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
The Huffington Post, as part of a collaboration on trade issues with the Dylan Ratigan Show, examines how “a new trade deal the Obama administration is pushing to complete with Vietnam and seven other Pacific nations threatens to seriously hinder both U.S. and international efforts to combat AIDS — including the government’s own efforts in Vietnam.” Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “U.S. negotiators are seeking to impose a set of restrictive intellectual property laws that would help American drug companies secure long-term monopolies overseas,” according to leaked documents, the Huffington Post writes.
In a special report, CNBC.com examines “the world of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, from the dangers they pose and where they’re made, to what is being done to combat them.” The news service notes that “[i]n some countries, counterfeit prescription drugs comprise as much as 70 percent of the drug supply and have been responsible for thousands of deaths in some of the world’s most impoverished nations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO),” and adds that counterfeit drugs also affect people in developed nations (Toscano, 10/4).
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called on the Brazilian government “to ensure its state-owned drug company steps up production of the only drug for Chagas disease, which affects 10 million people in Latin America,” Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog” (10/6). “Thousands of people with Chagas disease will go untreated in coming months due to a shortage of benznidazole, the first-line drug used in most endemic countries,” according to a MSF press release and a related article published by the organization. According to the press release, MSF has stopped diagnosing Chagas in Paraguay and has suspended new projects in endemic areas of Bolivia due to the shortage (10/5).
The Huffington Post profiles Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.N. under-secretary-general of Innovative Financing for Development and chair of UNITAID, a financing mechanism he conceived in 2004 to help provide medicines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries. The article discusses Douste-Blazy’s work and background, UNITAID, and other innovative financing schemes (Lines, 10/6).
UNICEF representative for Indonesia Angela Kearney said at a workshop on household to hospital continuum care on Thursday that although Indonesia’s infant mortality rate showed a downward trend in the past few years, it is still high, Xinhua reports. “Based on a UNICEF global child mortality report, over the past 10 years infant mortality rate declined significantly to 35 out of every 1,000 births in 2011 from 97 out of every 1,000 births in 1991, she said,” according to the news service.
“Burundian NGOs say at least 20 people have died” as a result of a “months-long shortage” of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), although “Ministry of Health officials could not be reached to confirm the number of people affected,” PlusNews reports. “More than 60,000 Burundians need HIV treatment, but only about 25,000 have access to ARVs,” according to the news agency, which adds, “The shortage has been blamed on dwindling donor funds and a disorganized health ministry.”
Women Struggling To Find Truly Free Health Care In Sierra Leone's System, Amnesty International Report Says
“Sierra Leone’s free health care plan for pregnant women and young children is dysfunctional and hobbled by corruption and a lack of accountability,” according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Amnesty International, Agence France-Presse reports. The nation’s free health care program for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five years old was launched in April 2010 with support from UNICEF, the World Bank, the WHO and the U.K. Department for International Development, AFP notes (9/6).
The Washington Post looks at the conditions within Banadir Hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. “The scenes … reflect the immense challenge facing this Horn of Africa nation, already besieged by multiple woes, from civil war to radical Islamist militants to a weak transitional government incapable of governing effectively, despite massive support from the United States and its allies,” the newspaper writes (Raghavan, 9/7).
Inter Press Service examines what some experts are calling a lack of commitment from health care workers, which they say is “among the reasons why Africa may not succeed in achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 on improving maternal health by 2015 by reducing maternal mortality by three quarters.” According to IPS, “Studies conducted by the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) in East, West and Southern Africa found that most countries are struggling to provide universal access to reproductive health.”