“Brazil is keen to take part in the international effort to expand access to medicines and to produce its own drugs, and will start by becoming the world supplier of medicines to treat Chagas disease,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha announced “at the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, which opened Tuesday October 19 in Rio de Janeiro,” Inter Press Service reports. “Production of benznidazole, the drug in question, will reach 3.4 million tablets by the end of this year,” the news service writes.
Access to Health Services
An electronic voucher system, introduced by the World Food Programme (WFP) and implemented by the health ministry and non-governmental organizations, is helping Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) and their families obtain food and fight malnutrition, PlusNews reports. “The program supports about 5,000 patients and their families with essential food items and is operating at seven health facilities in the capital [Harare] and has been extended to the second-largest city, Bulawayo,” the news service writes.
Inter Press Service reports on the Family Care Centre for people living with HIV/AIDS in Pakistan, which opened in Peshawar on September 1 “in the hope of breaking the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS” in a region where myths surrounding the disease and its transmission are prevalent. “The first of its kind in South Asia, the Centre will serve as a diagnostic and treatment facility for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as offer counseling services to affected family members,” according to IPS. “The center already has 600 registered patients including 175 from neighboring Afghanistan, all of whom will receive free antiretroviral treatment (ART) imported from the WHO in India,” the news service writes (Yusufzai, 10/21).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, the director of Global Health Policy and a research fellow at the center, and Thomas Bollyky, a former research fellow at the center, write that this month’s announcement that “an experimental vaccine cuts in half the…
Pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Co. is expected to announce on Tuesday it “is pledging $30 million to help fight multidrug-resistant tuberculosis [MDR-TB] in developing countries, a disease that kills more than 150,000 people a year,” according to the Indianapolis Star. The funds, part of the company’s eight-year-old, $165 million Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, will help to “provide training for nurses, doctors and community volunteers; conduct studies on how to combat the disease; and provide access to medicines,” the newspaper notes. The campaign will focus on China, India, Russia and South Africa, “the four countries with the highest burden of MDR-TB, Lilly said,” the Indianapolis Star writes (10/25).
Several opinion pieces respond to a report (.pdf) presented on Monday to the U.N. General Assembly by Arnand Grover, U.N. special rapporteur for the Right to Health, that “considers the impact of criminal and other legal restrictions on abortion; conduct during pregnancy; contraception and family planning; and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information,” according to the report summary. The report also states, “Realization of the right to health requires the removal of barriers that interfere with individual decision-making on health-related issues and with access to health services, education and information, in particular on health conditions that only affect women and girls. In cases where a barrier is created by a criminal law or other legal restriction, it is the obligation of the State to remove it” (8/3).
The Ministry of Health of South Sudan and UNFPA, working through the Capacity Placement of International United Nations Volunteer Midwives Project, has deployed 18 midwives throughout South Sudan since December 2010, when the program began, the Sudan Tribune reports. South Sudan, where 2,054 per 100,000 women die during labor, according to figures from the health ministry, has fewer than 100 midwives for a population of more than eight million people, Minister of Health Michael Milli Hussein said, the newspaper notes. Midwives and others involved in the project are meeting in Juba this week to discuss progress and goals, the Tribune writes (10/25).
“Western and central Africa are facing one of the biggest cholera epidemics in their history, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said last month, in reporting that more than 85,000 cases of cholera have been registered since the beginning of the year, with nearly 2,500 deaths,” according to Le Monde/Guardian. The newspaper writes, “UNICEF has identified three main cholera epidemic outbreaks in the Lake Chad basin, the West Congo basin and Lake Tanganyika,” and “[f]ive countries — Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC) and Chad — account for 90 percent of the reported cases and fatalities.”
Women living with HIV in Swaziland “fight a tireless tripartite battle against HIV, the stigma it places on them, and their inferior status in Africa’s last absolute monarchy,” freelance journalist Gary Nunn writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” Nunn recounts the story of Siphiwe Hlophe, who founded Swaziland for Positive Living (Swapol) in 2001, and writes, “Women operate at grassroots level in tackling HIV because they’re rarely trusted with real responsibility. But they are increasingly making their voices heard.”
In this post in PBS NewsHour’s blog “The Rundown,” senior correspondent Ray Suarez reports on his time in Nicaragua with the NewsHour’s global health unit for the national rollout of a pneumococcal pneumonia immunization campaign. The vaccine cost $100 per dose when it came to market in the last several years, Suarez notes, writing, “At that price, Nicaragua certainly couldn’t pay to vaccinate all its children. The GAVI Alliance, formed as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, worked to find a way to close that yawning gap between great danger to children and a life-saving medicine, between deep poverty in Nicaragua and Pfizer’s high costs.”