“Measles is making a rapid comeback in African, Asian and even some European countries despite being easily avoided through vaccination, the World Health Organization said Friday as countries pledged to sharply cut infections and deaths worldwide by 2015,” the Associated Press reports (Jordans, 5/22). On the final day of the 63rd Annual World Health Assembly, the assembly endorsed a series of interim targets towards the global eradication of measles, VOA News reports.
Access to Health Services
“India and Brazil launched a trade dispute against the European Union and the Netherlands on Wednesday, saying their seizures of generic drugs were hurting healthcare in poor countries and disrupting international trade,” Reuters reports. “India said the repeated seizures were based on allegations of the infringement of intellectual property rights in the country of transit, even though the generic drugs in question were legal in their countries of origin and destination,” according to the news service.
During her opening address to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called for increased global efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Pana/Afrique en ligne reports. Chan also set-up several global health challenges to be addressed during the five-day meeting, according to the news service.
Along with the release of a WHO-UNICEF guide on medicines for children, the U.N. agencies on Friday said the guide “exposed dangerous shortfalls” in medicines designed for children and called for more research into treating children, Reuters reports. “While effective medicines exist to fight disease and treat life-threatening conditions like malnutrition, formulations suitable for children are often difficult to source,” Francisco Blanco, UNICEF’s chief of medicines and nutrition, said, according to the news service.
Also In Global Health News: Canada To Support Health Programs In Africa; Chan on N. Korea; Improving Living Conditions In DRC; Nepalese Sex Trafficking Victims
Canada To Give Africa $178M Over 5 Years, Minister SaysÂ Canada will give $178 million over five years to support maternal, child health and educational projects in nine African countries, Bev Oda, Canada’s international cooperation minister, said on Thursday, a day after the conclusion of a meeting of G8 development…
Family Planning, Access To Safe, Legal Abortion Key To Maternal, Child Health, U.S. Sec. Of State Says
Following a two-day meeting of foreign ministers from G8 countries in Quebec on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “appeared at oddsâ€¦ with [Canadian] Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s G8 initiative on maternal and child health, saying family planning, contraception and access to legal, safe abortions were vital elements of maternal health care,” Canwest News Service/Ottawa Citizen report (O’Neill, 3/31).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published on its website a transcript of a speech about women’s health, delivered by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the World Medical Association in Geneva on Tuesday. “For too long, too many women and girls have had their lives marred by illness or disability, just because they didn’t have access to health services. When we deprive women of the care and support they need to stay healthy or get well, we’re also robbing them of hope for the future. … So under President Obama, we’re putting a new focus on women’s health — at home and abroad,” she said, according to the transcript (5/22).
“U.N. Development Goals for better drinking water have already been reached, but a closer look shows that the measures fail to truly account for the lack of access to safe water,” Scientific American reports in a feature story. “[J]ust because water is pouring out of a spigot does not mean that it is safe to drink,” the article states, adding, “In poorer areas, where infrastructure and sanitation are often much worse, even sources of water that have been ‘improved’ are frequently at risk for contamination by human and animal feces, according to recent analyses.” The magazine details a number of studies on the issue and concludes, “[W]hether there are 800 million or 1.8 billion people who lack safe water, the scourge of preventable deadly diarrheal and other waterborne diseases will continue to plague too many” (Harmon, 5/21).
U.N. SG Ban Praises Commission On Life-Saving Commodities, Says More Effort Needed To Improve Maternal, Child Mortality Rates
At the opening of the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the commission but “said that much remains to be done to save the lives of the 800 women and more than 20,000 children who die every day from preventable causes,” the U.N. News Centre reports (5/22). Devex notes that the commission “aims to increase access to lifesaving medicine and health supplies, … includ[ing] oxytocin, which helps stop bleeding among mothers after giving birth, and antibiotics such as amoxicillin, which treats pneumonia among newborns.” The commission finalized its recommendations on Tuesday, the news service notes (Ravelo, 5/23).
In a guest blog post on the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research, and Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, summarize a Capitol Hill briefing “on the research agenda for beginning to end the AIDS epidemic” that took place Wednesday. “[R]esearchers, policymakers, and advocates joined our organizations and the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus” at the briefing to discuss “the research agenda needed to bring the epidemic to a close, with special focus on” combination interventions for treatment and prevention; “progress on vaccine and cure research”; and the importance of HIV testing, they write. Collins and Warren conclude, “We need to finance the response, make strategic choices about what to bring to scale (and what not to) and stop discriminating against high-risk populations. Whether you’re a researcher, policymaker or advocate, new scientific developments are how we end the epidemic” (5/24).