IRIN examines ColaLife — a pilot project set to start in Zambia in September 2012 that will ship single-dose anti-diarrhea kits (ADKs) in crates of Coca-Cola bottles in an effort to increase the coverage of oral rehydration salts (ORS) for the treatment of diarrhea in children in the developing world. “Three-quarters of [diarrhea-related] deaths could be prevented with a simple course of [ORS] combined with zinc tablets, at a cost of just $0.50 per patient,” but, “despite being heavily promoted by the World Health Organization since the 1970s, fewer than 40 percent of child diarrhea cases in developing countries are treated with ORS,” the news service writes.
Access to Health Services
Speaking at an event where South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe urged the mining industry to take greater steps to address tuberculosis (TB) and HIV among its employees, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu “announced that mining companies, whose HIV, TB and workplace safety policies are being audited by her department, will have to submit their policies as a prerequisite for renewing their mining licenses,” PlusNews reports. “According to Shabangu, South Africa’s mining sector sees three times as many cases of active TB as the general population,” the news service writes.
Speaking on Saturday at a World Tuberculosis (TB) Day event, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “called for a global effort to diagnose and treat tuberculosis,” United Press International reports (3/24). According to the WHO, 8.8 million people contracted TB in 2010, and 1.4 million people died of the disease, primarily in low and middle-income countries, CBS News’ “Health Pop” blog notes (Castillo, 3/24). “Let us vow to end the neglect of TB and to end deaths from this disease in our lifetime,” Ban said, adding, “It is critical to support those who lack the means to respond with the care and treatment they need to enjoy healthy and productive lives. … With the right interventions, we can make a major difference,” according to the U.N. News Centre (3/24).
According to a study recently published in a special supplement of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, half of countries receiving grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provide tuberculosis (TB) services in prisons; “even when TB services were provided to prisoners, they were limited in scope; and “[f]ew of the programs receiving a grant from the Global Fund offered services dedicated to the treatment and prevention of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB),” an aidsmap news story reports. TB is a leading cause of death among incarcerated individuals worldwide, aidsmap notes. The study authors concluded, “There is an urgent need to better understand the financing needs and cost-effective service delivery models for tuberculosis care in prisons,” according to the story (Carter, 3/30).
Lack Of Aid Money In Haiti Threatening Health, Human Rights Of Displaced People, U.N. Official Warns
“The United Nations warned on Tuesday that a lack of aid money for Haiti was putting hundreds of thousands of displaced people at risk by forcing humanitarian agencies to cut services in one of the world’s poorest countries,” Reuters reports. Noting Haiti only received half of the $382 million aid request in 2011 and so far has received only 10 percent of this year’s $231 million appeal, Nigel Fisher, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, said, “(Underfunding) threatens to reverse gains achieved in the fight against cholera through the promotion of sanitary and hygiene practices. … It threatens the very existence of hundreds of thousands of (displaced people) living in camps,” according to the news agency. “Fisher said the humanitarian community was urgently requesting $53.9 million for the April-June period to protect those living in camps and to continue to provide services such as clean water, food and crime prevention and respond to cholera outbreaks, among other things,” Reuters writes (Nichols, 3/27).
Ethiopia’s new HIV/AIDS workplace policy, instituted in January by the government in cooperation with the country’s main employees’ and employers’ associations, “is expected to protect job seekers from mandatory HIV tests, while facilitating voluntary counseling and testing and defending the right of employees living with HIV to medical leave or job re-allocation,” PlusNews reports. The policy “provides guidelines for the establishment of an AIDS fund to help employees cope with living with the virus” and “stipulates that employers will make the necessary investments to ensure universal precautions in workplaces to protect employees from HIV infection, and … put in place a post-exposure prophylaxis system for their workforce,” the news service writes. Tadele Yimer, president of the Ethiopian Employers Federation, said, “What we hope [the new policy] will do is bring about an agreed consent and uniform approach among employers to fight HIV/AIDS nationally,” according to PlusNews (3/26).
The “improvement and extension of health care in Africa is … being constrained by gaps in financing,” according to a new report (.pdf) by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) based on research commissioned by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog reports (Wheatley, 3/1). The report, titled “The Future of Healthcare in Africa,” “discusses the continent’s traditional health care issues, such as communicable diseases or financing health care in economically difficult circumstances” and “also addresses less well-known topics, such as the threat of obesity and heart disease, the use of mobile technology, development of more preventive care, and more,” according to the Janssen website (3/1). The report “identif[ies] the key trends shaping African health care systems” and uses them “to develop [five] scenarios that depict the possible health landscape on the continent in 2022,” a Janssen press release (.pdf) states (3/1).
“Ten months after the West African country [of Cote d'Ivoire] started to emerge from a presidential election crisis during which almost all hospitals and clinics had to shut down for a good six months because they had been vandalized, looted and occupied, the new government under President Alassane Ouattara is trying to make public health care a priority,” including implementing “[a] new national health regulation, which came into effect on Mar. 1, that offers free health services to pregnant women, children under five years and people suffering from malaria,” Inter Press Service reports. “But in a country recovering from 12 years of political instability since a military coup in December 1999 that was followed by 10 years of [former President Laurent] Gbagbo’s autocratic rule, rebuilding a crumbling public health care system takes time,” IPS writes, adding, “Hospitals have been suffering from lack of skilled staff, basic equipment and technology for years.”
“On Monday, the Indian Patent Office effectively ended [German drug maker] Bayer’s monopoly for its [cancer drug] Nexavar and issued its first-ever compulsory license allowing local generic maker Natco Pharma to make and sell the drug cheaply in India,” Reuters reports. “India’s move to strip … Bayer of its exclusive rights to [Nexavar] has set a precedent that could extend to other treatments, including modern HIV/AIDS drugs, in a major blow to global pharmaceutical firms, experts say,” the news service writes, noting, “It is only the second time a nation has issued a compulsory license for a cancer drug after Thailand did so on four drugs between 2006 and 2008.” Thailand also has issued compulsory licenses for HIV/AIDS and heart disease medications, according to Reuters (Kulkarni/Foy, 3/13).
In this RH Reality Check blog post, Mandy Van Deven, online administrator for International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), discusses how PROFAMILIA-Dominican Republic, an IPPF/WHR member association, “has integrated HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and testing into its extensive clinical sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.” She writes, “There are two key elements to PROFAMILIA’s integrated approach: a focus on a broad range of vulnerable groups — from youth to women and immigrant populations — and a staunch commitment to fighting the stigma, discrimination and gender-based violence often associated with an HIV-positive status” (3/13).