In this New York Times opinion piece, columnist Tina Rosenberg examines a global rise in cholera cases, writing, “The World Health Organization estimates that there are between three million and five million cases of cholera each year, and between 100,000 and 120,000 deaths. New and more virulent strains are emerging in Asia and Africa, and the WHO says that global warming creates even more hospitable conditions for the disease.” However, “[c]holera should not be a terror. It is easy to treat if you know how,” she writes.
Access to Health Services
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog published several posts in response to the TEDxChange: “The Big Picture” presentation delivered by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, in Berlin on Thursday.
A strain of malaria that is resistant to artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is spreading along the Thai-Myanmar border and has the potential to spread to Africa if efforts to effectively treat and prevent the disease are not undertaken, according to a study published in the Lancet on Friday, Reuters reports (Lyn, 4/5). Since 2008, patients treated with ACT have been slower to clear the parasite than previously, “[a]nd this precursor to resistance seems to be spreading, despite efforts to carefully use artemisinin (by giving it in combination with other drugs) to avoid the emergence of resistance,” Scientific American writes.
“Trade deals are threatening generic drugs — we need new ways to incentivize affordable drug development,” Daniele Dionisio, head of the research project Geopolitics, Public Health and Access to Medicines (GESPAM) and a member of the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases, writes in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. “Just under three billion people live on less than $2 per day, in resource-limited countries where key medicines protected by patents are unaffordable,” he writes, adding, “Free-trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and governments adopting intellectual property (IP) policies that favor the brand pharmaceutical sector are also threatening the trade of legitimate generic medicines.”
Blog Examines Coordinated Effort To Monitor Drug Procurement Through Global Fund Grants In Kyrgyzstan
“In recent years, Kyrgyzstan has benefited from a significant increase in international funding to improve health care,” but, “[d]espite this influx of international funding, many people in Kyrgyzstan are unable to get the lifesaving medicines that they need,” Madina Tokombaeva, director of the Harm Reduction Network (HRN) in Kyrgyzstan, and Maryam Beishenova, program coordinator at HRN, write in this Open Society Foundations blog post. The authors describe how, in 2010, “three Kyrgyz organizations working on HIV and health issues — the Harm Reduction Network, Partnership Network, and Unity of People Living with HIV — launched a coordinated effort to monitor and analyze the procurement and distribution of medicines purchased with Global Fund grants.” They recount a court victory in which they gained access to Ministry of Health records and conclude, “Civil society organizations have been energized and we are committed to ensure that government agencies and donors are transparent and efficient” (4/5).
Alex Thier, assistant to the administrator and director in the USAID Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, writes about the agency’s new report, titled “USAID in Afghanistan: Partnership, Progress, Perseverance,” in this IMPACTblog post. “Afghanistan’s literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality statistics, as well as access to communications, electricity, and paved roads, were dismal” in 2002, but a decade later, “Afghanistan has shown incredible gains in health care, education, and economic growth,” Thier writes. The report “outlines these impacts in a transparent and frank accounting of the roughly $12 billion in civilian assistance that USAID has implemented in Afghanistan to date,” he notes. “But these gains are fragile,” he writes, adding, “We must cement the gains from this incredible investment, and make them sustainable” (4/4).
In this New York Times opinion piece, journalist Amy Yee examines the cost-effectiveness of and challenges to deworming treatment campaigns in the developing world, deworming campaigns in India and Kenya. She writes, “Intestinal worms are pervasive in the developing world and can have devastating effects. But there is growing awareness about how easy and inexpensive it is to treat worms, as well as surprising longer-term socioeconomic benefits. Research shows deworming to be extremely cost-effective.” Yee provides statistics from previous studies on the various benefits of deworming school-aged children and asks, “If giving deworming pills to schoolchildren is so easy and effective, why haven’t more large-scale programs taken off?”
“If family planning services, including information about reproductive health, access to birth control, and health care, were available to all women, the deaths of 100,000 women during childbirth could be prevented every year,” Maeve Shearlaw, policy and advocacy coordinator for the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “In other words, access to family planning saves lives,” she writes, adding, “Clearly, more must be done to reach women in rural areas and to increase demand in places where women don’t even know about family planning methods. It is also important to focus on girls and young women, who are more at risk of losing their lives in childbirth — yet simultaneously much less able to reach family planning services” (4/2).
“Health systems, particularly in poorer countries, need to adapt to meet the chronic care needs of older people as the shift to aging populations gathers pace in low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said” Wednesday in a briefing paper to mark World Health Day, observed on Saturday, the Guardian reports. The agency “points out that developing countries will have less time than wealthy nations to adapt to the challenges of an aging population — generally defined as people over 60,” the news service writes, adding, “By 2050, 80 percent of older people will live in low- and middle-income countries.”
The Jakarta Globe examines maternal mortality in Indonesia, writing, “Indonesia may be progressing slowly and steadily toward fulfilling its targets under the Millennium Development Goals, but the issue of maternal health continues to present many challenges.” According to the newspaper, “Government statistics show that the maternal mortality rate [has] declined,” but “a report last week by health officials in Bali has highlighted a worrying reversal, with the provincial maternal mortality rate increasing from 58 per 100,000 in 2010 to 84 last year.”