In this Scientist opinion piece, Edward Partridge, president of the American Cancer Society and director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, president of health care and education at the American Diabetes Association, and Ralph Sacco, immediate past president of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and professor and chairman of neurology at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, write that while last month’s U.N. High-level Meeting to discuss non-communicable diseases (NCDs) helped to raise awareness about the burden of NCDs, several important steps must be taken immediately to prevent and control the diseases.
Access to Health Services
In this Guardian opinion piece, Jill Filipovic, a freelance writer and blogger at Feministe, reports on how Unitaid, an organization “largely funded through innovating financing methods, including a tax on airplane tickets,” is working to increase access to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis treatments in developing countries through “patent pools” and urges pharmaceutical companies to “get on board.”
VOA News profiles a medical clinic in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, called Alam Sehat Lestari, or ASRI, and established by American Kinari Webb, that aims to promote health and wellness through quality medical care and conservation. In addition to allowing patients to pay for health care “through non-monetary means, such as woven baskets, seedlings or labor exchanges,” clinic workers educate patients about conservation as they wait to register, and each month they visit surrounding communities to determine whether they are illegally logging from a nearby national park, the news service notes. “Communities that do not participate in illegal logging pay about 40 percent less than those that do,” according to VOA News (Schonhardt, 10/4).
In this post in the Guardian’s “Sustainable Business Blog,” Mark Kramer, founder and managing director of the non-profit consulting firm FSG and senior fellow at the CSR Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, examines how “[g]lobal corporations are increasingly finding ways to create shared value — pursuing business initiatives that improve social and environmental conditions while earning the company a profit and conferring a competitive advantage.”
A UNAIDS feature story reports on a roundtable discussion held at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research (CAPRISA) in South Africa last month, which “looked at ways of maximizing the opportunities created by scientific research around HIV prevention in the past year to reach the country’s target of halving…
A new quick test to determine the CD4 levels of individuals who test positive for HIV “resulted in a substantial increase” in the percentage of people returning to a clinic get those results, according to a study conducted in Mozambique and published last week in the Lancet, the New York Times reports. “Before quick testing was available, 42 percent of infected patients returned to learn their CD4 count at a subsequent visit. After point-of-care testing began, 78 percent of infected patients were evaluated — that is, almost twice as many infected people took this important first step toward drug treatment,” the newspaper writes (Bakalar, 10/3).
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Rick Scott, mission director of USAID in Timor-Leste, reports on a health-focused field trip to the “sub-village” of Hatugeo in Timor-Lesteâ€™s central highlands where USAID-trained community health workers are working to improve maternal and child health by providing pre- and postnatal care information to expectant and new mothers. Hatugeo is located in the district of Ermera, where the infant mortality rate is 70 deaths per 1,000 live births, only three percent of mothers deliver their babies in a health care facility, and a higher percentage of children show signs of malnourishment and illness than in the rest of the country (10/3).
IRIN reports on a decline in public health services in Lesotho, writing, “In 2007, the government of Lesotho and [the Christian Health Association of Lesotho], which runs 75 health centers and eight hospitals … signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of making health services more accessible to ordinary Basotho who could not afford even the nominal fees that both state and CHAL-run health facilities charged. Patients would now get free medical services and drugs at health centers and subsidized medical care and drugs at hospitals. However, the resulting influx of patients put a huge strain on health centers and their supply of drugs and many over-burdened government and CHAL health centers have taken to referring patients to private clinics and pharmacies.”
The Guardian examines a text messaging program in Tanzania initiated by Vodacom Tanzania and local NGO Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) that utilizes Africa’s mobile phone banking system, M-Pesa, to provide women suffering from obstetric fistula, caused by difficult childbirth, with the funds necessary to travel to health facilities for treatment. “CCRBT and Vodacom have now appointed a team of 60 ‘ambassadors’ to travel around the country diagnosing women with the condition. Within an hour of an ambassador finding a patient a date is set for surgery and money for transport is texted to the ambassador, who takes the patient to the bus stop,” according to the Guardian.
Uganda’s Daily Monitor reports on the status of the country’s free health care system, which it writes “is in crisis despite the billions of shillings of mostly donor money flowing in every year.” According to the newspaper, “Visits to a dozen health centers across the country revealed a chronic shortage of beds, drugs and medical personnel, confirming a recent verdict by the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda that ‘service delivery and general care is almost not there.'”