In Swaziland, where a “deepening financial crisis is taking a toll on service delivery, and the country is experiencing an unprecedented number of protests over issues such as school closures and a lack of HIV treatment,” “[a] new wave of HIV activism is rising … as people living with HIV take to the streets in protest, many for the first time in their lives, over continued shortages of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment,” PlusNews reports.
Access to Health Services
In this post in the Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Kaitlin Christenson, the coalition director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition; Jim Connolly, president and CEO of Aeras; and Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of the TB Alliance, respond to a recently released G-FINDER report that shows “overall global investment in the research and development (R&D) of [new global health technologies] has declined for the first time since 2007, when the tracking of such funding began,” writing, “This decline is especially troubling given that there are more than 100 products in [the Product Development Partnerships' (PDPs)] pipelines.”
“With a needle puncture on your finger and a drop of blood, the magic of modern science can give you a rapid HIV test in seconds, and so, knowing your status, you are better able to negotiate the rocky road of surviving HIV where timely detection is key,” Farai Sevenzo, a columnist and filmmaker, writes in this BBC News opinion piece, part of a series from African journalists. “But human nature is not so straightforward and despite hundreds of rapid HIV test centers in many capitals, the knee-jerk response is not to want to know,” he continues, adding, “It is this attitude which may account for the continuing high rates of infection.”
In this Politico opinion piece, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who chairs the non-profit Hope Through Healing Hands, writes, “Continued investment in the fight to end global AIDS is more than an investment in the lives of families and communities in developing nations — it is an investment in security, diplomacy and our moral image worldwide.” He says the goals announced by President Barack Obama on World AIDS Day — including providing antiretroviral treatment to a total of six million people by the end of 2013 — “must have the support of Congress.” Frist continues, “Under the current budget cuts, more than four million people will likely lack mosquito nets, a cheap way to prevent malaria. More than 900,000 children will lack access to vaccinations for measles, tetanus and pertussis.” He stresses the “need for accountability, transparency and results,” citing the Millennium Challenge Corporation as “a good example of promoting aid effectiveness from ‘input to impact.'” He concludes, “Foreign aid is less than one percent of our national budget, so cutting it would have a miniscule effect on our deficit reduction” (12/14).
ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday examined maternal health and mortality worldwide in a program titled “Giving Life: A Risky Proposition.” The show was a sort of “sequel” to a series launched last year called “Be the Change: Save a Life,” host Diane Sawyer said (12/16). ABC News also posted a list of statistics related to maternal health (Jester, 12/17).
The Canadian government-funded non-profit Grand Challenges Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “have invested around $32 million in the discovery and development of new and improved diagnostic tools to help health workers in developing countries, with the aim of speeding up treatment and saving lives,” IRIN reports (12/16). “Innovative point-of-care diagnostic tools such as a piece of woven fabric which can test blood or urine for disease and a simple, easy to use test for diagnosing diarrheal disease which is the biggest killer of developing world children under the age of five are some of the projects which are receiving funding,” according to a Grand Challenges press release (.pdf) (12/16).
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are increasing their sales of reduced-cost pneumonia vaccines to developing countries through the GAVI Alliance “by more than 50 percent, marking the scale-up of an international program to protect millions of children,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 12/16).
Inter Press Service profiles the Garissa Maternal Shelter in North Eastern Province, Kenya, “the only such facility in an area with the country’s highest maternal mortality rate.” The news service writes, “At 1,000 deaths per 100,000 live births, [the maternal mortality rate] is almost double the country’s average, [b]ut despite this, there are only seven women here in a facility that can accommodate 24.”
Most of the world’s neglected tropical diseases occur among populations that adhere to Islam, Catholicism, or Hinduism, an observation that “affords an opportunity to establish a unique interfaith dialogue among religious leaders” leading to global action, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Serap Aksoy, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, write in a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) editorial. They provide statistics of NTD infections among different populations living in countries dominated by specific religious affiliations and write, “These high prevalence NTDs not only have a devastating health impact on these populations, but … they also represent major reasons why such populations cannot escape poverty.”
This Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) special report highlights the top 10 stories of 2011 regarding access to essential medicines, according to MSF. The list includes the findings of the HPTN 052 clinical trial, which “show that providing people with HIV treatment early not only saves their lives but can reduce the risk…