Dear friends of BEN Namibia,
The Bicycle Empowerment Centre (BEC) model has changed cycling in
Namibia. Each BEC is an independent social enterprise that creates
jobs, provides affordable mobility and ensures ongoing bicycle
maintenance services. Profits support local welfare programmes, many
focussed on children orphaned through the AIDS crisis. More than
23,000 bicycles have been distributed through the network of 28 BECs
in Namibia in the past five years.
The BEC model has been recognised by the SMART MobiPrize, an
initiative supported by the Rockerfeller Foundation, and is
nominated, along with 14 other international entries, to win $5,000
and a trip to the Rio+20 conference to receive the prize.
In order to win WE NEED YOUR VOTE BEFORE 1 MAY. It’s simple and takes
less than a minute. As a bonus you get to vote for two other
enterprises. We highly recommend our friends at ZAMBikes, the only
other African entry, and viaCycle, an innovative bicycle-share
Follow the link to vote:
Thanks for your support!
This article was originally posted on May 12 at http://www.TheEconomist.com by G.C.
TEN years ago, at the inflection point in attitudes to the AIDS epidemic when both drugs and money to deal with it were rapidly becoming available in serious quantities, there was an acrimonious debate between medical experts and activists about what to do with those drugs and that money. Some (mainly the medical experts) wanted to concentrate on breaking the chain of transmission by stopping new infections. Others (mainly infected activists) wanted to concentrate on treating those already harboring HIV. Neither, oddly, considered that the same approach might be used to do both.
But it can. That is the conclusion of a study that has just been stopped, because its results are so decisive that it was considered immoral to keep on denying treatment to those in the control arm, who were acting as a benchmark against which the approach could be judged.
The trial in question, organized by an international body called the HIV Prevention Trials Network, and paid for by America’s National Institutes of Health, asked whether treating an infected individual with drugs that suppress his level of HIV also stops him passing the virus on. It turns out that it does. HPTN 052, as the trial is known, recruited 1,763 established couples (97% heterosexual, 3% male homosexual) in which one partner but not the other was infected. The couples came from 13 places in Africa, Asia and North and South America. The crucial point was that the infected individual in the couple was not ill enough to qualify for treatment under existing guidelines for drug use. Those guidelines are in place partly to avoid inflicting unnecessary side-effects on patients and partly to reduce the risk of drug-resistant strains of the virus developing.
Half of the volunteer couples were treated according to the existing guidelines, with the infected partner being offered drug treatment only if his or her condition (as measured by the level of a particular immune-system cell in the bloodstream) dropped below a critical threshold, or if he or she developed actual symptoms of AIDS. In the other half, the infected partner was put straight onto drugs. All couples were also counseled in transmission-avoidance and were given free condoms and treatment for other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as regular medical check-ups.
The study began in April 2005. Since then, 28 people have transmitted the virus to their partners. Of those, 27 were in the control group and only one in the experimental arm of the trial. Drugs, in other words, do stop transmission as well as saving lives. You can have your cake and eat it.
This is a decisive result, and a triumph both for the study’s organizers, and for Julio Montaner of the University of British Columbia, who pioneered this approach and has been pushing for its implementation for years. AIDS is by no means beaten, but now it may be on the run.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Africa, aids, aids study, hiv, HIV Prevention Trials Network, hiv trials, National Institutes of Health, Sexually transmitted disease, South America, the bracelet, the economist, University of British Columbia, until there's a cure
In the international aid community, there has always been a debate on how to best allocate funds for development — to say nothing of the debate outside the aid community as to whether aid even works in the first place. Sunday’s Guardian includes a look at how aid funds are spent in Africa, including statements from several prominent HIV/AIDS advocates discussing the misuse of funds aimed at HIV and AIDS in Africa.
One of Africa’s leading health economists, Alan Whiteside, who is director of the Health Economics and HIV/Aids Research Division at the University of KwaZulu Natal, said the flood of donations towards the battle against Aids had also created the conditions for widespread misuse of the funds…The achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015 depends on us getting our focus on Aids right.
“Where those goals are missed by the widest margins, Aids will have been responsible. The focus on treatment has distracted us from prevention. Solutions need to be tailored to the situation in each country. Money needs to be reallocated based on what we know now, not what we knew then.”
The challenge in allocating funds toward HIV/AIDS, or any number of other diseases or development issues, is in ensuring that those funds are used in the most appropriate and most efficient ways. Just as we have to prioritize funding within our country in a realistic and practical way, we must prioritize how foreign aid funding distributed, regardless of the target. The focus should not be on emphasizing certain diseases over others, but rather on supporting effective programs that reduce risk as well as treat those affected by AIDS and other afflictions.
-Until There’s A Cure