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).
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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).
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).
“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.”
Inter Press Service examines discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Guatemala, where advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) say such discrimination is undermining HIV prevention and treatment. Carolos Valdez of the NGO Proyecto Unidos “said the country has taken ‘few steps’ for preventing the spread of HIV among vulnerable groups,” including “opening five clinics catering to members of sexual minorities,” IPS writes.
In this TIME “Ideas” opinion piece, David Bowen, CEO of Malaria No More, writes that with the right resources and political will, an end to malaria is possible. He recounts progress made against the disease, citing a report by the WHO released Tuesday that shows “deaths from malaria have fallen by more than 25 percent globally since 2000 — and by more than five percent in the last year alone,” and writes, “Despite these gains, much more needs to be done. The unacceptable fact still remains that malaria claims a child’s life in Africa every minute. The world has begun to mobilize the skills, resources and innovative genius needed to end this terrible death toll.”
In this post in the Hill’s “Congress Blog,” John Castellani, president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, reports on how biopharmaceutical exports benefit the U.S. economy and global health, writing, “Leadership is needed to help keep U.S. biopharmaceutical research companies competitive in the global export market.” He continues, “According to the Administration, if we increased exports by just five percent, we would create hundreds of thousands of new U.S. jobs. … Among the ways that they can advance this effort is by knocking down foreign barriers and promoting strong intellectual property (IP) protections that allow biopharmaceutical companies to bring their medicines into other markets and, importantly, to the patients who need them.”
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.
“We welcome the Obama administration’s announcement of a farsighted effort to treat millions more [people living with HIV] abroad, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” a New York Times editorial writes. “The administration expects that the expanded treatments can be paid for with existing resources, by pushing for greater efficiencies and more financing from recipient nations. But if that effort stalls, the administration should re-evaluate quickly whether to ask Congress for money,” the editorial states.
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.”