Politico Pro examines the reaction to a speech delivered by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at a TEDxChange conference in Berlin on April 5. “Gates’s speech was primarily focused on explaining why family planning is important in the developing world,” according to the news service. Gates said lack of access to modern contraceptives is “a life and death crisis” because with family planning, the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and children could be saved annually, the news service notes. “But multiple global health experts heard her comments as an intentional effort to push back on the politicization of birth control in the United States following the Obama administration’s new contraception coverage policy, which they fear could spill over into global health policy,” the news service writes. However, “Gates Foundation spokesman Chris Williams said Gates was simply reiterating her long-standing support for family planning and that viewing these remarks in light of domestic politics would be ‘using the wrong lens,'” the article notes.
Access to Health Services
Yaws, a skin and bone disease caused by a treponematoses bacterium that can cause long-term deformities, “has recently been put on WHO’s list of 17 so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)” and, along with Guinea worm, is “slated for eradication,” the Lancet reports. A “massive push to free the world from yaws failed in the 1950s and 1960s,” and the WHO in 1995 estimated “there were 2.5 million cases of endemic treponematoses (mostly yaws),” according to the Lancet. A study published in the Lancet in January showed a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin was effective at curing the disease among children, a finding that “jump-started the NTD community into action,” the article states.
South Africa’s recently released “National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) 2012-2016” “marked an important milestone” in the nation’s fight against infectious diseases, a Lancet editorial states. “The plan [.pdf] has several broad goals: to reduce new HIV infections by at least 50 percent; to start at least 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral treatment; to reduce the number of new tuberculosis infections and deaths by 50 percent; to ensure a legal framework that protects and promotes human rights to support implementation of the plan; and to reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and tuberculosis by at least 50 percent,” the editorial notes.
Inter Press Service examines how HIV/AIDS is affecting women in western Nepal, where life in the poor region “is getting worse thanks to HIV infection brought back by men who go to neighboring India for seasonal work.” According to IPS, “Worst hit are the region’s women, many of whom have had to sell off their land and livestock to get HIV treatment for their husbands and, in many cases, for themselves.” Some women who are widowed by HIV may find work as laborers, but the “social stigma attached to HIV and fears of contracting the virus among villagers” makes life difficult for women affected by HIV/AIDS, the news service notes. The article includes quotes from several women and community health workers involved in prevention, counseling and care of women affected by the disease. “According to the government’s National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC), women in the 15-49 age group form over 28 percent of the estimated 55,000 people living with HIV in the country,” IPS writes (Newar, 4/11).
The philanthropic organization Dubai Cares has announced a $1 million donation to partner with The END Fund in the establishment “of a school-based deworming program that will treat children in Angola,” according to the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTD) “End the Neglect” blog. “The END Fund’s chairman William Campbell stated that, ‘This pioneering investment in partnership with The END Fund adds further momentum behind our goal of eradicating Africa’s seven most prevalent NTDs by 2020,'” the blog notes (Patel, 4/11).
Medical aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has expressed concern over proposed cuts to PEPFAR under the White House FY 2013 budget proposal, “saying it will undermine the president’s own goals” of “treat[ing] six million people infected with HIV around the world by the end of 2013,” VOA News reports. While President Obama “has pledged to expand PEPFAR to include more people, his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2013 cuts more than a half-billion dollars from” bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, VOA writes.
Number Of People Worldwide With Dementia Expected To Triple By 2050; Caregivers Need Support, Report Says
The number of people living with dementia is expected to double to 65.7 million by 2030 and more than triple by 2050, with “the [current estimated] cost of treating and caring for those with the condition at $604 billion a year,” according to a report released Wednesday by the WHO and Alzheimer’s Disease International, Agence France-Presse reports (4/11). “Dementia affects people in all countries, with more than half (58 percent) living in low- and middle-income countries,” and “[b]y 2050, this is likely to rise to more than 70 percent,” according to a WHO press release.
This PATH Blog post examines PATH’s work in malaria through OneWorld Health, a non-profit drug development program. Since 2004, “when OneWorld Health formed a partnership to develop an alternative source of the malaria drug artemisinin, … OneWorld Health, which became an affiliate of PATH late last year, [has] quietly forged relationships with public and private partners, creating the Artemisinin Project to take the work from research to commercialization,” the blog writes. “Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the partners worked toward providing an affordable and reliable source of high-quality artemisinin — one not dependent on planting schedules, the weather, or the fluctuating market,” the blog adds (Donnelly, 4/10).
This post on RH Reality Check examines a Ugandan court case “alleging that the Ugandan government failed to protect the … constitutional rights to life and health [of several women] by allowing them to die in ill-equipped and poorly managed public hospitals, or failing to provide them with basic maternal care.” According to the post, one in 35 Ugandan women die during pregnancy or childbirth, and “[o]ne of the key complaints in the petition is the government spends just one-quarter on maternal health of what it pledged to spend, per capita.” The post goes on to describe efforts to improve maternal health in Uganda (Mack, 4/10).
Inexpensive Female Genital Schistosomiasis Prevention Could Help Reduce Women’s Risk Of HIV Infection
In this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, describes female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), which affects more than 100 million women and girls in Africa and “causes horrific pain and bleeding in the uterus, cervix and lower genital tract, not to mention social stigma and depression.” According to studies, women affected by FGS “have a three- to four-fold increase in the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS,” but a low-cost drug called praziquantel may prevent FGS “and therefore also serve as a low-cost AIDS prevention strategy if it is administered annually to African girls and women beginning in their school-aged years,” he notes.