even more than 100 per cent in some countries in Africa. We could see the progress made in fighting AIDS reversed by 10 years. And that’s dangerous. So, it’s so important to put the message out there that we should keep up the two struggles, on HIV and COVID-19. Do not drop one for the other.” READ MORE

12/2/20: HIV Has Not Disappeared, Warns Nyusi (Agência De Informação  De Moçambique – Mozambique)

“Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi warned on Tuesday against allowing the current battle against the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease to overshadow the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Speaking in Maputo on World AIDS Day, Nyusi said that HIV has not disappeared just because so much attention is now being paid to COVID-19. Indeed, it was necessary to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS, but in the new context of COVID-19. ‘Despite the efforts we, as a country, have been making in the fight against HIV/AIDS, victories are coming very slowly, and the battle is far from being won,’ he said.” READ MORE

12/2/20: Covid Could Derail Efforts To Eradicate Malaria In Pacific, Health Experts Warn (The Guardian)

“The global COVID-19 pandemic could derail efforts to control and eradicate malaria across the Pacific, with the potential for thousands of new cases and deaths, health experts have warned. Malaria, one of the oldest diseases on Earth, remains one of its most significant killers: the mosquito-borne disease still kills 400,000 people a year, most of those children under five. Professor Brendan Crabb, chair of Pacific Friends of Global Health and chief executive of the Burnet Institute, said the Pacific was at acute risk if intervention measures were disrupted within health systems overwhelmed by, or focused on, COVID-19. ‘There are a number of infectious diseases that could spike if we ignore them in the wake of the focus on COVID-19, but none are more acute than the short-term risk that malaria poses. It can double, even triple or worse in a single season if the wheels come off control measures.’” READ MORE

12/2/20: 15% Of AIDS-related Deaths In Children, Adolescents Occur In Nigeria – Unicef Report (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“’The world is still struggling with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, but there is now hope for a vaccine. But we must remember that there is no vaccine for HIV,’ said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative. He said hundreds of thousands of children continue to suffer the impact of the HIV epidemic. ‘Children are still getting infected at alarming rates, and they are still dying from AIDS. Even with improvements in recent years, HIV treatment access for children and adolescents is unacceptably low, and much more needs to be done to ensure children get the treatment they need and deserve,’ he said. The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted vital HIV treatment and prevention services globally, putting countless more lives at risk.” READ MORE

12/2/20: Faith, Philanthropy, Community – How To Save Hundreds Of Thousands From Malaria Amid COVID-19 (All Africa)

“[Dr. Kundai Mapanga, Pediatric Medical Officer] reported that malaria cases from the border areas of Namibia and Angola have experienced strain from COVID-19, which has set back anti-malaria efforts. ‘We have seen a redirection of funds, which is why we are grateful to Global Fund for their continued support,’ she said. The symptom of fever is common to both malaria and COVID-19 patients, leading to reduced diagnoses, especially where resources for testing are scarce, and has pushed up the death rate. ‘Unfortunately, our mortality rate has gone up this year,’ Mapanga said. The lockdowns reduced availability of medication for malaria treatment and restricted the movements of healthcare workers, who are ‘critical in going out to communities,’ she said. ‘They haven’t been able to do that this year…We have lost a lot of ground.’” READ MORE

12/2/20: Report Shows 1.5 Million Living With HIV (Capital Fm – Kenya)

“The [Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Rashid Aman] further noted that the COVID-19 pandemic posed a challenge to the uptake of HIV testing services due to low outpatient hospital visits during this period. ‘The uptake of HIV testing services has declined over the months between the months of January 2019 and June 2020 with the lowest uptake noted between March and April where testing volumes reduced by 33 pc.’ However, antenatal clinic attendance and testing was not impacted.” READ MORE

12/2/20: Unitaid Reaffirms Its Commitment To The Fight Against HIV In The Context Of The COVID-19 Pandemic (Unitaid)

“Global efforts to meet international targets were already off-track in 2019, and progress has been further derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since April 2020, in 36 countries which are home to almost half of all people on antiretroviral therapy (ART), disruptions in the provision of HIV services have been reported. It has been widely acknowledged that the interruption of HIV services could lead to an increase in HIV mortality and incidence during the pandemic, with estimates by the WHO and UNAIDS suggesting that COVID-19 related disruptions could lead to up to 293,000 new infections and up to 148,000 additional deaths to HIV globally through 2020. Within the context of this new pandemic, it is more critical than ever to ensure that both people living with HIV and those most at-risk for acquiring HIV remain a priority and have access to uninterrupted HIV services. A lack of access to these services puts a person living with HIV at increased risk of treatment disruption, contracting co-infections and Advanced HIV disease.” READ MORE

12/1/20: Un – HIV Treatment Progress Risks Being Undermined By COVID-19 Pandemic (Radio France Internationale)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in society and how key populations have been left behind in many parts of the world – for example women, minorities and low-income earners. The spread of coronavirus has also caused unprecedented disruption to healthcare services. Ongoing research has suggested pandemic lockdowns earlier this year saw a slump in emergency room visits for non-Covid related illness such as heart attacks and strokes, as well as an impact on the fight against HIV malaria and tuberculosis.” READ MORE

12/1/20: Joint Responsibility, Solidarity And Urgency – Unfpa’s Innovative Response To HIV And COVID-19 (Unfpa East And Southern Africa)

“In Uganda, where 1,000 new HIV infections are recorded weekly, monthly condom distribution dropped from 16 million in February to 4 million in May. Women’s use of family planning halved in Eswatini, while young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services declined by nearly two thirds, and antenatal attendance in some clinics declined by more than 50 per cent in May this year compared to May 2019. Within the first three months of school closures in Malawi, Mangochi district reported 848 adolescent pregnancies – a significant increase on the 843 pregnancies recorded in the 12 months prior to the lockdown – and a related increase in pregnancy complications, unsafe abortions, and teenage mothers dropping out of school. Namibia and Zimbabwe, both of which have successful family planning programmes, also experienced sharp declines in contraceptive use. A comparison between April 2019 and April 2020 in Zimbabwe showed a two-thirds decrease in new users of contraceptive implants.” READ MORE

12/1/20: Covid Disrupted HIV Care In Asia-pacific, 46% Dip In Frequency Of Taking Tests, Survey Finds (The Print – India)

“More than one in three among those who are at risk of contracting HIV have reported they had either decreased or stopped taking HIV preventive medicine, a survey has found. According to a pulse survey conducted by Kantar Health, funded by biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences with guidance and support from the AIDS Society of India, about 50 per cent of prescribers also reported a decline in prescribing refill antiretroviral medication (ART) to Persons Living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (PLHIV).” READ MORE

12/1/20: From The Frontlines – 20 Years Of Fighting HIV In Khayelitsha (Spotlight – South Africa)

“Reflecting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, [health promotions officer at MSF Phumeza Runeyi] says everyone agrees that the pandemic has shifted the focus from other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes and cancer. ‘There is a feeling now among young males that they can’t mask double. They often joke that having to wear a mask all the time is a pressure on its own. So between a mask and a condom, one of them must fall. Hence we need to strengthen our campaigns in these COVID-19 times to make everyone understand that wearing a mask is as important as putting on a condom. Corona must be getting all the attention now, but other viruses such as HIV also kill,’ says Runeyi.” READ MORE

12/1/20: COVID-19 Risks Undoing A Decade Of HIV Prevention, Frontline Activists Warn (Frontline AIDS)

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the situation has only deteriorated. The pandemic has forced some HIV prevention services to shut and has slowed down, if not completely halted national and sub-national decision-making processes which are crucial to implementing change, such as drug policy reform, sexual education roll outs and the prohibition of forced marriage. Even when these actions are taken, benefits are not filtered down to individuals at highest risk – including the LGBT community, sex workers and people who use drugs. Stigma, discrimination and violence against these groups are an ongoing barrier to HIV prevention across all seven nations, despite their efforts to address legal and social barriers.” READ MORE

12/1/20: World ‘way Off’ Targets Of Getting Control Of HIV Transmission (Voice Of America)

“’We’re just really starting to understand the impacts that COVID has had on HIV and also on TB. The leading cause of death worldwide for people living with HIV infection is tuberculosis. … What we’ve seen … is things that were not an emergency, like HIV testing for example, were postponed or those clinics were closed all together. That had a very big impact on HIV testing and also on prevention. We have, from the medical perspective, a powerful tool kit now to get control. But what we haven’t done is get these essential tools and services to the people who need [them] the most. And as long as we continue to have this level of stigma and discrimination, criminalization of the people who are most at risk, we’re not going to achieve our goals.’ [Dr. Chris Beyrer, an AIDS researcher at Johns Hopkins University]” READ MORE

12/1/20: Gender Responsive Approach Needed To Tackle Dual Epidemics Of HIV & COVID-19 (Dsw)

“As in every crisis, those that are vulnerable are affected the most. In order to end the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19, a gender-responsive approach is therefore of paramount importance. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women and girls, in particular in low- and middle-income countries. Similarly, in some parts of the world HIV has a higher prevalence and disproportionately impacts women and girls. In sub-Saharan Africa, five in six new infections among adolescents aged 15–19 years are among girls. Young women aged 15–24 years are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men. The social, cultural, and economic dimensions of gender inequality restrict women’s control in deciding how, when, and with whom they have sex and limit their ability to access preventive tools- increasing their vulnerability to HIV infection.” READ MORE

12/1/20: World AIDS Day 2020 Statement (Us Department Of State)

“PEPFAR’s latest results also demonstrate the program’s unmatched capacity to help protect and advance HIV gains, even in the face of severe adversity. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in unprecedented ways. While PEPFAR and partner programs have shown remarkable resilience in the context of COVID-19, its impact on HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria prevention programs has been devastating. These programs were among the first and hardest-hit by COVID-19, and the pain has been particularly acute for women and children as well as other vulnerable and marginalized populations. The dual HIV and COVID-19 pandemics continue to reveal and exacerbate existing inequities and vulnerabilities in societies around the globe.” READ MORE

12/1/20: The Global Need To Address The Dual Pandemics Of HIV And COVID-19 Simultaneously (Morning Consult)

“Marginalized people worldwide face new, harmful barriers to care, such as lack of transportation to clinics due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, stigma and confusion about COVID-19, missed appointments due to safety concerns and shortages in medical supplies. One of the most alarming effects is decreased access to care for pregnant women across several high-burden countries such as Kenya. If this continues, thousands of pregnant women won’t know their HIV status or receive the anti-retroviral treatment that allows HIV-positive women to give birth without passing the virus on to their babies. Across many countries, HIV treatment initiation for many age groups is down approximately 25 percent, as is testing across all age groups.” READ MORE

12/1/20: Un Urges ‘global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility’ Against Pandemics, Marking World AIDS Day (Un News)

“’Despite significant successes, the AIDS emergency is not over. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) still infects 1.7 million people each year and kills some 690,000,’ [Secretary-General António Guterres] said. Mr. Guterres highlighted the impact of inequalities, leaving the vulnerable most affected, a fact evidenced by the coronavirus pandemic. ‘COVID-19 has been a wake-up call to the world. Inequalities in health affect all of us. No one is safe unless we all are safe,’ he added, stressing: ‘Wealth should not determine whether people get the health care they need. We need a COVID-19 vaccine and HIV treatments and care that are affordable and available to everyone, everywhere.’” READ MORE

12/1/20: Coronavirus Pandemic Slows Africa’s Progress Against HIV (Deutsche Welle)

“Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, more than half of the people under Gilbert Tene’s care have stopped coming in for their regular checkups, the doctor, who works with AIDS patients at Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, told DW. ‘Patients are reluctant to come to the hospital,’ Tene said. ‘We need those patients at the hospital to keep on counseling, to provide them with drugs and to provide them with any other support,’ he said. HIV-positive people with access to the right kind of drugs can live for decades without developing AIDS. Going without such medication, however, can be lethal. The South African doctor Zolelwa Sifumba said she witnessed such tragedy daily. ‘Members of the communities die in hospitals, leaving others afraid to seek medical care,’ said Sifumba, who tends to patients in the Kwazulu-Natal province. ‘Those that missed follow-up dates of previously well-controlled conditions like HIV, TB and other conditions come in now dying, because they came in late for multiple reasons, including the lockdown.’” READ MORE

12/1/20: 2020 Global HIV Policy Report (HIV Policy Lab)

“During COVID-19, a number of countries—including, but not limited to, Kenya, Malawi, and Thailand—extended ART refills or otherwise changed policies to increase who is eligible for multi-month dispensing and DSD models. This change in policy emphasized the importance of community-based models and worked to integrated and align refills of other medications, such as TB preventive therapy. Many of these adaptations made in response to COVID-19 are likely to enable improved outcomes, and they should be retained beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

12/1/20: World AIDS Day – Why Nigeria Missed 2020 HIV/AIDS Target (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“While Nigeria, just like other countries, was making efforts to end the AIDS epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, resulting in massive disruptions of health services globally. The novel coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China last December and has since spread to over 200 countries, has caused major setbacks in gains already made in the health sectors, according to a UNAIDS report. This has also led to funding and resources being diverted away from HIV, as all efforts are geared towards ending the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘We cannot take money from one disease to treat another. Both HIV and COVID-19 must be fully funded if we are to avoid massive loss of life,’ Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS said. The UNAIDS had in its report ‘Seizing the Moments’, warned that the HIV targets set for 2020 will not be reached due to unequal access to antiretroviral therapy and service disruptions caused by the pandemic. ‘With COVID-19 dislocating supply chain, affecting antiretrovirals and kits manufacturing, with COVID-19 competing with HIV in terms of health care personnel time, in terms of services being provided to patients, there may be an increase of almost 100 per cent fall of mortality and morbidity in the HIV community,’ [Sani Aliyu, the former head of National Agency for the Control of AIDS] told Premium Times.” READ MORE

12/1/20: ‘welcome Back Service’ Aims To Help People Get Back On HIV Treatment (Spotlight – South Africa)

“While reliable estimates for 2020 will only be available in mid-2021 at the earliest, it is possible that the percentage of people diagnosed with HIV who are on ART might decline in 2020 compared to 2019. This is because COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns have constituted one of the largest shocks to our public healthcare system in many years. During hard lockdown, with movement restricted, many people were reluctant to visit health care facilities in fear of contracting COVID-19. The healthcare system itself reprioritised and many programmes and services were temporarily shelved. Visits to health facilities also dropped due to transport problems. In short, for many people it would have been a hard year in which to stay on treatment, let alone start treatment for the first time.” READ MORE

11/30/20: In South Africa, Young Women Leading HIV And Violence Prevention Say Men’s Involvement Is Key (Un Women – South Africa)

“’There has been a rise in GBV since the COVID-19 lockdown,’ says [Sarah Baloyi (26), young woman from Mamelodi]. ‘Abusive partners have been stuck at home and they are frustrated. They are no longer able to spend their time working or drinking with friends, and take it out on their partners and children. This is especially the case in informal settlements, where families live in one- or two-room shacks.’…. ‘The stigma around HIV prevents people from seeking treatment. I have met some older patients who still fear going to the clinics because they feel judged or embarrassed.’ says [Karabo Chabalala (28) young women from Mamelodi]. To increase the uptake of HIV testing, the changemakers partnered with 20 local HIV counselling and testing clinics across participating districts. They also facilitated outreach for HIV testing at community and church events and developed a referral system. In two years, the HeforShe initiatives have resulted in 62 per cent of those engaged testing for HIV, and 36 per cent returning and adhering to their antiretroviral treatment. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people living with HIV and people at higher risk of HIV infection are facing life-threatening disruptions to health services.” READ MORE

11/30/20: Countries Rise To The Double Challenge Of Malaria And COVID-19, Yet Pandemic Looms Large Over A Malaria-free Future (Roll Back Malaria Partnership)

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global malaria community has shown unprecedented collaboration in mobilizing additional resources, addressing supply chain disruptions of life-saving malaria interventions and personal protective equipment, resolving bottlenecks in campaign delivery, and responding to upsurges in malaria. COVID-19 has shown the critical importance of having timely, accurate and localized data and innovation to effectively fight an infectious disease. This is necessary to make critical strategy pivots and to target limited resources in response to new challenges. Dr Elizabeth Chizema, RBM Partnership Board Member and former Director of Zambia’s National Malaria Elimination Programme, said: ‘The global malaria community must make the most of the opportunity to use real-time data to inform real-time decision making. This approach, catalyzed and facilitated by the RBM Partnership, will help prioritize limited resources and further support countries’ resilience in the face of the unexpected barriers that can arise when fighting malaria.’” READ MORE

11/30/20: Don’t Forget Carnage Of Malaria While World Focuses On COVID-19 – Researchers, Health Professionals (All Africa)

“Insufficient funding has been one of the challenges most countries face, especially low-income countries. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as a serious additional challenge to malaria responses worldwide, the [WHO Malaria Report] found. Another finding is that one in three pregnant women – 11 million women across 33 African countries – contracted malaria, resulting in 822 thousand children born with low birth weight. Underweight babies risk becoming undernourished and ‘stunted’ – never able to reach their full intellectual or physical potential. ‘This report is a wake up call, it tells us that we are likely not going to reach the 2030 targets of the global strategy for malaria, if we continue on the current trajectory. To turn this situation around, there are two key challenges that need to be addressed. The first one is the persistently weak systems in malaria endemic countries and insufficient funding,’ [Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa] says.” READ MORE

11/30/20: Q&A: Putting AIDS Back On The Priority List In Asia (Devex)

“HIV/AIDS may have fallen off the priority list for many countries and international bodies with the arrival of COVID-19, but advocacy for adequately funded responses must continue, according to Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the International AIDS Society. ‘There’s no such thing as ‘HIV is more important than COVID’ or even ‘one disease is more important than the other,’ the Malaysia-based doctor said. ‘However, as we’ve learned over the past four decades, if we don’t adequately fund prevention programs and we don’t adequately fund treatment programs, then the outcome could be worse — and, in the long run, could even be more costly.’” READ MORE

11/30/20: World AIDS Day 2020 – Who Calls For Global Solidarity To Maintain HIV Services (Who)

“On 1 December WHO is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally for ‘global solidarity’ to maintain essential HIV services during COVID 19 and beyond – and to ensure continued provision of HIV services for children, adolescents and populations most at risk for the disease. The Organization also calls on countries to provide health workers with greater protection and support so they can continue their work safely during the pandemic. Protecting people from HIV during the pandemic, and ensuring they can maintain treatment, is critical.” READ MORE

11/30/20: Time To Address The Intersecting Crises Of COVID-19, HIV, And Gender Inequality (Center For Strategic & International Studies)

“Over the past six months, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center has conducted scores of interviews with experts, implementers, and [adolescent girls and young women (AGYW)] themselves in Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia. Through these interviews, it became clear that COVID-19 is severely affecting AGYW programs, threatening the momentum on AGYW and HIV prevention and on development goals, such as education for girls and gender equality. Lockdowns and social distancing regulations due to COVID-19 have undermined access to information and services for all vulnerable populations, but the toll on AGYW has been particularly harsh. This is evident in the emerging data: sharp declines in access to services for sexual and reproductive health, HIV testing and PrEP uptake/continuation, safe spaces, and post-rape care; rising rates of gender-based violence, intimate partner violence, and unintended pregnancies; and economic hardships fueling transactional sex, food insecurity, and school drop outs.” READ MORE

11/30/20: What Lessons Can We Learn From The HIV/AIDS Epidemic During COVID-19? (One)

“Now, COVID-19 risks blowing HIV progress further off course. People living with HIV are at greater risk of developing more severe disease if infected with COVID-19. Lockdowns and other social distancing measures are affecting the ability of those with HIV to access vital health services. As of the end of October, nearly 20% of countries were still experiencing high levels of disruption in services that deliver prevention, testing, and treatment support for people living with HIV. These disruptions have deadly consequences: if health systems collapse or treatment and prevention services are interrupted, the death toll from HIV, TB, malaria, and other diseases could exceed deaths from COVID-19 itself. A six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy due to COVID-19 could lead to more than 500,000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa.” READ MORE

11/30/20: Malaria Will Kill More People Than COVID-19 In Sub-saharan Africa This Year: Who (Global Citizen)

“As these countries [threatened by malaria] impose restrictions on the movement of people, malaria prevention services such as the dissemination of mosquito nets have been limited. Public health campaigns advising people with COVID-19-like symptoms to stay at home, meanwhile, may have inadvertently deterred people with malaria from seeking treatment. ‘The global health world, the media, and politics are all transfixed by COVID … and yet we pay very little attention to a disease that is still killing over 400,000 people every year, mainly children,’ Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO’s malaria program, told reporters at a briefing on Sunday, according to Reuters.” READ MORE

11/30/20: Malaria Gains At Risk From COVID-19 Pandemic: Who (Al Jazeera)

“’Progress has stalled,’ said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. ‘COVID-19 threatens to further derail our efforts to overcome malaria, particularly treating people with the disease. Despite the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on African economies, international partners and countries need to do more to ensure that the resources are there to expand malaria programmes which are making such a difference in people’s lives.’ The WHO’s latest world report on malaria, which is preventable and treatable and mainly affects countries in Africa, shows progress against the disease had already slowed when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged earlier this year. Abdisalan Noor, lead author of WHO’s malaria report, told Al Jazeera the pandemic disrupted the fight against malaria in two ways: ‘It does it by disrupting the prevention of the disease through distribution of bed nets – and the disruption of preventive treatment.’” READ MORE

11/30/20: COVID-19, Funding Shortages Affect Malaria Progress In High-burden African Nations (Forbes)

“’While Africa has shown the world what can be achieved if we stand together to end malaria as a public health threat, progress has stalled,’ said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. ‘COVID-19 threatens to further derail our efforts to overcome malaria, particularly treating people with the disease. Despite the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on African economies, international partners and countries need to do more to ensure that the resources are there to expand malaria programmes which are making such a difference in people’s lives.’ The 2020 target for reductions in malaria case incidence globally will be missed by 37% and the mortality reduction target will be missed by 22%, according to the WHO projections.’” READ MORE

11/30/20: COVID-19 Pandemic Derailing Ph Fight Vs HIV, AIDS (Inquirer – The Philippines)

“The coronavirus pandemic is derailing the country’s fight against AIDS as fewer Filipinos who may be living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) get tested, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said Monday. Defensor, who serves as the vice chairperson of the House committee on health, said that the Philippines ‘is facing a new surge in HIV cases on account of ‘disruptions’ caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.’ Citing National AIDS Registry statistics, Defensor said that at the height of lockdowns from April to June 2020, only 934 new HIV cases were detected countrywide, down 68 percent from the 2,938 spotted in the same three-month period in 2019. Overall, from January to September this year, only 5,627 new HIV cases were diagnosed, down 42 percent from the 9,749 discovered in the same nine-month period in 2019, Defensor said.” READ MORE

11/29/20: Before COVID-19, Malawi Was On Its Way To Ending AIDS. Now What? (Protecting Global Gains)

“Across Malawi, the number of deaths due to HIV plummeted by 75% over the past 15 years, largely due to the increased availability of lifesaving antiretroviral treatment. But a recent survey shows that lockdowns, transport interruptions and other COVID-19-related disruptions have affected carefully built treatment programs in the vast majority of countries served by the Global Fund, including Malawi. If these disruptions continue, UNAIDS and WHO estimate that more than half a million people in Africa will die of AIDS-related illnesses in the next year — setting Malawi and its neighbors back to where they were in 2008.” READ MORE

11/29/20: Battles Won – And Lost – Against AIDS Hold Valuable Lessons For Managing COVID-19 (The Conversation)

“With the deployment of an effective vaccine, an end to COVID-19 might soon be in sight. For HIV, vaccine development has been more complex and disappointing. The global community needs to remain committed to promoting access and support for the many incredible prevention and treatment options that are available. The unprecedented effort on the part of private industry in the COVID-19 vaccine response shines a light on what can be achieved when all interested parties engage. The HIV and TB vaccine endeavours need a similar effort. These are not the only pandemics the world will face. In fact, there are strong predictions that the emergence of new pandemics will increase in the future. This is due to the effects of globalisation, climate change and proximity to wildlife. The best hope for humanity is to not lose sight of what these pandemics cost us in terms of loved ones, in terms of freedom and economically. We must prepare now collectively across countries and across all levels of society. These preparations need to be grounded in the lessons learnt from HIV/AIDS and re-learnt from COVID-19.” READ MORE

11/29/20: World Malaria Report 2020 (Who)

“…the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions related to the response have caused major disruptions in essential malaria services. Furthermore, early messaging targeted at reducing SARS-CoV2 transmission advised the public to stay at home if they had fever, potentially disrupting treatment seeking for febrile diseases such as malaria. At the same time, many high malaria burden countries had plans to implement large prevention campaigns before the peak malaria transmission season (which was likely to coincide with peak COVID-19 cases). These plans needed to be adapted to conform with COVID-19 restrictions.” READ MORE

11/28/20: Public Health Strategies To Control Infectious Disease (Ehealth Network – India)

“’Due to a strong collaboration between NGO, private, and public sectors, we were able to reach the maximum best outcome in Mumbai. The city with the highest cases all these three sectors came together gave the best outcomes. As for COVID-19 all the facilities crashed down, the treatment, giving medication to the needy, in time supply of door to door medication was the major challenge because patients were afraid to go to clinics or hospitals, clinics were shut down. All the clinics were converted to COVID-19 centers from TB which was again a challenge, next challenge was the availability of staff so we had to overcome all these challenges. Initially, we thought a lot of COVID-19 patients are there but more TB Cases were detected. There are 8000 TB patients just in two wards in two districts. We thought the chances of TB patients turning into COVID-19 patients were higher but we were proven wrong when we saw an isolation centre separately made for TB and COVID patients which were all vacant for two months.’ [Dr. Vikas Oswal, Senior Pulmonologist]” READ MORE

11/28/20: Maintaining The HIV Response In A World Shaped By COVID-19 (The Lancet)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has strained health systems and exposed gaps in public health almost everywhere. From the highest levels of national leadership to community-based health facilities, human, financial, and research resources have been diverted from HIV efforts. Most health systems in regions with a high HIV burden are fragile and several studies suggest that disruptions to HIV services could have negative effects on health outcomes in the medium and long term. Modelling data published in The Lancet Global Health show that severe treatment disruptions in high-burden settings could increase HIV mortality by 10% within 5 years. The HIV Modelling Consortium has shown that severe treatment disruptions in sub-Saharan Africa—eg, preventing HIV treatment for 50% of patients for 6 months—could lead to an excess of 296 000 HIV deaths within a year. UNAIDS models suggest that 6-month interruptions to services for mother-to-child transmission of HIV could increase new infections among children by 40–80% in high-burden countries.” READ MORE

11/27/20: Kirinyaga’s Efforts To Prevent, Manage TB (The Star – Kenya)

“The county government has completed construction of an isolation ward for TB patients. The 24-bed capacity facility is however currently being used as a COVID-19 isolation ward. It will revert to its intended purpose once a COVID-19 isolation ward is set up in the upcoming medical complex at the hospital. ‘The establishment of a TB isolation facility, which was set up in line with the National Isolation Policy, will enhance monitoring of patients who require confinement during treatment,’ says the governor. TB is a contagious airborne disease that is spread through coughs or sneezes. It has been cited as one of the diseases aggravating the coronavirus problem. Health executive Gladys Kimingi says TB patients are getting the relevant medical attention amid the COVID-19 crisis. She urges people showing symptoms of TB, including prolonged coughing, to visit the hospital for diagnosis and treatment.” READ MORE

11/27/20: Study Shows How COVID-19 Is Impacting Access To HIV Care In The Russian Federation (UNAIDS– Russia)

“’Encouraging results were obtained on how the pandemic affected access to HIV treatment—many specialized institutions have been able to adapt to the new reality,’ said Alexey Mikhailov, Head of the Monitoring Department of the Treatment Preparedness Coalition, who took part in the study. According to the study, the number of people living with HIV with COVID-19 markers was four times higher than that of HIV-negative respondents. At the same time, they were half as likely, compared with HIV-negative respondents, to be tested for coronavirus infection and were less likely to seek medical help, even if they had symptoms. The majority of respondents with HIV and COVID-19 coinfection had a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the significant number of local cases of COVID-19 and the low level of use of personal protective measures, as well as an underestimation of the real personal risk of COVID-19 disease. Although more than two thirds of the study participants were women, among people living with HIV and having had COVID-19 the majority of respondents were men who had lived with HIV for more than 10 years.” READ MORE

11/27/20: Africa Should Be At The Forefront Of A Global Response To COVID-19 (All Africa)

“COVID-19 and AIDS are colliding epidemics, and, in many countries in the eastern and southern African region, sexual and gender-based violence is a third and silent triplet. The UNAIDS ‘World AIDS Day Report, Prevailing Against Pandemics by Putting People at the centre,’ has noted that the global commitment to fast-track the HIV response and end AIDS by 2030 is now off track. Indeed, agreed milestones for 2020 have been missed. But Africa can take comfort that the architecture, human resources and lessons learned from the AIDS response hold invaluable lessons. We now know that the evidence points to people-centred 2025 targets around comprehensive HIV services, context specific integration of services and the removal of societal and legal impediments to an enabling environment for HIV services. Together these three elements form a powerful whole with people living with HIV and people at greatest risk of HIV infection at its core. Shrinking budgets mean less investments in the HIV response. Our report shows clearly that the collective failure to invest sufficiently in comprehensive, rights-based, person-centred HIV responses comes at a high price: from 2015 to 2020, there were 3.5 million more HIV infections and 820 000 more AIDS-related deaths than if the world were on track to achieve the 2020 targets. We must have a global response for both HIV and COVID-19.” READ MORE

11/26/20: Cameroon’s HIV/AIDS Patients Shirk Hospitals For Fear Of COVID-19 (Voice Of America – Cameroon)

“Gilbert Tene of the Cameroon Medical Council said to fill the gap, medics are going to AIDS patients in their homes and giving them a one-month supply of anti-retrovirals. ‘We need those patients at the hospitals to keep on counseling, to provide them with drugs and provide them with any other support. That is why we have come up with what is called differentiated service delivery which has made us to go out to the community to assist those who cannot come to the hospital,’ said Tene. Health worker Awa Fany said some hospitals in Cameroon are running short on funds for AIDS patients because of the pandemic. ‘Funding has become limited. Funders are now paying more attention to COVID-19 and so we are asking ourselves how can we ensure that we distribute resources in an even manner such that we still care for children who are HIV positive while taking care of those who are COVID-19 positive,’ said Fany.” READ MORE

11/26/20: Stigma, Discrimination Seen Driving HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 (Voice Of America)

“UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said governments must focus on helping the most vulnerable, marginalized people. She said they must target preventive measures and reproductive and other health services toward them and not just implement policies that are politically palatable. ‘We are going to have to be more focused, focusing on the hot spots, not choosing what we want to address because that is what we are comfortable with,’ Byanyima said. Efforts must be ‘evidence based, targeting closely where the risk is, not where we do not want to see.’ Byanyima said governments also must focus on reducing the inequalities that are the drivers of HIV and COVID-19. She said more investment must be made in strengthening health systems and providing treatment and care to all in need. She said respecting the human rights of people most at risk is crucial in beating back the twin pandemics.” READ MORE

11/26/20: HIV And Circumcision: How COVID-19 Has Disrupted The Programme (City Press – South Africa)

“’Medical male circumcision is an elective surgery and to prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection, all activities [under the programme were suspended] in March in line with the president’s call for a level 5 lockdown,’ says Popo Maja, spokesperson for the national department of health. ‘However, with the easing of the lockdown, the suspension was lifted in late June to allow for low-volume circumcisions in non hotspot districts/provinces.’ Figures shared by Maja show that in the first three quarters of this year, 111,766 medical circumcisions were conducted in South Africa, compared to 411,063 in the first three quarters of last year. This amounts to a drop of around 73%. As Maja explains…’it is clear that COVID-19 has severely affected and has negatively impacted on the routine performance of high-volume medical circumcisions nationally.’” READ MORE

11/26/20: Surge Of AIDS-related Deaths Feared As Covid Pandemic Puts Gains At Risk (The Guardian)

“Failure to meet the 2020 target to reduce AIDS-related deaths to 500,000 or less, and new HIV infections to the same figure or less, has come ‘at a terrible price.’ From 2015 to 2020, there were 3.5 million more HIV infections, and 820,000 more AIDS-related deaths than there should have been if targets were met. Last year, 690,000 deaths were AIDS-related, and 1.7 million new infections were recorded. ‘We are significantly off track on our global targets,’ said StopAIDS director Mike Podmore. ‘Even before the advent of COVID-19, we knew we were behind and the impact of the pandemic has pushed us farther back, while also jeopardising future progress.’” READ MORE

11/26/20: Prevailing Against Pandemics By Putting People At The Centre (UNAIDS)

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having far-reaching effects on health systems and other public services. In many countries, HIV services have been disrupted, and supply chains for key commodities have been stretched. Around the world fewer people are being diagnosed with HIV and fewer people living with HIV are starting HIV treatment. As this report shows, the global HIV response was off track even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the collision of COVID-19 and HIV has sent it back further. The Fast-Track Targets, which expire at the end of this year, will not be achieved. Thirty-eight million people are living with HIV, with more than 12 million people waiting for life-saving HIV treatment. In 2019, 1.7 million people were newly infected with HIV and 690 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.” READ MORE

11/26/20: 123 Die Daily As Quality Of Healthcare Declines (The Monitor – Uganda)

“The [2019/2020 Annual Health Sector Performance Report] indicated that 51 per cent of the facilities did not have sufficient (95 per cent) of essential medicines and health supplies for handling patients. ‘The percentage of health facilities having more than 95 per cent availability of key commodities dropped to 46 per cent in 2019/2020 from 53 per cent in 2018/2019,’ the report reads. This is below the [Health Sector Development Plan (HSDP)] target of 75 per cent. Up to 67 per cent of the facilities did not have adequate antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), 33 per cent had inadequate TB drugs, and 54 per cent lacked laboratory commodities for testing malaria and other diseases. According to the report, the public health sector staffing level against the approved posts declined to 73 per cent (47,932/65,271) in 2019/2020 FY from 76 per cent in 2018/2019. This is below the HSDP target of 80 per cent. ‘Overall, the stock of qualified health professionals available for employment in the health sector increased from 107,284 in FY 2018/2019 to 114,740 in FY 2019/2020. This is attributed to government commitment to attract and retain a competent health workforce in Uganda,’ the report reads. The report found that hospitals admissions reduced to 7.2 per 100 in 2019/2020 from 7.3 per 100 population in 2018/2019. The HSDP target was 10 per 100. According to the report, the admissions were most affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.” READ MORE

11/30/20: HIV, TB Tests Fall In East Europe And Central Asia Due To COVID-19 (Reuters)

“Testing for HIV and tuberculosis has fallen in Eastern Europe and Central Asia during the coronavirus pandemic and could lead to higher mortality rates, a U.N. special envoy for AIDS said on Wednesday. Restrictions to curb the new coronavirus and the repurposing of health facilities to treat COVID-19 patients has contributed to fewer HIV and TB cases being detected, said Michel Kazatchkine, U.N. Special Advisor to the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. ‘The consequence of that will be further delay for the region in reaching the UN targets, most likely increased mortality,’ he told an online briefing.” READ MORE

11/25/20: A Child Infected With HIV Every 100 Seconds, New Un Report Reveals (Un News)

“’Children are still getting infected at alarming rates, and they are still dying from AIDS. This was even before COVID-19 interrupted vital HIV treatment and prevention services putting countless more lives at risk,’ said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. According to UNICEF, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened inequalities in access to life-saving HIV) services for children, adolescents and pregnant mothers everywhere, and there are serious concerns that one-third of high HIV burden countries could face coronavirus-related disruptions. ‘Even as the world struggles in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, hundreds of thousands of children continue to suffer the ravages of the HIV epidemic,’ said Ms. Fore.” READ MORE

11/25/20: COVID-19 Controls Used To Arrest, Torture HIV Sufferers (Sci Dev Net)

“’Sadly, it seems that we have not learned the lesson HIV has tried to teach us: epidemics expose and exacerbate existing inequities and impact most negatively on those who are already marginalised,’ says Felicita Hikuam, director of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa. ‘We know from our experiences with HIV that public health approaches that are not in line with human rights can undermine a pandemic response,’ says UNAIDS in Rights in a Pandemic, its 16-country review of COVID-19 policies. ‘Current responses in many countries have resulted in significant breaches of rights, including of people who are living with or vulnerable to HIV — some of which have already cost lives.’ The number of people living with HIV and LGBTQ+ people who have been arrested in Uganda has at least doubled since March, human rights organisations report. The [Bureau of Investigative Journalism] has learned of more than 100 cases across the country in which police or the military have been accused of using new powers brought in during the pandemic to arrest, extort or imprison people from these communities. Many of the people imprisoned have been denied access to healthcare, including the residents of a LGBTQ+ homeless shelter in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, who were arrested in March after their shelter was raided.” READ MORE

11/25/20: 45,000 People Living With HIV In Nigeria Died In 2019 – UNAIDS (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“In his remarks, Director-General of NACA, Gambo Aliyu, said Nigeria has adopted the theme, ‘United to End AIDS in the Midst of COVID-19, So Get Tested’ due to the pandemic ravaging the world. He said the 2020 HIV/AIDS response is different because of the coronavirus outbreak. ‘We have heard and seen the impact of it on HIV programs. Even though we are scrutinising our data to find out the real impact on people living with HIV and AIDS. One thing that we know without looking at our data, we know that in terms of very economic realities, COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact compared to other outbreak population,’ he said. He noted that the agency has launched a project, Prevent, Protect and Empower in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and supported by UNAIDS. He said the project will focus on women living with HIV/AIDS because of their vulnerability. ‘We are focusing on women simply because in terms of equality when it comes to businesses and empowerment, women are disadvantaged. I want to make sure that, first of all, we take care of women living with HIV and AIDS before we focus our attention to men,’ he said.” READ MORE

11/24/20: World AIDS Day 2020 Message From UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima (UNAIDS)

“’COVID-19 is threatening the progress that the world has made in health and development over the past 20 years, including the gains we have made against HIV. Like all epidemics, it is widening the inequalities that already existed. Gender inequality, racial inequality, social and economic inequalities. We are becoming a more unequal world. I am proud that over the past year the HIV movement has mobilized to defend our progress, to protect people living with HIV and other vulnerable groups and to push the coronavirus back. Whether campaigning for multimonth dispensing of HIV treatment, organizing home deliveries of medicines or providing financial assistance, food and shelter to at-risk groups, HIV activists and affected communities have again shown they are the mainstay of the HIV response. I salute you! It is the strength within communities, inspired by a shared responsibility to each other, that has contributed in great part to our victories over HIV. Today, we need that strength more than ever to beat the colliding epidemics of HIV and COVID-19. Friends, in responding to COVID-19, the world cannot make the same mistakes it made in the fight against HIV, when millions in developing countries died waiting for treatment. Even today, more than 12 million people are still waiting to get on HIV treatment and 1.7 million people became infected with HIV in 2019 because they could not access essential services.’ [UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima]” READ MORE

11/23/20: Sudan’s Crises Are Debilitating An Already Fragile Country (Institute For Security Studies – Sudan)

“Stagnant water pools caused by the flooding have also led to a massive outbreak of water-borne diseases. The number of people at risk of contracting such diseases has now nearly doubled. By the end of September, more than 1.1 million malaria cases had been reported throughout the country and the disease had reached epidemic levels in 15 of Sudan’s 18 states. Responding to this element of the crisis is particularly challenging because the country’s health systems have been harshly affected by the economic crisis and global disruptions to supply chains due to COVID-19. Medical shortages have disproportionately affected women, children and vulnerable communities. Maternal clinics have closed, interrupting the delivery of reproductive health services and more than 110 000 children are unable to access essential vaccines.” READ MORE

11/23/20: Portuguese Language Countries Launch Lusophone TB Caucus (Bezinga – Mozambique)

“This disparity between [Community of Portuguese Speaking Language Countries (CPLP)] countries is not only evident in the number of TB cases but also in the way it is financed, prevented, diagnosed and treated, and this raised an important question among political leaders in the region: Is it possible to find synergy in the response between the countries? Now more than ever, and with the threat of the COVID-19 Pandemic disruptions to TB Services, it is more than important to join forces in the fight against TB. ‘Challenges and constraints created by COVID-19 add to the already existent need for more financing and cooperation dedicated to the fight against TB,’ stated Hon Dra Carolina Cerqueira, Angola State Minister for Social Area.” READ MORE

11/22/20: The Sudden Focus On COVID-19 Has Derailed Tuberculosis Response Worldwide (Scroll – India)

“’With attention focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, resources from government TB programmes around the world, including in India, have been diverted to the COVID-19 response,’ says Grania Brigden, director of The Union, a global organisation working on TB and other lung-related issues. ‘I fear we can expect the number of ‘missing millions’ in TB increasing again after all the work that has been done to find the missing cases of TB,’ Brigden says. She is referring to the millions of undiagnosed and untreated cases of TB in India and other countries.” READ MORE

11/22/20: Children Go Digital In Crucial Malaria Drug Trials (Standard Media – Kenya)

“Experts also pushed for the restart of malaria studies during a special session of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual conference last week. ‘We risk losing investment in malaria research worth more than 63 billion and an incalculable number of lives unless the activities are restarted now,’ said RBM Partnership to End Malaria CEO Abdourahmane Diallo. Novartis head of malaria programme Caroline Boulton said, ‘Covid took us all by surprise at a time we were trying to initiate four different malaria clinical studies.’ Dr Boulton told the conference that some of the study sites had been turned into COVID-19 isolation and treatment centres, forcing them to innovate. To reduce person-to-person interactions, and the risk of corona infections, she said they had to shift most activities to digital platforms.” READ MORE

11/22/20: COVID-19 Eroded Gains Made In Tuberculosis Control – Health Minister, Ehanire (Daily Post – Nigeria)

“[Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire] said in 2019, Nigeria recorded 13% increase in TB notification while 74% of the target for PLHIV placed on TB Preventive Therapy was also achieved. He, however, confirmed that the advent of COVID-19 pandemic affected efforts put in place to address the disease. Meanwhile, the Deputy Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership Secretariat in Geneva, Suvanand Sahu lamented that many countries were not on track to meet the United Nations High-Level Meeting, target of 2018 and 2022. She revealed that the Tuberculosis control community is currently working on how to fast track the development of TB vaccine, noting that the search has led to 14 candidate vaccines which were under different stages of trials. ‘Just like any other diseases TB vaccine trial are very lengthy trials going up to 15 years.’ he said. ‘Researchers recently presented to the Stop TB board some ideas on, how to shorten vaccine research and development time for TB, learning from the experience of COVID.’” READ MORE

11/21/20: Why COVID-19 Has Reversed Gains In Treatment Of Tuberculosis (The Standard Health – Kenya)

“The report shows that 70 per cent of Kenyans with TB reported not receiving enough support during the pandemic, 50 per cent said they feared contracting the virus at a health facility and another 50 per cent said they felt ashamed because of similar symptoms of TB and COVID-19. ‘Earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world with devastating impact, and governments around the world quickly adopted new policies and laws in response,’ said Dr Lucica Ditiu, STBP Executive Director. She said TB remains the top infectious disease killer even though it is preventable and curable. ‘To make matters worse, most countries still use outdated policies, practices, tools and treatment regimens. We all must ensure that every single person affected by TB is diagnosed and treated using the latest available international guidelines and tools,’ Ditiu said.” READ MORE

11/21/20: Global Fund: Nigeria To Receive $143m To Fight Tuberculosis (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“The COVID-19 pandemic, which struck the world in December, has jeopardised global efforts to save millions of lives from other existing diseases. [Senior disease coordinator at Global Fund, Eliud Wanerdwalo] said health systems are overstretched due to the unprecedented global health emergency, leading to serious restrictions in access to TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention services. ‘Globally, these disruptions could result in an additional 6.3 million people developing tuberculosis and 1.4 million additional deaths resulting from TB between 2020 and 2025,’ he said. TB is one of the vaccine-preventable killer diseases, which is also curable.” READ MORE

11/20/20: Turning COVID-19 Crisis Into Opportunity: Dr Harsh Vardhan Strategises TB Eradication By 2025 (Medical Dialogues – India)

“Acknowledging that COVID-19 has turned the clock back by many years, if not decades, in the fight against infectious diseases, Dr. Harsh Vardhan [Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare] said, ‘The deadly virus has derailed our painstaking efforts of many decades and diverted scientific attention from many infectious killer diseases like TB. The lockdowns have raised insurmountable barriers for patients and people are still living in fear of the Coronavirus. We all know that the last ten months have seen treatment interruptions, hindered availability of drugs, shrinking supply of diagnostic tests, delays in diagnosis, interrupted supply chains, diversion of manufacturing capacity and imposition of physical barriers for patients who must travel to distant clinics to pick up the medications.’” READ MORE

11/19/20: How To Save Kids From The Pandemic Fallout (Politico)

“When coronavirus restrictions were announced in Malawi this spring, there was a sharp dropoff in the number of children showing up sick at the pediatric ward of the Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital Lilongwe. ‘We were so shocked,’ said Andreas Schultz, a German physician working there at the time. It was during the high season for malaria cases, when usually between 600 and 800 children would be admitted in the hospital every day in previous years, he told Global Pulse. Now 220 on averagewere showing up. ‘Where are these children? It doesn’t mean they are not sick any longer,’ he said. There’s no official tally of how many Malawi children have died because of a lack of health care during the pandemic, but Schultz estimates it could be as high as 4,400 from malaria alone during just the first six months.Meanwhile, some 6,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country so far, accounting for 185 deaths. The imbalance led Schultz and other hospital colleaguesto wonder if the country’s children were being sacrificed unnecessarily.” READ MORE

11/19/20: Humanitarian Action For Children 2021 – Lesotho (Unicef –lesotho)

“Access to health services remains limited, especially in rural areas, due to the long distances to facilities. COVID-19 has overstretched health systems and disrupted health service continuity. With the second highest HIV prevalence globally and in the absence of community HIV services due to COVID-19, Lesotho is facing heightened risks of HIV and unplanned pregnancies. Adolescents and young people could be more vulnerable to new HIV infections, gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and child marriage, increasing the need for mental health and psychosocial support.” READ MORE

11/19/20: HIV Does Not Increase Risk For COVID-19 Hospitalization (Healio)

“’With the advancement of ART, people with HIV are living longer and are increasingly diagnosed with new or multiple comorbidities, particularly among our communities of color. Therefore, while HIV immunosuppression was not associated with an increased risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization, the indirect measures of HIV and aging as manifested by comorbidities did correlate with hospitalization for COVID-19,’ [Michael D. Virata, MD, FACP, assistant professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine] said. ‘Overall, we were encouraged by the good short-term outcomes. However, we still need to understand some of the long-term morbidity and mortality possibilities for people with HIV and COVID-19.’” READ MORE

11/19/20: How World Organizations Fight The Health Crisis In African Countries (Borgen Magazine)

“The United Nations’ AIDS response in Côte d’Ivoire is providing health kits amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the Central African Republic, the United Nations is also helping the humanitarian crisis by providing resources for citizens affected personally by COVID-19. To address the pandemic and other diseases, the United Nations is sending trained professionals to South Africa to provide care and guidance for citizens. UNAIDS is also helping South Africans through increased testing and treatment for those living with the illness. Ultimately, the citizens of these countries are impoverished and in need of better healthcare provisions. With sustained funding from these organizations, the health crisis in African countries can be eradicated in the next decade.” READ MORE

11/19/20: Tuberculosis – Buhari Calls For Urgent Int’l Response On Cases (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the international community to use the latest technology and tools to address the Tuberculosis (TB) epidemic. Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide. In his goodwill message to the roundtable conference of the Board of the ‘Global Stop TB Partnership,’ the Nigerian leader expressed concern that efforts at ending a preventable and curable disease like TB were now complicated because of COVID-19. The president’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said Mr Buhari addressed the roundtable session of ministers of Health during the 33rd Board Meeting of the Global Stop TB Partnership. ‘As I mentioned during the UN High Level Meeting in 2018, it is now even more urgent that the global community, especially the African region, act in unison with rededicated efforts, using the latest available technology and tools to address the TB epidemic.’” READ MORE

11/19/20: Opinion: Why Exciting Results From Vaccine Research Are Just The Beginning Of Efforts To End COVID-19 (Devex)

“In under a year, SARS-CoV-2 has already caused more than 56 million infections and 1.3 million deaths. Any true analysis of the pandemic’s toll, however, must go beyond those devastating numbers to include the impact of COVID-19 on childhood immunizations, sexual and reproductive health, noncommunicable disease programs, and global efforts to reduce HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and countless other diseases. With HIV alone, COVID-19 has diminished access to critical prevention and treatment supplies such as condoms and antiretroviral drugs, shuttered clinics, and reduced testing.” READ MORE

11/18/20: That COVID-19 Does Not Stop Essential Health Services (Pledge Times)

“Detection and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis are not exempt. In South Africa, one of the countries most affected for both diseases, the lack of tests for tuberculosis during quarantine reduced diagnoses by 33%. The number of TB or HIV patients who withdraw medications according to schedule also decreased; non-compliance with protocols will ultimately lead to more drug resistance, treatment failure, and increased treatment costs. But other countries, including Rwanda, New Zealand and Taiwan have achieved a remarkable continuity of essential health services. For example, Taiwan kept low-cost universal health coverage running throughout the pandemic, and Rwanda did the same with a new radiotherapy center for the treatment of cancer. In Sierra Leone – where one in 17 mothers are at risk of dying in childbirth — a mass communication campaign joint Koidu State Hospital in Kono district and NGO Partners In Health In encouraging pregnant women to use maternal health services, it was able to reverse a marked reduction in the number of prenatal medical visits.” READ MORE

11/18/20: COVID-19 Has Diverted Scientific Attention From Killer Diseases Like TB: Harsh Vardhan (Financial Express – India)

“Acknowledging that COVID-19 has turned the clock back by many years, if not decades, in the fight against infectious diseases, Dr. Harsh Vardhan [Minister of Health and Family Welfare] said, ‘The deadly virus has derailed our painstaking efforts of many decades and diverted scientific attention from many infectious killer diseases like TB. The lockdowns have raised insurmountable barriers for patients and people are still living in fear of the Coronavirus. We all know that the last ten months have seen treatment interruptions, hindered availability of drugs, shrinking supply of diagnostic tests, delays in diagnosis, interrupted supply chains, diversion of manufacturing capacity and imposition of physical barriers for patients who must travel to distant clinics to pick up the medications.’” READ MORE

November 2020: Pipeline Report 2020 Tuberculosis Vaccines (Treatment Action Group)

“There is a real risk that the COVID-19 pandemic will upset even the most perfect of plans drawn up by TB vaccine developers. The global acceleration of COVID-19 in February and March had the immediate effect of temporarily halting most PIPELINE REPORT 2020 TB clinical research. Trial sites had to suspend study enrollment and rethink everything from participant visit schedules to adverse event monitoring to sample transport to community engagement. Research is resuming in some locations, but a resurgence in COVID-19 would impose further delays. Countries such as India and South Africa that host a majority of the world’s TB vaccine clinical trials are also grappling with the largest COVID-19 epidemics in their regions. In the long run, advocates worry that massive investments in COVID-19 research will divert funding away from TB and other global health challenges.” READ MORE

November 2020: Pipeline Report 2020 Prep And Microbicides (Treatment Action Group)

“An overarching concern for these pipelines is that the current COVID-19 crisis is likely to affect all ongoing clinical research. Statements issued by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) and the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) explain that, in general, new studies are on hold while screening and enrollment in ongoing trials is paused. Protocol teams are working on safe and feasible means to ensure continued follow up of currently enrolled participants. The MTN has also provided information on the status of individual trials. The Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the FDA have both issued guidance on responding to the current challenging situation. The full extent of the impact of COVID-19 on research will not be clear until the pandemic abates.” READ MORE

11/18/20: TB Policies Aren’t Working. Here’s Why. (Devex)

“’National treatment programs for TB must have the resources they need to make sure testing and treatment can be adopted and implemented immediately. After all, governments have signed on the dotted line to end TB, but they can only do that if they take the proper steps today to get more people tested and put on treatment for TB,’ [Sharonann] Lynch [senior TB policy advisor for Doctors Without Borders’ Access Campaign] told Devex. ‘But donors, too, should ensure there is enough funding available for TB programs, and that ‘we don’t backslide further by letting COVID-19 distract us while TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease,’ she added.” READ MORE

11/18/20: COVID-19 Will Make It Harder To Eliminate HIV In Region, Despite Prompting Surprising Innovation (Mirage News – Australia)

“In Papua New Guinea, where ASHM [Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine] runs programs supporting HIV health workers, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced HIV services to adapt to provide treatment and support for people living with HIV, closer to their community. For example, some clinics are now dispensing multiple months of HIV medications at once, meaning that people living with HIV have fewer clinic visits, reducing possible exposure to COVID-19. Other clinics have been able to deliver medications directly to people at home, and some have trialled mobile phone screening and support for patients. The use of technology prompted by COVID-19 has enabled ongoing training for health workers via online education, and increased use of mobile and social media has also allowed greater reach when sending evidence-based information on COVID-19 during the response.” READ MORE

11/17/20: Csos Reveal Ways To Effectively Tackle TB, HIV, COVID-19, Others (Daily Post – Nigeria)

“The National Professional Officer (NPO-TB) at the WHO, Dr. Ayodele Awe, who is also leading the forum’s intervention efforts explained that civil society organisations need to strengthen existing advocacy structures in rural communities for effective intervention in disease control. ‘Integrating community system strengthening for effective control of HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response is very important. Civil Society Organisations play important roles in national development, particularly at the community level.’ Awe explained that the community remains the operational level for TB control and response as about 75% of cases in the communities are not being detected. ‘Some civil society organisations work at the community level but we are still not doing well in TB detection at the community level particularly because of COVID-19 pandemic,’ he added.” READ MORE

11/17/20: Impact Of COVID-19 In Africa: A Scenario Analysis To 2030 (Chronicle – Zimbabwe)

“Governments must ensure that their focus on COVID-19 does not result in an increase in co-morbidity, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis-related deaths. Despite a target of a minimum of 15 percent of public revenue spending to be allocated to healthcare, this target has not been reached by most African countries. Additionally, due to COVID-19, there is the potential for external healthcare funding levels to decline, which will exacerbate the strain on budgets and health spending. Beyond the obvious policy implication of increased and targeted healthcare spending, African countries and partners need to ensure the adoption of a comprehensive approach to healthcare. This means that issues like maternal health, HIV, TB and malaria, are not neglected even in this extraordinary time.” READ MORE

11/16/20: Ethiopian Girls Trapped In Sex Trade As COVID-19 Deepens Desperation (The Himalayan Times – Ethiopia)

“Ethiopia has at least 99,675 confirmed COVID-19 cases – with about 1,520 deaths – the latest health ministry data shows. Social workers in Metema and Gondar said they tried to refer girls in the sex trade for counselling, family planning and HIV testing – which are provided by NGOs – but that fear, shame and a lack of awareness stopped many girls accessing such services. Researchers and campaigners fear that school closures, job losses and economic slowdown caused by coronavirus could drive more children nationwide to swap the countryside for cities, where they are more at risk of labour or sexual exploitation. A World Bank survey in June of 3,250 Ethiopian households found that 13% of people had lost their jobs since COVID-19 and at least half had seen their incomes drop or disappear entirely. [Netsanet Kindu, Metema town administration’s labour and social affairs team leader] said more women and girls in the sex trade had sought help in recent months but her office had limited budget to support vulnerable communities, from sex workers to street children, and called on the federal government for more funding.” READ MORE

11/16/20: ‘a Modern Tragedy’: Millions Miss Out On Latest Treatments For TB (The Telegraph)

“Dr [Lucica] Ditiu [Stop TB Partnership Executive Director] outlined the vast disparity in how TB research was organised and funded compared to TB. ‘There are 47 vaccines in human trial phases for COVID-19, all developed in less than a year,’ she said. ‘For TB, over several years we have just one vaccine in human trials.’ She said that even if current funding levels were maintained, the TB vaccine wouldn’t come online until 2027. Grania Brigden of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease said if the world had taken steps to fight TB it would have been in a stronger position to fight COVID-19. ‘What we are seeing today, in terms of the numbers of people dying from TB and from COVID-19, or being co-infected, is the consequence of broken promises and broken public health,’ said Grania Brigden of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.” READ MORE

11/16/20: Remote Mentoring To Ensure Continuity Of Malaria Service Delivery During The COVID-19 Pandemic In Zimbabwe, Cote D’ivoire, And Cameroon (Malaria Matters)

“To ensure the continuity and safety of malaria service delivery during the pandemic and associated lockdowns, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire (CI), and Cameroon transitioned from in-person, facility-based mentorship for health care providers to phone-based e-mentorship. Working with the 3 National Malaria Control Programs, an e-mentoring package was developed and provided to mentors including technical guidance on malaria service delivery during COVID-19, a sample call guide, and a call tracker. Mentorship calls focused on continuity of malaria service delivery and applying WHO and PMI COVID-related guidance on triaging of patients and infection control measures. From April to June, Zimbabwe reached 134 providers in 24 of 25 health facilities that previously received in-person mentorship. CI reached 41 providers in 33 facilities, where mentors already worked with staff in-person. Cameroon reached 179 providers in 116 lower performing facilities. In Zimbabwe, e-mentorship identified malaria commodity shortfalls and over-stocking, and facilitated re-distribution. Mentors advocated successfully for provision of PPE.” READ MORE

11/16/20: India’s Syndemic Of Tuberculosis And COVID-19 (Bmj Global Health – India)

“Across [India], the number of persons admitted for inpatient treatment fell for many diseases including malaria, dengue and TB. In June 2020, the number of people admitted for inpatient TB treatment in these facilities fell to less than a third of the number in June 2019. Given the scale of administrative disruption, data quality is always a concern, as shown by the reports of the underestimation of COVID-19 deaths in the country. While the NHM-HMIS [National Health Mission’s Health Management Information System] typically includes updated data on the number of facilities reporting this information, the government has not released this data since April onwards, making it difficult to estimate the scale of missed data, if any. However, data from March suggest that unreported data cannot fully explain these numbers—there were in fact more health facilities reporting data in March 2020 than there were in March 2019…Other official data confirm the NHM trends for TB. Data from the Nikshay database. India’s national TB case notification system, show that notifications fell most sharply in April, and then revived somewhat in the months after.” READ MORE

11/16/20: Coronavirus Crippling Fight Against Other Pandemic: TB (Medical Xpress)

“’What we are seeing today, in terms of the numbers of people dying from TB and from COVID-19, or being co-infected, is the consequence of broken promises and broken public health,’ said Grania Brigden, Director of the Tuberculosis Department, The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. On the same day that Moderna announced its successful phase 3 vaccine trial results, [Stop TB Partnership Executive Director Lucica] Ditiu outlined the vast disparity in how TB research was organised and funded. ‘There are 47 vaccines in human trial phases for COVID-19, all developed in less than a year,’ she said. ‘For TB, over several years we have just one vaccine in human trials.’” READ MORE

11/16/20: Experts Calculate Lockdown Impact On Health Services (News Vision – Uganda)

“[HIV testing services] was the most affected service, nationally. The number of individuals receiving HIV testing services decreased by 98% in June 2020, compared to June 2019. With the exception of Serere district, there was significant drop in HIV testing nationally. Malaria testing services were also was affected nationally but not to a similar extent. The number of individuals receiving malaria testing services reduced by 65% in June 2020, compared to June 2019. Save for Kaberamaido and Isingiro districts, the rest of the districts experienced significant drops in the number of individuals testing for malaria in June 2020, compared to June 2019.” READ MORE

11/16/20: Coronavirus Crippling Fight Against Other Pandemic: TB (Medical Xpress)

“Doctors on Monday announced a new global study looking at the dual threat of COVID-19 among TB patients. While there is likely a clear link between COVID-19 mortality and TB—given they are both severe lung infections—there has up to now been little comprehensive research on how the two diseases interact. In a letter published in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, doctors said they were looking at more than 600 COVID-19/TB patients across 36 countries with the aim of better understanding how to prevent and manage this double curse.’ ‘What we are seeing today, in terms of the numbers of people dying from TB and from COVID-19, or being co-infected, is the consequence of broken promises and broken public health,’ said Grania Brigden, Director of the Tuberculosis Department, The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.” READ MORE

11/15/20: Borno Administers Malaria Prevention Drugs On 2.1 Million Children (This Day – Nigeria)

“[Commissioner for Health, Dr. Saliyu Kwaya-Bura] said: ‘So we are aiming to prevent malaria in children as well as make it mild in case they contract malaria. These are drugs that are safe. We have done this before. This is going to be the last for this year. The exercise this year had a lot of challenges because of COVID-19, in terms of logistics, in terms of getting people and observing the protocols. However, despite that, I want to say that it has been a very successful exercise. We have been able to reach out to more than 90 per cent of our targeted population.’ Also speaking, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Molumbo, described the programme as part of measures to prevent malaria from killing children under the age of five years who are the most affected. He said in addition to the intervention, the Borno State government has provided bed nets to families so that they could sleep and be protected from bites of the mosquitoes. ‘These bed nets are treated with insecticides. The other intervention in the state is the indoor residual spraying, where we spray insecticides on the wall because when the mosquitoes finish biting they go to the wall to relax,’ Molumbo said.” READ MORE

11/14/20: Pakistan- Socio-economic Impact Of COVID-19 On The Transgender Community (Menafn – Pakistan)

“Government and non-government stakeholders need to take into account the impact of COVID-19 on marginalized groups such as transgender persons while designing, implementing, and evaluating the measures to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on poor strata of the country. It is worth mention here that though the rights of the transgender community have been recognized under 2018, their basic needs have been neglected in the government response to COVID-19. Across the world including Pakistan, individuals living with HIV are having greater difficulty accessing lifesaving medications either due to the shutdown of health facilities or they were turned into testing and treatment sites for the virus, forcing many to become vulnerable to the infection of coronavirus.” READ MORE

11/13/20: Lockdown Increases HIV Threat (Lesotho Times – Lesotho)

“ ‘The numbers of new infections and HIV related deaths are worrying. The Ministry of Health has identified challenges during the COVID-19 lockdown where people on HIV treatment did not have adequate supply of medication. Many people did not go for their regular check-ups to get medication supplies for fear of getting infected with COVID-19 while visiting health centres. This has badly affected adherence.’ [Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo] The lockdown had an even worse impact on Basotho patients who are based in neighbouring South Africa due to travel restrictions. Many ran out of medication but could not refill, he said. ‘We had arranged for borderless health services with South Africa but most Basotho did not like the type of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) that South Africa was dispensing because they were different from what they got [b]ack home.’ ” READ MORE

11/12/20: Escalation Of HIV Adherence Strategies Amid COVID-19 (Al Khaleej Today)

“’The writing is on the wall’ that virtual care does not meet the needs of people living with HIV who struggled with virus suppression prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jason Farley, PhD, ANP-BC, AACRN, Associate Professor of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. It is time, therefore, for HIV care teams, particularly Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clinics, to get creative to provide full service to patients. This may mean redistributing the workforce so that one person acts as a community health worker. Or it could mean text and video calls are increasing. Helping patients find online support groups to address problems with alcohol or drug use; and conduct an overall assessment of patient needs over the course of the pandemic. ‘The virtual patient-centered medical home may be the new normal post COVID-19 and we need to think about how we can use this model on patients for whom it works, but complement this model on patients who do not’ Farley said at the 2020 annual virtual meeting of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC). This work ‘is essential to our ability to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.’” READ MORE

11/12/20: The Global Fund Board Discusses The Development Of Its Next Strategy (Global Fund Observer – Nairobi)

“Some voices also insisted on innovation and flexibility in implementation as the Global Fund applies its sustainability, transition, and co-financing in the aftermath of COVID-19. Other voices proposed reinforcing global health security to fight current and future pandemics that could derail the fight against HIV, TB, and malaria. They highlighted the potential of better partnerships with multi-lateral and international organizations and in-country institutions such as civil society, communities, other government sectors, and the private sector. Many constituencies stated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the dual importance of health and community systems. Strengthening health systems will help fight HIV, TB, and malaria and sustain gains obtained in the last two decades of the fight against those three diseases. Community systems allow other community members-including people living with or affected by the three diseases-to reach out, educate and link to diagnosis or care other community members, especially the vulnerable and marginalized. Strengthening health and community systems will help the Global Fund partnership improve the quality of care and save lives.” READ MORE

11/12/20: ‘delivering The Final Year Of This Grant Cycle And Preparing For The Next One’ (Global Fund Observer – Nairobi)

“…the effects of COVID-19 on TB patients have been dramatic: resources have been diverted, TB patients have been stigmatized, and the constant efforts to identify missing cases have been partly lost. The results for malaria treatment show deaths continuing to fall, albeit at a reduced rate. However, there is little progress in reducing the number of cases, and there are alarming increases in some of the highest burden countries. Additionally, COVID-19 has impeded the achievement of these ambitions, disrupting prevention and treatment across all three diseases. Roughly 70 percent of the service delivery programs across all three diseases have experienced disruptions. Rather than stepping up the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, much of the partnership’s efforts have had to focus on mitigating the damage and protecting gains.” READ MORE

11/12/20: Au, Awa Experts Call For Renewed Action To Fight AIDS, TB, Malaria Amid COVID-19 (National Accord – Nigeria)

“’Countries are experiencing significant resource needs and rising fiscal needs on top of a health financing burden. I appreciate all the partners involved in the fight against AIDS, TB, malaria and strengthening health financing. Without their support, none of the work would be achieved,’ [Ms Shu-Shu Tekle-Haimanot, Global Fund] said. Rosemary Mburu, representing the [Civil Society Division], said it was dignifying to see the regional, concerted effort in managing COVID-19. ‘As Africa progresses to the next phase, there is positivity for a better job. There is potential to have the gains we have made reversed by the pandemic. Our call is to ensure that we safeguard the lessons and progress we have made as a continent. We must protect the gains on AIDS, TB and malaria, protect health systems and beat COVID-19. We do have the instruments and policies, where we stand is to ensure we have the leadership and political will that is needed.’” READ MORE

11/11/20: COVID-19 Situation Report (The Global Fund)

“Health supply chain challenges in low and middle-income countries are nothing new. They include poor information systems, shortage of trained personnel, lack of appropriate equipment to store medicines, and poor roads and infrastructure leading to inadequate transport between central warehouses and local distribution points, a multitude of hard-to-reach rural villages, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated public health measures such as lockdowns and transport restrictions have made the situation even more challenging, affecting key materials and medicinal ingredients, finished health products, logistics and shipping. In Sudan, COVID-19 restrictions threatened to limit access to HIV and TB health supplies and services. Fuel shortages, inflation and movement restrictions meant transport costs increased significantly and reliability plummeted. Through Global Fund supported grants, partners including UNDP, the Federal Ministry of Health, and the National Medical Supplies Fund deployed a fleet of World Food Program trucks carrying 17 containers of HIV and TB medication and laboratory supplies providing five-months of supplies to Sudan’s eight most in-need states: Kassala, Gedarif, South, North and West Kordofan, Blue Nile, Sennar and East Darfur. Global Fund grants have also been reallocated to provide personal protective equipment for health workers across the country” READ MORE

11/11/20: How Can Countries Continue To Combat Malaria During A Pandemic? (African Arguments)

“According to James Wallen, Malaria Programme Officer at Speak up Africa: ‘We have heard of mothers being afraid to take their young children to health centres when they have a fever out of fear of catching COVID-19, thereby potentially leaving them with untreated malaria.’ This is worrying given that children are at more risk from malaria than the coronavirus. 70% of malaria death are of children under five. It is also concerning if the broader population is avoiding getting medical help for malaria due to fears of catching COVID-19. In Sierra Leone, more than a quarter of the population is infected with malaria at any given time and 4 out of 10 of hospital consultations are for the often deadly disease. In the face of these concerns, Sierra Leone distributed 4.6 million bed nets nationwide in May and June despite the pandemic. They changed their strategy to ensure social distancing and provided healthcare workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). When lockdown measures made it difficult to carry out physical events, the campaign also shifted its focus to mass communications to amplify key messages across different platforms for different audiences.” READ MORE

11/10/20: COVID-19 Might Have Reversed The War Against A Serious Parasitic Disease (The Conversation)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the clock back by years in the fight against other diseases. It has interrupted research, trials and other efforts to ease the public health burden. A regimen for Parkinson’s disease, for example, was to begin clinical trials this year. But this was postponed because of the pandemic. Researchers have warned that if COVID-19 halts distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets, cases of malaria might increase by 206 million and malaria deaths by 379,000 in sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists predicted that deaths related to HIV could increase by 10%, tuberculosis by up to 20% and malaria by 36% over the next five years.” READ MORE

11/9/20: TB Tests Are Being Redirected To Diagnose Covid. Experts Warn Of A Spike In Cases, Deaths (The Swaddle – India)

“Bihar, which reportedly has one of the largest TB caseloads in the country, has already begun recording irregular, steep falls in its TB diagnoses, after 70% of the state’s TB control and testing staff was reassigned to Covid19 duty, indicating TB cases are going unidentified and untreated. ‘This is just one example of the very difficult choices that had to be taken to contain Covid19. It was obviously crucial that we tackle the pandemic but we cannot forget that we have other killers in our midst. We are going to have to be innovative in addressing them,’ Thomas Kenyon, chief health officer of Project Hope, an international healthcare NGO, told The Guardian. The economic impact of the pandemic is also expected to worsen TB risk factors, leading to a rise in cases even as diagnosis and treatment become farther out-of-reach. With poverty rates rising everywhere, more and more people are vulnerable to ‘overcrowded and substandard living or working conditions, poor nutrition, intercurrent disease (such as HIV/AIDS),’ among other factors associated with poverty, according to the WHO. These influences alone could increase TB cases by more than 1 million per year in the period between 2020 and 2025, according to WHO’s report.” READ MORE

11/8/20: How The Western Cape Will Tackle The TB Epidemic (Cape Town Etc– South Africa)

“’We will continue to deliver medicines to people’s homes, and this will now ensure that stable TB patients receive their medication monthly. I was able to join a team of community health care workers delivering medicine in Langa a few months ago, and I was so impressed by the programme and the dedication of these workers’ [Premier Alan Winde]. Testing will also prove important in the battle of TB, as was the case with COVID-19, and the province will make use of increased testing capacity in the TB response. ‘The Western Cape Government received additional GeneXpert testing machines from the National Department of Health at the start of the pandemic to ramp up COVID-19 testing. As testing capacity eases, we will be also using this testing capacity in our response to TB.’ The Western Cape Government is also continuing with plans to allocate 30 beds at the Sonstraal Hospital for dedicated TB healthcare.” READ MORE

11/8/20: Covid Set To Cause 400,000 Surge In TB Deaths As Medics Diverted (The Guardian)

“In many countries – including South Africa, India and Indonesia – doctors and health workers have been shifted from tracking TB cases to tracing people infected with COVID-19. Equipment and budgets have also been reassigned, an investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed. As a result, millions of TB diagnoses have been missed, and according to the WHO this is likely to result in 200,000 to 400,000 excess deaths from the disease this year alone, with a further million new cases occurring every year after that for the next five years. ‘This is just one example of the very difficult choices that had to be taken to contain COVID-19,’ said Thomas Kenyon, chief health officer of Project Hope, the humanitarian NGO. ‘It was obviously crucial that we tackle the pandemic but we cannot forget that we have other killers in our midst. We are going to have to be innovative in addressing them.’” READ MORE

11/7/20: High Prevalence Of Pre-existing Serological Cross-reactivity Against Sars-cov-2 In Sub-sahara Africa (International Journal Of Infectious Diseases)

“Our data suggests that populations in sub-Sahara Africa had been pre-exposed to a spectrum of HCoVs [human coronaviruses] that have provided some cross-reactivity against SARS-CoV-2 and may have limited infections or pathogenesis on the continent. In support of this hypothesis, our study detected serological cross-reactivity against SARS-CoV-2 antigens in pre-COVID-19 plasma samples from Tanzania and Zambia at levels nearly 8- and 6-fold, respectively, higher than the prevalence in samples from the USA. Additionally, by comparing the prevalence of serological cross-reactivity against SARS-CoV-2 between HIV-1 positive and negative Zambian individuals, we found that HIV-1 infection seem to lower the cross-reactive response towards SARS-CoV-2, which could be caused by a weakened immune response in HIV-1 infected individuals. However, a larger sample size of HIV-1 positive cohort will be needed to confirm this observation.” READ MORE

11/7/20: COVID-19 In The Indian Context And The Quest For Alternative Paradigms (Economic & Political Weekly – India)

“…along with local governments, a special mention of healthcare is clearly warranted to emphasise the need for revisiting the unjust healthcare system and arrangements the world over. It is now increasingly evident that with full attention devoted to COVID-19, whose caseload is mounting every day, the situation for non-COVID-19 health needs is assuming alarming dimensions because crucial health services like immunisation, hospital births, tuberculosis, and traditional diseases like malaria, dengue, etc, and even emergency medical needs are getting virtually sidelined.” READ MORE

11/7/20: As Malaria Season Begins, COVID-19 Complicates Issues (The Zimbabwe Daily)

“South Africa’s already heavily burdened healthcare system has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Routine healthcare such as tuberculosis and HIV services was severely disrupted. The World Health Organisation also warned that COVID-19 could significantly disrupt malaria control activities. South Africa responded rapidly by modifying malaria control practices and protocols. The goal was to ensure the safety of healthcare workers, malaria control staff and the communities they serve. As fever is a symptom of both malaria and COVID-19, people from malaria endemic districts were tested for both COVID-19 and malaria during the community-testing phase of the COVID-19 control strategy. South Africa’s strict lockdown restrictions on provincial and international movements greatly reduced the country’s malaria burden, with just over 1 000 cases reported between May and October this year. The opening of South Africa’s borders has generated much enthusiasm. But this increased mobility at the start of the country’s malaria season is a concern. Healthcare workers and the general public must remember that not all fevers are due to COVID-19. Other infectious diseases could be the cause. In addition, patients with fever must remember to provide detailed travel histories to their healthcare provider to assist with correct diagnosis.” READ MORE

11/6/20: Zimbabwe: Over 130,000 HIV Positive People In Mashonaland East On Art (The Herald – Zimbabwe)

“Goromonzi District AIDS Coordinator Mr. Graham Mafoko presented the provincial position on treatment, care and support. ‘The call for universal access to treatment is bearing fruits as those tested and found positive were initiated on ART,’ said Mr. Mafoko. ‘By the end of the second quarter of this year, 137 554 people were initiated in Mashonaland East province. Different services, which are being offered in the districts, are contributing very much to the initiation of patients on ART. Awareness on ART has increased to the extent that adherence is high among people living with HIV, but some of the activities were adversely affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown. We also had some people failing to access drugs owing to the travel restrictions, as well as high transport costs.’” READ MORE

11/6/20: COVID-19 Affects Homebased Care Initiatives (The Herald – Zimbabwe)

“Some members of Seke Rural Home Based Care are appealing for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to enable them to carry out their duties without fear of getting COVID-19. Speaking to the Herald at the side lines of the Grassroots Women Resilience Building National Convention workshop in Harare on Tuesday, the home based care givers said unavailability of PPEs was putting them at risk of contracting diseases including COVID-19 thereby affecting voluntary work. They now only attend to few patients as compared to periods before the outbreak of COVID-19. ‘We look after the elderly, orphans and people living with HIV and our duty is to visit them and offer the utmost supportive care so that they can lead a decent life. Due to COVID-19 movement restrictions that were aimed at reducing further spread of the disease, we lost several members who were living with HIV because some defaulted in taking their anti-retroviral drugs. Depression was also rife because they also lacked counselling services since everyone was now locked indoors,’ said Alice Lutwaba of Ward ” READ MORE

11/5/20: COVID-19 Hits Life-saving Health Services In Africa (Who Regional Office For Africa)

“The preliminary analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) of five key essential health service indicators that include outpatient consultation, inpatient admission, skilled birth attendance, treatment of confirmed malaria cases and provision of the combination pentavalent vaccine in 14 countries finds a sharp decline in these services between January and September 2020 compared with the two previous years. The gaps were the widest in May, June and July, corresponding to when many countries had put in place and enforced movement restrictions and other social and public health measures to check the spread of COVID-19.” READ MORE

11/5/20: As The Malaria Season Begins In Southern Africa, COVID-19 Complicates The Picture (The Conversation– South Africa)

“South Africa’s already heavily burdened healthcare system has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Routine healthcare such as tuberculosis and HIV services was severely disrupted. The World Health Organisation also warned that COVID-19 could significantly disrupt malaria control activities. South Africa responded rapidly by modifying malaria control practices and protocols. The goal was to ensure the safety of healthcare workers, malaria control staff and the communities they serve. As fever is a symptom of both malaria and COVID-19, people from malaria endemic districts were tested for both COVID-19 and malaria during the community-testing phase of the COVID-19 control strategy. South Africa’s strict lockdown restrictions on provincial and international movements greatly reduced the country’s malaria burden, with just over 1,000 cases reported between May and October this year. The opening of South Africa’s borders has generated much enthusiasm. But this increased mobility at the start of the country’s malaria season is a concern. Healthcare workers and the general public must remember that not all fevers are due to COVID-19. Other infectious diseases could be the cause. In addition, patients with fever must remember to provide detailed travel histories to their healthcare provider to assist with correct diagnosis.” READ MORE

11/4/20: The Eastern Cape Government Is Mum On TB Plans And Numbers (City Press – South Africa)

“A community health worker at Motherwell Clinic, who asked not to be named as she has not been authorized to speak to the media, says the Eastern Cape already had a high rate of treatment interruption and COVID-19 made it worse. She says the treatment is often interrupted at different points. Some patients stop treatment when they show improvement, and others who are diagnosed never start taking treatment. ‘A huge number of our patients don’t finish their treatments because of stigma and poverty,’ she says. ‘Before the outbreak of COVID-19, patients used to get nutritional supplements just to have at least one meal a day, because it is essential for TB patients to eat before taking their medication. During the lockdown, civic organisations that used to supply food to patients stopped due to lockdown restrictions, hence some of our patients are no longer coming for their treatment despite being critically ill,’ she says. ‘Relocations to new areas and patients who give false addresses make it difficult for us to trace them.’” READ MORE

11/4/20: Public Health In South Africa (Borgen Magazine – South Africa)

“In South Africa, a new syndemic has emerged, involving HIV/AIDS, TB and COVID-19. Studies show that the three diseases collectively worsen one another. HIV increases a COVID-19 patient’s risk of death by a factor of 2.75, while also increasing a patient’s risk of having active TB by a factor of 2.58. Because HIV affects the immune system and TB damages the lungs, both are likely to increase the severity of COVID-19. The effects of syndemics can be social as well. Crucial resources for HIV and TB are being diverted to the COVID-19 response. The number of TB tests conducted dropped by half because patients could not visit clinics during the lockdown. The lockdown also prevented patients from accessing their TB and HIV medications. However, the pandemic offers an opportunity to reform public health in South Africa by addressing the HIV-TB-COVID-19 syndemic.” READ MORE

11/3/20: How Ingenuity, Experience And Decisive Leadership Helped To Manage Coronavirus In Africa (Ghanaweb)

“19. South Africa’s playbook for containing the coronavirus is rooted in the country’s decades-long battle with HIV/AIDS. Home to the largest number of HIV patients on the continent, and with a fairly recent past mired with prominent HIV deniers, a lack of access to Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARVs), and 300,000 lost souls, the government swiftly and strictly implemented a total lockdown within the first three weeks of detecting the first case, before a single COVID-19 related death had occurred, and despite an ongoing economic recession. South Africa’s experience with HIV/AIDS established more than just a cautious COVID-19 containment strategy. Managing HIV/AIDS and its twin ailment, TB, required strong public health protocols and systems that could easily be redeployed in the fight against COVID-19. Particularly because disease prevention protocols for both TB and COVID-19 are similar given common means of transmission via exhaled infected droplets, using PPE and social distancing measures was already familiar to the population and easily reintroduced. However, many South Africans, afraid of being stigmatized after testing positive for COVID-19, would rather not test at all, a trait that lingered on from HIV/AIDS stigmatization.” READ MORE

11/3/20: A Tale Of Two Jamaican Clinics During COVID-19 (UNAIDS)

“The University Hospital of the West Indies’ CHARES has been a best practice model for HIV treatment in Jamaica. For the island as a whole, 79% of those on treatment were virally suppressed last year. At CHARES, however, an impressive nine in every 10 clients are virally suppressed and therefore keep healthy and are unable to transmit the virus. But even for this accomplished programme, COVID-19 has presented significant challenges. Laboratory support has been diverted toward COVID-19 and there has been a backlog in receiving viral load testing results. CHARES had been used to writing three-month prescriptions for stable clients, but since COVID-19, state-run pharmacies have been dispensing only a one-month supply. This is part of the government’s strategy to avoid stock-outs given the supply chain challenges at this time, but it means that those on treatment need to go out to get their medicines more often. CHARES has begun home deliveries, particularly for older people, who are more reluctant to venture out given the novel coronavirus risk. COVID-19 containment measures have increased the need for mental health support. Income loss, school closures and curfews have placed an added strain on thousands of Jamaican households, including many people living with HIV. But when clients are referred to psychiatric support in the main hospital they rarely go for fear of experiencing discrimination. Further, since the hospital in which CHARES is located is a designated COVID-19 treatment site, some clients have opted to stay away.” READ MORE

11/2/20: Haiti Has Cut Malaria Cases In Half. Its Successful Efforts Must Continue (Miami Herald)

“Before a single case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Haiti, we developed a multi-sector action plan —now under way — to confront this outbreak. The plan reflects the strategic vision of the Haitian government to build on the community-outreach component of our health system to respond to deadly, infectious diseases. Consequently, initiatives to fight tuberculosis and HIV and, particularly to eliminate malaria, remain a priority in tandem with our COVID-19 response. As a result, we have stepped up additional measures of communication with the public to prevent delays in the tracking, testing and treatment of each malaria case in urban and rural areas. We have had dynamic technical and financial support from partners, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC Foundation, The Carter Center, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and other “Malaria Zero” partners, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund).” READ MORE

11/2/20: Zim Sets 2025 HIV Target (The Herald – Zimbabwe)

“[Dr Bernard Madzima, National AIDS Council chief executive officer] said although the COVID-19 pandemic affected some of their programmes, they put in place mechanisms to ensure continued access to medication for HIV patients. ‘Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, HIV and AIDS programmes like any other programmes also suffered because most of our programmes in communities require us to gather people around sharing information and those who are positive need to visit health centres to access their medications,’ said Dr Madzima. ‘All that suffered, but we came up with innovative ways to make sure clients continuously get their medication. We increased the supply of drugs and asked hospitals to give our clients three months’ supply. In some cases, we used community anti-retroviral treatment refill groups where a health worker would collect drugs on behalf of a group in his/her community.’” READ MORE

11/2/20: People Living With HIV Now Get Drugs To Last For Three Months  (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“Many hospitals in Nigeria now dispense drugs that will last for three months to people living with HIV. Kenna Nwakanma, First Co-chairperson, Coalition of Civil Society Networks on HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the COVID-19 challenge and concerns over supply chain informed the decision. ‘With COVID19, most of the hospitals were forced to do multi-months dispensing of drugs like we have long advocated, and it has worked perfectly,’ he said. Mr Nwakanma explained that the practice would go a long way in reducing the pressure exerted on frontline health workers who were forced to see patients that had no complaints. The co-chairperson said that the practice had reduced the rate at which patients spent money not just on drugs, but on transportation to and from hospitals.” READ MORE

11/2/20: The World Could Learn A Lot From How Africa Is Handling COVID-19 (Wired)

“With COVID-19 fatality rates across Africa remaining low, Van Cutsem is more concerned about deaths caused by a healthcare system badly disrupted by the pandemic. As a result, many people were unable to collect treatments for HIV and tuberculosis. Vaccinations for malaria and other chronic diseases were stopped. While much of the world grapples with a second wave of COVID-19 infections, the fear in Africa is that cases of other diseases could surge instead. That may already be happening. From May to August, more than 33,000 excess deaths were recorded in South Africa. Of these, 9,000 were from COVID-19. That leaves 24,000 deaths unaccounted for. Where and when the deaths occurred – as well as the age groups affected – suggest a large number of unrecorded COVID-19 deaths, but other factors may be at play.” READ MORE

11/1/20: Curbing Rising Cases Of HIV Amid COVID-19 (Punch – Nigeria)

“It is frightening that these statistics may be exacerbated by the interruptions in the HIV response caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with the [National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)] admitting to have lost contact with 51,000 persons living with HIV during the lockdown and recorded over 20,000 deaths within the same period. Some persons living with HIV were denied access to treatment centres because some of the facilities had been converted to isolation centres, while there was also a restriction of movement. Consequently, the use of antiretroviral drugs declined by 45 percent.” READ MORE

10/31/20: Massive Spike In TB Infections (Independent Online – South Africa)

“‘The Impact of COVID-19 Intervention on TB Testing in South Africa report indicates that the average test volume during the non-intervention period was 47,520 per week, while it was 24,574 during the lockdown period, which was a 48% decline. The lockdown restriction has therefore caused unintended negative impact on all efforts of TB programme management. The implications of undiagnosed TB are serious and will compromise past successes in reducing the burden and mortality associated with drug-sensitive and drug-resistance tuberculosis.’ There was a 40% decline in TB cases diagnosed between March and April this year at the beginning of lockdown, and April 2020, compared with the previous year, saw a 47% decrease in cases. [Western Cape Health Department spokesperson Natalie Watlington] also said many existing diagnosed patients missed their medical appointments during lockdown due to lack of transport, social distancing and the messaging to stay at home. In addition to hospital facilities, [Premier Alan Winde] said that some of the services put in place during lockdown for COVID-19 would be repurposed to serve TB patients.” READ MORE

10/31/20: How COVID-19 Hinders The Fight Against Malaria (The Economist)

“By combining new tools with bednets, pills and spraying, Senegal hopes to eliminate malaria by 2030. Ending it worldwide is further off. The Lancet, a medical journal, said last year that it could be done within a generation, if $6bn a year were spent on prevention instead of $4.3bn. The covid-driven global recession could make it harder to raise such sums. Anti-malarial campaigns must be sustained. ‘If you stop holding it down, it goes back up,’ says Dr Welkhoff. An Asian species of mosquito, Anopheles stephensi, has found a foothold in Ethiopia and Sudan. Unlike most African species, it thrives in cities, where previously the disease was rare. Since mosquitoes and parasites move and evolve, people must be adaptable. Mosquitoes are being genetically modified to sire offspring that die before they are old enough to start biting. In October the who came out in favour of such research. Victory against the vectors is not assured, but nor is it fanciful.” READ MORE

10/30/20: Bringing HIV And COVID-19 Testing Services To Hard-to-reach Areas In Uzbekistan (UNAIDS)

“’Our work in today’s coronavirus pandemic is more relevant than ever. We continue our cooperation to fight COVID-19 and fully support the efforts of the Uzbek authorities to normalize the epidemic situation in the country as soon as possible, and assure that the Russian Federation is ready to provide the necessary assistance,’ said Irina Bragina, Deputy Head of Rospotrebnadzor. To date, 12 mobile clinics have been donated—four to Tajikistan, three to Armenia and five to Kyrgyzstan. Apart from the primary health-care services and a range of HIV screening services, the clinics provide tests for COVID-19, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections and obstetrics, gynaecology, cardiology and urology care. All the mobile clinics offer services free of charge. So far, more than 1.6 million people have used the services provided by the clinics. ‘Mobile clinics today not only continue providing primary health-care services, including HIV testing, but also have come to the forefront to combat a new threat—COVID-19,’ said Aleksandr Goliusov, Director, a.i., of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.” READ MORE

10/30/20: The High Road Is In Harm Reduction (Mail & Guardian – South Africa)

“’Harm reduction services such as sterile needle and syringe programmes save lives and are cost-effective. Yet the number of countries providing these services has effectively stalled for six consecutive years,’ said Naomi Burke-Shyne, the executive director of Harm Reduction International. ‘COVID-19 has disrupted health services worldwide but it has pushed many governments to successfully implement solutions to the overdose, HIV and hepatitis crises as part of their emergency COVID-19 responses, paving the way for their permanent implementation around the world.’ Researchers found that harm reduction implementation has worsened across the world, with approximately half of the countries with injecting drug users not providing any sterile needles and syringe programmes or OST.” READ MORE

10/29/20: COVID-19 Takes Attention Away From India’s High TB Caseload (The Federal – India)

“Despite the threat posed by TB to India’s health security, the registration of fresh cases has gone down significantly. For every 100 cases being registered in India till January 2020, only 40 cases were registered before April due to a decline in access to TB services, says the Global Tuberculosis Report, 2020 released on October 14, 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The weekly and monthly number of TB case notifications fell by more than 50 per cent between the end of March and late April in India, following the imposition of a national lockdown, according to the report. India accounts for 26 per cent of the total global TB cases — highest in the world. If the present trend of non-registration of new cases continues, we may see the problem spiralling out of control very soon. Gradually, the registration of TB patients is increasing, but as of the end of June, it had failed to reach pre-lockdown levels.” READ MORE

10/29/20: Iop Speaker Draws On Experience In AIDS, TB, And Malaria Prevention To Talk COVID-19 (The Harvard Crimson)

“[Peter] Sands [executive director of the Global Find to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria] and [Atul] Gawande [surgeon, author, Harvard Medical School Professor] also discussed the importance of systems of healthcare delivery in disease response — both for coronavirus and the diseases the Global Fund focuses on, such as AIDS. ‘You’ve got to build a system, because if you don’t have a system, nothing functions,’ Sands said. ‘In many countries, the fundamental infrastructure and capabilities that have been used to do the COVID response, have been those that have been put in place for HIV, TB, and malaria.’ At the same time, though, Sands said it is important that healthcare providers not lose sight of individual patients’ well-being. ‘COVID is going to force us to get even more system-oriented,’ he added. ‘But I want to make sure that as we do so, we keep that laser-sharp focus on what is the difference we’re making to people’s lives.’ Sands concluded by reflecting on how COVID-19 has shifted wealthier countries’ perspective on the effects of disease — now, instead of looking ‘outward,’ they have been forced to turn ‘inward.’” READ MORE

10/28/20: Antiretroviral Treatment Interruption Among People Living With HIV During Covid‐19 Outbreak In China: A Nationwide Cross‐sectional Study (Journal Of The International AIDS Society)

“[The study researchers] found many [people living with HIV] (PLHIV)] in China were at risk of [antiretroviral therapy interruption (ATI)] and nearly 3% had already experienced an interruption in ART during the COVID-19 outbreak. PLHIV were more likely to have experienced or be at risk of ATI if they had previous interruptions in ART, travelled away from where they typically receive HIV care, or lived in an area that implemented strict COVID-19 prevention and control measures. The majority of PLHIV who experienced ATI identified citywide lockdowns and travel restrictions as a significant barrier to accessing ART. Obtaining additional ART from HIV clinics other than one’s site of primary HIV care was prohibitively cumbersome, and PLHIV worried that actively seeking ART refills from new sources would disclose their HIV status.” READ MORE

10/28/20: Coronavirus: What We Can Learn From The Battle With HIV (The Parliament Magazine – Europe)

“According to Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, ‘COVID-19 is a unique opportunity to reimagine health systems. All eyes are on health, health systems and health care. Countries want and need to be better equipped to deal not only with COVID-19 but also to create healthier, more resilient societies for any future shocks. Health care is a human right. It should be a public good. We must learn from HIV and COVID-19 and implement rights-based, equitable, people-centred universal health coverage.’ Against the background of a pandemic, it is important to sustain services for people living with HIV and to ensure that resources are not unduly diverted from the HIV response.’” READ MORE

10/28/20: Response To COVID-19 In Indonesia: Situation Update (Un Office For The Coordination Of Human Affairs)

“COVID-19 has a greater negative impact on people with underlying health conditions. For example, people living with HIV/AIDS are more vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. According to data from the Ministry of Health, around 543,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Indonesia. Fatalities from the virus confirmed in Indonesia include eight people with HIV/AIDS, and 77 people with HIV/AIDS have confirmed tested positive for the coronavirus. A recent survey of people with HIV by UNAIDS and the Positive Indonesia Network (JIP) found that 52 percent of respondents had only enough ARV drugs to last for a month – a more serious situation compared to that of March 2020. They find it more difficult to access ARV supplies due to the shutdown of land and air transport services and interrupted health services. About half of the respondents had not received any social assistance, and some could no longer pay rent for their homes at the time of the survey.” READ MORE

10/28/20: People With HIV May Have A Higher Susceptibility To COVID-19 (Infectious Disease Advisor)

“The prevalence of HIV among patients hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) appears to be higher compared with the general population, suggesting an increased susceptibility to COVID-19 among people with HIV, according to research presented at IDWeek, held virtually from October 21 to 25, 2020. To determine the prevalence of HIV in patients with COVID-19 and the relationship between people with HIV and higher COVID-19 mortality rates, researchers conducted a meta-analysis using PubMed, Scopus, OVID, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases, including grey literature from January 1 to June 15.” READ MORE

10/28/20: Cdc Tanzania And Partners: Ensure HIV Services Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic (Cdc)

“After the Government of Tanzania announced the first case of COVID-19, some health facilities were designated for isolation and treatment of COVID-19 cases. In Mara region, local government officials designated Nyakato and Makoko dispensaries to treat COVID-19 patients. This meant new and existing HIV clients who typically visited these facilities had to find alternate locations for ongoing services. All PLHIV [people living with HIV] from these two dispensaries were redirected to the Nyasho, Kwangwa, Bweri dispensaries and Musoma Regional Hospital to continue receiving ART services without interruption. Through CDC support, [Ariel Glaser Pediatric AIDS Healthcare Initiative] and Council Health Management Teams implemented strategies to ensure all PLHIV knew how, when, and where to safely obtain services. Clients received phone call reminders about upcoming appointments as well. READ MORE

10/28/20: The Response To The HIV Epidemic Provides Valuable Lessons For Treating COVID-19 (Poz)

“We learned from the HIV response that these prevention and health promotion services are ideally delivered by community members themselves, who represent and have credibility with those they aim to serve. We have the data that tell us where impacts of COVID-19 are most severe. Now is the time to scale up mitigation and surveillance strategies such as COVID-19 testing while also being more surgical and strategic by delivering intensive care and services to heavily affected geographic areas and populations. If there are also policy approaches that can support this methodology, even better.” READ MORE

10/28/20: Tuberculosis Elimination In Nunavut Falls By Wayside Due To COVID-19 (Nunatsiaq News – Canada)

“TB occurs at a rate roughly 50 times higher in Nunavut than in the rest of Canada. [George] Hickes [Nunavat’s health minister] said that meetings and training opportunities for staff have been delayed since March, and the territorial TB committee hasn’t met face-to-face since last January. ‘They do have monthly meetings, but it is challenging to co-ordinate a fulsome response to tuberculosis across the territory when all our stakeholders aren’t able to meet face-to-face on a regular basis,’ Hickes said. The plan to eliminate TB includes more prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. Screening has taken place in three communities: Whale Cove, Qikiqtarjuaq and Kinngait. ‘Discussions are on hold for any community-wide screenings right now,’ Hickes said. ‘It would be ill-advised under the current COVID-19 restrictions.’” READ MORE

10/28/20: Red Flags On Tuberculosis As We Fight COVID-19 (Greater Kashmir – India)

“We note that the poor notification of TB cases continues even now: the NIKSHAY site [a case-based electronic TB notification system of India’s National TB elimination programme] shows that cases notified from June to September 2020 were 67% of those notified in this period a year ago. So, the trend is unchanged even with the progressive easing of the lockdown. Occurrence and severity of the disease is also closely linked to the nutrition status. Loss of livelihoods and worsening food security will adversely affect nutrition of individuals and could further increase the incidence as well as deaths due to TB.” READ MORE

10/28/20: Overcoming The COVID-19 Disruption To Essential Health Services (The Daily Star – Bangladesh)

“HIV and tuberculosis (TB) testing and treatment is also being affected. South Africa is among the countries most affected by these diseases. During the country’s lockdown, declines in TB testing led to a 33 percent decline in diagnoses. The number of TB and HIV patients collecting their medications on schedule has also fallen. Weaker adherence will ultimately lead to an increase in drug resistance, therapeutic failure and higher treatment costs.” READ MORE

10/28/20: Moving From Rhetoric To Action: How Africa Can Use Scientific Evidence To Halt The COVID-19 Pandemic (Infectious Diseases Of Poverty Journal)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed even strong health systems in Europe and America. A review and analysis of the impact of the 2014–2015 Ebola outbreaks in West Africa on health systems revealed that there was a significant reduction in access to routine health services and this led to substantially increased mortality from preventable diseases such as malaria, measles, HIV, AIDS and TB. African countries should learn from this experience and implement available guidance from WHO to ensure that essential health services are maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic particularly during lockdowns to reduce excess mortality from other preventable diseases. Key to maintenance of essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic is the protection of health care workers from acquiring COVID-19 infection; this can be achieved by providing African health workers with the necessary equipment, information and training on how to protect themselves.” READ MORE

10/27/20: The Pandemic Could Push 49 Million Africans Into Extreme Poverty. Here’s How Other Countries Can Help (Cnn Business)

“Interruptions in health services and supplies due to COVID-19 are also expected to worsen broader health outcomes. HIV, tuberculosis and malaria deaths may rise by around half a million people. As countries reopen, there is an urgent need to assess the scale of the collateral damage caused by lockdowns, both within Africa and globally, so leaders can make the best choices about how to rebuild their countries’ economies. As they do that, African leaders must maintain their commitment to containing COVID-19 by continuing to test and isolate.” READ MORE

10/27/20: COVID-19 Situation Report (The Global Fund)

“In some countries, mosquito net distribution campaigns have been delayed. Case management has been affected by constraints on the movement and availability of health workers, while some countries face potential stock-outs of essential anti-malaria medicines. COVID-19 symptoms, in particular fever, has led to malaria being thought to be COVID-19 and vice-versa. Too often people who feel sick are not seeking treatment, frightened of contracting COVID-19 at a health facility. Disruptions also affect the ability to hold large-scale trainings and workshops for malaria.” READ MORE

10/27/20: COVID-19’s Impact On HIV Vertical Transmission Services Reversed (UNAIDS)

“As of August 2020, the UNAIDS, World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund data collection exercise to identify national, regional and global disruptions of routine HIV services caused by COVID-19 had collected data on the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV from 43 countries, of which 17 countries reported data that enable the identification of trends. To measure the impact of COVID-19 on vertical transmission of HIV services, a ratio was calculated relative to January—for example, if the number of women reached in April was the same as in January, the ratio is 1; if there was a decline, the ratio is less than 1. All countries except Mozambique and Jamaica experienced declines in women tested for HIV at their first antenatal clinic visit in April compared to January. By June or July, 14 of the 17 countries were back to the February level of testing (all except Indonesia, Botswana and Sierra Leone). Among the 15 countries reporting on treatment among pregnant women living with HIV, all but five have recovered to the February numbers of women receiving treatment (except Botswana, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Togo and Guatemala).” READ MORE

10/27/20: Assembly Elections And Bihar’s COVID-19 Success: A Time To Celebrate Or Deliberate? (Observer Research Foundation – India)

“The NITI Aayog Health Index report illustrates the deterioration of Bihar’s overall performance between 2015-16 and 2017-18, with a fall in many important indicators such as total fertility rate, low birth weight, sex ratio at birth, institutional delivery, TB notification rate, staff nurse vacancies and functional 24×7 [primary healthcare centers]. While most states saw an improving trend, Bihar saw a decline of 6.35 points from 2015-16 to 2017-18—the biggest fall in the health index amongst larger Indian states. Compared to other states, Bihar observed a negative performance in 16 indicators, the most amongst the larger states.” READ MORE

10/27/20: Let’s Not Lose Sight Of Malaria Because Of COVID-19—makarios Foundation (News Ghana)

“[Madam Lucy Apeajei] the Country Director [of Makarios Foundation] advised that Ghanaians should not ignore other killer diseases because of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘We don’t need to wait for a backlog of people dying before we come up with a rapid response, giving and donating item, etc. National malaria control programme is not doing much because of COVID-19; nobody is talking about malaria,’ she lamented. She urged every citizen to continue to observe all COVID-19 protocols to prevent contracting the diseases, but advised that everyone practiced personal and environmental hygiene in order not to contract other equally deadly diseases. Madam Apeajei asked the Ministry of health to prevent a situation in which, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of large numbers of Ghanaians were threatened because of malaria; ‘That could over stretch our health system, like it happened under COVID-19.’” READ MORE

10/27/20: Uganda COVID-19 Response: Was Off To A Good Start But Reopening Dwindled Prospects (Devdiscourse)

“Experts have also raised concerns about people on vital medication to fight HIV AIDS. About 1.4 million people in Uganda are infected by the disease and 1.2 million of them are expected on medication but limited access to health centers due to the pandemic could have dire consequences for these people. UNAIDS has warned that Sub Saharan Africa could face up to 500,000 HIV-related deaths due to the pandemic-induced restrictions.” READ MORE

10/26/20: COVID-19 And Preventative Medicine For HIV Infected Children (Clinical Infectious Diseases)

“We would advocate for vaccine initiatives targeting the population of HIV-infected and -exposed children in the clinics where they receive treatment for HIV. Outreach via telephone may be necessary to inform patients’ parents/guardians, given their reluctance to seek HIV care during the pandemic. Initiating pediatric vaccination programs at HIV health care sites could prevent a further increase in pneumonia-related deaths of HIV-exposed children in Botswana. Suspension of vaccination programs and fear of seeking preventative care services due to COVID-19 has already led to decreased vaccination rates and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses. In Sierra Leone, a referral health center showed a 52%-83% decrease in pediatric vaccination rates during the pandemic, compared to that during the previous year. Cambodia experienced an outbreak of measles; 341 cases were diagnosed during the 4-month period after their first case of COVID-19, an almost 8-fold increase over the number of cases from the same period the previous year. A benefit–risk analysis examining the benefits of vaccination vs. the risk of spreading COVID19 at vaccination sites found that the benefits outweigh the risk. HIV-infected children are more susceptible to vaccine-preventable illnesses, and an outbreak could lead to deaths in this population and affect herd immunity.” READ MORE

10/26/20: Africa’s Miners Face New TB Threat As Pandemic Disrupts Treatment (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

“When COVID-19 shut South Africa’s mines, workers from Jele’s homeland eSwatini and other neighbouring nations rushed home – disrupting TB care for thousands of miners at high risk from the disease due to weakened lungs after years working underground. Jele – secretary general of a migrant mineworkers’ association in eSwatini – said more lives could now be lost to TB as overstretched healthcare systems prioritise COVID-19. ‘There’s such a strong focus on COVID that everyone is forgetting about TB and other non-communicable diseases, and this contributes to more deaths,’ Jele said by phone from the landlocked kingdom, where TB treatment is not always available. Patients who do not consistently take the full course of several months’ medication can spread drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is TB that is resistant to common medications, according to the World Bank.” READ MORE

10/25/20: Fund Tuberculosis Aid: Now’s Not The Time To Forget About Global Health (The Georgetown Voice)

“COVID-19 has proven that there has been a severe lack of planning and financing for global health security programs. But TB has been telling us this for years. Warmer temperatures, a growing global population, and urbanization all facilitate the rapid spread of disease, increasing the frequency and intensity of pandemics. TB and other diseases endemic to low-resource areas will continue to lose progress without adequate interventions. As the U.S. Senate approaches the time to pass the foreign aid appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021, we need to pressure the government to step up in its role in promoting global health. So, when I say that this is a crucial moment for Congress to prioritize global health by supporting increased funding for tuberculosis programs, I don’t mean defunding other global health efforts such as strengthening health systems. I want to highlight the importance of having both disease-specific and more general healthcare spending in a time when everyone is preoccupied with COVID-19.” READ MORE

10/24/20: Sari, Ili Patients To Be Tested For Tuberculosis Along With COVID-19 (Times Of India)

“NPC [Nagpur Municipal Corporation] chief medical officer Dr. Narendra Bahirwar has ordered patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 but having symptoms of cough, fever etc to get tested for TB. ‘Also COVID-19 recovered patients but having cough etc for long time should also test for TB. Testing facility is available free of cost at GMCH, IGGMCH, and NMC’s Sadar Hospital,’ he said. Following guidelines issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) earlier this month, the NMC collected data from COVID-19 department regarding patients who tested COVID-19 negative but had symptoms of TB. After screening 221 such patients, 11 were detected with TB. Dr [Shilpa] Jichkar [NMC TB Officer] said, ‘There are various reasons behind decline in TB patients. Symptoms of COVID-19 and TB are similar. All were tested for COVID-19 but not for TB. Also, patients with TB symptoms might not go for screening due to fear of Covid.’” READ MORE

10/24/20: Tuberculosis Is A Major Worldwide Threat And The Pandemic Could Make It Worse, Who Says (The Washington Post)

“Tuberculosis incidences are falling, the agency says — between 2015 and 2019, cases were reduced by about 9 percent. But that still falls short of WHO’s targets. The coronavirus pandemic is expected to make things worse. Large drops occurred in TB diagnoses between January and June. Due to the economic effects of the pandemic, WHO models predict that cases could annually increase by more than 1 million in the next five years if resources continue to be diverted to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.” READ MORE

10/24/20: TB Catch-up Plan Underway In Western Cape But Old Challenges Linger (City Press – South Africa)

“In June this year, the province saw a 47% decline in TB testing and a 33% decline in the number of patients diagnosed with TB compared to previous years, says [Monique] Johnstone [Western Cape department of health spokesperson]. ‘Our response to chronic disease management, including TB, is being scaled up systematically over the next six months to increase the number of TB cases detected,’ she says. To do this, the department intends a project jointly with the National Health Laboratory Service to re-introduce TB testing in the province by looking at the way they are proactively finding people to testify for TB, ‘like we did with COVID-19 community testing and screening.’ ‘With the help of community healthcare workers, we will go into communities to actively find and screen people for TB as part of our community-oriented primary care approach. We are reviewing our data-led approach to find people who need to be tested for TB.’ says Johnstone.’” READ MORE

10/23/20: Rapid Adaptation Of HIV Treatment Programs In Response To COVID-19 — Namibia, 2020 (Centers For Disease Control And Prevention)

“Namibia has rapidly implemented public health measures to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission, which allows additional time to adequately prepare the health care system for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases. The ART program has adapted to ensure the continuity of essential HIV services while maintaining a safe health care environment for clients and staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts are underway to evaluate the implementation of these initiatives across sites and the impact on programs. These public health strategies could be implemented in other settings where COVID-19 might threaten the HIV treatment program when the public health providers and governments are willing to use new technologies and novel strategies to maintain patient care.” READ MORE

10/22/20: Limpopo Gears Up For Malaria Fight Amid COVID-19 Restrictions (Health-e News – South Africa)

“Last season, the department reached 95% of its target, spraying 933,000 structures. This year, however, the provincial department of health said they cannot employ additional members to assist with IRS. ‘Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the department was unable to recruit and train additional spray operators, however, 365 community spray operators were employed,’ says Shikwambana. ‘The department plans to spray for longer period, in order to cover all the risk areas.’ With lockdown regulations eased to allow travelling within the country and across borders, the non-profit organisation Malaria No More has created safety tips before leaving home.  They advise that travellers must first do their homework on the areas they are visiting and visit a healthcare professional before embarking on the journey. Once arriving in a malaria area, travellers should also cover themselves and prioritise indoor accommodation. The organisation also warned individuals to be wary of symptoms such a fever, headaches, chills and fatigue.” READ MORE

10/22/20: International Panel Updates Guidelines For Treatment And Prevention Of HIV In Adults: What Has Changed? (Times Now News – India)

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, disruption in treatment of other diseases has been seen commonly, but clinicians must ensure that ART for people with HIV is not interrupted. HIV leads to thousands of death every year, with several new infections reported from around the world. With no cure at hand, ART recommendations can play a major role in saving lives.” READ MORE

10/22/20: COVID-19’s Disruption Of Health Services (Inquirer.Net – Rwanda)

“Health-care delivery in nearly every country has been disrupted by policy-makers’ mistaken initial assumption that health systems would quickly win the fight against COVID-19. As the pandemic’s caseload and death toll are increasing daily, it is often stalling or reversing hard-won progress on minimizing the impact of other diseases, from diabetes to malaria. At the start of the pandemic, many policy-makers and health leaders considered a relatively short disruption of essential health services acceptable, but it is now clear that COVID-19 will persist much longer than anticipated. Countries can no longer postpone the delivery of crucial health services. Without immediate action to ensure their continuity, the future death toll from communicable and noncommunicable diseases will be unacceptably high.” READ MORE

10/22/20: Overcoming The COVID-19 Disruption To Essential Health Services (World Economic Forum)

“Global health experts have long been aware of the disruptions a protracted emergency would cause for health services. In 2018, the World Health Organization defined an essential package of services that should be available without user fees during an extended crisis. These include maternal and neonatal health care as well as treatment for communicable and non-communicable diseases, mental health, and neglected tropical diseases. Several challenges to delivering this package stand out. First, services for non-communicable diseases have decreased significantly. Of the 155 countries surveyed by the WHO, 53% reported a partial or total disruption of treatment services for hypertension, 49% for diabetes, 42% for cancer, and 31% for cardiovascular emergencies. HIV and tuberculosis (TB) testing and treatment is also being affected. South Africa is among the countries most affected by these diseases. During the country’s lockdown, declines in TB testing led to a 33% decline in diagnoses. The number of TB and HIV patients collecting their medications on schedule has also fallen. Weaker adherence will ultimately lead to an increase in drug resistance, therapeutic failure, and higher treatment costs.” READ MORE

10/22/20: A New Tool Could Help Doctors Treat Latent TB Before It Becomes Dangerous, Contagious (The Swaddle – India)

“Still, the algorithm could help India curb its TB numbers eventually — that is, if the current and urgent threat of the global pandemic wasn’t taking attention away from the long-term, ongoing threat of TB in India. Due to the pandemic’s disruption in health services and higher household transmission due to the lockdown, the government estimates India could have [500,000]  more TB cases — and [150,000] more deaths — in the next five years. ‘As the [COVID-19] pandemic sweeps the world, I and others working to fight TB have growing anxiety about what this pandemic will do to a much older infectious killer — tuberculosis,’ Dr. MadhUKar Pai, director at McGill University’s Internal Tuberculosis Centre, wrote in Forbes.” READ MORE

10/22/20:  Estimating The Impact Of Disruptions Due To COVID-19 On HIV Transmission And Control Among Msm In China (Medrxiv)

“The overall impact of COVID-19 on new HIV infections and HIV-related deaths is dependent on the nature, scale and length of the various disruptions. Resources should be directed to ensuring levels of viral suppression and condom use are maintained to mitigate any adverse effects of COVID-19 related disruption on HIV transmission and control among MSM in China.” READ MORE

10/21/20: Protecting Malaria Control Gains In The Era Of COVID-19: Insights From Sierra Leone And Ghana (Politico Sl – Sierra Leone)

“Despite the pandemic, Sierra Leone successfully distributed 4.6 million bed nets nationwide in May and June while ensuring they provided healthcare workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to safely undertake this work and adjusting the distribution strategy to ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines. Life-saving malaria tools such as intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) and seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) have saved millions of lives of pregnant women and children under five in malaria affected countries. Mass bed net distribution campaigns and the ease of access to antimalaria medicines have also played a great role in the fight against malaria.” READ MORE

10/20/20: The Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic On Malaria Elimination (Parasite Epidemiology And Control)

“Malaria control largely depends on the mass distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs), seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) and indoor residual spraying of insecticide (IRS) across communities and households. Together with slide-based diagnosis, RDTs, case management delivered through trained health staff and increasing awareness have led to significant success in reducing malaria burden over the years. Understanding the effect of the concentrated campaigns against malaria is vital to inform future control planning during the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, the WHO has stressed that all routine malaria prevention and control activities should not be hampered and be continued to the extent possible as they tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. However, implementing these preventive activities house-to-house is harder during the current health and economic crisis.” READ MORE

10/20/20: South Africa: How COVID-19 Changed Community Engagement In South Africa’s Low Income Areas (The Conversation – The South Africa)

“The Movement for Change and Social Justice applied strategies from previous AIDS activism campaigns developed by the Treatment Action Campaign. The campaign fought successfully for affordable treatment and better HIV care in South Africa through mass mobilisation and health education programmes. But mobilising communities during the COVID-19 lockdown also forced activists to work in new, innovative ways. In an interview, the organisation’s founder, Mandla Majola, explained: We want to build an active community response, but we cannot be close to each other, so we need alternative approaches. We need to collaborate with traditional and religious leaders and to support the health staff. Majola added that before COVID-19, he would regularly mobilise people at funerals to destigmatise HIV and promote testing. Now social media platforms are used to collaborate, mobilise and share report.” READ MORE

10/20/20: 51st Union World Conference On Lung Health Opens Today As Gains In Reducing TB Deaths Risk Being Set Back By COVID-19 (UNAIDS)

“COVID-19 is already disrupting TB and HIV services, adding to the dual stigma that prevents people from accessing services; lockdown measures that are a further barrier to people being tested or collecting their treatment for TB and HIV and diverting human, financial and laboratory resources away from tuberculosis and HIV. It has been estimated that globally, a three-month lockdown and a protracted 10-month restoration could lead to an additional 6.3 million people falling ill with TB and an additional 1.4 million TB deaths over the next five years. That would result in a setback of at least five to eight years in the fight against TB – bringing 2021 global TB incidence and deaths to levels not seen since 2013 and 2016 respectively – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Now, more than ever, is the time for the HIV and TB communities to team up and call for investment in shorter treatment and prevention regimens and better infection control, supported by the socioeconomic and human rights protections people need,’ said Shannon Hader, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director. ‘Overcoming COVID-19, TB, HIV and future pandemics requires global solidarity. Together we must develop and equitably distribute combination prevention, including vaccines, and treatment to all—true universal access that prioritizes those who need it most.’” READ MORE

10/20/20 Thinking About Tuberculosis In Times Of Covid‐19 (Journal Of Internal Medicine)

“The new pandemic could decrease the prioritization of TB programs, limiting the access to resources and drug availability in developing countries like Paraguay, increasing stigma and discrimination among this group of people. Together, both diseases show their most perverse face in vulnerable and comorbid populations. The COVID-19 outbreak situation determines a critical point that requires complete attention from the minister of health of the country. Nonetheless, this health event, that involves scientific and industrial international communities, may represent one of the major chances to finally be able to learn about a new disease without forgetting an oldest one. This is the opportunity for a global health paradigm shift. Using this point of view, the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t be considered a completely negative situation, but instead should be seen as a possibility to change and improve the global health system perspective that has neglected TB for so many years. It’s time to take real and concrete actions if we want to eliminate TB.” READ MORE

10/20/20: With COVID-19, India’s Public Health Priorities Have Evolved Substantially (Healthworld – India)

“’The disruption has long-lasting impacts: India may lose the recent hard-earned gains against malaria, TB, HIV, and malnutrition achieved through malaria and TB elimination campaigns, [National AIDS Control Program], and the POSHAN mission [India’s plan to fight against malnutrition]. Resetting the priorities at the primary care level would be difficult with the overwhelming burden and fear of COVID-19. The overall economic impact of the disease is profound. Diseases like malaria, which have already been suffering from funding gaps, would bear the brunt of resource siphoning by COVID-19.’ [Dr Sanjeev Gaikwad, Country Director, Malaria no More India]” READ MORE

10/20/20: Special Report: Why COVID-19 Disruption In Malaria Treatment Poses Grave Risk To Pregnant Women In Nigeria (The New Diplomat – Nigeria)

“Magdalene [Effiong] was diagnosed with acute malaria complications. The staff in-charge of the health center said Magdalene had avoided medical facilities for fear of the COVID-19 stigma. But when her ailment got worse, her husband rushed her to the local clinic where she had registered for antenatal before the outbreak of COVID-19 in February 2020. Magdalene’s experience proved how malarial infection during pregnancy is a major public health concern in endemic country like Nigeria as it is one of the most common complications during pregnancy, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is an important preventable cause of significant maternal morbidity and mortality with associated fetal and perinatal wastage. Yet the COVID-19 outbreak came with its attendant effects on people’s culture and finances, on the back of an already overburdened and near-comatose healthcare system in the country.” READ MORE

10/20/20: Zamboanga City Records 52 HIV Cases (Philippine News Agency)

“Dr. Dulce Amor Miravite, City Health Office chief [Zamboanga City], made the disclosure Tuesday as she assured that health care services have continued for HIV patients even amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. ‘Our services are still ongoing despite the COVID-19 pandemic. They can always go to our Reproductive Health and Wellness Center at the City Health Office’ Miravite said on Tuesday. Miravite said they continue to examine anyone with risky behavior who voluntarily submit themselves for HIV testing. She also underscored the need for early testing ‘so that we will also start treatment early.’” READ MORE

10/20/20: The HIV Fight Is Growing Old (Politico)

“With public health attention focused on the coronavirus, the fight against HIV risks going from being a victim of its own success to simply a victim. Global health organizations warn that a decade of progress could be slashed by service disruptions and budget cuts. AIDS organizations are trying to cope by riding the coattails of the virus in the headlines. UNAIDS, for example, is leading the charge for a ‘people’s vaccine,’ citing a desire to avoid a repeat of early AIDS treatments that were available in rich countries long before anyone else could afford them.

‘These are colliding pandemics,’ said Shannon Hader, a UNAIDS deputy executive director, at the POLITICO event last week. ‘It allows us also to remind people what’s left to do,’ she added. ‘A lot of the folks that are still left to be reached in the HIV response … they’re not being reached in the COVID response, either.’” READ MORE

10/20/20: Uhuru Cautions Against Letting Global COVID-19 Response Disrupt Malaria Fight (Citizen Digital – Kenya)

“President Uhuru Kenyatta has appealed to the global community not to allow the fight against COVID-19 interfere with efforts to eradicate malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases in Africa. The President said success stories and lessons from the global COVID-19 response should be harnessed and applied in the battle against these diseases to hasten their eradication. He said the fight against malaria on the African continent was witnessing less interest from developed nations and multilateral partners as the countries and agencies redirect scarce resources to the more pressing Coronavirus pandemic. Going forward, the President, who was accompanied to the meeting by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, urged African governments to apply information sharing and pooling of resources as seen during the continental COVID-19 response to the fight against malaria.” READ MORE

10/20/20: Funding For HIV Prevention Within The World’s Most Marginalised Communities ‘woefully Inadequate’ (The Telegraph)

“Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to push the world even further off track, authors of the report are calling for countries to step up donations and engage with these marginalised communities to help win the fight against HIV. “COVID-19 is exacerbating inequalities and creating additional barriers to accessing health care,”  Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said of the findings.” READ MORE

10/19/20: Use Of Adenovirus Type-5 Vectored Vaccines: A Cautionary Tale (The Lancet)

“[Susan P Buchbinder, Juliana McElrath, Carl Dieffenbach, Lawrence Corey, HIV vaccine researchers] are writing to express concern about the use of a recombinant adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) vector for a COVID-19 phase 1 vaccine study, and subsequent advanced trials. Over a decade ago, we completed the Step and Phambili phase 2b studies that evaluated an Ad5 vectored HIV-1 vaccine administered in three immunisations for efficacy against HIV-1 acquisition. Both international studies found an increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition among vaccinated men.” READ MORE

10/19/20: Covid Fails To Disrupt Himachal’s Fight Against Tuberculosis (Tribune India – India)

“’The TB notifications dropped to 786 in April in Himachal from the general level of 1,300 to 1,400 a month. Coronavirus and the lockdown threatened to derail our campaign but we responded quickly and the notification rate was back to the expected level next month,’ said National Health Mission (NHM) Director Nipun Jindal. Keeping the TB campaign on track in the midst of the pandemic and the resultant lockdown wasn’t easy though. ‘We faced many challenges such as presumptive TB cases had difficulty reaching the PHI or the DMC due to the lockdown, sputum transportation facility to CABNAAT and the IRL laboratory was disrupted, the NTEP staff was deployed on Covid duties…,’ said Jindal. ‘However, we managed to work around these challenges’ he added. At a time when routine OPDs were closed, the responsibility to identify presumptive TB cases and facilitate their testing was handed over to the flu clinics in medical colleges and district hospitals.” READ MORE

10/19/20: The Slow Motion Race For A TB Vaccine Versus The Sprint For A COVID-19 Vaccine (Maverick Citizen – South Africa)

“’The lack of investment in TB vaccine development is a result of chronic blunting to the horrors of a global epidemic that has been unfolding for decades among the socio-economically disadvantaged, particularly in developing countries with few resources at their disposal,’ explains University of Cape Town Professor Mark Hatherill, Director of the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative. ‘By contrast, the global COVID-19 epidemic unfolded in a matter of weeks on the doorstep of wealthy industrialised countries with massive resources to develop vaccines against this sudden threat.’ According to Frick, what COVID-19 ‘illustrated is that, for too long we have accepted a false sense of fiscal austerity, that there was never enough money for TB vaccines.’ ‘We were told to advocate and make an investment case, but there was always a reason not to increase funding. What Covid has clearly shown is that that austerity was false.’” READ MORE

10/19/20: Kenya’s COVID-19 Response: Chaos Amid Lack Of Information (Devdiscourse – Kenya)

“Moreover, data on other routine healthcare system activities in Kenya is scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these activities are not happening or have been reduced and data is not easily available on infections, fatalities, and measures taken to address possible new cases of prevalent diseases like cholera, malaria, TB, HIV, and AIDS.” READ MORE

10/18/20: Karnataka Finds Over 48,000 TB Cases Amid Covid Fight

(Times Of India– India)

“State TB officers Dr Ramesh Chandra Reddy said the pandemic had affected the TB diagnosis process. ‘Adherence to the treatment is seen among diagnosed patients, who are in recovery mode. But detection of fresh cases has taken a beating as many people are not coming forward for testing. The 48,242 cases were ticked up largely through door-to-door surveillance,’ he said. In May, the case-finding strategy resumed with the help of Asha workers. Fever and cough for two weeks are among the symptoms associated with the disease. ‘We have clinically examined all cases of influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infection for TB signs. Those who had symptoms but tested negative for COVID-19 were checked for TB,’ said an official of the state TB eradication unit. ‘COVID-19 patients have dry cough, while TB patients usually develop a cough productive of sputum. The latter also suffer high fever and loss of appetite and weight.’ While the target is to reach a case notification rate of 192 TB patients (estimated estimates) for every [100,000] population every year, Karnataka has achieved the figure of 89 so far this year. Last year, the state reached a case notification rate of 135. Pulmonologists say in the past seven months, many cases went undiagnosed or didn’t show up for follow-ups because of virus fears or travel restrictions.” READ MORE

10/18/20: Malawi Records 10 Cases, 2 Deaths Of Combined TB And COVID-19 (Nyasa Times – Malawi)

“The National TB Control Program (NTP) said it has recorded less than 10 cases with 2 deaths from tuberculosis (TB) and coronavirus since the declaration of COVID-19 as a national disaster in March this year. NTP Deputy Program Manager, Isiahs Dambe told the media during an Update Meeting on TB and COVID-19 in Mangochi during the weekend that nationwide the program has reported lower cases of both TB and coronavirus than anticipated. ‘This has come because of a number of interventions put in place by NTP as well as prevention measures announced by government including stay at home, wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands among others,’ he said.” READ MORE

10/18/20: COVID-19 Disrupts HIV And TB Services (Mail & Guardian – South Africa)

“The health interventions put in place for COVID-19 — such as screening, social grants, rapid follow-ups and contact tracing — could improve the efficiency of treatment for TB and HIV, according to a paper published recently in The Lancet. ‘South Africa has had remarkable successes in the management of HIV and tuberculosis in the past 10 years but these gains are threatened by COVID-19,’ the researchers wrote. Modelling from July estimated the potential effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in low- and middle-income countries would be large. The researchers estimated that the deaths caused by HIV and TB and malaria over the next five years could rise by up to 10% and 20% respectively. ‘We are very concerned to see that HIV testing fell by nearly half and that TB testing and primary health care access by carers and children fell by between 9% and 25%,’ Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said. ‘I am however pleased to inform all of you that the department of health has devised an aggressive catch-up strategy to ensure that we recapture that spirit of health-seeking behaviour and also capitalise on the infrastructure and public-private partnership gains we made during the COVID-19 surge.’” READ MORE

10/17/20: Philly Lutaaya Memorial Public Lecture “Access To HIV Services During The COVID-19 Pandemic” (Us Embassy In Uganda)

“’Throughout this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made progress in some areas and have suffered setbacks in others; we have regained some of the lost ground, though. As I will discuss, many community-based programs were paused or had to be redesigned. More than 30 years into the HIV fight, stigma, discrimination, and non-disclosure remain key challenges, particularly for community drug distribution. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic these challenges have been heightened. The U.S. government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, has responded to these challenges by expanding client-centered interventions through village health teams, expert clients, peer networks, mentor mothers, and others. By scaling up social network strategies among adolescents and young adults, the identification of HIV positive cases and their subsequent treatment initiation has increased. In addition to the familiar grassroots tactics, we have also turned to technology to beat the challenges posed by COVID-19. The lockdown and travel restrictions instituted by the government created gaps in treatment coverage for children and adolescents as they struggled to find a way to get to their appointments. We pivoted by finding ways to utilize technological platforms to expand options for providing client-centered services closer to patients and communities.’ [US Embassay Chargé d’Affaires Christopher Krafft]” READ MORE

10/17/20: Tuberculosis Notifications In 2020 Down By 25% In India, Global Report Says (The Hindu – India)

“’The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to undermine our gains,’ WHO Global TB Program Director Dr. Tereza Kasaeva said at a WHO virtual press briefing. Among the problems cited is reassignment of people from national TB programs to COVID-19-related duties, reductions in the number health-care facilities treating people with TB, a reduction in collection of data. In addition, many countries, India included, are using rapid diagnostic tests used for detecting TB for COVID-19 testing instead.’ 2020 is a critical year for all of us,’ Dr. Kasaeva says. ‘While we struggle to overcome the COVID pandemic together, we should not neglect the millions of people suffering and dying from TB.’” READ MORE

10/16/20: Lung Health And HIV: Why Communities  Are Key In The COVID-19 Era (Frontline AIDS)

“Findings indicate that COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on TB diagnosis as people avoid testing facilities, fearful of getting COVID-19. Community workers are doing their best to identify people with undetected TB in their homes and refer them for testing, but even this is proving difficult as people look to limit contact with others. Sensitising activities and personal protective equipment have been helpful in re-establishing contact between communities and community workers. We are now seeing a rising number of people testing positive for TB in community settings, and the number of undetected cases is also likely to be rising.” READ MORE

10/16/20: COVID-19’s Impact On HIV Treatment Less Severe Than Feared (UNAIDS)

“Only five countries reported monthly declines in the number of people on [HIV] treatment after April—these include Zimbabwe in June, Peru and Guyana in July, the Dominican Republic in April, and Sierra Leone in May through to July. The remaining 18 countries did not show a decline and some countries showed a steady increase (e.g. Kenya, UKraine, Togo and Tajikistan). One challenge in interpreting trends in the number of people currently on treatment is that many countries have a three-month lost-to-follow-up definition. This means that people who disengaged from treatment in April may only be counted as not on treatment in July.

Among the 22 countries with trend data on numbers newly initiating treatment, all countries except Jamaica showed declines for at least one month or more relative to January. Only around eight of those countries showed a rebound in the number of people newly initiating treatment between January and July.” READ MORE

10/16/20: TB patients Begin Slow Return To Mumbai Hospital (Hindustan Times – India)

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, 128 TB patients co-infected with the coronavirus have undergone treatment at the hospital. Of these, half were recovered or latent (when the bacteria remain dormant in the body) TB patients. At the hospital, 14 patients have succumbed to the infection. This takes the mortality rate at the hospital to 11%, which is much higher than the city’s death rate (2.2%). According to officials at the hospital, most deaths were a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment. As both COVID-19 and TB affect the lungs, it often leads to misdiagnosis. ‘Of the 14 deaths, eight were reported during the initial days of the pandemic. All patients who died were either brought or transferred to the hospital when they were extremely critical. This week, one co-infected patient died due to acute pneumonia. He was also referred from a private hospital,’ said Dr Anande. Due to their compromised lung condition, TB patients are most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. When the outbreak was reported in the city’s slums, health experts feared the spread among TB patients. Seven months on, even though Sars-CoV-2 has infected less than 1% TB patients in Mumbai, doctors said there are chances that TB cases might spike due to irregularities in the treatment of TB patients.” READ MORE

10/16/20: Reprioritising TB, HIV And Ncds In The Era Of COVID-19 (African Mining Market – South Africa)

“In his opening address, Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize quoted published research which states that the diversions away from other medical priorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic could mean that deaths worldwide due to HIV, TB, and malaria in low- and middle-income countries could increase by up to 10%, 20%, and 26%, respectively. Further, he added that NCD screening and testing has fallen by half this year for the same reason. He said the Department of Health (DoH) has devised a strategy to address these challenges. The DoH would also study the recommendations of today’s seminar and align with them. Dr Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Geneva-based Stop TB Partnership, said her organization had carried out a study in May 2020 which showed that the global TB incidence had increased by 7 million. The programme Stop TB had been working on in [South Africa] since 2012 had performed particularly well in 2018/19. However, the lockdown and other factors has led to a drop of 30-40% in TB screening and testing. This will lead to increase in TB incidence next year. ‘TB screening and prevention needs urgently to be restored to previous levels,’ she said.” READ MORE

10/15/20: HIV, Tuberculosis And Coronavirus Plague Venezuelan Prisons (Caracas Chronicles – Venezuelaiv)

“NGO Ventana a la Libertad denounced that the cases of malnutrition and tuberculosis have increased in Venezuelan jails, amid the COVID-19 pandemic: the NGO counted 558 cases of prisoners with malnutrition, 183 with tuberculosis, 10 are HIV+ and authorities confirmed four prisoners have tested positive for coronavirus.” READ MORE

10/15/20: Mining Committed To Doing All It Takes To Improve Worker Health – Matlala (Mining Weekly – South Africa)

“’We were caught between a rock and a hard place, and did our best in the prevailing circumstances,’ Matlala told the webinar in which Mining Weekly took part. The five-year-old Minerals Council-led multi-stakeholder Masoyise Health Programme, she said, had been established to improve the industry’s health performance in the management of TB, HIV, NCDs and other occupational diseases. From 2016 to 2018, a peak of 90% of employees had been screened for TB and 83% a year counselled for HIV. This was followed by a slight regression in 2019 and then a major COVID-19 disruption this year. Matlala reported that TB contact tracing in the high-prevalence districts had been strengthened by adding a contact-tracing module to the electronic reporting system and a number of valuable studies had been conducted in particularly the past two years, including TB and HIV services in the coal sector, TB mortality in the industry as a whole, and health promotion and behaviour change to assist in the management of NCDs.” READ MORE

10/15/20: UNAIDS Supports A Temporary Wto Waiver From Certain Obligations Of The Trips Agreement In Relation To The Prevention, Containment And Treatment Of COVID-19 (UNAIDS)

“In response to the colliding pandemics of COVID-19 and HIV, UNAIDS has adopted a multisectoral and people-centred approach in order to protect the gains for people living with and affected by HIV and to drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The AIDS community knows that in order to tackle public health threats a focus on inequality is essential, including inequalities in access to solutions, whether vaccines, diagnostics or therapeutics. ‘We cannot repeat the painful lessons from the early years of the AIDS response, when people in wealthier countries got back to health, while millions of people in developing countries were left behind,” Ms Byanyima added. “If we continue with business as usual we will fail in delivering fair access to COVID-19 treatments for all those in need. Yet fair access is the human right of everyone, no matter the colour of their skin, the money in their pocket or the country they live in.’ A range of solutions will be needed in order to ensure equal access and to unlock supply. UNAIDS calls for support for the multilateral solutions that are on the table and for collaboration through fostering the transfer of technology and mass-producing health products, using a public health lens.” READ MORE

10/15/20: Double Trouble: Doctors See Covid Patients With Co-infections (The New Indian Express)

“Doctors in Karnataka have begun to come across patients with co-infections – COVID-19 along with another disease, making it difficult to detect the second one and plan treatment for both conditions. These conditions include malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, dengue, H1N1 and bacterial pneumonia. Dr TMA Pai Hospital in Udupi has seen patients who have either H1N1 or malaria and COVID-19, and at least four patients who have tuberculosis with COVID-19, said Dr Shashikiran Umakanth, professor and head of the department of medicine, and nodal officer for Covid. ‘With fever and cough being the predominant symptoms of many of these diseases, diagnosing both becomes a challenge. Treatment, too, becomes an issue,’ Dr Shashikiran said.” READ MORE

10/15/20: Nearly [Ten Million] People Contracted TB Worldwide In 2019, India Has 26% Of The Total Cases (The Print – India)

“The [World Health Organization Global Tuberculosis Report of 2020] report estimates that the global TB deaths could increase by around 0.2–0.4 million in 2020 alone. ‘In India, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Africa, four countries that account for 44% of global TB cases, there were large drops in the reported number of people diagnosed with TB between January and June 2020. Compared with the same six-month period in 2019, overall reductions in India, Indonesia and the Philippines were in the range 25–30%,” the report says.’ The Narendra Modi government estimates that the disruption of health services because of COVID-19 could result in an estimated [500,000] additional TB cases and [100,000] more deaths in the next five years. India has reported a 60 per cent decline in tuberculosis notifications because of the lockdown imposed to control COVID-19.” READ MORE

10/14/20: Up To 1.4 Million More Deaths From Tuberculosis (Pledge Times – India)

“The researchers [of an investigation done by the StopTB Alliance along with the Imperial College London, Avenir Health, USAID, and the Johns Hopkins University] point out that any increase in tuberculosis patients that a country accumulates during this period of crisis can make it difficult to control the infection for at least the next five years. ‘The rapid restoration of services is critical to minimize these adverse impacts,’ they advise. The reason is that, during a period of confinement, difficulties in diagnosing and initiating treatment will result in a growing pool of undetected patients, and this will contribute to further expansion in the years to come. That is why complementary measures are also needed, ‘with a focus on reducing the prevalent group of tuberculosis,’ the report says. Such measures should combine intensive community involvement, awareness-raising efforts on the importance of maintaining diagnostic and treatment services, and active case finding, including rapid expansion of contact tracing to compensate for missed diagnoses during the closure period.” READ MORE

10/14/20: Pandemic Still Threatens AIDS Care In Indonesia (The Phnom Penh Post – Indonesia)

“A nationwide survey of 1,035 people with HIV carried out in August by the Indonesian office of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and non-profit organisation the Positive Indonesia Network (JIP) showed that 52 per cent of respondents had only enough ARV drugs to last for a month. The ARV shortage was more serious than in the early weeks of the pandemic. The two organisations found in late March that 47.6 per cent respondents had only a month’s worth of ARV medication left. ‘More and more people are lacking ARV stocks,’ said Ary Bumi Kartini, a JIP researcher involved in the study. ‘We must work together with the Health Ministry and other community-based organisations to ensure the availability of ARVs at national and regional levels during the pandemic.’ But 473 of the 1,035 respondents in the survey said they were reluctant to visit health facilities for ARV drugs because they feared exposing themselves to COVID-19. The coronavirus outbreak has also mentally and financially affected people living with HIV/AIDS, with 41 per cent of respondents saying they experienced ‘serious anxiety issues regarding the condition of their health, family and the stigma of HIV status.’ The number of respondents who said they were not able to meet the needs of their families increased from 236 in March to 474 in August.” READ MORE

10/14/20: Pandemic Puts Global Progress Against Tuberculosis At Risk: Who (Reuters)

“’Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets,’ the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement with the report. Sharonann Lynch, a TB policy expert at the global health charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said progress against the killer disease had been ‘dismally slow.’ ‘It’s disheartening to see that governments are not on track,’ she said in a statement.” READ MORE

10/14/20: Surging Violence In Burkina Faso Threatens Women’s Access To Health Care (Devex – Burkino Faso)

“’There isn’t enough space for everyone,’ said Issa Sawadogo, the nurse in charge of the center. At least 80% of the women she sees are displaced, she said. Coronavirus restrictions imposed by the country in March, such as closing public transport and restricting movement between cities, have further reduced women’s access to care. The amount of people getting tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and using family planning services has decreased by approximately 15% between the last half of 2019 and the first six months of this year, said Boureihiman Ouedraogo, director for the Burkinabe Association for Family Well-Being, a local aid group. For women already impacted by violence, the virus is just another challenge to overcome.” READ MORE

10/14/20: Addressing The Aftermath Of Covid: Not Just A Fight Against A Single Virus (Bhekisisa Centre For Health Journalism)

“Although most patients received additional medicines to continue their treatment at home amid the COVID-19 outbreak, national data still showed that there was a decrease in the number of patients who visited healthcare facilities to get tested for HIV and TB, as well a decrease in the number of people with HIV and TB who received treatment. The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has exposed vulnerable populations because basic, first line defences such as water and sanitation are lacking in many communities. As these three epidemics now collide it is critical that public health programmes, that have taken tremendous efforts and years to optimise, remain uninterrupted.” READ MORE

10/14/20: India Reports Sharp Decline In Tuberculosis Registration After COVID-19 Lockdown (Down To Earth – India)

“India registered a decline in the notification of tuberculosis (TB) cases by about 85 per cent in April this year, after the imposition of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown. In other words, for every 100 cases being registered in India till January 2020, only 40 cases were registered by April due to a decline in access to TB services in the country, according to the Global Tuberculosis Report, 2020 released October 14, 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO). ‘Many countries reported the use of GeneXpert machines for COVID-19 testing instead of diagnostic testing for TB (43 countries including 13 high TB burden countries, including India), reassignment of staff in national TB programmes to COVID-19 related duties and reallocation of budgets (52 countries including 14 high TB burden countries, including India),’ the report said.” READ MORE

10/14/20: Africa: ‘HIV/AIDS Deaths May Have Soared Due To Virus’ (Anadolu Agency – Turkey)

“Some 430,000 HIV/AIDS patients in sub-Saharan Africa may have died over the past six months owing to interruptions in treatment due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Citing statistics from UNAIDS, Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) said the rise in deaths of HIV/AIDS patients was due to a decline in antiretroviral therapy during the virus lockdown, Nigeria’s This Day newspaper reported. The global agencies urged countries to take action to mitigate treatment interruptions, saying that failure to do so could raise AIDS-related deaths up to the level seen in 2008, when more than 950,000 died in the region. In a joint statement in May, WHO and UNAIDS said the disruption would continue to cause deaths for at least another five years, with an annual average excess in deaths of 40% over the next half a decade.” READ MORE

10/14/20: Who: Global TB Progress At Risk (World Health Organization)

“To reduce the need for visits to health facilities, many countries are encouraging home-based treatment, all-oral treatments for people with drug-resistant TB, provision of TB preventive treatment, and ensuring people with TB maintain an adequate supply of drugs. ‘In the face of the pandemic, countries, civil society and other partners have joined forces to ensure that essential services for both TB and COVID-19 are maintained for those in need,’ said Dr Tereza Kaseva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. ‘These efforts are vital to strengthen health systems, ensure health for all, and save lives.’” READ MORE

10/14/20: Overcoming The COVID-19 Disruption To Essential Health Services (Eco-business)

“HIV and tuberculosis (TB) testing and treatment are also being affected. South Africa is among the countries most affected by these diseases. During the country’s lockdown, declines in TB testing led to a 33 per cent decline in diagnoses. The number of TB and HIV patients collecting their medications on schedule has also fallen. Weaker adherence will ultimately lead to an increase in drug resistance, therapeutic failure, and higher treatment costs.” READ MORE

10/13/20: COVID-19 Impacting HIV Testing In Most Countries (UNAIDS)

“Fifty-six countries reported at least one month of HIV testing data to the platform between January and July 2020, with 17 supplying enough data to calculate trends over time. To measure the impact of COVID-19 on HIV testing services, a ratio was calculated relative to January—for example, if the number of tests in April was the same as in January, the ratio is 1; if there was a decline, the ratio is less than 1. Large, sustained decreases in HIV testing services have been seen across all countries except Rwanda, with reduced services reported for most countries starting in April. Five countries, Myanmar, Mozambique, Madagascar, Rwanda and Armenia, have rebounded to pre-COVID-19 testing levels, while in other countries, such as Guyana and Peru, testing remains low.” READ MORE

10/13/20: It’s Time For African Youth To Advance The Fight Against Malaria (Global Health Now)

“Malaria affects the young more than the old, with pregnant women and children at greatest risk. So, it’s now our turn to turn the tide against this deadly disease; we can no longer rely on our elders. They have taken us far, with continued investment saving 7 million lives and preventing more than 1 billion malaria cases over the past 20 years. But with progress fragile and reversible and COVID-19 threatening to disrupt essential malaria services, we must keep up the fight to ensure these gains are not lost… When we already have access to lifesaving malaria nets, modern medicine, and other innovative tools to combat malaria, I personally cannot stand by and let malaria continue to kill 400,000 people—most of them African children—every year.” READ MORE

10/13/20: Is It Dengue Or COVID-19? Govt Issues Guidelines For Co-infections Of Coronavirus With Seasonal Diseases (Dna India)

“Malaria and dengue can coexist with other infections, and thus a diagnosis of either of these does not rule out the possibility of the patient not suffering from COVID-19. ‘Similarly, a high index of suspicion of malaria and dengue must be there when a fever case is diagnosed as COVID-19, particularly during the rainy and post rainy season in areas endemic for these diseases,’ the [Health Ministry] added.” READ MORE

10/13/20: Indonesia’s Constant Battle Against Malaria Amid Pandemic (The Jakarta Post – Indonesia)

“Transmission of COVID-19 in Indonesia has continued unabated and expanded to malaria-endemic areas, especially the country’s eastern province, such as East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), MalUKu and Papua, forcing authorities there to step up vigilance to prevent a double burden of disease. Plasmodium a parasite that causes malaria in humans can damage the immune system, which is why malaria patients are prone to other infections, including COVID-19. Health Ministry data in April revealed an upward trend of malaria incidences in Indonesia and an increasing number of high malaria endemicity area. It will take more time and effort to combat the vector-borne disease because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has laid a heavy burden on the healthcare system.” READ MORE

10/13/20: Being HIV Positive Increases Risk Of Death From COVID-19 (Medscape)

“People with HIV who are hospitalized for COVID-19 have a significantly heightened risk of 28-day mortality compared with people without HIV… ‘Right now we need greater numbers and we hope that the research community will be stimulated to take a closer look at this information, and merge other data so that we can strengthen confidence in the data and tease out what factors are causing this increased risk for mortality,’ [Anna Maria] Geretti [MD, PhD, professor of virology and infectious diseases, University of Liverpool] said. She also emphasized that all patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 should be asked about their HIV status. ‘It is important that the HIV status be recorded if we want to increase our ability to understand how HIV impacts survival,’ she stressed. ‘In our experience we found that most of the hospital records were not doing that. Since HIV+ patients seem to be at increased risk, HIV status should be factored into the clinical management. Ask patients if they are HIV+, and if it is not known, then do a test. That would be good practice.’” READ MORE

10/13/20: Namibia: Ministry Can’t Afford 322 TB Health Workers (The Namibian)

“The Ministry of Health and Social Services lacks the financial means to employ 322 tuberculosis (TB) community health workers countrywide. This was revealed by executive director of health and social services Ben Nangombe after 27 health workers from the Erongo region wrote to his office asking for their employment conditions to be reviewed to be offered permanent positions in the ministry. Many of the health workers have been with the TB programme since 2004 as volunteers at the height of the disease outbreak at Walvis Bay, Omaruru, Swakopmund, Karibib and Usakos. Nangombe attributes the lack of financial resources to the reduction in donor support to the country and continuing global economic challenges. ‘It is becoming increasingly pressing for Namibia to move to a more sustainable, domestically resourced health response. The provision of community-based health services is a key factor in this, as it is an area where significant development partner resources have been utilised over a long period,’ he says.” READ MORE

10/12/20: Chemists Create New Crystal Form Of Insecticide, Boosting Its Ability To Fight Mosquitoes And Malaria (Eurekalert)

“’The use of more active crystal forms of insecticides is a simple and powerful strategy for improving commercially available compounds for malaria control, circumventing the need for developing new products in the ongoing fight against mosquito-borne diseases,’ said Bart Kahr, professor of chemistry at NYU and one of the study’s senior authors. ‘Improvements in malaria control are needed as urgently as ever during the global COVID-19 crisis,’ added Kahr. ‘The number of deaths from malaria in Africa this year is projected to double as a result of coronavirus-related disruptions to supply chains. We need public health measures to curtail both infectious diseases, and for malaria, this includes more effective insecticides.’” READ MORE

10/12/20: Feature-‘corona Carriers’: Stigma Halts Medication And Meet-ups For HIV+ Malawians (Reuters – Malawi)

“It has also forced aid groups and healthcare facilities in the country of nearly 18 million to rethink medical treatment and education campaigns for major public health crises such as HIV/AIDS. ‘Voluntary male circumcision and HIV awareness programmes were suspended, mainly to make sure people don’t gather in crowds and expose them to COVID-19 risks,’ Ceesay said. Hope Banda, a 22-year-old community development student, said she and other HIV-positive people had been treated with suspicion by staff during recent hospital visits. ‘Most of us are now afraid to visit hospitals because at the gate they check our health passport books,’ Banda said, speaking at her grandmother’s home in Blantyre. Health passports in Malawi document a patient’s medical history – including their HIV status. The director of the Health Ministry’s HIV Treatment Unit Rose Nyirenda dismissed Banda’s allegations that HIV-positive people were being treated any differently.” READ MORE

10/12/20: Seven Months On, Pandemic Still Threatens AIDS Care (The Jakarta Post– Indonesia)

“A nationwide survey of 1,035 people with HIV carried out in August by the Indonesian office of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and nonprofit organization the Positive Indonesia Network (JIP) showed that 52 percent of respondents had only enough ARV drugs to last for a month. The ARV shortage was more serious than in the early weeks of the pandemic. The two organizations found in late March that 47.6 percent respondents had only a month’s worth of ARV medication left. ‘More and more people are lacking ARV stocks,’ said Ary Bumi Kartini, a JIP researcher involved in the study. ‘We must work together with the Health Ministry and other community-based organizations to ensure the availability of ARVs at national and regional levels during the pandemic.’ People with HIV/AIDS need to take ARV drugs every day to maintain and improve the quality of their lives and help prevent the spread of the infection to others. The medication can be accessed through health facilities, mostly hospitals. But 473 of the 1,035 respondents in the survey said they were reluctant to visit health facilities for ARV drugs because they feared exposing themselves to COVID-19.” READ MORE

10/11/20: Overcoming The COVID-19 Disruption To Essential Health Services (The Kathmandu Post– Nepal)

“Health-care delivery in nearly every country has been disrupted by policymakers’ mistaken initial assumption that health systems would quickly win the fight against COVID-19. As the pandemic’s caseload and death toll are increasing daily, it is often stalling or reversing hard-won progress on minimising the impact of other diseases, from diabetes to malaria. At the start of the pandemic, many policymakers and health leaders considered a relatively short disruption of essential health services acceptable, but it is now clear that COVID-19 will persist much longer than anticipated. Countries can no longer postpone the delivery of crucial health services. Without immediate action to ensure their continuity, the future death toll from communicable and non-communicable diseases will be unacceptably high.” READ MORE

10/11/20: Lockdowns In Africa Could Spell Devastating Poverty, Hunger And Unemployment (Inews – UK)

“Health budgets, often already inadequate, were blown on fighting COVID-19 as priorities were switched from more serious diseases in Africa such as malaria and tuberculosis. Now reports show the horrific collateral damage. One study said suspending distribution of insecticide-treated bednets and falling use of drugs could lead to malaria death rates not seen for two decades. Another warned that interrupting programmes to dole out deworming medicines will worsen the impact of malnutrition. Others highlight surging levels of infant and maternal mortality –with 1.16 million extra child deaths in one worst-case scenario for the continent – plus hundreds of thousands more deaths from TB and AIDS-related illnesses.” READ MORE

10/11/20: Raise The Voices Of Millions Of Girls Who Hope And Dream Of A Gender-equal World (All Africa)

“UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is calling attention to the vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls, especially during the COVID-19 crisis… Progress towards ensuring girls are kept in school and not married off, in ending harmful practices such as FGM, and preventing and responding to gender-based violence and preventing them from HIV infection, is under serious threat. Every time a girl is subjected to FGM; forced into early marriage; sexually harassed, abused or coerced and – often – exposed to HIV infection and unplanned pregnancy as a result, her mental health and well-being is at risk.” READ MORE

10/10/20: The (Red) Campaign: Fighting HIV/AIDS Amid COVID-19 (Borgen Magazine)

“HIV causes AIDS, which disrupts the body’s ability to fight infection. In other words, those who have AIDS are immunocompromised, increasing their risk of contracting COVID-19. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can suppress and slow the progression of HIV, which can reduce the chances of someone with HIV/AIDS becoming ill from viruses like COVID-19. That being said, those living in poverty are less likely to have access to antiretroviral medication and other lifesaving resources. They are also at a high risk of developing HIV as a result of socio-economic factors, among others. Roughly 70% of the world’s poor live in Africa. (RED) focuses on sub-Saharan Africa because it is home to two-thirds of the population with HIV and accounts for 90% of mother-to-child transmission. HIV/AIDS significantly impacts impoverished communities due to their lack of medical care, counseling and education. By lacking access to these critical sources, vulnerable communities cannot apply preventative measures to their daily lives.” READ MORE

10/10/20: In Cameroon, COVID-19 Pandemic Preventing HIV/AIDS Patients Getting Treatment (Crux Now – Cameroon)

“[Dr. Leslie C.] Chingang [head of HIV/AIDS programs for CRS in Cameroon] told Crux that in order to ensure that support for people living with HIV continued when COVID-19 cases were reported in Cameroon, CRS quickly re-thought their service delivery approaches. ‘Case workers typically visited program participants within their homes, engaging in face-to-face consultations — an activity that was halted to ensure safety for staff and program participants from COVID-19 transmission. The project adapted by conducting rapid assessments, which were administered virtually. Additionally, counseling support services were provided through voice calls and messaging,’ she said. To ensure that life-saving drugs continued to reach people with HIV, when COVID-19 cases were first reported in Cameroon, CRS adjusted its HIV programming to support home delivery of antiretroviral therapies and testing services. The project also responded to the need for awareness among people with HIV to ensure they are protected from COVID-19. Chingang said prevention messaging about avoiding COVID-19 was integrated into training for partners and caseworkers for use during consultations. In addition, protective materials including masks were also shared with partners where face-to-face meetings were required.” READ MORE

10/10/20: COVID-19: The Fascinating Science Of What Happens In The Lungs Of COVID-19 And TB Patients (Health24 – South Africa)

“[Professor Keertan] Dheda [general physician, pulmonologist, and a critical care specialist] says teamwork with frequent communication and levelling of hierarchies is essential in fighting a disease like Covid 19. ‘The epidemic made us rethink how we deal with non-Covid conditions, and we should leverage what we have learnt from Covid 19,’ he says. ‘For example, screening apps could also be used to screen for TB. Daily dashboards of TB numbers and deaths could also be very useful. The Department of Health is in the process of considering and implementing some of these approaches.’ Dheda says the decline in the number of TB cases diagnosed within the last few months is a major concern. ‘We need to think about going out into the community to actively find TB cases.  We need to think more deeply about how we can deal with non-Covid conditions like TB, heart disease [and] diabetes when we get second waves, so these conditions are not substantially side-lined.’” READ MORE

10/10/20: Pandemic Stalls Regular Check-ups Of HIV+ Kids (Pune Mirror – India)

“Under government initiatives, check-ups and treatments of HIV patients are free at public facilities. Sassoon General Hospitals (SGH) and Yashwantro Chavan Memorial Hospital (YCMH) in Pimpri-Chinchwad. However, ever since the COVID-19 outbreak hit, these government hospitals have been converted into COVID-19 centres — and thanks to this, organisations looking after HIV-positive children have not [been] able to take any of these kids to these facilities for their periodical check-ups. ‘The children with us require a check-up every six months. We had taken them to Sassoon in March — immediately thereafter, the lockdown was imposed. Now, their next check-up was due in September, but since the hospital is full of COVID-19 patients, we did not want to risk visiting with the children,’ said Mahesh Yadav, founder of Sparsh Balgram in Bopodi, which looks after HIV-positive orphans.” READ MORE

10/9/20: How The HIV Response Is Adapting In The Face Of COVID-19 (Frontline AIDS)

“They have stepped in where governments have failed to support or, worse, where authorities have used the exceptional circumstances to clamp down on people already stigmatised and discriminated against. Marginalised people living with or at risk of acquiring HIV face significant barriers to health and wellness at the best of times. These barriers have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures instigated to mitigate it. We are deeply concerned to see that people are struggling to meet their basic needs. No longer able to earn an income they cannot access essentials including food, water and shelter and have become increasingly dependent on government or community services, where these are available. Some health services are inaccessible. There are widespread reports of antiretroviral treatment shortages and disruptions to the supply of contraception, as well as interruptions to tuberculosis testing and treatment.” READ MORE

10/9/20: Zimbabwe: Mash West Records Surge In Condom Uptake During Lockdown (All Africa)

“According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, a total of 2 million male and 200 thousand female condoms are distributed across the country. Adolescent girls and young women are at high risk of HIV since they face barriers in family planning which at times results in unintended teenage pregnancies. The province is expecting a sharp increase in teenage pregnancy but Dongo said they are still trying to get more statistics from the ground. ‘We are still trying to get more information from the ground but according to other sources teen pregnancies increased during lockdown,’ said Dongo. Moline Mapera, from Zvimba said rural families were idle during lockdown which predisposed them to sexual activity. ‘The lock-down has come with various surprises. We have seen a lot of teenage pregnancies in our communities. We were not expecting that this could happen. Most parents fear opening up on or reporting these cases. This may end up affecting the girl child negatively,’ she said,” The Ministry of Health and Child Care introduced the Condomize Campaigns that aim to promote the use of condoms and improve access to a wide variety of condoms across different societies.” READ MORE

10/9/20: Zambatt Fet: Fighting COVID-19 And Malaria In Birao (United Nations Peacekeeping – Central African Republic)

“With the twin threats of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and malaria still very much present in Birao, northern CAR – the Female Engagement Team of the Zambian Contingent rolled their sleeves up to assist schoolchildren and local authorities in cleaning and fumigating schools and government buildings – a MINUSCA outreach activity conducted on 8 October 2020. Decontamination of surfaces in public spaces is a key World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation to help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease; clearing mosquito breeding sites is similarly important in order to combat malaria. Mandated to champion the protection of civilians, peacekeepers from the Female Engagement Team of the Zambian Contingent (ZAMBATT FET) continually mobilize resources to support health, education, social and humanitarian needs on multiple fronts, in collaboration with the national authorities, UN agencies, civil society and local communities. Contingent Commander Captain Sharon Namuchimba, accompanied by the team’s environmental health technologist Lieutenant Tendai Mpande, led the team’s efforts to promote sanitation and improve health conditions in places of learning and government alike: Birao Primary School, the Birao Cabinet Office,  the Deputy Prefect’s Office and the offices of the National Election Authority were all fumigated.” READ MORE

10/9/20: Nigeria Now Gets HIV/AIDS Drugs At Cheaper Rate – Gambo (Leadership – Nigeria)

“The COVID-19 pandemic, especially the lockdown has affected our ability to provide all the [HIV] services that we have been offering to people and to identify new [HIV] cases and place them on treatment. However, we are gradually returning to normalcy and we are hitting our targets in terms of monthly number that we identify afresh as well as patients that we have already placed on treatment.  They are coming to either get their drug refill or have their blood tested to identify how we are faring in suppressing the virus because it is very critical to suppress the virus spread because the more you suppress the spread, the more you succeed in keeping HIV within those people that have it and the more you deny the virus the opportunity to leave them and affect the people who don’t have the disease.” READ MORE

10/8/20: Which Curve To Flatten In Africa: Coronavirus Or Economic Growth And Development? (Daily Maverick – South Africa)

“Around 380,000 of 405,000 malaria deaths recorded globally in 2018 were in sub-Saharan Africa. With malaria-intervention efforts impacted by lockdowns and critical healthcare resources being diverted to coronavirus relief efforts, malaria cases could double from 2019 to 2020. Nigeria alone is expected to record an additional 81,000 malaria deaths in this period. The World Health Organisation is predicting an additional 200,000 deaths from TB this year. And with experts warning of economic collapse, increasing inequalities and spiralling epidemics from malaria to tuberculosis (TB), there is widespread fear that the progress made over the past two decades will be reversed.” READ MORE

10/8/20: Dengue, TB Co-infection Likely Along With Covid: Aiims Director (Vishva Times – India)

“As the coronavirus pandemic moves into the tenth month, all need to be cognizant of the co-infection that can occur with COVID-19, [All India Institute of Medical Sciences] Director Dr. Randeep Guleria said on Wednesday, as the apex institute witnessed dengue and tuberculosis infection in patients affected with coronavirus. ‘Co-infection with COVID-19 is an important issue as we are now seeing patients with COVID-19 who have other infections. It becomes a bigger challenge as far managing COVID-19 and dengue is concerned,’ said Dr. Guleria, who is also the part of a core team monitoring the pandemic. It is also difficult to distinguish symptoms of the two diseases due to overlapping initial clinical presentations and laboratory parameters, say experts. According to Dr. Pawan Tiwari, Assistant Professor at AIIMS’ Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, co-infection is an important concern, especially in severe COVID-19 cases.” READ MORE

10/8/20: A Battle Against Two Viruses (World Magazine – South Africa)

“The combined health crisis has made the situation especially difficult for HIV patients [in South Africa], and AIDS organizations have had to find creative ways to reach this vulnerable population. South Africa went into strict lockdown in late March, closing schools, shutting borders, and urging residents to stay home. The restrictions made it more difficult for people living with HIV to pick up their medicine. In South Africa’s eastern Gauteng province, the Department of Health reported a 20 percent reduction in medicine collections, totaling around 11,000 people. ‘We found that with the lockdown, [HIV patients] were scared to leave their homes,’ said Dino Rech of the Aurum Institute, a nonprofit working to eradicate HIV and tuberculosis. ‘We’ve seen some patients drop off treatment as a result of COVID.’” READ MORE

10/8/20: What The Pandemic Has In Store For The World (Der Spiegel Interntional)

“In truth, the situation is even more serious because people are not just dying from the coronavirus, but also because of it. In large parts of Africa, for example, pest control operations against the malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquito have been scaled back because of the pandemic. As a consequence, malaria is likely to cause more deaths now than it did in 2019. Vaccination campaigns against measles, the whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria have also been interrupted, as well as measures against AIDS and tuberculosis. Thousands and thousands of people could die as a result and the global progress that has been made in protecting against these infectious diseases could be set back by years.” READ MORE

10/8/20: UNAIDS Issues Guidance On Reducing Stigma And Discrimination During COVID-19 Responses (UNAIDS)

“’We know what works and what doesn’t, we know how to change beliefs and behaviour. For the last 30 years we have been successfully leading the HIV response, building valuable experience, knowledge and wisdom along the way,’ said Alexandra Volgina, Programme Coordinator, Global Network of People Living with HIV. ‘We want to share these to change people’s lives for the better, and to make our distinctive contribution to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.’ Some countries have used existing criminal laws or new, COVID-19-specific laws, to criminalize alleged exposure or transmission of COVID-19, putting more people in overcrowded prisons, detention centres and other closed settings where COVID-19 is easily transmitted. ‘There is no greater manifestation of stigma than when it is enshrined in law. The use of the criminal law or other unjustified and disproportionate repressive measures in relation to COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on the most vulnerable in society, including many people living with HIV, exacerbating inequalities and perpetuating stigma,’ said Edwin J. Bernard, Executive Director of the HIV Justice Network. ‘Measures that are respectful of human rights and empowering of communities will be infinitely more effective than punishment and imprisonment. We hope that these evidence-based recommendations on reducing COVID-related stigma and discrimination will make a difference to those who need it most.’” READ MORE

10/7/20: COVID-19: Examining Theories For Africa’s Low Death Rates (The Conversation)

“So is Africa in the clear? Well, obviously not. There is still plenty of virus around and we do not know what may happen as the interaction between the virus and humans evolves. However, one thing that does seem clear is that the secondary effects of the pandemic will be Africa’s real COVID-19 challenge. These stem from the severe interruptions of social and economic activities as well as the potentially devastating effects of reduced delivery of services which protect millions of people, including routine vaccination as well as malaria, TB and HIV control programmes.” READ MORE

10/7/20: Malaria Consortium Expands Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention To Togo (Malaria Consortium – Togo)

“Malaria Consortium plans to support the [National Program for the Fight Against Malaria] and other partners to strengthen the quality of [seasonal malaria chemoprevention] in Togo, delivered household-to-household by volunteer community distributors. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaria Consortium plans feature enhanced safety and infection prevention contingency measures, including guidance for community distributors, to ensure the safety of communities and distributors and minimise disruption to the campaign. Key areas of focus will be dedicated campaign planning, comprehensive training of community distributors and community engagement.” READ MORE

10/6/20: Malaria: 90% Of Life-saving Interventions Still On (The Premium Times – Nigeria)

“[The Roll Back Malaria Partnership to End Malaria] said the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to antenatal care, malaria diagnosis and treatment and other routine health services. This, the organisation said, has made pregnant women and children remain vulnerable to the disease which has claimed many lives globally. ‘Good health starts with proper care of pregnant women and children. Protecting pregnant women, their unborn babies and newborns from malaria will improve the health of mothers and their young children in those critical first years of life and can contribute towards the achievement of Africa’s broad health and development goals,’ the First Lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akuffo-Addo said.” READ MORE

10/6/20: Faith Communities Discuss The Way Forward In The HIV Response (UNAIDS)

“Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, reminded the participants that the nearly four decades-long HIV response has taught us that global solidarity is essential to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Like HIV, this new pandemic is not just a disease, it has social, economic, ethical and political implications on society and only a multisectoral approach, including the involvement of faith communities, can help the world to overcome it. ‘More than ever, it is important that faith communities and leaders are strong voices for people. This means, in a time of COVID-19, recognizing that a call to action on COVID-19 and a call to action on HIV should be complementary and synergistic—they are not in opposition to each other. We will rely on faith partners to be strong and true voices of support for people living with HIV,’ said Shannon Hader, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme.” READ MORE

10/6/20: The Daily Battle Of Rural Nurses On South Africa’s COVID-19 Frontline (Reuters)

“Coronavirus has piled pressure on a health system already dealing with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, with the latter claiming an estimated 78,000 lives every year in the country, according to the WHO’s Global TB report. Shikwambana [COVID-19 ward manager at Taung hospital] and the other nurses sometimes speak to patients through the window, cutting down on the need for PPE and preserving precious supplies.” READ MORE

10/6/20: Urgent Call To African Leaders To Support Women Access To Lifesaving Malaria Treatment (Africa Science News)

“Malaria strikes hardest against pregnant women and children in sub-Saharan Africa, who are now at even higher risk from the disease due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 11 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa were infected with malaria in 2018 (29% of pregnancies), resulting in nearly 900,000 children born with low birth weight, a leading cause of child mortality. Even when death is averted, low birthweight has adverse consequences on children’s growth and cognitive development. Each year, maternal malaria is also responsible for 20% of stillbirths in sub-Saharan Africa. As the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll, millions of people, particularly pregnant women and young children, remain vulnerable to malaria because access to routine health services – such as antenatal care and malaria diagnosis and treatment is at risk of disruption as a result of COVID-19.” READ MORE

10/5/20: Sahel: Upsurge Of Malaria Cases In Mali (North Africa Journal)

“Mali’s ministry of health said this week that 59 people have died of malaria in the north since the start of the year, almost double the number of deaths over the same period last year. Rudy LUKamba, a Red Cross doctor in Mali, told AFP that COVID-19 ‘has absorbed a lot of attention and redirected some of the funds, which has caused delays in prevention activities’. ‘Cleaning up wetlands, clearing brushwood, drying up puddles, distributing mosquito nets and raising public awareness requires resources,’ he said. Medical workers in the north registered 13,000 malaria cases between September 21 and 27, marking an 88 percent increase on the previous week. Twenty-three people also died over that period, the health ministry said. ‘At the moment, the health system is really overwhelmed,” said Cheick Ag Oufene, a health centre administrator in the northern town of Kidal, who called the situation ‘very alarming.’”  READ MORE

10/5/20: Covid Puts Brakes On TB-free Karnataka Plan (The New Indian Express – India)

“‘Panchayats [Village councils] will help identify vulnerable populations, ensure screening for TB, indulge in social mobilization and help reach out to people. There is also a need to destigmatize TB. For all this, cooperation is required from grassroot level politicians and administration of the government,’ [a health department] official said, adding that in urban areas, the misconception among well-off sections of society is that they cannot contract TB. Discussion on implementing this project with various gram panchayats has brought an overwhelming response and support from the members. However, the health department is unable to proceed with the plan with all the attention and resources of the state government focused on fighting Covid.” READ MORE

10/4/20: COVID-19 Poised To Push Global Response To HIV/AIDS To The Fringes (The Guardian)

“Even before COVID-19, global commitment to HIV/AIDS funding was already precarious and on the decline. The global health community was in a transition to shift the financial burden of HIV/AIDS mitigation efforts to countries, where the virus and disease remain endemic, with HIV/AIDS affected countries urged to take HIV/AIDS response as a domestic priority to ensure sustainability over time… With these countries, including the U.S., severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, bilateral and multilateral funding for HIV/AIDS will further diminish, and the HIV/AIDS global response pushed to the fringes. Like HIV/AIDS, the international community might be moving toward a COVID-19 exceptionalism. A COVID-19 exceptionalism may be the tipping point for HIV/AIDS assistance to low – and middle-income countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, to decline at unprecedented levels.” READ MORE

10/3/20: Malaria Cases Spike In Northern Mali (The Guardian)

“’At the moment, the health system is really overwhelmed,’ said Cheick Ag Oufene, a health centre administrator in the northern town of Kidal, who called the situation ‘very alarming.’ Mahamadou Sangare, a doctor in the northern town of Aguelhok, said malaria has been wreaking havoc since the arrival of the rainy season. Treating severe cases is difficult in the remote north, he added, raising the likelihood of fatalities. Malaria claims hundreds of thousands of lives across the African continent each year. But the World Health Organisation warned in April that the coronavirus pandemic could disrupt campaigns against the mosquito-borne disease, leading to a spike in cases. Rudy LUKamba, a Red Cross doctor in Mali, told AFP that COVID-19 ‘has absorbed a lot of attention and redirected some of the funds, which has caused delays in prevention activities. Cleaning up wetlands, clearing brushwood, drying up puddles, distributing mosquito nets and raising public awareness requires resources,’ he said.” READ MORE

10/3/20: Leveraging The Advances In HIV For COVID-19 (The Lancet)

“In the short term, there have been some adverse impacts of COVID-19 on HIV research and services, as for many other diseases. Nearly all HIV clinical trials globally have halted or slowed enrollment to appropriately maximise safety for participants, and health services have seen reductions in screening, laboratory monitoring, and collections of medications, highlighting the fragility of health systems, especially in LMICs. Many HIV-focused laboratory-based research groups have moved to work on SARS-CoV-2. Finally, a decrease in resourcing for infectious diseases research, together with the economic impacts of COVID-19, could lead to less funding for HIV research and ongoing disruption of the provision of HIV and related services.” READ MORE

10/2/20: Malaria Campaigns Fight Off Covid Disruptions To Deliver Programmes (The Guardian)

“More than 90% of anti-malaria campaigns planned this year across four continents are on track, despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

The delivery of insecticide-treated nets and provision of antimalarial medicinesin the majority of malaria-affected countriesacross Africa, Asia and the Americas were still going ahead, a high-level meeting organised by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria heard on Thursday. More than 200m nets are on track to be distributed across more than 30 countries and more than 20 million children in 12 countries across the Sahel are expected to receive essential antimalarial drugs. Kenya, Malawi and Ghana have managed to immunise more than 300,000 children against malaria through a pilot malaria vaccine programme launched last year.” READ MORE

10/2/20: Life-saving Malaria Campaigns On Track Despite COVID-19 (The New Dawn – Liberia)

“Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, said: ‘This year, under the worst of circumstances, countries have proven they don’t need to choose between protecting populations from COVID-19 or malaria; they can – and should – do both. Despite the unprecedented challenges faced, it is a remarkable achievement that countries and their partners around the world have successfully sustained planned malaria efforts – including distributing record numbers of insecticide-treated nets and continuing the march to zero malaria – ensuring that communities remain protected from the deadly mosquito bite.’” READ MORE

10/1/20: Ethiopia: Towards Consolidating Malaria, COVID-19 Mitigation Endeavors (The Ethiopian Herald)

“The bottom line is, the effort to control malaria outbreak should be harmonized with the ongoing national COVID-19 mitigating endeavors; considering the fact that there are always limitations of resources in individual actions. Malaria screening activities, for instance, may be handled along with COVID-19 screening test. But most importantly, it is required to exert maximum effort to minimize the impact of malaria outbreak in the earlier periods through drying marshy lands and spraying chemicals as usual, to ban propagation of the vector. Earlier experiences show that malaria outbreak is, by and large, unstoppable; though its impact has been significantly reduced following the various intervention mechanisms undertaken so far.” READ MORE

10/1/20: Q&A: The Need For Flexibility And Innovation In TB Care — Now More Than Ever (Devex)

“’When you’re a DR-TB [drug-resistent tuberculosis] patient, there are routine tests [and] consultations that you have to get done. Now the health systems are so overwhelmed with everything, there’s just no space for such patients. Not just that, even people who live in rural areas have to go to cities because of the local restrictions [and some] are not able to do that. And the biggest component is injectables. You need a health care person to administer injectables for the DR-TB patients and that’s extremely challenging — demonstrating the importance of transitioning to all-oral regimens recommended by the World Health Organization. All of this is just the medical aspect of it. It’s a whole different mental health ballgame. A lot of patients, because of the stigma, find their sense of freedom in stepping out of the home and engaging in outdoor activities. They’re unable to do that right now because of COVID-19 and that’s very suffocating mentally for a lot of patients’ [Saurabh Rane, an extensively drug-resistant, or XDR, TB survivor living in India and an advocate for TB elimination].” READ MORE

10/1/20: Catastrophe Avoided As Malaria Control Measures On Track Across The World (The Telegraph)

“British Foreign Office minister Wendy Morton, speaking at the UN General Assembly this week, said it was imperative to try to reach even the hardest to access. ‘During this pandemic and beyond, essential malaria services must continue, malaria patients must be protected from other health threats, and health must receive adequate attention and funding,’ she said. ‘We must collaborate, invest in what works, and continue to do all we can to protect the most vulnerable.’” READ MORE

10/1/20: Nearly 250,000 HIV Patients Without Antiretroviral Treatment In Angola Amid COVID-19 (Famagusta Gazette)

“The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic demanded the immediate attention of national health authorities, causing a certain “inattention” in relation to the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country, said Coelho. According to the official, there are around 340,000 people infected with HIV in Angola, of which only 93,000 are undergoing antiretroviral treatment. Coelho said that the country has registered a rupture in the “stock” of first and second line of antiretroviral treatment since March 2020. In addition to the shortage of medicines, COVID-19 has also increased social difficulties for HIV patients.” READ MORE

10/1/20: With All Eyes On COVID-19, Tuberculosis Takes A Hit (New Indian Express)

“With the public, government and media focused on COVID-19, reporting and screening of tuberculosis (TB) has taken a hit. From January to September, 45,839 cases of tuberculosis were notified in Karnataka. The actual numbers are much higher as COVID-19 has hit both active (door-to-door screening) and passive (people reporting to PHCs) TB case findings. Data shows notification of new TB cases dropped from 8,163 patients in January to 3,417 in August. Of the 45,839 cases, 9,212 were reported from private hospitals and 36,628 from government facilities. Last year, 90,176 cases were notified in the state, with 12,215 from private centres and 72,961 from public health facilities.” READ MORE

10/1/20: Nearly 250,000 HIV Patients Without Antiretroviral Treatment In Angola Amid COVID-19 (Famagusta Gazette)

“The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic demanded the immediate attention of national health authorities, causing a certain “inattention” in relation to the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country, said [Coelho]. According to the official, there are around 340,000 people infected with HIV in Angola, of which only 93,000 are undergoing antiretroviral treatment. Coelho said that the country has registered a rupture in the “stock” of first and second line of antiretroviral treatment since March 2020. In addition to the shortage of medicines, COVID-19 has also increased social difficulties for HIV patients.” READ MORE

10/1/20: With All Eyes On COVID-19, Tuberculosis Takes A Hit (New Indian Express)

“With the public, government and media focused on COVID-19, reporting and screening of tuberculosis (TB) has taken a hit. From January to September, 45,839 cases of tuberculosis were notified in Karnataka. The actual numbers are much higher as COVID-19 has hit both active (door-to-door screening) and passive (people reporting to PHCs) TB case findings. Data shows notification of new TB cases dropped from 8,163 patients in January to 3,417 in August. Of the 45,839 cases, 9,212 were reported from private hospitals and 36,628 from government facilities. Last year, 90,176 cases were notified in the state, with 12,215 from private centres and 72,961 from public health facilities.” READ MORE

10/1/20: About Three In Four TB Sufferers In Nigeria Yet To Access Care – Official (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), has said at least three out of four persons afflicted with tuberculosis are yet to access health care in Nigeria. The Head of Communication and Social Mobilisation of NTBLCP, Itohowo UKo, on Wednesday said only 26 per cent of the estimated TB cases in Nigeria ‘were identified and have been put on treatment’. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic which is the current normal that we are facing has actually impacted negatively on the initial health-seeking behaviour of most of our people, as well as the adherence to even those that have been placed on treatments.’ “ READ MORE

9/30/20: Study Links Low Immunity To Poor Outcomes In Patients With HIV Who Contract COVID-19 (Eurekalert!)

“Principal investigator Dima Dandachi, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine, examined data that included 286 adult patients with HIV who were diagnosed with COVID-19 across 36 institutions in 21 states. Within 30 days of COVID-19 diagnosis, 57% of the patients required hospitalization, 16% required ICU admission and 9% did not survive. In the study, more than 94% of patients were actively taking HIV medication.” READ MORE

10/1/20: About Three In Four TB Sufferers In Nigeria Yet To Access Care (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), has said at least three out of four persons afflicted with tuberculosis are yet to access health care in Nigeria. The Head of Communication and Social Mobilisation of NTBLCP, Itohowo UKo, on Wednesday said only 26 per cent of the estimated TB cases in Nigeria ‘were identified and have been put on treatment’. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic which is the current normal that we are facing has actually impacted negatively on the initial health-seeking behaviour of most of our people, as well as the adherence to even those that have been placed on treatments.’ “ READ MORE

9/30/20: Projected HIV And Bacterial Sti Incidence Following Covid-related Sexual Distancing And Clinical Service Interruption (Medrxiv)

“The projected detrimental effects on HIV and STI incidence of clinical service interruption in the model demonstrate the critical importance of maintaining sexual health services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic response. Our model evaluated four clinical services for which there was already evidence of interruption to the relative degree in our scenarios. In some jurisdictions, health department staff assigned to HIV/STI partner services have been redeployed for COVID contact tracing. Interruption of ART care for persons living with HIV had the largest impact on projected excess HIV incidence in our model; this is a cause for particular concern given the dual impact ART interruption will have on HIV morbidity and transmission. Minimizing service interruption will require innovative approaches to ensure access to clinical services and overcome common barriers to care during the COVID pandemic, including travel limitations, limited access to telehealth, and gaps in health insurance. These approaches will remain important even as sexual health services return to pre-COVID capacity and long-lasting impacts on health care access affect re-engagement in services.” READ MORE

9/30/20: Study Links Low Immunity To Poor Outcomes In Patients With HIV Who Contract COVID-19 (University Of Missouri-columbia)

“Principal investigator Dima Dandachi, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine, examined data that included 286 adult patients with HIV who were diagnosed with COVID-19 across 36 institutions in 21 states. Within 30 days of COVID-19 diagnosis, 57% of the patients required hospitalization, 16% required ICU admission and 9% did not survive. In the study, more than 94% of patients were actively taking HIV medication.” READ MORE

9/30/20: COVID-19 Could Set Fight Against Malaria Back By 20 Years, Top Uae Disease Expert Says (The National – United Arab Emirates)

“Simon Bland, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi’s Global Institute for Disease Elimination, said the impact of the pandemic has already set back eradication programmes for other diseases.

In the case of malaria, ‘the worst-case scenario is you get a doubling of deaths … from about 400,000 now to almost 800,000,’ he told The National. He estimated the fight against the disease, which kills thousands of children each year, could be set back two decades. Progress against tuberculosis, HIV and polio, which is close to eradication, could also be lost.” READ MORE

9/30/20: Opinion: Has Our Covid Fight Crippled Our Efforts To Fight HIV And TB? (Bhekisisa Centre For Health Journalism – South Africa)

“Although South Africa was right to take COVID-19 seriously, preparations caused many primary health programmes to be neglected, in particular for tuberculosis and HIV, and our vaccine programme. Essentially, many plans nearly collapsed or were seriously constrained. The risk of life lost to COVID-19 seemed to eclipse other diseases.” READ MORE

9/29/20: Global AIDS Policy Partnership Statement In Support Of Heroes Act 2020 (Global AIDS Policy Partners)

“We are in the early stages of this new pandemic but have already seen the effects on these other long-standing epidemics. TB case detection programs have stalled in many countries; PEPFAR programs have had to adapt or have halted prevention programming; a number of HIV treatment centers have reported fewer people are accessing antiretroviral treatment raising the threat of greater mortality and HIV infection; and some malaria campaigns have been suspended. Years of sustained PEPFAR and GFTAM investment has strengthened supported countries’ laboratory networks, surveillance capacity, health care workers and supply chains, allowing them to respond efficiently and effectively to COVID-19. But capacity has become strained as the need to fight both epidemics simultaneously takes hold. While this represents a critical investment in addressing the primary and secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession, much more is and will be needed in the months to come in order to preserve decades of US investments in global health and economic development globally.” READ MORE

9/29/20: Statement By USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa On The Anniversary Of USAID’s Global Accelerator To End Tuberculosis (USAID)

“The [Global Accelerator to End Tuberculosis (TB)]’s local partners have taken on increased importance in supporting the continuation of TB care during the pandemic of COVID-19, as many government health facilities have shut down. As the world comes together in fighting COVID-19, it is important to prevent a reversal in our efforts to end TB. COVID-19 and its related lockdowns and disruptions are projected to set progress in fighting TB back at least five years — which will result in more undiagnosed and untreated TB cases and further the spread of the disease and the strain it puts on families, communities, and countries. Because of this threat, the Accelerator’s approach to build local solutions and develop more effective and efficient interventions is more important than ever. As the U.S. Government’s lead Agency on efforts to eliminate TB around the globe, USAID will continue to build national capacity to recover from COVID-19’s setbacks and end TB.” READ MORE

9/29/20: Meals As Medicine: Feed The Hungry To Treat The Tuberculosis Pandemic (Health Affairs)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has set global TB elimination efforts back an estimated five to eight years. To meet the goals of the End-TB Strategy, we must take immediate and radical action. Continued investment in diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines is critical, but we must also invest in meals as we do in medicines. The only way to make rapid progress toward TB elimination is extend our work upstream and focus on prevention by addressing socioeconomic factors such as undernutrition. Yes, COVID-19 demands money and attention, but we cannot forget that TB is a persistent threat to the health of millions.” READ MORE

9/29/20: Hidden Victims Of The Pandemic: Blood Bank Stocks Run Low As India’s Healthcare System Buckles (The Telegraph)

“Further pressure on the Indian healthcare system is only one month away as India’s rainy season draws to an end and with it the perfect breeding conditions for dengue and malaria-carrying mosquitos. In previous years, thousands of community healthcare workers, known as ASHAs, would carry out a nationwide awareness campaign and deliver mosquito nets to homes. Already, at least ten million fewer house visits have been carried out due to COVID-19 restrictions and Dr Saibal Jana, a malaria specialist doctor from Chhattisgarh state, says hospitals there are already seeing a six-fold increase in cases compared to 2019. ‘Post COVID-19, when India tries to limp back to normal, it is going to have a lot of work to do to catch up again,’ said Dr Joshi.” READ MORE

9/29/20: Meals As Medicine: Feed The Hungry To Treat The Tuberculosis Pandemic (Health Affairs)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has set global TB elimination efforts back an estimated five to eight years. The only way to make rapid progress toward TB elimination is extend our work upstream and focus on prevention by addressing socioeconomic factors such as undernutrition. Yes, COVID-19 demands money and attention, but we cannot forget that TB is a persistent threat to the health of millions.” READ MORE

9/29/20: COVID-19 And Lockdown: A Double Whammy For Tuberculosis Patients In India (Outlook India)

“With compromised immunity, TB patients stand a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. When the coronavirus outbreak began Dr Lalit Anande, medical superintendent of Sewri TB hospital, was concerned about his TB patients, he said, ‘I thought all my TB patients will die, in fact, I thought we will be free from TB. Instead, we saw a decrease in TB patients visiting us due to the fear of going out and contracting COVID-19.’” READ MORE

9/28/20: Malawai: Mchinji Incapacitated In Timely TB Diagnosis (All Africa)

“Tuberculosis (TB) Coordinator for Mchinji, Steve Nyika said the district was struggling to diagnose TB cases due to shortage of diagnostic equipment in the District’s Health facilities.

Speaking during a health stakeholders briefing on fundamentals of TB Preventive Therapy (TPT) on Friday, he said the District currently has one gene expert machine and one x-ray machine installed at the district referral hospital which is currently not functioning. Nyika expressed fear that cases TB cases could be pilling up in the district. ‘We take much time to test samples from remote areas due to logistical challenges, as a result most people would rather stay home until the situation worsens,’ he said. Nyika said the TB service delivery has also been affected with the coming of COVID-19 which compromised collecting and delivery of samples from rural health facilities.” READ MORE

9/28/20: After Battling TB And COVID-19, S African Doctor Reaches Breaking Point (The Tribune- India)

“[Zolelwa Sifumba] thought her 18-month fight against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis was a career low-point until – five years on – she fell ill with COVID-19 and acute anxiety while working on the pandemic frontlines with scant protective equipment and support. ‘I’m tired of almost dying all the time,’ said Sifumba, 29, who blogs and campaigns on doctors’ health issues, speaking from the Durban psychiatric hospital where she checked herself in for treatment after reaching breaking point at work. After months of not sleeping, sudden bursts of tears, loss of appetite and continuous waves of panic, Sifumba decided that to be a good doctor she had to prioritise her mental health. The pandemic has piled pressure on a health system already dealing with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, with the latter claiming an estimated 78,000 lives every year in the country, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global TB report.” READ MORE

9/28/20: Concerns: Covid Consequences (Poz)

“Disruptions in prevention and treatment services due to the COVID-19 pandemic could overwhelm fragile health systems and lead to a substantial increase in deaths from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide, experts warn. In fact, these excess deaths could equal those directly caused by the new coronavirus… But there is still an opportunity to substantially reduce the death toll by prioritizing the most critical services: antiretroviral therapy for HIV, timely diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis and durable insecticide-treated nets to control mosquitoes that spread malaria.” READ MORE

9/27/20: In Fighting The Pandemic, The Government Has Ignored Other Deadly Health Issues (The Kathmandu Post– Nepal)

“Detection of new tuberculosis cases has declined by 50 percent across the country since the nationwide lockdown was enforced on March 24. Doctors say undetected and untreated tuberculosis cases could lead to a major spike in new infections and deaths. ‘If not treated, one TB patient can transmit the disease to 10 others,’ Dr Kedar Nursing KC, a senior chest physician and tuberculosis expert, told the Post. ‘If such a huge number of people infected with TB are not being diagnosed, it will lead to a public health disaster.’” READ MORE

9/27/20: We Are Emerging From The COVID-19 Surge, But The Shadows Will Stalk Us – Mkhize (Maverick Citizen – South Africa)

“Deputy Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine Professor Linda- Gail Bekker said she thought a vaccine would likely take another nine to 18 months ‘if all goes well.’ ‘Perhaps it will be even longer for us to get it here in South Africa. Once it gets here, if it is efficacious and safe I think the uptake will be good. For the next six to 12 months, however, we will still have low level infections occurring throughout South Africa,’ she said. After six months he believed the country was overdue for a proper conversation about how the vulnerable should be protected, said Professor Francois Venter, the deputy executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute. He said primary healthcare service came crashing down during the pandemic, leaving those with HIV/AIDS, TB, diabetes and other chronic illnesses in an especially vulnerable place. ‘We could have kept primary healthcare going were it not for our almost overdramatic response,’ he said. ‘Even now we are hearing reports from across the country of TB patients lost to follow-up and stock-outs of ARVs. COVID-19 deaths and infections have been pitted against all other diseases.’” READ MORE

9/26/20: COVID-19 Has Taught Us How To Manage A Pandemic (India Legal)

“Notified TB cases have declined by 26 percent during January to June 2020 in comparison with last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India has adopted a policy of bidirectional TB-Covid screening under which all newly diagnosed TB patients or those currently on treatment are tested for COVID-19 and all COVID-19 cases are screened for TB symptoms. Persons with influenza like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) are also screened for TB. This will help the country realise its goal of ending TB by 2025.” READ MORE

9/26/20: Cecilia Senoo: To Defeat COVID-19, Protect Progress Against HIV, TB And Malaria And Save Lives, We Must Unite To Fight (Ghana Web Portal)

“Schools have been closed for months and gladly, they are gradually re-opening. For out-of-school girls, this can mean a greater risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy, forced marriage and HIV infection. The longer a girl is out of school, the less likely that she will return. The level of risk is enormous. Measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria should involve a combination of intensive community engagement and maintaining awareness of the importance of services to defeat the three diseases while emerging from the COVID-19 response. Programs must identify and address gender inequalities in their design and response.” READ MORE

9/26/20: Tuberculosis And COVID-19: Fighting A Deadly Syndemic (Forbes)

“Diagnostic and pharma companies are all hyper-focused on COVID-19 right now. This is necessary, but, again, cannot come at the expense of manufacturing tests and medicines for TB, AIDS, malaria and other existing threats. ‘Now that the world has witnessed how easily one infectious killer can affect millions, I hope more people will realize that TB is and will always be a major problem for us all,’ says Zolelwa Sifumba, a South African physician who survived drug-resistant TB, and, more recently, had COVID-19 as well. ‘The very same urgency and actions we are taking against COVID-19 are needed against TB. It’s time for our leaders to recommit to the goals set two years ago. Action is needed now as we are losing the gains made and risk losing even more lives globally,’ she added.” READ MORE

9/25/20: South Africa: COVID-19 And Rural South Africa – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (Doctors Without Borders)

“When COVID-19 hit, one of the biggest questions for the medical community was this: how do we protect people living with HIV and TB from the risk of infection in health facilities, while at the same time ensuring that vital health services for these vulnerable populations are maintained? MSF [Medecins Sans Frontieres] in Eshowe came up with a strategy that aims to deliver medication for stable, asymptomatic patients with chronic conditions at easy-to-reach pick-up points in their communities. ’We worked out that there are approximately 19,000 individuals on anti-retroviral treatment in our area and designed a process for identifying which of these would be eligible to receive their medication at community pick-up points. 1,500 have been enrolled for this service to date, saving them time and money,’ [Dr. Liesbet] Ohler [MSF infectious diseases specialist] says.” READ MORE

9/25/20: Africa Needs Fiscal Space, More Representation In Security Council As Covid 19 Erases Hard Won Development Gains Across Continent, Speakers Tell General Assembly (United Nations General Assembly)

“Turning to COVID‑19, [Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger] said Niger was able to control the spread of the virus with an immediate health response and broader measures for economic and social mitigation including food distribution, free social services and tax breaks. However, the pandemic also has an impact on malaria, tuberculosis and other tropical diseases in Niger, he said, calling for better treatments and vaccines for all the illnesses threatening the African continent. Africa only receives 1 per cent of global health­care spending and 40 per cent of medical products sold on the continent are counterfeit or of poor quality.” READ MORE

9/24/20: The Impact Of The COVID-19 Epidemic On Tuberculosis Control In China (The Lancent Regional Health – Western Pacific)

“The impact of COVID-19 on TB control in China can be examined from two sides. Patients were either unable to access medical services due to closures and travel restrictions or hesitated due to concerns about infection with COVID-19. It might be a positive impact on less transmission occurring outside the household and negative impact on more transmission within the household during the lockdown phase. Meanwhile, health service providers working in TB experienced lack of both human resources and laboratory capacity. In the aftermath of the epidemic, there will likely be pent-up demand for TB services, for which it is necessary to prepare.” READ MORE

9/24/20: 70% Of Bihar’s TB Control Staff Still On Covid Duty As State Records Steep Fall In Diagnosis (The Print– India)

“Speaking to ThePrint, K.N. Sahay, state TB officer for Bihar, said 54,000 patients are currently being treated under his watch, attributing the decline in notifications to the lockdown. ‘All the testing centres were closed during the lockdown. Even now, only 50 per cent of those have opened,’ Sahay said. ‘One of the key challenges right now is that even if the treatment is initiated, we are not able to follow up… 70 per cent of my staff has still been deployed for treatment of COVID-19,’ he added. Doctors in Bihar say some TB patients have started seeking treatment after the lockdown was eased. Dr Vinay Kumar, president of the Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS Patna, said: ‘About 6-7 per cent patients are coming back for TB-related OPDs. TB patients have largely been neglected in the state due to lockdown; there isn’t enough staff to test and control the disease.’” READ MORE

9/24/20: COVID-19 Hassles Hampers Fight Against Dengue In Delhi (The New Indian Experess – India)

“The primary work of fumigation, screening of houses and identifying breeding spots are done by the municipal corporations. However, their work this year has largely been affected due to multiple reasons, primarily COVID-19. ‘The first is that the domestic breeding checkers (DBC) cannot visit the houses or enter to check if the coolers are kept clean or if there is stagnant water which can be a potential breeding spot for mosquitoes. This is owing to coronavirus. Also, not all the streets can be fogged as many fall under containment zones. So, overall, coronavirus has affected a lot of measures taken to counter dengue and malaria,’ said Dr Pramod Kumar, additional medical health officer, North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Another factor is the deferment of salaries to staffers due to the tight budgets that local bodies are operating with.  

‘Budget is another issue. More funds are required to carry out the ground-level work. Also, many of the DBC workers and staffers are engaged in other sanitation work related to COVID-19,’ said Dr BK Hazarika, South MCD Health Officer. Dr Punit Mishra, Professor, Community Medicine, AIIMS Delhi noted that owing to similar symptoms such as high fever, body ache, headache among others, patients are first tested getting tested for COVID-19 rather than the other common vector-borne diseases. ‘There is a lot happening with diagnostic delays. People, if tested negative for corona, are not going for dengue or malaria tests. Therefore, many cases are not getting reported. Also, there are fewer blood donations this time and that might affect the treatment of patients with vector-borne disease.’” READ MORE

9/24/20: India Will Be Able To End TB By 2025: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (Economic Times Healthworld – India)

“[Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare] pointed out that poverty is a powerful determinant of tuberculosis and undernutrition an important risk factor of developing active TB disease. ‘To address this, we are providing cash incentives through Direct Benefit Transfers for nutritional support and since April 2018, Rs 7.9 billion (around USD 110 million) have been distributed to over 3 million beneficiaries. Affordable and quality TB care is a priority for our Government,’ he stated. The Minister further spoke about India’s fight against COVID-19 and said: ‘We reached a historic low in the month of April with lockdown in full force, but through sustained efforts, we have managed an increase of 43 per cent in May and another 25 per cent in June.’ To mitigate the impact, the government has been issuing constant advisories to the States to ensure convergence of TB case finding with COVID-19 efforts, he said adding that ‘we have initiated bi-directional screening among TB and COVID patients, and screening for TB among influenza like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).’” READ MORE

9/24/20: Responding To COVID-19 In Africa: Using Data To Find A Balance Part Ii (Partnership For Evidence-based COVID-19 Response)

“In countries with the most reported disruptions to communicable disease care, missed visits for suspected malaria were most common; disruptions were also more prevalent in countries with a high burden of the malaria (e.g., Uganda, Cameroon and Nigeria). Overall, significant missed visits for malaria care aligned with growing reports of outbreaks across Africa. Disruptions to other communicable disease care were less frequent, but could have major health consequences at both the individual and population level: 4% of respondents reported disruptions to vaccinations, 2% for HIV treatment, and 1% for tuberculosis…” READ MORE

9/24/20: COVID-19 Disruptions To Result In 534,000 HIV-related Deaths (The Star – Kenya)

“The [World Health Organization’s] researchers noted that although an interruption in the supply of ART would have the largest impact of any potential disruptions, effects of poorer clinical care due to overstretched health facilities, interruptions of supply of other drugs such as cotrimozamole, and suspension of HIV testing would all have substantial effect on population-level mortality over a year. The [WHO] study, however, noted that social distancing would lead to a reduction in risky sexual behaviour. ‘Interruption in condom supplies and peer education would make the population more susceptible to increases in HIV incidences,’ it states. Research findings by the Lancet published in August showed that interruption of ART would increase mother to child transmission of HIV by approximately 1.6 times.” READ MORE

9/24/20: World In Progress: Coronavirus Makes Life Harder For HIV/AIDS Patients In Uganda (Deutsche Welle)

“Sub-Saharan Africa could be facing up to 500,000 additional AIDS-related deaths due to coronavirus  – that’s according to a warning from the UN AIDS agency UNAID. In Uganda, a hike in public transport costs and border closures, have made it very expensive for people to get to pharmacies and hospitals to pick up life-saving drug refills. So far, less than two and half thousand people in the country have tested positive for coronavirus, but social distancing rules and other restrictions remain in place.” READ MORE

9/23/20: COVID-19 And Malaria – How Surveillance Systems Can Adapt To Fight Both (Malaria Consortium)

“’Strong surveillance is the foundation for robust health systems. The COVID-19 pandemic brings with it risks of a diversion of resources and a drop in surveillance for other diseases like malaria. It is critical, at this time, to listen to a breadth of perspectives from different countries to reflect on our experience and lessons learnt. Collectively we’ll be able to better identify priorities, document best practice and identify optimal approaches that address both new and existing surveillance challenges.’ Arantxa Roca-Feltrer, Head of Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation at Malaria Consortium and RBM MERG co-chair.” READ MORE

9/23/20: Bill Gates: The Pandemic Has Erased Years Of Progress (The Atlantic)

“’This [Goalkeeper’s Report] had to deliver the news that if you only look at COVID deaths, you’re actually missing the scale of the setback. Because it’s also routine immunization, malaria, getting HIV medicines. Things are so disrupted, even gathering the numbers for that was very, very difficult. But we dropped our routine-immunization levels by over 14 percent. There’s going to have to be a stronger equity agenda, hopefully on a global basis, once we get out of this. Thirty-seven million people have been driven into extreme poverty. That’s really just gut-wrenching. Most of the time when we talk about infectious diseases, our problem is, the world doesn’t pay attention to malaria or TB. Here, because people care so much about getting the [COVID-19] vaccines, they’re actually saying,‘Okay, we should maybe be even less generous.’ The kind of generosity that historically has helped might even go down.’ [Bill Gates]” READ MORE

9/23/20: Maintaining Robust HIV And TB Services In The COVID-19 Era: A Public Health Dilemma In Zimbabwe (International Journal Of Infectious Diseases – Zimbabwe)

“Health workers have been reassigned to meet the COVID-19 testing demand leading to very few people conducting HIV and TB testing. Medical staff anxiety and burn out is also playing a role on testing as staff are overwhelmed with COVID-19 testing… With the number of COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing, diversion of HIV and TB funds should be taken with much caution. Zimbabwe HIV and TB response heavily relies on imported consumables, test kits and medication. Supply chain activities in the COVID-19 era is have been disrupted with closure of borders and grounding of cargo ships and flights. This calls for the government to do more on ensuring the country’s stockpile is well stocked for these unprecedented disruptions. The aggressive national COVID-19 mass media campaign has seen HIV, TB and other chronic disease clients less likely to attend facilities due to fear of contracting the COVID-19. This is coupled with the lack of movement of public transportation, fear of encounters with law enforcement officers and curfews. These barriers to care may result in increased HIV and TB – related morbidity and mortality in the short-term.” READ MORE

9/23/20: Describing COVID-19 Pandemic As Wake-up Call, Dress Rehearsal For Future Challenges, Secretary-general Opens Annual General Assembly Debate With Vision For Solidarity (Relief Web)

“Emmanuel Macron, President of France, said global health care and humanitarian workers expect the world to respond to COVID‑19 together. ‘This demands that we cooperate, that we invent new international solutions,’ he said. Until a cure is found, the world must learn to live with the virus — and a new reality that reveals the dizzying level of global vulnerability. After years of progress in fighting HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, there are now 37 million people who have fallen into abject poverty and more than 1 billion students affected by school closings.” READ MORE

9/23/20: Who Supports Government To Integrate COVID-19 Case Finding Into TB Surveillance Activities (Who Africa – Nigeria)

“Ms Janet Ishaya is one of the beneficiaries of renewed efforts to curb COVID-19 in Nigeria, whereby World Health Organization (WHO) supports the government in an initiative to improve contact tracing, active case search and testing with support of the already existing Tuberculosis (TB) infrastructure in the country. The outbreak of COVID-19 in February 2020 and the presence of public health response measures put in place to curtail the spread of the global pandemic in the country had led to palpable fear in the TB community that the virus might impact on the active TB case finding activities. However that took a different turn as the structure is being effectively utilized to combine TB and COVID-19. Presently, all the 36 + 1 S Nigerian States are currently including COVID-19 in their TB response to ensure that no case is missed and every positive case is handled accordingly.” READ MORE

9/22/20: Low Cd4 Count Increased Risk Of COVID-19 Death In Us People With HIV (AIDSmap)

“People with HIV who had a low CD4 cell count or underlying health conditions were more likely to have poor outcomes after admission to hospital with COVID-19, US doctors report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. They found that even when HIV was suppressed on antiretroviral treatment, people with low CD4 counts below 200 were almost three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than people with CD4 counts above 500. People with HIV aged 60 or over were seven times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people under 40 and the risk of death was also raised in the 40-60 age group (82 cases in this age range) (RR 2.3). People with HIV with CD4 cell counts below 200 were around three times more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 (OR 3.67, 95% CI 1.64-17.1, p < 0.01) or to suffer a severe outcome (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.02-7.67, p = 0.05) than people with CD4 cell counts above 500.” READ MORE

9/22/20: Anti-TB Program—another Victim In COVID-19 Frenzy (Philippine Daily Inquirer – Philippines)

“[In] the Philippines, 70 Filipinos die every day. We need to sustain the initiatives which appear to be effective in TB control, and we need funds to keep the momentum going. Cutting the budget for TB control next year by P1 billion is definitely a big blow that can dissipate whatever gains that have been achieved in the last five years. What a big waste that would be! The 65-member organizations of Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis (PhilCAT), along with TB advocates and survivors, wrote an urgent letter to Sen. Bong Go, chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, calling for the restoration of the TB budget for next year to maintain the National TB Program (NTP). The implementation of the Philippine Strategic TB Elimination Plan, Phase One, which started in 2018 and will be completed by 2023 will greatly suffer with the budget cut.” READ MORE

9/22/20: COVID-19 Could Activate Latent Tuberculosis (San Diego State University News)

“’When people get sick with SARS-CoV-2, they could not only activate their latent TB, but also transmit their TB along with SARS-CoV-2 to others,’ [Faramarz] ]Valafar [professor at San Diego’s State University’s School of Public Health] said. ‘The U.S has been spared from the wrath of drug resistant TB so far, but may no longer be that lucky. We need to prepare. We may start seeing strains that are atypical in the United States very soon.’ People who have traveled abroad and acquired drug resistant TB in its latent form in the past may now experience activation of their latent TB because of COVID-19, he noted. He fears this could cause outbreaks of drug resistant TB in the U.S. Valafar explained that the TB bacterium is an opportunistic pathogen and remains latent, waiting for people’s immune system to become compromised — as in the case of AIDS,  or overwhelmed — as in the case of COVID-19, before it activates. ‘We have already seen the synergy between TB and AIDS, so it’s a distinct possibility,’ he said. ‘While having TB could make people more susceptible to COVID-19, the coronavirus can also help spread TB much faster, acting as a vehicle of transmission.’” READ MORE

9/22/20: The Dangers Of Focusing Solely On Covid (Raconteur)

“The coronavirus pandemic is like a black hole, consuming global health resources and the concerted efforts of countless medical professionals around the globe. It’s threatening progress against other killer diseases, such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis. ‘What makes this pandemic unprecedented is not the virus, but the response to it, which is mostly driven by fear and panic that overestimates and overreacts,’ says Ade Adeyemi, who heads up the global health fellowship at Chatham House.” READ MORE

9/22/20: Deadly Malaria And Cholera Outbreaks Grow Amongst Refugees As Covid Pandemic Strains Health Systems, Warns Irc (International Rescue Committee)

“There is an increase in malaria and cholera cases compared to previous years due in part to COVID-related disruptions severely impeding diagnosis and treatment of the diseases, access to relief from floods as well as affordability of mosquito nets. Apart from the strain on health facilities during the pandemic, in some countries such as Somalia, Kenya and Sierra Leone, we are seeing that a fear of exposure to COVID-19 has prevented parents from taking their children to hospital, delaying diagnosis and treatment of malaria and increasing preventable deaths. COVID restrictions in some countries have also meant pregnant women have missed antimalarial drugs. Untreated malaria in pregnant women can increase the risk of anaemia, premature births, low birth weight and infant death.” READ MORE

9/21/20: Two Pandemics, One Challenge—leveraging Molecular Test Capacity Of Tuberculosis Laboratories For Rapid COVID-19 Case-finding (Cdc)

“The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents a massive challenge for healthcare systems globally. Rapid case-finding and patient isolation are crucial to limit transmission and avoid exceeding capacity limits of critical healthcare infrastructures. A recent modeling analysis showed a 70% drop in the probability of TB [tuberculosis] diagnosis per visit to a healthcare provider because of reduced laboratory capacity and availability of healthcare staff secondary to the COVID-19 pandemic in countries like India, Kenya, and UKraine.” READ MORE

9/21/20: “Physical Distance, Not Social Distance”: Supporting Jamaican Women Living With HIV During COVID-19 (UNAIDS)

“According to the Jamaica Community of Positive Women (JCW+), many of their clients reported having received only one month’s supply of HIV treatment, although they were hoping for the recommended three months. New screening protocols at certain clinics have made some people feel exposed to unfamiliar health-care staff and unexpected disclosure of their HIV status. A few women report not having been able to access contraception on time. According to the Coordinator of JCW+, Olive Edwards, the pressure of dealing with both pandemics has had a huge mental health impact on women living with HIV.” READ MORE

9/21/20: 90–90–90: Good Progress, But The World Is Off-track For Hitting The 2020 Targets (UNAIDS)

“The COVID-19 pandemic also could have an impact on viral load. Early modelling showed that a severe disruption in HIV treatment could result in additional AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Some countries have reported reductions in medicine collections of up to 20% in some areas and there have been multiple reports of people living with HIV not having enough antiretroviral medicine for a lockdown of more than 60 days, as well as reports of people having abandoned their HIV treatment due to a lack of food. However, monthly data from January to June 2020 reported by countries to UNAIDS have not shown substantial declines in the numbers of people currently on treatment over the six-month period.” READ MORE

9/21/20: COVID-19 In Malaria-endemic Regions: Potential Consequences For Malaria Intervention Coverage, Morbidity, And Mortality (The Lancet Infectious Diseases)

“Guidance on the need for and importance of testing for malaria and other diseases during the pandemic should be communicated to health-care providers and resources made available to facilitate [the education of healthcare providers and the general population ‘on the potential for misdiagnosis of malaria or COVID-19, as well as the potential for co-occurrence’]. Furthermore, communication of these messages to communities is important to ensure that people with malaria are not scared to visit hospitals and community clinics in fear of misdiagnosis, which could limit their timely access to safe and legitimate antimalarials. In addition, it is worth asking whether there could be an increased risk of mosquito bites for individuals or families observing isolation or quarantine (whether either individually or in groups) that warrants them to stay in the same locality for extended periods, especially if done so in the absence of [insecticide-treated nets]. If so, then perhaps our concern with regard to malaria transmission should also extend to other mosquito-transmitted diseases.” READ MORE

9/21/20: COVID-19 And HIV – So Far It Seems The Outcome Is Not What Was Feared (The Conversation – South Africa)

“Concern over HIV-positive patients is understandable. But current data from the COVID-19 pandemic – and past experiences with SARS and MERS – suggest that they do not form an at-risk group. This raises the question of whether HIV serves as an immunological shield against more severe forms of the new disease. What has been quite apparent from the start is that old age and co-morbidities such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes are more telling considerations in both general infections and HIV/SARS-CoV-2 co-infections. Based on what we now know, should a second or even a third wave of COVID-19 be forthcoming, state and health officials should consider a more strategic and targeted approach to containment.” READ MORE

9/21/20: Coronavirus Rumours And Regulations Mar Burkina Faso’s Malaria Fight (Thomson Reuters Foundation – Burkino Faso)

“Now there are fears malaria cases could rise in Burkina Faso as restrictions due to coronavirus slow down a mass treatment campaign and rumours over the virus causing parents to hide their children, according to health workers and aid officials. ‘COVID-19 has the potential to worsen Burkina Faso’s malaria burden,’ said Donald Brooks, head of the U.S. aid group Initiative: Eau, who has worked on several public health campaigns in the country. ‘If preventative campaigns can’t be thoroughly carried out and if people are too scared to come to health centres … it could certainly increase the number of severe cases and the risk of poor outcomes,’ he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.” READ MORE

9/21/20: Monsoon Fevers Are Complicating The Coronavirus Repsonse In Rural India (Scroll – India)

“‘Every day, we face this problem that people who got admitted to a general ward with suspicion of dengue or malaria turned out to be Covid-positive. Or a person who had a stroke or heart attack, or was scheduled for surgery and did not have any symptoms turns out to be Covid-positive when tested as part of the pre-op assessment. This creates a huge amount of confusion and panic in the system among the healthcare workers treating them, even though we teach them that every person should be assumed to be Covid-positive unless proved otherwise. Given our facilities – old buildings, old infrastructure – it becomes extremely difficult for them to protect themselves and reliably distinguish non-Covid illnesses from Covid’ [SP Kalantri, medical superintendent at Kasturba Gandhi Hospital].” READ MORE

9/20/20: Five Strategies For Preserving Key Population-focused HIV Programmes In The Era Of COVID-19 (International AIDS Society)

“Key populations… are particularly vulnerable to HIV service interruptions and additional harm during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stigma, discrimination, violence and other human rights violations routinely experienced by key populations will likely worsen, as will unemployment, housing instability and food insecurity. This will compound the obstacles key populations face in accessing services, perhaps making it more likely they will be denied assistance when they seek care. Other important services… may be deprioritized as non-essential. Collectively, these experiences will have far-reaching consequences on mental health, exacerbated by physical distancing, and undermine HIV responses.” READ MORE

9/20/20: Africa: Rethinking Public Healthcare Systems In Africa – A COVID-19 Reflection (The Street Journal – Nigeria)

“While African governments urgently address the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, they should simultaneously address co-morbidities (particularly diseases presenting with a cough or fever, along with diabetes). Given the known influence of clinical activity and health seeking behaviour on TB and HIV detection, primary healthcare staff need to be alert for these conditions during the C-19 pandemic. Undetected TB and HIV will exacerbate the C-19 death count.” READ MORE

9/19/20: Fight Against TB Has Slowed Down Due To COVID-19 Pandemic: Kj Alphons (Yahoo News – India)

“Rajya Sabha MP and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader KJ Alphons on Saturday raised the issue of Tuberculosis cases in the country and said that the fight against this infectious disease has slowed down due to coronavirus pandemic. He urged the Centre to work in the direction for treating the people infected with TB. ‘There are 24 lakh Tuberculosis patients in India. Due to the focus on fighting COVID19, the fight against TB has slowed down,’ he said in the Upper House.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that India has fixed a deadline of 2025 for eradicating TB against the global deadline of 2030. He has asked MPs to work for its removal.” READ MORE

9/18/20: Patients On Arvs Forced To Make Do With Only Seven Days’ Supply As Clinics Face Shortages (Health-e News – South Africa)

“France Motha is worried about running out of the HIV antiretroviral treatment, as the supply he got at the beginning of September at the Daveyton clinic dwindles. Earlier this month Motha went to the clinic as usual to get his treatment. The clinic gave him some medication and nurses told to come back to get the rest of his prescription was experiencing shortages. The Daveyton was measuring out medication to accommodate all their HIV patients with the little that they have. ‘On Monday the 14th I went back to the clinic to get treatment for myself and wife, but I was given a seven days’ supply for both of us,’ Motha tells Health-e News. Motha says he is very disappointed with the Healthcare system. The limited seven days’ supply means he has to go back to the clinic each week until 14 December.” READ MORE

9/18/20: This Foundation Is Helping Lgbtq+ Community In India To Combat Impact Of COVID-19 (The Logical Indian – India)

“People from the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those living with HIV are facing barriers in getting their medications. Being able to afford and access medical care is essential for testing of COVID 19 as well as treating the symptoms of the disease. However, LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to lack health coverage or monetary resources to visit a doctor even when medically necessary because of a lack of support and acceptance of us in the society and awareness among doctors. The community is vulnerable to COVID 19 infection, and it continually bothers each one of us that how gay, trans, or non-binary identities will be treated at the isolation facilities as the system remains binary.” READ MORE

9/18/20: COVID-19 Brings Jamaican People Living With HIV Closer Together (UNAIDS)

“There are an estimated 32 000 people living with HIV on the Caribbean island. In 2019, just 44% of them were on antiretroviral therapy, while roughly one third (35%) were virally suppressed. While most people access treatment through the public health-care sector, community organizations like JN+ play a key role in supporting people to start antiretroviral therapy and stay the course. They’ve also been a critical partner during COVID-19. Despite having a multimonth dispensing policy, the Jamaica Government has authorized just monthly dispensing in order to avoid stock-outs. ‘Community organizations like JN+ have allayed fears and followed-up so that people continue their treatment,’ said UNAIDS Jamaica Country Director, Manoela Manova. ‘That’s why it’s important that civil society is at the decision-making table and that community workers are classified as essential workers during COVID-19.’” READ MORE

9/18/20: How COVID-19 Is Hampering The Fight Against HIV (Global Citizen)

“Besides the lack of testing resources and financial support, COVID-19 is also impacting both the production and distribution of antiretroviral medicines due to lockdowns and border closures, potentially leading to higher prices and stock-outs, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This is happening in South Africa, where 7.7 million HIV-positive people live, the world’s largest number. More than 60% of them depend on the government’s antiretroviral program. ‘Disruptions to these medications is a public health problem,’ Vinyarak Bhardwaj, deputy director of South Africa’s Doctors Without Borders’ program, told the AP. ‘It threatens the poor and most vulnerable.’” READ MORE

9/17/20: COVID-19 – Possible Human Rights Crisis In Asia As Disparities Expected To Widen (Interpress Service News Agency)

“[Merinda] Sebayang’s organisation [Jaringan Indonesia Positive] surveyed about 1,000 respondents. The results indicated that people living with HIV in Indonesia were finding it challenging to access their medication… While civil society could reduce the impact of the disease, it required working together with government and service providers. She pointed to several successes, like the use of smartphones for the treatment of tuberculosis patients. ‘So, I think there are many, many things that we can do. We have to become more innovative and also have to have strong collaborations with the service providers, the government and also other civil society organisations and try to be inclusive … to find a way to win over this enemy.’” READ MORE

9/17/20: Committment To Make Asia Pacific A Malaria Free Region (New Straits Times)

” ‘The COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on the most vulnerable and marginalised communities. Fighting two life-threatening diseases at once requires innovation, inclusion, and collaboration,’ said Amita Chebbi, Senior Director of Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network. ‘For those of us in malaria and global health, this means ensuring that we relentlessly strive to find specific synergies between malaria, pandemic response, and health systems to prevent losing ground and, instead, accelerate our progress towards elimination,’ said Dr Sarthak Das, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA).” READ MORE

9/17/20: Nigeria: COVID-19 – Don’t Neglect TB, Other Diseases (All Africa)

“Speaking at a TB [tuberculosis] media roundtable in Abuja last week, health experts warned that there is a marked up in the level of neglect on treatment and case finding for Tuberculosis (TB), since the fight against the COVID-19 started. the focal person for TB at the Institute for Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), Dr. Aderonke Agbaje, said, tuberculosis has taken a hit with human resources, funds, and materials that have been relocated and realigned to attend to COVID-19 issues. Nigeria cannot continue to be dependent on external donors when it has the capacity to shoulder such responsibility.” READ MORE

9/17/20: Q&A With Friends Of The Global Fight (Vestergaard)

“Recognizing the crisis posed by COVID-19 — both as a health challenge in its own right, but also as a potential threat to the viability of programs for HIV, TB and malaria — the Global Fund stepped forward with its COVID-19 Response Mechanism. Given the speed and ferocity with which the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, public leaders will inevitably be tempted to divert funds from other health priorities to address COVID-19. This would be a tragic mistake. One recent modeling study found that disruption of malaria control programs due to COVID-19 could cause malaria incidence to double, potentially leading to an additional 81,000 malaria deaths in Nigeria alone. Rather than divert critical funding from essential health programs to pay for COVID-19 responses, our public leaders need to summon the will to increase investments in health programs generally.” READ MORE

9/16/20: Malaria Vector Control In Sub-saharan Africa In The Time Of COVID-19: No Room For Complacency (Bmj Journal)

“The increasing demand for resources to curb COVID-19 and the curtailment of economic activities driven by the pandemic could lead to substantial reductions in government revenues, undermining their ability to finance essential social services, including life-saving malaria vector control interventions. During the pandemic, these interventions may be hindered by reallocation of limited resources to COVID-19 response and disruptions in supply chains of IRS [indoor residual spraying] insecticides and ITN [chiefly insecticide-treated nets]. In Nigeria, the SSA country with the highest population at risk of malaria (>200 million people), only 11.1% of the 22.7 million nets in the distribution plans have been so far distributed. There could be up to a fourfold increase in malaria mortality in the region within the next year or more malaria deaths in 2020 than all malaria deaths reported globally in 2000. This would represent rolling back 20 years of progress in malaria control.” READ MORE

September 2020: 2020 Goalkeepers Report: Covid 19: A Global Perspective (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

The 2020 Goalkeepers Report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation lays out the concern that an “expanded pool of undiagnosed [TB] infections will lead to a long-term increase in the number of TB cases around the world. As they come out of COVID, countries are going to have to make case-finding—and funding—for TB a major priority.” The report also claims that “modeling… helped many countries decide to continue bed net campaigns despite COVID-19, ensuring that, so far, the backsliding in 2020 has been less severe than it might have been.” On the topic of HIV, the report states that “disruptions to health services could mean people don’t get antiretroviral therapy (ART), which would result in more deaths and more infections (because viral loads are higher in untreated patients, they are more likely to transmit to others). So far, this worst-case scenario has not happened, although some countries are struggling to maintain services.” READ MORE

9/16/20: School Closures Heighten The Risks Of Unwanted Pregnancy And Contracting HIV For Adolescent Girls And Young Women (AIDSpan)

“Teenage pregnancy is an indicator that young people are engaging in unprotected sex. While not all who engage in unprotected sex get HIV, unprotected sex puts them at risk of contracting HIV. Besides placing a huge burden on already overstretched health systems due to COVID-19, an unprecedented surge in teenage pregnancies may erode the gains made in the fight against HIV.” READ MORE

9/16/20: A Cataclysm Of Hunger, Disease, And Illiteracy (New York Times)

“We think of COVID-19 as killing primarily the elderly around the world, but in poor countries it is more cataclysmic than that. It is killing children through malnutrition. It is leading more people to die from tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. It is forcing girls out of school and into child marriages. It is causing women to die in childbirth. It is setting back efforts to eradicate polio, fight malaria and reduce female genital mutilation. It is leading to lapses in vitamin A distribution that will cause more children to suffer blindness and die.” READ MORE

9/16/20: Opinion: COVID-19 Is A Turning Point For Infectious Diseases (Devex)

“To protect hard-won gains and to sustain momentum, we must massively increase collaboration, resources, and innovation. We must also apply the lessons we learned from fighting HIV, TB, and malaria to maximize our effectiveness in combating the new virus.

The fights against these three diseases show how a united world, led by strong communities, can drive even the most formidable infectious diseases into retreat. The deaths they have caused have dropped by nearly half since the peak of the epidemics in countries where the Global Fund invests.” READ MORE

9/16/20: Containment Of COVID-19 In Ethiopia And Implications For Tuberculosis Care And Research (Infectious Diseases Of Poverty – Ethiopia)

“COVID-19 has a significant impact on [TB] studies. The studies require screening patients with TB and testing using different diagnostic modalities. Here, patients are not coming to healthcare facilities for a fear of COVID-19, and on the other side, TB services are marginally delivered and some sites stopped their routine services. For instance, one of the EXIT-TB study sites has been selected and prepared as a COVID-19 treatment center. Some patients on ant-TB treatment, their healthcare providers, and patients’ charts and have been transferred to nearby health facilities which are not in the study. TB services could sustain with this approach but significantly affect the researches. Research funding agencies do recognize the challenges and are looking for different mechanisms for the successful completion of such projects. For instance, [European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership] vowed to accept a no-cost extension of research projects on top of all these difficulties, we believe that researchers’ commitment should not be overwhelmed by COVID-19 and that they should look for options to complete started researches successfully or initiate new researches in the era of COVID-19.” READ MORE

9/16/20: Central African Republic: In The Time Of COVID-19, Malaria Is Still The Biggest Child Killer (Doctors Without Borders – Central African Republic)

“To mitigate the impact of this deadly disease and protect the community, MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders] launched a targeted campaign of preventative treatment – also known as a mass drug administration – for malaria at the beginning of the rainy season. In order to reach a maximum number of people and to make sure that the population understood the importance of this initiative, the campaign was run in three stages. First, MSF raised awareness of the campaign with the help of community leaders and by broadcasting spots on the local radio. Next, the team went door-to-door to distribute the preventative treatment. And, finally, they returned to each household to check if people had taken the treatment and to identify any side effects. By taking the medication to people in their own homes, they avoided the risk of crowds gathering at distribution sites and potentially spreading COVID-19. The MSF teams also adopted protective measures such as wearing masks and keeping a safe distance between individuals.” READ MORE

9/15/20: COVID-19 Hampers The Fight Against AIDS, With The South Facing Big Challenges (Chicago Sun Times)

“HIV workers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all say they have seen a drop in HIV testing since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Some fell back into drug and alcohol abuse. Others feared the AIDS virus made them more vulnerable to the coronavirus and refused to leave their homes. Mildred Harper, who is HIV-positive, was too afraid to go to a Jackson, Mississippi, hospital in April for a blood test to check on her HIV treatment. Lee Storrow tried to get an HIV test in North Carolina in June, but staff at the clinic he contacted said they were focused on testing for COVID-19. At sites run by the Birmingham-based social services organization AIDS Alabama, testing is down roughly 75%, from about 30 tests a week before the pandemic to 30 tests a month now amid a drop in walk-in clients, said Tony Christon-Walker, the organization’s director of prevention and community partnerships.” READ MORE

9/15/20: Call For More UK Aid To Go On Basic Health Services In World’s Poorest Countries (The Telegraph – UK)

“Katie Husselby, author of the Action for Global Health report, said that the UK had a strong record in areas such as reducing child and maternal mortality and fighting the three big infectious disease killers HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. ‘The cuts to the development budget have still not been specified but we have to make the assumption that areas that were not listed [in the letter] may be at risk,’ she said. She added that the focus on Covid may mean that other areas get missed out. ‘The fear is that Covid has come to represent global health to the UK government. But that doesn’t take into account the huge indirect impact Covid will have on areas such as maternal and child health, malaria, TB and HIV. Focusing solely on the Covid response will risk a huge reversal of progress in all these other health areas,’ she said.” READ MORE

9/15/20: The Impact Of COVID-19 On The TB Epidemic: A Community Perspective (TB Civil Society Organizations)

“The impacts of COVID-19 are not being felt equally across or within countries. Prior to the pandemic, every year, around 100 million people were pushed into poverty because of healthcare-associated costs, and half the world’s population did not have access to the healthcare they needed. These already vulnerable populations are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and are the same people hit hardest by TB: children, people living with HIV/AIDS, mobile populations (migrants and refugees), indigenous groups, miners, prisoners, and people who use drugs. We know that the challenges and barriers to accessing both COVID-19 and TB services disproportionately affect those who are most vulnerable and/or already marginalized. This impact is a particular concern from the perspective of human rights, stigma, and gender.” READ MORE

9/15/20: Africa’s COVID-19 Slow Burn: A Warning Against Complacency (Maverick Citizen – South Africa)

“Boulle says given higher death rates from other illnesses – tuberculosis and HIV in South Africa – ‘it is possible that the mortality experience due to COVID-19 is less noteworthy and probably largely undocumented.’ However, while the ‘slow burn’ development of the pandemic might be less immediately devastating, it will require sustained resources over a longer period. There is also a high risk of health worker fatigue.” READ MORE

8/20/20: Impact Of The Societal Response To COVID-19 On Access To Healthcare For Non-COVID-19 Health Issues In Slum Communities Of Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria And Pakistan: Results Of Pre-covid And COVID-19 Lockdown Stakeholder Engagements (Bmj Global Health)

“Pre-COVID, stakeholders described various preventive, diagnostic and treatment services, including well-used antenatal and immunisation programmes and some screening for hypertension, tuberculosis, HIV and vector borne disease. In all sites, pharmacists and patent medicine vendors were key providers of treatment and advice for minor illnesses. Mental health services and those addressing gender-based violence were perceived to be limited or unavailable. With COVID-19, a reduction in access to healthcare services was reported in all sites, including preventive services. Cost of healthcare increased while household income reduced. Residents had difficulty reaching healthcare facilities. Fear of being diagnosed with COVID-19 discouraged healthcare seeking.” READ MORE

9/15/20: The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Taking A Toll On The International Tuberculosis Response, New Survey Finds (Forbes)

“India, which has the world’s highest burden of tuberculosis and records around 2.6 million new cases each year, has seen around 50% drop in notifications of new cases since March when the government announced a complete nation-wide lockdown. Around 21 out of the 58 Indian tuberculosis patients said in the survey that the health facilities they normally visit were closed. Seven out of ten healthcare workers who participated in the survey reported a decrease in the number of people coming to health facilities for Tuberculosis testing.” READ MORE

9/15/2020: People With HIV Face New Challenges To Care Continuity During Covid Lockdown (The Body)

“Some of the greatest challenges to health care during lockdown for people with HIV come from issues not directly related to HIV, such as mental health. “At the beginning of the lockdown, I was too depressed to do anything,” Luis, a community gardener and part-time yoga teacher in New York, told me on WhatsApp. Lockdown has also affected Luis’ primary HIV health care. “I haven’t seen my primary-care physician since about January,” Luis said. [He also states] “I am also less interested in keeping up with my HIV regimen.” Many people with HIV struggle with anxiety, depression, insomnia, fear, and panic on a regular basis. Lockdown has made dealing with these issues more difficult, both because the pandemic itself is inherently stressful and because mental health services, including medications, have become less available and less accessible during the pandemic.” READ MORE

9/15/20: COVID-19 Pushes 37 Million People Into Extreme Poverty: Report (Xinhua Net)

HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients are the other groups that are worst affected by the pandemic, according to the report. ‘Current evidence shows that people living with HIV are at increased risk of death due to COVID-19. Before COVID-19, there were already three million ‘missing cases’ of TB: people with active TB who didn’t know it and were passing the disease to others while going untreated themselves. Now, that number will grow even larger as people either cannot go to health facilities for diagnosis or choose not to go to avoid the possibility of exposure to COVID-19,’ notes the report dubbed COVID-19, A Global Perspective.” READ MORE

9/14/20: New Cases Of HIV In San Francisco Dropped 19% In 2019 (Poz)

“New HIV cases continue to decline in San Francisco. Last year, 166 people were diagnosed with HIV in the city, marking a 19% decrease from 2018, when 204 people were diagnosed. This is the lowest level the city has seen. According to The Bay Area Reporter, new cases dropped across population groups, including Black and Latino men, a cohort that had seen upticks in HIV rates. The good news was tempered, however, by concerns that COVID-19 and related disruptions (including health care and HIV prevention efforts) could threaten the encouraging drop in diagnoses.” READ MORE

9/14/2020: The Pandemic Is Causing Innumerable Problems, Including Challenges To HIV Prevention (HIV Plus)

“ ‘People are struggling with uptake because people are having less in-person doctor’s visits to see if they’re good candidates for PrEP. They’re not having the ability to talk to providers about barriers to adherence. When you can’t go out to the pharmacy, refilling that prescription is more difficult. There are employment issues, health insurance issues; hoops to jump through when you don’t have insurance,’ [says Giffin Daughtridge].“ READ MORE

9/14/20: 25 Years Wiped Out In 25 Weeks: Pandemic Sets The World Back Decades (Politico)

“In only half a year, the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out decades of global development in everything from health to the economy. Global action to stop the pandemic would prevent illness and deaths caused by COVID-19, but there’s more at stake: The crisis sets back strides made in global poverty, HIV transmission, malnutrition, gender equality, education and many more areas. ‘in some developing countries, reversing the economic downturn may take longer because they don’t have the ability to invest as much money in their economies as rich countries, Suzman [CEO of the Gates Foundations] said.” READ MORE

9/14/20: 92% Covid Patients In India Are Asymptomatic, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Tells Lok Sabha (The Print– India)

“[Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan] also spoke about the shift in focus from only Covid to other diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, which ended up being partially neglected during the lockdown. ‘We have now moved from ‘managing travel-related cases’ to containing clusters and large outbreaks due to local transmission to wide spread of infection to urban, peri-urban and rural areas. This would require concerted effort by the government with people’s participation to prevent large scale morbidity and mortality,’ Dr Harsh Vardhan said. ’Equally crucial is to maintain the success achieved in management of reproductive maternal and child health, vaccine preventable diseases, non-communicable diseases, tuberculosis, vector borne diseases such as Kala Azar and Malaria. Hence, there is an increased thrust for managing non-Covid essential services,’ the minister said. In a communication with the states on 4 September, the Government of India had expressed apprehension that India could be looking at over [500,000] more TB cases and over [150,000] TB deaths in the next five years because of the transfer of both resources and manpower from the TB control programme to Covid.” READ MORE

9/14/20: Absent Patients Sound Alarm Bells For South African Doctor (Bloomberg Quint – South Africa)

“Tuberculosis hospitals have isolation wards that can be adapted easily for COVID-19 patients, so it made sense. Still, the move resulted in most patients being directed to other hospitals that are at least an hour-and-a-half drive away, and widespread poverty meant that many people opted to go home instead. The damage that’s done in the community will only become clear in a few months’ time, according to {Dr Marthinus] Du Plessis. ‘After a few months you realize that a lot of the familiar faces aren’t there anymore,’ he said. ‘You make the assumption that a lot of these people passed away at home because they never made it to a hospital. To send sick people home to accommodate often asymptomatic COVID-19 patients makes no sense.’” READ MORE

9/14/20: How COVID-19 Is Indirectly Killing Mothers And Babies (Spiegel International – Denmark)

“ ‘Many vaccinations and checkups, both before and after giving birth, are omitted completely,’ says Rebekka Frick. ‘That will have horrific consequences and put great strain on health systems for some time to come.’ Whether measles, tuberculosis or malaria, coronavirus threatens to significantly hamstring efforts to combat other life-threatening diseases around the world. Medical professionals and NGOs are concerned that millions will die in the coming months and years not from of the coronavirus, but from its consequences – or from other, treatable diseases, because, for example, they avoid going to the doctor for a simple vaccination.” READ MORE

9/11/20: ‘healthcare System In Rural India Is A Cause Of Concern,’ Says Public Healthcare Expert Amid COVID-19 Pandemic (Banega Swasth – India )

“’What about routine immunisation? What about maternal and child health? What happens to Tuberculosis? What happens to people with malaria or cancer or Diabetes? By only focusing on COVID-19, we haven’t done enough to resume normal healthcare services so that mortality is lowered because the death rate in India is not just COVID-19. Because people are dying from untreated Diabetes or untreated TB. We must get a handle on it and we must resume routine health services in every place, rural and urban’ [Dr MadhUKar Pai, Epidemiologist, Director of The McGill International TB Centre].” READ MORE

9/11/20: 2 Died And A Total Of 3,099 Malaria Cases Have Been Reported Across Mumbai (Afternoon Voice – India )

“’Due to the lockdown, all the migrant workers from the Metro construction sites have gone back. So, no one has cleaned the accumulated stagnant water which has turned into breeding grounds for mosquitoes,’ [Dr. Virendra Mohite, medical officer] said. Rajan Naringrekar, chief of [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation]’s insecticide department explained that during monsoon, water gets inside the houses at [Bombay Development Department (BMC)] Chawl in G-South. As a large number of people have left the city due to the pandemic, the rainwater lies stagnant, thereby making it a breeding ground for mosquitoes. ‘We can’t forcefully enter anyone’s house for fumigation. As a result, people living in the surrounding areas are getting malaria,’ he said.” READ MORE

9/11/20: Pandemic A Boon For Digital Health Services (The Star – Kenya )

“Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya, close to 20,000 Kenyans have missed hospital visits for surgeries, according to the Ministry of Health. Thousands more shunned health facilities for treatment of other diseases. Health CAS Rashid Aman says malaria is the most affected. He says the number of patients seeking treatment for malaria has decreased by two thirds compared to a similar period last year.” READ MORE

9/10/20: India’s Health ‘time Bomb’ Keeps Ticking, And It’s Not COVID-19 (Bloomberg – India )

“More than 65 million people in India live in densely packed and poorly ventilated slums like Dharavi in Mumbai, one of the biggest in Asia, which has long struggled with tuberculosis before it became a coronavirus hotspot. The fact that both TB and COVID-19 have a significant overlap in symptoms — breathlessness, cough, fever — make these areas critical to controlling both diseases. The strict stay-at-home orders the country enforced at the end of March shut down India’s giant tuberculosis program for almost three months. In April, one million fewer received the BCG vaccine that prevents severe tuberculosis, government data shows. ‘There should’ve been bi-directional screening from the beginning, because in checking for one you may be missing the other,’ said Chapal Mehra, a public health specialist and author of ‘Tuberculosis – India’s Ticking Time Bomb.’” READ MORE

9/10/20: Governments Need $70m To Fill Malaria Financing Gap (The New Times – Rwanda )

“[Dr. Aimable Mbituyumuremyi, Head of the Malaria and other Parasitic Infections Unit at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre] said that the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic had not derailed the government’s dedication to fighting malaria. ‘Our efforts to fight malaria have actually increased, focusing mostly on protective measures. By the time COVID-19 got to Rwanda, we had already started our program to distribute treated mosquito nets all over the country and we haven’t stopped,’ he said.” READ MORE

9/10/20: What’s The Most Dangerous Disease? Hint: It’s Not Novel Coronavirus (China Global Televison Network )

“As it was calculated by influential non-government organization Stop TB Partnership in collaboration with Imperial College, Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University, and the United States Agency For International Development, a three-month lockdown in different parts of the world and a gradual return to normal over 10 months could result in an additional 6.3 million tuberculosis cases and additional 1.4 million deaths from it. It now seems likely that the indicated time frames will last much longer. The pandemic is also shrinking the supply of diagnostic tests and drugs against tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS, and other killers as pharmaceutical companies turn to make more expensive medicines to detect and fight the coronavirus.” READ MORE

9/10/20: Mozambique Situation Report, 10 September 2020 (Relief Web – Mozambique)

“Prior to COVID-19, multiple disease outbreaks—including cholera and malaria—were already stretching Mozambique’s weak health systems and 94 health centres were damaged during the cyclones. In Cabo Delgado, over 1,500 cumulative cases of cholera and 25 cumulative deaths have been reported since the beginning of the outbreak in January 2020 until the end of July. Critical services—such as sexual and reproductive health care, immunization activities and continuity of care for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and cholera—are expected to be disrupted as resources shift to the COVID-19 response, potentially increasing maternal and infant deaths.” READ MORE

9/10/20: $28.5bn Needed To Correct Effect Of COVID-19 On HIV, TB, Malaria Globally (Leadership – Nigeria)

“Deaths from HIV, TB and Malaria could almost double in 12 Months unless urgent action is taken. Stop TB Partnership, Nigeria, stakeholders noted that Nigeria has a huge gap of about 60 per cent of the required funding for TB and that the bulk of the funding was still donor dependent. While it has been reiterated that the Nigerian government cannot tackle the huge burden posed by TB alone, stakeholders said collective effort at both national and state levels to fund TB case management in Nigeria, would go a long way. ‘We need commitment across all levels of people, those who work in and outside the health sector. There is a need for us to remember that we have other deadly diseases that are threatening us and can be further enabled by COVID. We need to put in place measures to fund and control diseases of public health significance, like HIV, Malaria, and TB, otherwise, there could be a post-COVID-19 health crisis in Nigeria,’ [The Country Director of Health Policy Plus, Frances Illika] added.” READ MORE

9/9/20: Nigeria: Tuberculosis Killing Nigerians More Than Coronavirus – Experts (Daily Trust – Nigeria)

“Dr Adebola Lawanson, National Coordinator, Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, said the COVID-19 outbreak in the country increased TB morbidity and mortality, and also affected TB case finding. She said the pandemic also reinforced stigma for sufferers, increased transmission of TB, and affected access to drugs for patients and health facilities. Frances Ilika Country Director, Health Policy Plus (HP+), said there was a need for increased domestic funding for TB to avoid secondary crises, increased private sector investment in TB control as well as accountability on funding.” READ MORE

9/9/20: HIV And COVID-19: A Unique Moment In Time To Learn, Leverage And Build Resilient Systems For Health (UNAIDS)

“’COVID-19 has caused significant loss of life in many communities, but notably in those where inequities make people more vulnerable to ill health. Leveraging of the HIV infrastructure and workforce has helped to mitigate what might have been a far worse situation,’ said José M. Zuniga, President/Chief Executive Officer of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care and co-organizer of the Virtual Fast-Track Cities 2020 event with UNAIDS. ‘However, with current HIV spending substantially off-track, the world urgently needs to increase investments in the responses to both HIV and COVID-19 and not siphon off one to respond to the other.’” READ MORE

9/9/20: COVID-19 Could Reverse Decades Of Progress Toward Eliminating Preventable Child Deaths, Agencies Warn (World Health Organization)

“Over the past 30 years, health services to prevent or treat causes of child death such as preterm, low birthweight, complications during birth, neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, as well as vaccination, have played a large role in saving millions of lives. Now countries worldwide are experiencing disruptions in child and maternal health services, such as health checkups, vaccinations and prenatal and post-natal care, due to resource constraints and a general uneasiness with using health services due to a fear of getting COVID-19” READ MORE

9/8/20: Tuberculosis – Experts Call For More Case Finding Amidst COVID-19 Crisis (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“The National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Adebola Lawanson, noted that there has not been sufficient progress made in TB case finding due to COVID-19. She said that TB, like other diseases, has been worst hit during this period due to resource relocation and realignment for COVID-19. She explained that the lack of access to health facilities during the lockdown period contributed to the increase in TB cases in the country. ‘There is an increase in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis as the impact of COVID-19 affected health facilities, monitoring and drug supervision for TB patients, while health care workers were not willing to carry out TB case finding.’” READ MORE

9/8/20: Providing HIV Treatment To People Living With HIV Stranded In Foreign Countries In Middle East And North Africa Region During The COVID-19 Pandemic (UNAIDS)

“Due to COVID-19 people living with HIV around the world, including the Middle East and North Africa region, are encountering difficulties to access HIV treatment, especially when they are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country due to travel restrictions. ‘I came to Egypt on 1 March on a business trip and my plan was to leave on 4 April. Due to the COVID-19 and the closing of the airports, I had to extend my stay in Egypt. Unfortunately, my medication is not available in Egypt,’ said Hammad.” READ MORE

9/8/20: Covid Patients In Noida Now Battle Dengue, Malaria (Times Of India)

“THE CMO [Contract Manufacturing Organization] has also issued instructions that strict compliance of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) have to be followed with regard to any data release on the diseases. ‘All COVID positive patients at private hospitals who are infected with any of the vector-borne disease should be treated according to the guidelines, including use of mosquito nets and in a separate area of the hospital so as to prevent spread of infection. Also, only the CMO and the district magistrate is authorized to declare the number of cases of dengue and malaria,’ said Dr Deepak Ohri, CMO, GB Nagar. The district malaria officer (DMO) Dr Rajesh Sharma said that the number of dengue and malaria cases are less so far. ‘The numbers are far less than last year mostly because of the pandemic and fear of infection among the people,’ he added.’” READ MORE

9/8/20: South Mumbai Reports 75 Per Cent Of Total Malaria Cases In City (The Free Press Journal – India)

“’In areas like Dhobi Ghat the regular operations are stalled now. Due to this water bodies at these places have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. As most of the people have gone back to their hometowns, the BMC is unable to fumigate such areas completely,’ said local corporator Samadhan Sarvankar. BMC [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation] leader of opposition and Congress corporator, Ravi Raja suggested that since the cases of malaria and dengue are on the rise amid the pandemic outbreak, the civic body needs to form categorised [outpatient departments] in its hospitals. ‘Due to fear of COVID-19, people are becoming apprehensive about getting themselves admitted in the hospitals. The BMC can make separate wards for malaria and dengue treatment which will make the treatment process more systematic” Raja told [The Free Press Journal].’” READ MORE

9/8/20: Namibia: 12,507 Malaria Cases, 40 Deaths Recorded This Year Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic (All Africa)

“Malaria cases this year increased by 440.2% compared to 2841 cases recorded in 2019 and reduced when compared to 2018 cases of 31,000, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health availed. “The COVID 19 regulations have slowed down the implementation of program activities due to restriction on people movement, gatherings of more than 10 people and delayed delivery of antimalarial commodities, resulting in some program activities being canceled,” the ministry concluded. The National Vector-borne Diseases Control Programme from the health ministry which monitors the weekly malaria situation in the country shows that this year alone 12,507 malaria cases where recorded, while 40 deaths occurred.” READ MORE

9/8/20: Five Wards In South Mumbai Record 70% Of City’s Total Malaria Cases (Hindustan Times)

“As the city witnesses a rise in COVID-19 cases, it is also reporting an increase in malaria cases. Data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shows that the five wards in south Mumbai — G South, E, F South, G North and D — account for 2,157 of the total 3,099 malaria cases. Of the five wards with the most malaria cases, G-south (Lower Parel, Worli and Elphinstone) has reported the maximum number of cases, with 1,055 patients till August 31. E ward (Mumbai Central, Byculla, Kamathipura) recorded 478 malaria cases while the count in F South (Parel) was 267 cases. G North (Dadar, Mahim and Dharavi), which has recorded the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases (8,748), reported 233 malaria cases. D ward (Grant Road) has 124 cases.” READ MORE

9/8/20: Case Finding Major Challenge In Nigeria’s TB Response, Says Stop TB Partnership (The Sun – Nigeria)

“The STOP TB partnership Nigeria is a multi-stakeholder partnership dedicated to the cause of ending scourge of Tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria has registered its frustrations with the unwillingness of TB carriers to report themselves to health care facilities for examination and treatment. ‘Tuberculosis has really taken a hit in this regard with human resources, funds, and materials that have been relocated and realigned to attend to COVID-19 issues. We have had the GeneXpert machines, HIV laboratories, being redeployed to support the COVID-19 response’ [the focal person for TB at the Institute for Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), Dr. Aderonke Agbaje, states].” READ MORE

9/8/20: One Size Does Not Fit All In Africa’s COVID-19 Response (Business Day)

“Precarious health systems are not able to withstand shocks such as disease outbreaks, evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a function of a combination of funding shortages, suboptimal resource allocation and corruption. The people, institutions and resources needed to deliver health related services are only performing at 49% of their potential capacity. About 80% of Africans in the middle-income bracket and below rely on public health facilities. Leading killers on the continent, often described as the “big three” include malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. About 50% of under-five deaths in Africa are caused by pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Undetected TB and HIV will exacerbate the COVID-19 death count.” READ MORE

9/6/20: Deputy President David Mabuza: ‘our Plans To Fix Eskom Are Working’ (Biz News – South Africa)

“’By offering HIV self-screening at COVID-19 screening sites, the Department of Health is able to reach people who would otherwise be missed by their standard HIV programmes.

Community health workers across the country, are screening for the coronavirus whilst conducting their normal door-to-door HIV and TB monitoring work, such as ensuring that patients are taking their antiretroviral medicines. Our Government and its partner donors, including the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Response and the United Nations Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, are leveraging on existing resources in order to assist in the COVID-19 response. This is done while ensuring that HIV and TB services remain accessible to those who need them. The HIV and TB programmes have integrated HIV testing and TB screening into the COVID-19 response’ [David Mabuza, Deputy President of South Africa; Deputy President of the African National Congress].” READ MORE

9/4/20: Covid 19 Sets HIV Treatment And Testing Back (Mail & Guardian – South Africa)

“About 1.6-million HIV tests were conducted in March. In April that number dipped to just fewer than 690 000 tests, just after the lockdown was instituted at the end of the previous month.

Additionally, more than twice as many people tested for HIV in April last year compared to this year, showing one of the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on access to healthcare services. HIV testing services in public clinics and hospitals were not shut down during lockdown, because these facilities were considered essential services. However, the restrictions of movement resulted in a decrease in HIV testing, because community testing stopped.” READ MORE

9/4/20: We Should Prioritize TB Efforts During This Time Of COVID-19 (Nation – Kenya)

“Adherence to a regular treatment schedule is essential to curing TB. Patients who do not have consistent access to the medicines and support needed to ensure adherence during the COVID-19 pandemic may not be cured and may develop TB drug-resistance, which is more difficult to treat and would allow for the continued spread of TB. All of these developments make it clear that it is more important than ever to increase funding to combat TB. The congressional appropriations subcommittees for foreign aid have shown strong bipartisan support for global health, providing significant funding for programs fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria. However, TB still remains among the most underfunded of our major disease programs, even though it now kills more people than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.” READ MORE

9/4/20: We Can’t Fight COVID-19 On A Country By Country Basis (Scientific American)

“[Deaths] are rising, and some are from COVID-19, but many more result from people unable to afford transportation to the hospital as a result of worsening economic conditions, or delaying treatment until it’s too late. That includes people with minor problems—like my patient with a simple urinary tract infection who was afraid to come to the hospital—and those seeking treatment for serious diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB).” READ MORE

9/4/20: Tamil Nadu COVID-19 Wrap: 50 Lakh Rt-pcr Tests Conducted Till Date; Sbp Stable And Responsive, Says Hospital (The Indian Express – India

“To ensure that tuberculosis patients remain safe at home during the lockdown, the Tamil Nadu [TN] government helped deliver vital drugs to over 52,000 affected people at their doorsteps. In addition to providing them with medicines, the government has been continuously monitoring their health condition, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami [EPS] said on Thursday. Taking to Twitter, EPS said the government had provided the medicines throughout the treatment period for 52,489 TB patients. Health Minister C Vijayabaskar tweeted, ‘TN Health has done a commendable job in taking care of TB Pts across the state during Covid. [Anti-tubercular treatment (ATT)] drugs were stocked & distributed promptly for 52,489 TB pts since March’20.’” READ MORE

9/4/20: Mumbai: Alongside COVID-19, Malaria And Dengue Cases Also On The Rise In Several Wards (The Free Press Journal – India)

“Doctors said that cases of malaria and dengue have increased because of the incessant rainfall that has lashed Mumbai in August. ‘It is due to the rainfall in August that the mosquito bred diseases have risen. I am getting average three cases of Malaria in two days,’ said Dr. Sudhir Awasthi, a medical practitioner based in Andheri and Bandra. ‘With COVID-19 still there, people are afraid to get themselves to hospital, so instead of shutting the COVID care facilities, if the [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)] can turn them into facilities for treating those with Malaria and Dengue, it can be of great help for us,’ said the doctor.’” READ MORE

9/4/20: South Africa: Provinces Include HIV, TB Screening At COVID-19 Sites (South African Government News Agency – South Africa)

“‘By offering HIV self-screening at COVID-19 screening sites, the Department of Health is able to reach people who would otherwise be missed by their standard HIV programmes. ‘Community health workers across the country are screening for the coronavirus whilst conducting their normal door-to-door HIV and TB monitoring work, such as ensuring that patients are taking their antiretroviral medicines,’ [David Mabuza, Deputy President of South Africa and Deputy President of the African National Congress] said on Thursday.” READ MORE

9/4/20: Opinion: Another Casualty Of The COVID-19 Pandemic – Progress On AIDS (Caixin Global Intelligence)

“‘This pandemic has greatly increased the dangers faced by people living with and affected by HIV. In the last few months they have had to deal with disruptions to HIV treatment and prevention services, over-burdened health systems, not being able to feed their families, and an abuse of rights, while living with an increased fear about their vulnerability to COVID-19.’ [Tim Martineau, Deputy Executive Director at Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS]” READ MORE

9/4/20: Guyana’s HIV Food Bank Comes To The Rescue During COVID-19 (UNAIDS – Guyana)

“‘HIV treatment will fail if people don’t have food—healthy food. The fact that Guyana has been able to respond immediately to alleviate food security challenges and thus protect the well-being of people living with HIV right from the outset of the humanitarian crisis demonstrates the value of making psychosocial support investments integral to our regular treatment programme,’ [Michel de Groulard, UNAIDS Country Director for Guyana and Suriname] said. ‘It makes countries and communities more resilient, more agile and better prepared to respond to crises.’” READ MORE

9/3/20: Positive Effect Of Covid: Vector-borne Diseases See A Sharp Decline In Ahmedabad (The Indian Express – India)

“ ‘Increased awareness on cleanliness, hygiene, mosquito related information such as water storage helped in controlling vector-borne diseases,’ said [Rajesh] Sharma. He added that ‘earlier people would not pay attention to community information through radio, leaflets, etc., but during lockdown, they paid attention to those. Also, cleaning homes and surroundings was a means to kill time helped.’ The authorities are crediting the Dhanvantri Raths [a mobile van that offers health services] for the positive effect as they started covering vector-borne diseases apart from COVID-19.” READ MORE

9/3/20: Filling The Vacuum: How Civil Society Is Battling COVID-19 In Cameroon (Commentary) (Mongabay – Cameroon)

“The knock-on effects are being felt sharply in Cameroon today: remittances from abroad have dramatically fallen; the distribution of malaria-preventing mosquito nets to rural communities has slowed; informal sector livelihoods have been choked by the lockdown; health serves, already fragile, are overstretched and less effective. The restrictions that the government imposed in March have now eased, but the work of civil society dealing with the fallout from COVID-19 is only just beginning.” READ MORE

9/2/20: With All Eyes On COVID-19, Malaria Cases In Mumbai Rose In August: Bmc Data (Hindustan Times – India)

“Even as civic officials are struggling to control the spread of COVID-19 cases, mosquito-borne malaria is now posing another challenge, with a rise in the number of cases to 1,137 in August, compared to 824 in August 2019. Most cases are being reported from G-South (Worli, Lower Parel, Prabhadevi), G-North (Dharavi, Dadar), M-East (Chembur) and E (Byculla) wards, which have also reported a large number of COVID-19 cases. Last month, for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) recorded two deaths, where the duo was suffering from a combination of malaria and the coronavirus infection. These two deaths – from G-North and M-East civic wards, which were once hot spots for COVID-19 infection – broke the city’s decade-long record of zero fatalities due to malaria.” READ MORE

9/2/20: COVID-19 Pushing Other Priorities Aside (The Citizen – Tanzania)

“Since the coronavirus swept the world the battles against tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS have been slowed down, partly because of peoples’ worries about visiting health clinics, many of which have been closed for fear of contagion. It’s estimated that about 80 percent of programs have been disrupted. One in four people being treated for HIV have reported problems in getting hold of their medications. In India diagnosis of TB cases has dropped by nearly 75 percent. In country after country the coronavirus has resulted in sharp drops in diagnosing TB: a 70 percent decline in Indonesia, 50 percent in Mozambique and South Africa and 20 percent in China.” READ MORE

9/2/20: South Sudan: Malaria Leaves 100 Dead In South Sudan (The East African – South Sudan)

“‘Malaria accounts for 42 per cent of [outpatient department] consultations representing a 45 per cent increase from week 27 of June, 2020,’ [Dr. Wamala Joseph Francis, WHO’S Country Preparedness and International Health Regulation Officer] said. ‘This proportion may be affected by the current triage of patients due to COVID-19. ARI proportional morbidity in 2020 is lower compared to the corresponding period of 2019.’ According to [a joint report from South Sudan’s Ministry of Health and WHO], cases of malaria are mainly attributed to the continued flooding in [South Sudan] due to heavy rains.” READ MORE 

9/1/20: South Africa: Back-to-school In The Time Of COVID-19 Poses Major Challenges For South African Teachers (Radio France Internationale – South Africa)

“ ‘At EkUKhanyeni Special needs school in the Pietermaritzburg area of KwaZulu-Natal Province, the attendance is even lower–at about 20 percent since the school opened last week,’ says teacher Thembi Nesemare. ‘The majority of children, although they have disabilities, some have underlying conditions, too, like HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and chronic chest infections. That’s why they haven’t brought those students to school,’ she says.” READ MORE

9/1/20: Refugee Camps Have Avoided The Worst Of The Pandemic. That Could Be About To Change. (The Washington Post)

“Since cases first emerged in Kenya in March, the country’s two main refugee camps, Kakuma and Dadaab, have been largely sealed off. Health-care staff, already dealing with seasonal malaria and cholera outbreaks, have worked to educate residents about the coronavirus, prepare isolation areas and bolster stockpiles of protective gear.” READ MORE

9/1/20: How Were HIV Care Services In South Carolina Interrupted By The COVID-19 Pandemic? (American Journal Of Managed Care)

“Results from a recent study out of South Carolina, which examined how its HIV service care continuum was affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (COVID-19), show that more than a quarter (26%) of HIV clinics had to shut their doors completely and over half (56%) experienced partial service interruptions, reports the study in AIDS and Behavior.” READ MORE

August 2020: TB Research Investments Provide Returns In Combating Both TB And COVID-19 (Treatment Action Group Policy Brief)

“New diagnostic, treatment, and prevention tools for TB are urgently needed to put the world on track to meet the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals to end the TB epidemic by 2030.3 However, COVID-19 and responses to it are complicating and disrupting critical TB research efforts underway. Sustained and expanded investment in TB R&D is urgently needed to fortify TB research efforts against COVID-19–related complications and disruptions and to deliver game-changing new public health tools to aid the fight against TB.” READ MORE

8/31/20: In Who Global Pulse Survey, 90% Of Countries Report Disruptions To Essential Health Services Since COVID-19 Pandemic (World Health Organization)

“Most countries reported that many routine and elective services had been suspended, while critical care — such as cancer screening and treatment and HIV therapy — had seen high-risk interruptions in low-income nations. 76% of countries reported reductions in outpatient care attendance due to lower demand and other factors such as lockdowns and financial difficulties. Countries also reported disruptions in malaria diagnosis and treatment (46%), tuberculosis case detection and treatment (42%) and antiretroviral treatment (32%). WHO [World Health Organization] said that countries on average experienced disruptions in 50% of a set of 25 tracer services.” READ MORE

8/30/20: In The World’s Coronavirus Blind Spot, Fears Of A Silent Epidemic (The Wall Street Journal)

“The situation is even less clear in Somalia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where raging insurgencies mean mass testing is impossible and weak health-care systems are already struggling to contain other medical emergencies including HIV/AIDS, measles and Ebola. The chances of surviving coronavirus for patients with pre-existing medical conditions are significantly lower, and many families in Zambia have talked of losing close relatives already sickened by diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS.” READ MORE

8/29/20: HIV Threat Looms Behind COVID-19 Pandemic (Charleston Gazette-mail)

“Shutdowns because of the pandemic cut off outreach that health departments and organizations like HealthRight use to identify HIV cases and connect patients to care. The added stress of COVID-19 response also meant that resources in some cases are spread too thin to adequately confront other health issues still facing communities.” READ MORE

8/28/20: Collateral Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Tuberculosis Control In Jiangsu Province, China (Oxford Academic)

“The COVID-19 pandemic may impede global tuberculosis elimination goals. In Jiangsu Province, China, tuberculosis notifications dropped 52% in 2020 compared to 2015–2019. Treatment completion and screening for drug resistance decreased continuously in 2020. Urgent attention must be paid to tuberculosis control efforts during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE

8/27/20: Lessons Learned From The HIV Response – UNAIDS Warns Of Dangers Of Failing To Respect Human Rights In The Response Of COVID-19 (UNAIDS)

“During the early response to COVID-19 UNAIDS received numerous reports of interruptions to HIV services and disturbing human violations against vulnerable and marginalized populations. The experience of the response to HIV has proved that violations of human rights during a pandemic undermine trust, harm individuals, and set back public health responses. HIV prevention and treatment services were disrupted in 10 of the 16 countries reviewed. Some countries reported reductions in medicine collections of up to 20% in some areas. There were multiple reports of people living with HIV not having enough antiretroviral medicine for a lockdown of more than 60 days as well as reports of people having abandoned their HIV treatment due to a lack of food.” READ MORE

8/27/2020: South Africa Needs A Plan To Protect Children’s Health Beyond COVID-19 (The Conversation)

“Children have made many sacrifices because of the country’s COVID-19 response. The overlap between the HIV and COVID-19 epidemics in countries like South Africa is of particular concern due to great risks to the hard-won milestones in controlling the HIV epidemic. An estimated 43,000 children under five died in South Africa in 2018 alone, and of these, 12,717 were newborns. Some of the key drivers of child deaths were underlying malnutrition, HIV and TB [Tuberculosis].” READ MORE

8/27/20: Fewer Reported Cases Of TB In South Africa: Not Necessarily Good News (Maverick Citizen)

“[Dr Jennifer Furin, a multidrug-resistant TB specialist working with Doctors without Borders (MSF)] says the number of people presenting at clinics continues to be low, partly due to people being told to avoid healthcare facilities during the pandemic, but also as a result of clinic closures or under-staffing at facilities. Adding to this, she says TB [Tuberculosis] testing is not routinely offered. In May, Ndjeka told Spotlight that the department had noted a sharp drop in TB cases in April. New figures released last week indicate that case numbers have fallen even further since then. The number of new cases detected in June this year was only 284, compared to 753 in June last year (a decrease of over 60%).” READ MORE

8/27/20: Eastern Cape Clinics Lost Touch With Thousands Of TB Patients During Lockdown (Maverick Citizen)

“According to the latest health department figures, Nelson Mandela Bay had 22,245 cases of COVID-19. ‘After the advent of COVID-19, HIV and other services were no longer a priority at our facilities. We look at the number of patients with TB – about 1,700 – that were lost to follow-up,’ [Treatment Action Campaign’s Anel Yawa] said. Yawa said many patients with HIV and TB have not received any medical care for months: ‘We received reports that some people were only getting HIV treatment for five days. Others didn’t receive any medication and had to go to their support groups to ask if anybody was willing to share their pills.’ ” READ MORE

8/27/20: If We Fail To Act, COVID-19 Will Undermine The Health Of Women And Children Around The World (Maverick Citizen)

“Currently, approximately 3.7 million pregnant women, children and adolescents living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa require uninterrupted access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART). COVID-19 control measures – including lockdowns and travel restrictions – coupled with fear, could result in reductions in access to health services, particularly for mothers and children. This would mean fewer pregnant women receiving HIV services necessary to keep them healthy and further limiting access to timely early infant HIV diagnosis and treatment. READ MORE

8/27/20: The Corona Conundrum (Forbes Africa)

“Mid-year, globally, there had been over 15 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 600,000 deaths. This spike in cases will no doubt worsen the current burden on Africa’s already ailing public health systems, and in particular, will limit the attention on all other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. READ MORE

8/26/20: UNAIDS Calls For Urgent Action To Strengthen Social Protection Programmes In The Face Of COVID-19 (UNAIDS)

“People living with HIV and tuberculosis (TB) are being significantly impacted by COVID-19. Modelling has estimated the potential catastrophic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with increases of up to 10%, 20% and 36% projected deaths for HIV, TB and malaria patients, respectively, over the next five years.” READ MORE

8/25/20: COVID-19 Sets Back Malaria, HIV And Tuberculosis Fight By Years (Diario As – Spain)

“Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the World Health Organization Global Tuberculosis Program, painted a stark picture of the situation. ‘Between 50 percent and 75 percent of tuberculosis programs and treatments globally have been interrupted up to now, depending on the country and the levels of hospital care, supplies and tests. Right now, $3 billion is needed to return to the pre-COVID situation, but that figure could double or triple if the trend continues in this way. It’s very worrying.’” READ MORE

8/25/20 Kncv Predicts Rise In TB Related Deaths (The Sun – Nigeria)

“[Dr. Mustapha Gidado, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation Executive Director] observed that there’s worsening performance in TB related programs across the world, with scary prediction that achievements made in the last five years may have been eroded because of the obvious disruption in TB programs. Nevertheless, Dr. Gidado…disclosed that a ‘Catch Up’ TB program has been designed in collaboration with other stakeholders to ensure a possible recovery of what must have been lost due to COVID-19.” READ MORE

8/24/20: COVID-19 Research In Europe Needs Coordination, But We Must Not Stop European Research Investments In Poverty Related Diseases (The British Medical Journal)

“We must remain aware of the danger of an excess of COVID-19 exceptionalism in the planning of future research funding that would come at the expense of other urgent global health needs. tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV have well documented research needs and any redirection of funding from these poverty-related diseases to COVID-19 would be highly deleterious to global public health.” READ MORE

8/24/20 Community Health Workers: The Key To Home-based Covid Care? (The Star – Kenya)

“‘I didn’t suspect corona (COVID-19) because I had neither a fever nor cough,’ Bonnie Musambi, a KBC journalist, says. He took the COVID-19 test offered at his workplace and continued to self-medicate for what he thought was a bout of malaria. ‘Three days later when they called and told me I had tested positive for COVID-19.’” READ MORE

8/24/20 The Science Behind Saliva-based Rapid Diagnostic Testing (Technology Networks)

“Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that the availability of easy-to-use rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria will be critical. Both malaria and COVID-19 can present with the symptom of fever – this not only causes confusion but could be life-threating should malaria be mistaken for COVID-19. Saliva-based RDTs that could be administered by parents at home could not only help to catch cases of malaria but also help to manage the risk of transmission of COVID-19, as a health professional would not have to go to a patient’s home for the purpose of diagnosing possible malaria cases.” READ MORE

8/24/20: How COVID-19’s Spread Could Drive An Increase In Malaria Deaths (Smithsonian Magazine)

“Restrictions on travel and crowds, along with a lack of personal protective equipment, have reduced the ability of health workers to distribute treated bed nets [to curb the spread of malaria]. On top of that, several companies that produce malaria rapid diagnostic tests have announced their intention to pivot to COVID-19 tests, which retail for higher. A shortage of malaria rapid diagnostic tests poses a number of potential risks, says Peter Olumese, a medical officer with WHO’s global malaria program: ‘If patients are presumptively diagnosed with malaria, they’ll be prescribed medications they may not need, which contributes both to the problem of drug resistance, and also depletes the already limited supply of drugs.’” READ MORE

8/22/20: Response To A New Epidemic Must Not Displace Responses To Older Ones (Business Day – South Africa)

“A recent UNAIDS report shows that lockdowns and other COVID-19-related restrictive measures have affected both the transport of goods across the value chain of production and the distribution of HIV medicines. Barriers to the supply chain and a forecasted economic shock indicate a possible fluctuation in the availability of antiretroviral medicines and a possible increase in cost. Manufacturers are facing logistics issues that put people living with HIV and people at higher risk of HIV infection at risk of life-threatening disruptions to health and HIV services.” READ MORE

8/21/20: An Urgent Plea From A South African Health Worker Fighting COVID-19 And TB (The Global Fund)

“Nombasa and her husband, Vuyisa Dumile, were infected with HIV more than a decade ago. Then came TB, which affected both. In the last few years though, the two were doing well, working and managing HIV through antiretroviral therapy – until COVID-19 arrived. Both were infected with [coronavirus]. And then their children caught it, too. Nombasa says she thinks she got COVID-19 first, most likely from her job, where she spends her days providing treatment support to people ill with TB. …Nombasa and her family have already paid a heavy price. She has an urgent appeal to governments and global health partners to help community health workers do their work. ‘Health workers need training and more PPE to protect themselves and their families.’” READ MORE

8/21/20 Covid- 19 Coalition Launches $100 Million Ppe Initiative For Africa’s Community Health Workers (The Herald – Zimbabwe)

“The COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAFA) is working in partnership with ministries of health to meet the essential PPE needs (including surgical masks, gloves, eye protection and more) of up to one million community health workers serving over 400 million people during the COVID-19 pandemic. ​Community health workers contribute to significant improvements in health priority areas​ such as reducing child undernutrition, improving maternal and child health, expanding access to family planning services, and contributing to infectious disease control for HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.” READ MORE

8/21/20 The Response To A New Pandemic Should Not Capture The Continued Treatment Of Known Diseases (Namibia Economist)

“COVID-19 has showcased community resilience and innovation, across the [Sub-Saharan Africa] region, for example, networks of people living with HIV are doing home deliveries of antiretroviral medication so that their peers can avoid health facilities and protect themselves from COVID-19 infection.” READ MORE

8/20/20 Here’s What Scientists Know So Far About The Intersection Of HIV And The Coronavirus Pandemic (Forbes)

“Since 1981, approximately 33 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses, including approximately 700,000 in 2019. About 38 million people worldwide currently are infected with HIV. People living with HIV may be at a greater risk of becoming infected by the novel coronavirus. After all, a hallmark of HIV/AIDS is a decreased functioning of the immune system and an increased risk of opportunistic infections.” READ MORE

8/20/20: Two UK Studies Find That HIV Infection May Be A Risk Factor For Dying From COVID-19 (AIDS Map)

“People with HIV had a 130% raised risk (i.e. 2.3 times the risk) of dying from COVID-19 compared with the general population. …The presence of at least one co-morbidity [among people living with HIV] raised the risk of death.” READ MORE

8/20/20: Killer # 2: Disrupted Health Services During COVID-19 (The World Bank)

“In countries where health systems already struggle to meet their population’s needs, the stress of COVID-19 is likely to disrupt essential health services —from ensuring women can safely deliver babies, access family planning services, and immunize their children; to maintaining lifesaving treatments for malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, non-communicable diseases, and childhood pneumonia.” READ MORE

8/20/20: Malaria Treatment Struggles Amid COVID-19 (Borgen Project)

“The CDC created a set of key considerations for continuing essential malaria prevention while safeguarding against the COVID-19 pandemic. First, a representative from the National Malaria Control Program should be considered for membership on the country’s National COVID-19 Incident Management Team. Second, continued access for insecticide-treated nets for populations at risk should be put in place. Third, physical distancing during spray treatments should be imposed. Lastly, the continuance of essential routine entomological monitoring activities while abiding by social distancing and wearing protective gear.” READ MORE

8/19/20: Governance And Social Contract Within A Changing International Context: Making Universal Healthcare, Universal (World Health Organization)

“Preparedness has paid off. Africa’s experience responding to diseases like malaria, cholera and tuberculosis means that many countries already have the expertise, labs, and networks of community health workers that are critical to contain the pandemic.” READ MORE

8/19/20: How Business Can Fight COVID-19 In Poor Communities (The Sun – Nigeria)

“Widespread malnutrition, anemia, malaria and tuberculosis in African nations may result in a higher incidence of severe forms of COVID-19 in younger patients. These immunity-suppressing conditions combine with weak public health infrastructure and the exodus of doctors to the West to create a perilous situation.” READ MORE

8/18/20: In The Shadow Of COVID-19, Silent Killers Re-emerge (Cnn)

“While working for Red Cross Red Crescent in South Africa, I witnessed a resurgence in TB as the nation battled with the deadly H1N1 flu pandemic. The fight against COVID-19 is critical, but experience and history show that we also need to continue tackling other dangerous infectious diseases that we have been battling for generations. If we concede the ground, we have made with those diseases over recent decades we face an even greater global health crisis.” READ MORE

8/18/20: Coronavirus Morning Update: All The New Rules For Level 2, And President Urges Caution (Health 24 – South Africa)

“The COVID-19 pandemic is leaving an indelible impact on the modern world, changing it forever, including healthcare systems. While the disease is directly destroying many lives, it’s also systematically erasing years of progress made in the fight against other communicable diseases – specifically tuberculosis, malaria and HIV. Epidemics in their own right, disruptions to medication, the halting of prevention programs and a fear of seeking medical care due to the coronavirus have severely impacted many countries’ – including South Africa’s – ability to sustain those fights.” READ MORE

8/18/20: How Communities Can Help Stop COVID-19 (Oxford University Press)

“…COVID will dislocate health systems and could double the number of deaths from [AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria] within twelve months unless urgent action is taken.” READ MORE

8/17/20: COVID-19 In Latin America: What Do The Figures Reveal? And What Not? (The Costa Rica News)

“Countries like Peru, which took early containment and mitigation measures, for example, have also been affected by their high rate of the informal economy, large groups of vulnerable populations, and high rates of other diseases such as tuberculosis and malnutrition. In our region, ‘the most inequitable in the world,’ COVID-19 is not the only health challenge, Dr. Marcos Espinal, director of the Department of Communicable Diseases of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) insists: ‘We have tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue. We are going to have influenza coming into the southern hemisphere.’” READ MORE

8/17/20: Bill Gates: As COVID-19 Spreads, Don’t Lose Track Of Malaria (Gates Notes)

“…Some existing malaria programs are also helping to control COVID-19. For example, emergency operations centers that track outbreaks of malaria in Africa are now being used to monitor the spread of COVID-19. By tracking the shape and movement of the pandemic across countries and regions, health officials are also able to deepen their understanding of health conditions in communities that will, in turn, help improve their responses to malaria in those areas.” READ MORE

8/17/20: The Human Cost Of The Pandemic May Dwarf Its Death Toll (New York Magazine)

“According to one estimate recently showcased in Nature, the global excess death toll just from TB, AIDS, and malaria, which typically kill 2.4 million annually, could almost double over the next year in a worst-case scenario in which the coronavirus pandemic interferes with the distribution of preventative tools like bed nets, the diagnosis of new cases, and the treatment of those who do fall sick.” READ MORE

8/17/20: ‘what If I Die?’: Coronavirus Hits India’s Tuberculosis Care (Reuters)

“‘People are not coming to the public health facilities because there is deep stigma attached to COVID-19 and TB – it’s like a double stigma,” said Subrat Mohanty, head of Project Axshya, a civil society initiative that supports the government’s TB program to detect and diagnose cases. He said the project…stopped between April and June, so there were no door-to-door case findings, sputum tests or health camps. With lack of access to healthcare, harsh side effects of a cocktail of drugs and isolation, patients can develop mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Basically, motivation to continue medication becomes zero.” READ MORE

8/17/20: Health Infrastructure In Telangana Gets A Fillip Due To COVID-19 (Telangana Today – India)

“The COVID-19 outbreak has clearly highlighted the need to strengthen the Infectious Diseases departments in all government teaching hospitals in the State [of Telangana]. Already, efforts are on to recruit specialty doctors in the fields of Tuberculosis (TB) and Pulmonary Diseases, which largely deal with infectious diseases. Such dedicated departments focus on management of infectious diseases caused by weak immunity of the human body. Apart from TB, other infectious diseases include HIV, tropical diseases like malaria, dengue.” READ MORE

8/17/20: The Forgotten Killers: COVID-19 Destroying Gains Made In The Fight Against Malaria, TB (Health 24 – South Africa)

“The [Southern Africa] region has an ongoing initiative – the SADC Elimination 8 – which aims to eradicate malaria with its member countries, including South Africa. Its goal was to eliminate malaria completely in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Eswatini by this year, but these countries saw an incline in cases after 2017, reversed again in 2018, according to its latest report. Six of the eight [countries] have already reported increases in malaria cases this year, and the first quarter report of the year stated that lockdowns have limited or even prevented surveillance teams’ ability to investigate and detect malaria cases.” READ MORE

8/16/20: The Plight Of Patients As Coronavirus Soars (Daily News – Zimbabwe)

“‘[Zimbabwe’s] health response must prevent stigma and discrimination. It should promote health seeking behavior instead of turning away patients due to non-availability of COVID-19 test results as this may erode the gains achieved over the years in various health programs such as HIV and AIDS, TB, malaria, and sexual reproductive health programs,’ [Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai] Rusike said.” READ MORE

8/15/20: Prevention Of Malaria Shouldn’t Stall Due To Covid (Daily Monitor – Uganda)

“Failing to maintain prevention of Neglected Tropical Diseases during the Ebola outbreak cost lives. In fact, the final death toll from diseases such as malaria, HIV, and TB, outweighed the number of deaths caused by Ebola on its own. There are worrying signs that history is about to repeat itself. In 2018, The Democratic Republic of Congo reported another strain of Ebola, which coincided with a significant surge in malaria cases. In fact, DRC was already fighting four diseases before COVID-19 began to spread: cholera, measles, Ebola, and malaria. In a healthcare system already pushed to its limit, COVID-19 poses an even greater threat to DRC’s recovery.” READ MORE

8/14/20: The Indirect Impacts Of COVID-19 On Health And Essential Health Services In Sub-saharan Africa (Prevent Epidemics)

“In sub-Saharan Africa, compared with other world regions, health systems that were fragile at baseline are being further weakened by the pandemic and the response. A study on the impact of potential disruptions in HIV services suggested that a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to a two-fold increase in deaths (equating to 500,000 excess deaths) from AIDS-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa during 2020-2021.” READ MORE

8/14/20: South Africa’s 33,000 Excess Deaths: What We Know So Far (Daily Maverick – South Africa)

“While South Africa’s HIV and TB epidemics are of critical concern, the current excess death figures may not yet reflect the potential mortality increase as a result of the impact on care services for these two diseases for the next few years.” READ MORE

8/14/20: Impact Of COVID-19 In Africa: A Severe Setback For Development (Phys)

“Beyond the emergency policies to fight the pandemic and mitigate its associated short-term economic impact, there is an obvious need for policies to build future resilience. Governments must also ensure that their focus on COVID-19 does not result in an increase in co-morbidity, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis related deaths.” READ MORE

8/13/20: Experts Warn Of 750,000 More Malaria Deaths In Sub-saharan Africa (Vice World News)

“For both malaria and COVID-19, the big issue is making sure that people are being tested for both diseases, especially since their symptoms are so similar. “This is hard to do quickly, because while rapid diagnostic tests are available for malaria, it is very hard to create them for viral infections such as COVID-19.” READ MORE

8/13/20: Doctors Warn Of Increase In TB, Malaria, HIV Deaths Due To COVID-19 (Voa Zimbabwe)

“‘We need to not forget diseases like TB, HIV and malaria. TB was in the top 10 global causes of death last year. ‘We stand to lose gains that we’ve been making in recent years, hard-fought gains that we’ve made, and we could be pushed back five 10, 20 years even,’ says Dr. Finn McQuaid, a TB expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.” READ MORE

8/13/20: TB, Malaria Cases Up As COVID-19 Grabs Global Attention (Voa Zimbabwe)

“‘We know there’s a 50 percent decrease in TB testing in South Africa at the moment. So, people are not able to go to the clinic or go to hospitals and so on, and they’re not being diagnosed with TB. And this means that they can then transmit TB further to other people. So, it’s just going to sort of snowball,’ says Dr. Finn McQuaid” WATCH

8/13/20: The U.S. Can Only Defeat COVID-19 Through Global Solidarity (Time)

“We are at an inflection point – we could either lose thousands of lives from COVID-19 and from HIV, TB and malaria after losing the gains we have made over the years or we could consolidate those gains and save thousands, or even millions, of lives.” READ MORE

8/12/20: COVID-19: How Did We Get Here? When Can We Get Out? (Medpage Today)

“The African population has far fewer elderly people than North America and Europe, but the burden of TB, HIV, and malnutrition is much higher. …At present, the economic hardships associated with the pandemic have proven to be worse than the virus itself for many Africans, and there is great potential for collateral damage to public health programs on malnutrition, vaccine, malaria, and HIV.” READ MORE

8/12/20: Pan American Health Organiation Director Warns COVID-19 Threatens Plans To Control Infectious Diseases (Caribbean National Weekly)

“30 per cent of people living with HIV [in the Americas] are avoiding seeking care and antiretroviral medications are in limited supply. Disruptions in hepatitis screenings, key for detection and treatment, were also reported by a third of the countries.” READ MORE

8/12/20: Coronavirus’s Long, Deadly Plateau In The Developing World (The Wall Street Journal)

“Some 80% of programs designed to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria—which together kill millions each year—have been disrupted due to the pandemic, according to the WHO’s Global Fund, which coordinates a global response to those diseases. That disruption is particularly important in poorer nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America where those diseases are more prevalent.” READ MORE

8/12/20: How To Stop COVID-19 Fuelling A Resurgence Of AIDS, Malaria And Tuberculosis (Nature)

“Hospitals and health authorities in affected cities and regions must recognize that AIDS, malaria and TB are surging again. In the case of TB, case detection — which has been affected by hospital testing facilities being diverted for COVID-19 — needs to be resumed quickly. It is possible for testing facilities to be shared for the two diseases. Some hospitals in the Asia–Pacific region are using the same equipment to run COVID-19 tests in the morning and TB tests in the afternoon — or vice versa. It is also possible to coordinate COVID-19 testing with rapid diagnostic testing for HIV and malaria.” READ MORE

8/12/20: Ohangwena’s Mother-to-child HIV Transmission Down To 1% (New Era – Namibia)

“In addition to HIV/AIDS the governor further said the region is challenged with other diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), malaria and now COVID-19. The Ohangwena health director John Hango said TB is a challenge in the region because the cases are on an increase. ‘When you diagnose one person with TB there is a possibility that there are more cases at home because it is an airborne disease, hence cases are necessarily not decreasing,’ said Hango. It is not yet malaria season but Hango said malaria was worse last year in comparison to recent years.” READ MORE

8/12/20: Henry Jackson Foundation Medical Research International (Hjfmri) Receives Grant To Research COVID-19 Impact On Pregnant Women And Newborns (Pr Newswire)

“This study monitors the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy and newborns’ outcomes, with additional considerations of maternal anemia and co-infection with HIV, tuberculosis or malaria. The study also looks at the birth outcomes and the health of infants born to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and the rate, or possibility, of transmission to the child.” READ MORE

8/11/20: South Africa’s Poor Scramble For Anti-HIV Drugs Amid Virus (Abc News)

“Clinics in central Johannesburg have seen a 10% to 25% drop in people coming for HIV treatment, she said. On top of that, several clinics have had to close temporarily when nurses and doctors have become sick with COVID-19. Some clinics see 60 to 80 patients per day, so when one closes, for even a week, it means many people are not getting their drugs. It’s a serious threat.” READ MORE

8/11/20: How COVID-19 Threatens Global Progress In Fight Against Other Communicable Diseases (The Week)

“Studies found that deaths from other diseases, like malaria and HIV, actually went up at that time, even eclipsing the number of deaths caused by Ebola. Dr. Alpha Mahmoud Barry, [a public health specialist and epidemiologist,] who is based near a major health center in the capital, Conakry, said he is already seeing signs that this could happen again amid COVID-19. ‘It’s almost like people think malaria and HIV have gone away,’ he said.” READ MORE

8/11/20: Tony Blair: Three Priorities For The Developing World To Beat COVID-19 (Financial Times)

“There is a risk of a huge rise in both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 deaths, as modelling from the Institute for Global Change has shown, compounding existing economic and food security crises. An increase could mean not just losing gains made in tackling HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and maternal and child health, but seeing those trends reverse.” READ MORE

8/11/20: COVID-19 Threatens Plans To Eliminate And Control Infectious Diseases, Paho Director Says (Pan American Health Organization)

“Challenges in delivering TB treatments during the pandemic were reported by 80 percent of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, which could turn manageable cases of TB into active infections. Similarly, 30 percent of people living with HIV are avoiding seeking care and antiretroviral medications are in limited supply. Disruptions in hepatitis screenings, key for detection and treatment, were also reported by a third of the countries.” READ MORE

8/10/20: Responding To COVID-19 – Global Accountability Report – March To May 2020 (Médecins Sans Frontières (Msf))

“MSF’s priority is to ensure medical teams are able to provide live-saving care and safely manage potential COVID-19 patients. MSF’s focus also is on maintaining or adapting crucial medical activities such as treatment for HIV and tuberculosis patients, measles vaccination campaigns, malaria prevention, and the fight against other infectious disease outbreaks such as cholera or Ebola.” READ MORE

8/10/20: HIV Positive Mothers Give Birth To Healthy Babies (Informanté – Namibia)

“Governor of Ohangwena Region, Walde Ndevashiya, said that the region continues to fight against common diseases and health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and the current COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the new coronavirus pandemic has diverted much of the medical attention towards curbing further spread of the virus as well as preparedness in case of an outbreak.” READ MORE

8/9/20: Malaria And COVID-19 Diagnostic Dilemma For Malaria Endemic Countries (Freedom Newspaper – The Gambia)

“Since malaria tests are readily available, WHO recommends that health workers perform a rapid test for malaria as they screen for COVID-19. Testing for malaria and COVID-19 at the same time is an excellent opportunity to respond to two potential infectious diseases promptly and reduce unnecessary morbidity and death. By quickly ruling out malaria, the healthcare provider can concentrate on the exact cause of illness and give appropriate and timely management of patients.” READ MORE

8/8/20: Africa’s One Million Coronavirus Cases “The Tip Of The Iceberg” (Walta – Ethiopia)

“The impact of the pandemic overwhelms and disrupts health care systems and services for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria—illnesses that also compound the effects of the coronavirus—leading to an additional loss of life. East and Southern Africa have the highest rates of those living with HIV. According to Avert, despite containing only 6.2 percent of the world’s population, these regions account for 54 percent of the world’s 20.8 million people diagnosed with HIV.” READ MORE

8/8/20: World Health Organization Scales Up COVID-19, TB Search With Mobile Testing In Kaduna Communities (Premium Times – Nigeria)

“The mobile TB diagnostic facility, [Wellness On Wheels Truck], which was launched in mid-June 2020, has drastically increased access of community members to not only TB testing, but also COVID-19 and other deadly diseases with timely linkage to management/treatment. It has significantly reduced the turnaround time for test results, given the high volume of samples collected for processing.” READ MORE

8/7/20: Ucsf’s Global Health Institute Fights COVID-19 Around The World (University Of California, San Francisco)  

“’Not only will the coronavirus cause much sickness and death, but we also face major setbacks in malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, and childhood immunization, to name four, because health systems are overwhelmed and supply chains disrupted,’ said Sir Richard Feachem, PhD, DSc, director of the Global Health Group.” READ MORE

8/7/20: Mosquito Net Distribution Could Halve Malaria Deaths In Africa During COVID-19 (Imperial College London)

“An estimated 228 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) were due to be delivered across Sub-Saharan Africa this year, more than ever before. [Researchers] estimate that if these mosquito nets are not deployed and preventative chemotherapy and case management is reduced by half for six months, there could be 779,000 malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa over 12 months.” READ MORE

8/7/20: The Potential Public Health Consequences Of COVID-19 On Malaria In Africa (Nature)

“If malaria control activities are severely disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we find that malaria deaths could more than double in 2020 compared with 2019. If mosquito nets are not deployed and case management is reduced by half for 6 months there could be 779,000 malaria deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa over 12 months. The projected effect varies according to how long services are interrupted, if the disruption coincides with the malaria transmission season and whether routine vector control interventions such as the mass distribution of mosquito nets was due in 2020.” READ MORE

8/7/20: COVID-19 Threatens Global Progress In Fight Against Other Communicable Diseases (The World)

“If countries choose to focus completely on the COVID-19 epidemic and neglect maintaining essential prevention and treatment services for HIV, TB and malaria, we could see deaths that are on the same order of magnitude of those that would be caused by COVID-19 itself.” READ MORE

8/7/20: East African Governments And The Regional Unity That Won’t Be (Daily Nation – Kenya)

“All the East African Community (EAC) member states, like the rest of the continent, have experienced the double blow of the pandemic eating up the entire health budget, leaving the fight against the most daunting health crises that kill more Africans by far, such as Malaria and tuberculosis, with little attention.” READ MORE

8/7/20: Africa: Coronavirus Could Double Malaria Deaths, Researchers Warn (All Africa)

“Okefu Oyale Okoko, a leading official of the Nigerian health ministry’s Malaria Elimination Programme, called for interventions against malaria to continue ‘in order to not only sustain the gains already made in malaria elimination but ensure we do not have a resurgence in malaria.’” READ MORE

8/7/20: Continuation Of Nutrition Services Amid COVID-19 (Tribune – Pakistan)

“The already burdened public health system now faces an enormous challenge to curb the spread of the virus as well as to continue the provision of quality and equitable access to essential health and nutrition services. As a result, the disruption of essential services could result in…outbreaks of measles, malaria, and tuberculosis to further exacerbate the overall health situation in Pakistan.” READ MORE

8/6/20: Potential Effects Of Disruption To HIV Programmes In Sub-saharan Africa Caused By COVID-19: Results From Multiple Mathematical Models (The Lancet HIV)

“Although an interruption in the supply of ART drugs would have the largest impact of any potential disruptions, effects of poorer clinical care due to overstretched health facilities, interruptions of supply of other drugs such as co-trimoxazole, and suspension of HIV testing would all have a substantial effect on population-level mortality (up to a 1.06 times increase in HIV-related deaths over a 1-year period due to disruptions affecting 50% of the population compared with no disruption).” READ MORE

8/6/20: COVID-19 Threatens To Overwhelm The Developing World (The Washington Post)

“On HIV, there have been supply chain disruptions for anti-retroviral therapies, and many providers report being stressed or overwhelmed. On malaria — with many places in Africa reaching peak season — the work of net distribution and insecticide spraying has been compromised. On tuberculosis, COVID-19 has undermined diagnosis, treatment and prevention efforts. According to a recent worldwide survey, about three-quarters of HIV, TB and malaria programs are facing disruptions.” READ MORE

8/6/20: Kaduna State And Who Scale Up COVID-19 And TB Search With Mobile Testing In Communities (World Health Organization Nigeria)

“Presently, Kaduna State is witnessing over 50% reduction in hospital attendance and access to services due to disruption of routine essential services and programs resulting from prioritization of COVID-19 response. In renewed efforts to tackle COVID-19 alongside TB in Nigeria, WHO Nigeria in collaboration with the Kaduna State Government and KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, co-facilitated implementation of an integrated community testing for the two disease conditions using a mobile itinerant TB diagnostic facility called Wellness On Wheels Truck.” READ MORE

8/6/20: COVID-19: Patient Voices And Perspectives In Uganda (The British Medical Journal)

“The measures taken by the Ugandan government intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 totally disrupted the supply chain and healthcare service delivery system as all efforts were focused on COVID-19. Patients with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, cancer, hypertension…faced an increased risk of complications and death due to an inability to access healthcare because of transport restrictions, curfew, poor ambulatory systems and fear of contracting the virus from healthcare settings. The Infectious Diseases Clinic at Mulago National Referral Hospital committed to ensure continued delivery of quality HIV care and treatment services to its patients…by [safeguarding] continuity of patient treatment and safety as well as staff safety and well-being.” READ MORE

8/6/20: Africa Passes 1 Million Confirmed Coronavirus Cases. The True Toll Is Probably Much Higher (Los Angeles Times)

“[WHO’s Africa chief] Matshidiso Moeti also worries about a related danger for which even less data exist: the number of deaths from diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis as resources are diverted to COVID-19.” READ MORE

8/5/20: How A Cheap Diagnostic Kit Could Help The World Beat Superbugs (The Telegraph – United Kingdom)

“The antimicrobial resistance burden is likely to fall hardest on poor countries where antibiotics can be bought over the counter and healthcare is limited. These countries, which already have a high prevalence of infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, are now having to cope with the added burden of COVID-19 significantly disrupting access to health services.” READ MORE

8/5/20: Ppe Shortages Impact Global Diseases; Broader Impact Of Remote Work (Wbur-fm)

“The global fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis has seen success in recent years. But with medical workers and resources shifted to combatting COVID-19, these other diseases are again on the rise.” READ MORE

8/4/20: Paho Director Warns Of Disruptions In Regular Health Services Due To COVID-19 (Pan American Health Organization)

“Without doctors and nurses available to offer other essential services at the first level of care – including pregnancy-related care, and management of chronic conditions like diabetes or infectious diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria – these services are severely disrupted or worse yet, halted entirely.” READ MORE

8/3/2020: Prep Retention And Prescriptions For Pregnant Women During COVID-19 Lockdown In South Africa (The Lancet HIV)

“Before lockdown, 29% participants on [pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)] missed their 1-month visit and 41% missed their 3-month visit. During the nationwide lockdown, missed PrEP visits increased significantly to 63% at the 1-month visit and 55% at the 3-month visit. Overall, 34% of women missed visits before lockdown and 57% during lockdown.” READ MORE

8/3/20: ‘the Biggest Monster’ Is Spreading. And It’s Not The Coronavirus. (The New York Times)

“The pandemic has hindered the availability of drugs for H.I.V., TB and malaria worldwide by interrupting supply chains, diverting manufacturing capacity and imposing physical barriers for patients who must travel to distant clinics to pick up the medications. And these shortages are forcing some patients to ration their medications, endangering their health.” READ MORE

8/3/20: Coronavirus Live Updates: Epidemic Is ‘extraordinarily Widespread,’ Birx Warns (The New York Times)

“‘COVID-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago,’ said Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, the director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program.” READ MORE

7/31/20: Understanding The Impact Of Interruptions To HIV Services During The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Modelling Study (Mcr Centre For Global Infectious Disease Analysis – UK)

“A three-month interruption for 40% of those on [antiretroviral therapy (ART)] could cause a similar number of additional deaths as those that might be saved from COVID-19 through social distancing. An interruption for more than 690% of individuals on ART for nine months could cause the number of HIV deaths to exceed the number of COVID-19 deaths, depending on the COVID-19 projection. However, if ART supply is maintained, but new treatment, voluntary medical male circumcision, and pre-exposure prophylaxis initiations cease for 3 months and condom use is reduced, increases in HIV deaths would be limited to <2% over five years, although this could still be accompanied by a 7% increase in new HIV infections.” READ MORE

7/31/20: Unlock 3: No Silver Bullet Yet, Brace For Ripple Effects From Covid (The Business Line – India)

“As the trajectory of confirmed COVID cases and mortality increases, there will emerge second and third-order effects like economic crisis, food production problems, housing issues, people losing jobs, disruptions in children’s education, and mental health, for example, says Dr. Parikh. And all this besides seasonal health concerns like malaria or dengue that come with the rains, the existing concerns of tuberculosis, and so on.” READ MORE

7/31/20: Laois Aid Worker In Africa Asks For Help To Save People From COVID-19 (Leinster Express)

“The area is so poor that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 may not admit it, because to isolate means to not be able to work, and then have no money for food. The healthcare system here is already overwhelmed with diseases like malaria and TB. There is one doctor per 90,000 people. People won’t be tested. The Malawi government is doing all they can but without resources.” READ MORE

7/30/20: Combating Covid Impact On Malaria Programs (Burnet Institute – Australia)

“‘The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the control of infectious diseases is substantial, undermining established programs addressing HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and childhood vaccination,’ Professor Beeson and his co-authors write. They list several problems specific to malaria treatment and prevention, including issues with supply chains for insecticide-treated nets; lower attendance at health clinics because of fear of exposure to COVID-19; not enough resources to protect frontline health care workers from COVID-19; and supply chain issues with drug and other medicines.” READ MORE

7/29/20: COVID-19 Projected To Cause Surge In Deaths From HIV, TB And Malaria (Poz)

“UNAIDS and the World Health Organization have also raised the alarm about the risk of shortages of seven major generic ARVs in 73 nations, including the vitally important tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.” READ MORE

7/29/20: Interview: Urban Weber Of The Global Fund On Covid And The Big Three (Health Issues India)

“The donor community should be prepared to support instant mitigation: if bed net campaigns don’t happen, there will be an immediate loss of life. Infected patients, especially children under five, will die in a matter of days. The response against COVID and the response against malaria must happen in parallel. If tuberculosis notification and therefore enrollment for treatment is reduced because of lockdowns, a higher transmission rate in underserved communities will be the result.” READ MORE

7/29/20: HIV/AIDS And COVID-19 Require Global Solidarity (In Depth News)

“The COVID-19 pandemic also poses a challenge to the HIV response, in that it affects the achievements gained thus far as a result of service disruption, constrained supply chain systems and diversion in financing of the response. For instance, major donor countries might prioritize their domestic economic challenges that have been brought about by COVID-19 pandemic. The health system is getting overwhelmed due to the pandemic, thereby affecting service continuity for HIV and other essential services. In summary, it is not “either or”, rather we must put all efforts to end both pandemics.” READ MORE

7/29/20: Measles Vaccination Disruptions Due To Coronavirus Put 80 Million Children At Risk (The Guardian)

“In the capital city, Kinshasa, we noticed a major drop in consultation as many people feared they would be infected with COVID by going to health facilities deemed under-equipped with protective equipment, or feared being isolated and stigmatized for a long time due to the delays in obtaining test results. This situation affected the care of sick people and the monitoring of their treatment, especially for conditions such as diabetes, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.” READ MORE

7/29/20: Top 5 Stories On COVID-19 And HIV From AIDS 2020 (AIDS Map)

“Many African countries responded quickly to COVID-19 by implementing changes to medication distribution and follow up appointments. Some have decreased the number of clinic visits and now dispense more HIV treatment to last longer, known as multi-month prescribing. Data presented from a South Africa study showed that when people are given fewer clinic appointments, this does not lead to poorer HIV management.” READ MORE

7/28/20: COVID-19 Disruptions Could Lead To Surge In Infectious Disease Deaths (Medical News Today)

“Experts indicate that the pandemic’s knock-on effects are likely to be most severe in low and middle-income countries, where health systems are less robust and economic reserves are more limited. A particular concern is the impact of the pandemic on countries with high burdens of infectious diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis, which depend on regular, large-scale programs of control and treatment.” READ MORE

7/28/20: Pacific Nations Face Wider Health Crisis As Systems Focus On Stopping COVID-19 (The Guardian)

“Disruptions [such