19 Mar 2015

Aidspan  on 19 March released its first-ever regional report: a snapshot of 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region as classified by the Global Fund.

Rising prevalence for HIV, health systems in turmoil due to extended or flashes of conflict, massive population shifts contributing to a growing number of TB cases and an ongoing transformation of cultures and traditions make the region an incubator for new ways to respond to enduring health challenges.

Available in English and French, the report provides an overview of national challenges and innovations responding to the needs of key populations, as well as strategies to deploy the Global Fund's investment in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria.

The MENA region, as defined by the Global Fund, includes 15 countries; selection for the Aidspan MENA report was predicated on the funds allocated to the individual country under the new funding model: the Global Fund's new approach to grantmaking that provides the greatest share of resources to those countries with high disease burdens and low ability to pay.

Also included in the report is an overview of the harm reduction work carried out around the Middle East and North Africa targeting the twin threats of injecting drug use and a rise in HIV infection among people who use drugs.

Of the $28 billion disbursed by the Global Fund since 2002, MENA countries have received just 7%. Under the NFM, that percentage held steady, in line with the new eligibility classifications.

The report explores some of the major human rights considerations that influence decision- and policy-making with respect to targeting Global Fund support to specific activities in the response against the diseases. Gender inequality, institutionalized discrimination against members of vulnerable groups and punishing legal environments for behavior seen as outside the norm in conservative societies are some of the concerns that may limit the effectiveness of health programming, and will be decisive indicators of effectiveness and impact.

How to integrate health system strengthening in a post-conflict environment, and what emphasis to place on ensuring access to care and treatment for large migrant populations are also challenges that MENA countries are and will continue to grapple with. Urban areas are increasingly crowded with refugees, either those fleeing conflict or dire economic circumstances. In cash-strapped health systems there is very little room to respond to the needs of these migrants and the attendant threat to public health looms large.

The report identifies the immediate need for a more robust, evidence-based approach to identifying and implementing the right kinds of programs for the most vulnerable populations, and recommends more investment in bio-behavioral studies to effectively target interventions.

With vivid graphics and clear, updatable indicator tables, these regional reports intend to be a snapshot of a point in time, aggregating critical information about a country's progress towards beating the diseases. Downloads of this and all of Aidspan's publications are free of charge. Citation is encouraged, as long as appropriate referencing is made to Aidspan.

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For more information about the MENA report or any other Aidspan products, please visit our website at www.aidspan.org or contact Lauren Gelfand, editor in chief, at lauren.gelfand@aidspan.org or +254 (0)708 032 353.

Read this article in French. Lire l'article en français.

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