Join us as we take action to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy

On Thursday March 19, 2015 Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota introduced legislation to establish a small tax on certain Wall Street transactions that will reduce dangerous financial market speculation and raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year that can be channeled to address pressing social needs—from HIV/AIDS, climate change mitigation, and eradicating hunger around the world, to ensuring health care for all and strengthening the public school system here in America.

The Inclusive Prosperity Act H.R.-1464 reflects the principles and goals the U.S. Robin Hood Tax Campaign—a consortium of 172 organizations, with representation from labor unions, religious groups, health advocates, housing activists, environmentalists, small businesses and others, urging passage of a Wall Street sales tax.

Experts are saying that we have the science we need to end the global AIDS crisis, yet everyone agrees that this will not be possible without a considerable increase in resources. In his 2016 fiscal year budget, the President proposed over $400 million in cuts to spending on the global AIDS response. To put this into perspective, this is less than 0.15 percent of the total estimated yearly revenue that Rep. Ellison’s financial transactions tax would generate

April 4, 2015 marks 47 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered while conducting a national campaign against socio-economic inequality. On April 8, we will honor the legacy of Dr. King by calling on Congressional representatives to take action in the fight against economic inequality by supporting a Robin Hood Tax to advance social justice. Robin Hood Tax Campaign supporters around the country, including Health GAP and the Student Global AIDS Campaign, will hold vigils outside Congressional offices.

To find out about a vigil happening near you, click here or email Michael Tikili at michael@healthgap.org.

 


Gilead Anti-Diversion Program for Hep C Medicines Throws Patient Rights under the IP Bus

Professor Brook K. Baker, Health GAP senior policy analyst

March 24, 2015

MSF has leaked information concerning Gilead's licensing negotiation with 11 Indian generic companies that have received authorization to manufacture and sell Gilead's promising new oral hepatitis C medicines in 91 designated countries. The latest negotiations involve an "anti-diversion" demand from Gilead that generic licensees collect personal information on patients receiving the Hep C medicines including name, proof of residence, and proof of citizenship as a condition of dispensing the medicine.

Ordinarily, drug companies do not gain access to confidential patient information merely because they have patent rights and marketing rights for their medicines. Ordinarily, like in the U.S., individualized patient information is highly confidential and neither medical providers or pharmacists can supply this kind private information to third parties. So what gives - why is Gilead seeking this information and can it get away with it?

Gilead's licenses at present allow sales in particular countries/territories. This is consistent with the nature of patent rights themselves, which are territorial. Patent rights don't give companies to right to decide who gets to buy a medicine in a country. Foreigners and non-citizens in the country can buy, as can persons with no fixed address. By requiring proof of identity, address, and citizenship, Gilead appears to be setting the stage to deny or limit sales to to non-citizens and/or to medical tourists, who they hope to exploit for higher prices in their home countries. Of course, the Gilead provision also adversely affects many displaced persons, migrants, legal outsiders, and unhoused persons who might lack the required information.

In addition to requiring privileged and confidential information from medical providers up front, Gilead is also trying to require generics to ensure that licensed distributors dispense only one bottle of Hep C treatment at a time to personally identified patients, even though the normal course of treatment requires 3-6 bottles. So patients need to return the empty bottle physically or by courier in order to receive the next month's treatment. These "verification of use" procedures undermine both patient autonomy and patients' adherence to treatment. Of course, these requirements also help to weed out medical tourists who might find it unaffordable to stay 6-12 weeks in another country merely to get treatment, even highly discounted treatment.

In sum, through its draconian anti-diversion policies, Gilead is throwing patient rights under their IP bus. With what should be forbidden information, Gilead is hoping to prevent treatment access for richer patients from other countries and all other forms of product diversion to rich markets. Patients get caught under the wheels as their privacy and autonomy rights are sacrificed on the alter of Gilead's search for profits rich- and middle-income country markets.

There are solutions. Generic companies could simply refuse to collude in this unethical practice. Moreover, licensing terms are also reviewable at least in some countries with respect to the reasonableness and anti-competitive impact of licensing terms. These terms might also be challengeable in many countries pursuant to the medical information confidentiality laws. Finally, public pressure can and should be brought to bear against Gilead for this ghastly infringement of patient rights.


New Robin Hood Tax Bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

Today, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota introduced legislation to establish a small tax on certain Wall Street transactions that will reduce dangerous financial market speculation and raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year that can be channeled to address pressing social needs—from HIV/AIDS, climate change mitigation, and eradicating hunger around the world, to ensuring health care for all and strengthening the public school system here in America.

The Inclusive Prosperity Act H.R.-1464 reflects the principles and goals the U.S. Robin Hood Tax Campaign—a consortium of 172 organizations, with representation from labor unions, religious groups, health advocates, housing activists, environmentalists, small businesses and others, urging passage of a Wall Street sales tax.

The passage of this bill will allow the U.S. to join other major global financial markets in a growing system of financial transaction taxes. Similar to the Financial Transaction Tax enacted by the French government, we too could create a tool to sustain and increase current funding for the global HIV/AIDS response among other important causes.

Experts are saying that we have the science we need to end the global AIDS crisis, yet everyone agrees that this will not be possible without a considerable increase in resources. In his 2016 fiscal year budget, the President proposed over $400 million in cuts to spending on the global AIDS response. To put this into perspective, this is less than 0.15 percent of the total estimated yearly revenue that Rep. Ellison’s financial transactions tax would generate.

We know that Wall Street interests will immediately attack the bill. So please take a moment to dream a little, and show your support by telling Congress and Wall Street what this legislation means to you. All you need is a phone/camera, access to a twitter/Facebook account, and 3 minutes of your time.

Tell us, what you would do to create a more socially just world, if you $350 billion at your disposal:


1. Print this When the Robin Hood tax bill passes sign and use a marker to finish the statement: “When the Robin Hood tax bill passes, I will use the $300 billion generated annually to . . . [dream big and tell the world what you would want fully funded].”

2. Take a picture holding the sign & upload your photo to Facebook/Twitter with the statement: "Imagine what we could do if we had the Robin Hood Tax ".

3. Tag Health GAP/Student Global AIDS Campaign and the U.S. Robin Hood Tax Campaign in your post and use #RHT300B .", so that we can share your post with the world.

4. Ask your friends to dream a little too.

5. Call your representative and urge them to support H.R. 1464. Find instructions here.

                                          Jamila_Mike2_RHT.JPG

To learn more about the Robin Hood Tax, check out the resources below:

  • Health GAP's Robin Hood Tax page
  • Robin Hood Tax Campaign's website
  • This great video produced by Open Society Foundations, featuring Poverty's David Hillman.

Health GAP is a member of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign Steering Committee.


Key affected populations in Uganda continue struggle to ensure their legitimate direct representation in Uganda’s Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism

By Asia Russell

Today in Kampala civil society groups representing key affected populations, including sexual and gender minorities and drug users, spoke out against the election process for key affected populations for an important Ugandan policy setting body—the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria's Country Coordinating Mechanism.

Country Coordinating Mechanisms (or CCMs) are responsible for developing national funding requests to the Global Fund, and overseeing implementation of Global Fund supported programs.

Key affected populations in Uganda face an environment of intense stigma and discrimination, and often lack access to quality prevention and treatment services, all factors that increase their vulnerability to HIV infection. It is widely recognized that Uganda's persistently high adult HIV incidence is caused in part by the lack of investment in inclusive service delivery for criminalized and marginalized populations, and by insufficient support for advocacy to defend the health and human rights of these communities.

The groups released a press statement (copied below), highlighting multiple flaws in the CCM election process, and calling for an election that is built on their repeated requests for direct representation by qualified, accountable members of their communities who do not have any financial conflict of interest.

Health GAP will help share further updates about this important effort by key populations to ensure high-impact CCM representation and to help shape the strategy, policy, and priorities of Uganda's Global Fund-supported programs.

 

Press Statement by Spectrum Uganda, Sexual Minorities Uganda, Uganda Harm Reduction Network and allies

For immediate release

Kampala, Feb 5, 2015

Global Fund Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism moves to further alienate MSM, Transgender, LGB, and IDU populations in HIV/AIDS Programmes.

Key Affected Population (KAPs) groups in Uganda have today reacted with sadness at the unfortunate move by Uganda Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) to block sexual and gender minorities from representation on the CCM.

The activists’ meeting this morning in Kampala noted that the Global Fund in Uganda had exhibited “unacceptable hypocrisy and prejudice” by insisting on imposing representatives on KAPs, despite an earlier arrangement agreed upon, by the CCM and activists, to have functional direct representation.

The activists have written to the CCM secretariat indicating dissatisfaction with the biased and unrepresentative manner in which the elections were arranged once again.

“We have chosen not to participate in today’s CCM KAP representatives elections because of it has been stage managed and we cannot henceforth be part of a process that continuously seeks to undermine and intimidate us,” Pepe Julian Onziema, the Programmes and Advocacy Director at SMUG said.

He noted that it was inconceivable that the CCM chairperson Prof. Nantulya, a highly respected and liberal minded person, “Should go against the principles agreed upon and demand we participate in another sham and flawed election.” Activists accused the Uganda CCM of imposing [the organization] MARPS Network Secretariat to forcefully represent them despite an overwhelming conflict of interest.

Moses Kimbugwe, the Programmes Manager at Spectrum Uganda added: “The December 2014 elections were nullified due to complaints of conflict of interest on the side of MARPS network. We agreed with CCM in a meeting whose minutes can be availed that a neutral party, say CCM who has no direct benefit from the results of the election convenes and supervises the election.”

“We could not participate in a flawed election. Conflict of interest and integrity issues have come up often concerning MARPS network. However, Uganda CCM insists on imposing an institution we can not trust on us.” Kimbugwe said.

"This is a strangulation of due process," Ms Beyonce Karungi, a nominee to the CCM described the elections, said. "Even the deaf and blind can use sign language. CCM Uganda cannot continue to undermine us as gender and sexual minorities. To say we 'are not of age' to understand HIV related policy issues is an insult," she

Dr. Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of SMUG said, “Uganda cannot get to zero new infections with a fixed mindset that alienates some part of the population based on who they are. He noted that although an electoral college had been agreed upon consisting of 40 delegates, CCM Uganda has not honored the due process and went ahead with the elections.”

-------------------------------------

Notes for the editor

On January 21, 2015 the Uganda CCM officially nullified the disputed results from elections of Key Affected Population representative to the CCM-Uganda, 2015-17.

The CCM Chairperson, Prof. Vinand Nantulya while chairing a meeting of activists from various KAP constituencies noted that there were “obvious flaws” in electing Dr. Geoffrey Mujisha and Ms Shalince Naturinda (both biological relatives-brother and sister) and from the same organization, MARPS Network, without the transparent, verifiable and agreed upon mechanism from Key Affected Populations as an electoral college to Global Fund CCM-Uganda.

Global Fund CCM-Uganda. Undeclared conflict of interest on the side of MARPS network, which convened the meeting and elected its own staff, lack of communication, consultation and feed back from KAP representatives or interested groups featured prominently as having caused “ the flawed election; and friction” according to Prof. Nantulya. A number of concerns from us were addressed.

Undeclared conflict of interest on the side of MARPS network, which convened the meeting and elected its own staff, lack of communication, consultation and feed back from KAP representatives or interested groups featured prominently as having caused “ the flawed election; and friction” according to Prof. Nantulya. A number of concerns from us were addressed.

It was observed that for smooth operations of the CCM, new elections be held on February 05, with a clear, time bound road map and agreed upon Terms of Reference, which CCM Uganda has now dishonored.

That meeting also agreed that LGBTI/MSM and sex workers representation was wanting; with calls for DIRECT representation from self identified LGBTI or sex workers on one of the two available positions on the CCM. A total of eight KAP sub constituencies were identified, with MSM, LGBTI and sex workers included. These groups working directly with Prof. Nantulya were to nominate 5 representatives each and forward names to CCM by January 31, 2015. All nominated representatives were then to convene on February 05, 2015 for the general election organized by CCM not MARPS network.

Related articles:

http://76crimes.com/2015/01/22/uganda-lgbti-get-2nd-chance-to-elect-legitimate-reps/

http://hivpepsi.com/a-step-toward-opening-hiv-care-to-lgbti-ugandans-crimes/

http://ilga.org/un-global-fund-cuts-270m-in-aid-to-uganda-blames-homophobic-policies/

http://changingattitude.org.uk/archives/5683

Media Contacts:

Pepe Julian Onziema, Sexual Minorities Uganda +256 772370 674 onziema@gmail.com

Moses Kimbugwe, Spectrum Uganda Initiatives +256 782854391 spectrumuganda@gmail.com

Twaibu Wamala, Uganda Harm Reduction Network +256 702980968

 


Obama's budget betrays President’s commitments on Global AIDS

Health GAP (Global Access Project) PRESS STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2 2015

Contact: Paul Davis, +1 202 817 0129 • pdavis@healthgap.org

Obama Budget Betrays President’s Commitments on Global AIDS
• Activists call on Congress to fill the gap•

(Washington D.C.) AIDS activists expressed bitter disappointment over President Obama’s proposal to cut $200 million from the global AIDS budget for FY 2016. The President’s budget fails to restore cuts made since 2011 in PEPFAR, and reduces by nearly $250 million the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This reduction to global AIDS programs from FY15 (enacted) amplifies years of underfinancing, leaving PEPFAR short of funds needed to carry out its mission. In 2014, PEPFAR saw steep declines in new enrollments on life-saving treatment.[1]

“The President talks about removing budget caps and overturning sequestration, but then proposes more cuts to this successful, popular program that is saving millions of lives,” said Health GAP’s Paul Davis. “President Obama apparently lacks the conviction to keep his 2013 commitment for an ‘AIDS-free generation’ made in the State of the Union Address[2]. Less funding means fewer people get treatment, more people get infected, and the epidemic grows instead of shrinking. AIDS funding cuts means more people die. We need the many supporters of global health from both parties in Congress to step up again and fill this leadership gap, like appropriators did last year by restoring half the cuts made to PEPFAR by the President,” Davis continued.

Congress last year increased funds for PEPFAR for FY15 for the first time in years, although the balance of cash came from reallocating $300 million in funds pledged to the Global Fund that other donors had not stepped up to match. “In a rare show of bipartisanship, Congress has shown its commitment to funding the programs needed to actually move toward ending the AIDS crisis,” said Matthew Kavanagh of Health GAP. “In a tough budget environment members of congress reached across the aisle last year to support life-saving global AIDS initiatives--yet the White House responded this year by cutting those programs instead. It’s the height of cynicism to for President Obama to make big promises to people living with AIDS around the world, and then refuse to fund them in his 2016 budget proposal.”

New enrollments on HIV treatment supported by PEPFAR slowed dramatically in 2014 under budget cuts. Programs in Uganda and Kenya, two countries with the potential for dramatic program acceleration, have said they are running out of money to continue scaling up in 2015 and 2016—a result that will likely cause a surge in deaths and new infections.

“How can we in Kenya take the American commitment to an ‘AIDS-free Generation’ seriously when President Obama has not delivered on his own promises?” asked Maureen Milanga from Health GAP’s Nairobi office. “It is inexcusable that the U.S. President would pull back at this moment—over a sum that is really only a rounding error in the U.S. budget, but would save countless lives, avert millions of new infections, and generate massive cost savings. In Kenya, we rely on the U.S. keeping its commitments to people with HIV to leverage increased investments from our own government. We need Congress to finish restoring $300 million harmful cuts to PEPFAR, so that hard-hit countries around the world can continue stepping up to do our part to end the epidemic. Obama’s proposal will allow the epidemic to grow, and for costs to spiral out of control.”
                    

[1] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2962393-X/fulltext?rss=yes
[2] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/02/12/remarks-president-state-union-address

 


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