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Blog Examines Drug Donation Programs, Big Pharma’s Role In Public Health Agenda

“Drug donations, reinvestment of profits in developing countries and a more flexible approach to intellectual property have all signaled a more collaborative approach from industry with the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and Merck all performing well in the 2012 Access to Medicine Initiative,” Adam Robert Green, senior…

To Reach ‘FP2020’ Goal, Targets Must Be Re-Examined

Participants at the 2012 London Family Planning Summit “pledged $2.6 billion dollars in additional funding to achieve a worthy goal: provide 120 million new women who have ‘unmet need’ with family planning products and services by 2020 in 69 of the world’s poorest countries,” a movement dubbed “FP2020,” Christopher Purdy,…

IPS Profiles Maternal Shelter In Kenya’s North Eastern Province

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.”

Religious Leaders Should Come Together To Ensure Access To NTD Medicines For World’s Poorest

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.”

MSF Publishes List Of Top 10 Stories Of 2011 About Access To Medicine

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…

More Work Ahead In TB Drug Development, Treatment Delivery

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the tuberculosis (TB) drug Sirturo, also known as bedaquiline, “appears to be just the first step in an exciting renaissance for TB drug development,” Mark Harrington, executive director of Treatment Action Group (TAG), writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Another new drug, delamanid, is currently in late clinical trials and has been submitted to the European Medicines Agency for review as a treatment for [multidrug-resistant (MDR)] TB,” he notes. Harrington concludes, “It’s an exciting time for TB treatment, but much more needs to be done and more resources are needed. We need to focus not only on the discovery and development of new drugs, but also on ensuring that news drugs are delivered to those who need them and in combinations that can prevent the emergence of new types of drug resistance” (12/28).

7 More Health Workers Killed In Pakistan In Attacks Suspected To Be Linked To Murders Of Polio Vaccinators

“Gunmen ambushed and shot dead six Pakistani women aid workers and a male doctor on Tuesday, police said, and the charity they worked for said it suspected the attacks were linked to recent murders of polio vaccination workers,” Reuters reports. “Two weeks ago, gunmen killed nine health workers taking part in a national polio vaccination drive in a series of attacks,” the news agency notes (Ahmad/Houreld, 1/1). The murders of the polio workers “brought the work of 225,000 vaccinators to a standstill,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Polio eradication officials have promised to regroup and try again. But first they must persuade the killers to stop shooting workers and even guarantee safe passage.” The newspaper examines the history of resistance to polio vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Mali (McNeil, 12/24).

Banning Thimerosal From Vaccines Could Hinder Achievements In Global Childhood Immunization

“Thanks to a herculean effort by health advocates, 78 percent of children in low-income countries receive the basic set of childhood vaccines, covering diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza,” a Bloomberg View editorial states. However, “[t]his campaign will be disrupted, and lives lost, if immunization critics win their latest battle for an international ban on a vaccine component” — thimerosal, a mercury-containing organic compound — “that has proved to be safe time and time again,” the editorial writes, noting, “Groups such as the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs and the Coalition for SafeMinds are pressing their case before the United Nations Environmental Program [UNEP] meets on Jan. 13 to prepare a global treaty reducing mercury use.”

Philippine President Signs Family Planning Bill Into Law

“The Philippine President has signed into law a family-planning bill that was blocked by the Catholic Church for more than a decade,” Al Jazeera reports (12/28). “President Benigno Aquino III signed into a law a bill that promotes contraception and sex education in schools,” the Wall Street Journal writes, adding, “On Saturday, a deputy presidential spokeswoman confirmed in a statement that Mr. Aquino had quietly signed the act into law on Dec. 21, and it will take effect in January, guaranteeing contraceptives will be available to the poorest Filipinos” (Sandique-Carlos, 12/29).

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