“If a Republican becomes president, … say goodbye to international programs providing birth control to women in desperately poor countries such as Liberia,” senior contributing writer Michelle Goldberg writes in this Daily Beast opinion piece. Goldberg notes that birth control has become a “significant issue in the U.S. presidential campaign,” writing, “All of the Republican candidates have slammed the administration’s refusal to give religious institutions a broad exemption from the mandate that insurance cover family planning.”
Access to Health Services
“The lives of thousands of HIV-positive people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at risk as the country faces declining donor funding and a severe shortage of HIV treatment, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),” PlusNews reports. “‘The problem is quite old in the DRC; the country has always been minimized by donors who have not seen it as a priority, mainly because HIV prevalence is relatively low at between three and four percent,’ Thierry Dethier, advocacy manager for MSF Belgium in the DRC, told IRIN/PlusNews,” and he added, “But look at the indicators: more than one million people are living with HIV, 350,000 of whom qualify for [antiretrovirals (ARVs)] but only 44,000 — or 15 percent — are on ARVs,” the news service writes.
“Malaria is killing more people worldwide than previously thought, but the number of deaths has fallen rapidly as efforts to combat the disease have ramped up, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington” published in the Lancet on Thursday, an IHME press release reports. “More than 1.2 million people died from malaria worldwide in 2010, nearly twice the number found in the most recent comprehensive study of the disease,” the press release states (2/2). The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “used new data and new computer modeling to build a historical database for malaria between 1980 and 2010,” BBC News notes (Bowdler, 2/2).
This report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, titled “Protection of Health Care in Armed and Civil Conflict,” examines how “action [last year] at the U.N. Security Council, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Department of State, combined with a new campaign by the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society mobilization, led to potential breakthroughs in three key dimensions of protection — documentation, prevention, and accountability.” The summary states, “The opportunity to better protect health services during conflict is palpable” (Rubenstein, 2/1).
As part of a week-long series, titled “Generation Positive,” looking at the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and Washington, D.C., WTOP’s Thomas Warren examines the history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. compared with Germany, where he traveled as a fellow with the RIAS Berlin Kommission. The article describes “the history of HIV in Germany, including the governmental policies aimed at handling the disease and how the virus is treated medically,” according to the introduction (Warren, 2/1).
In this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete examines efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on maternal and child mortality in Africa, noting, “Although Africa has just 12 percent of the global population, it accounts for half of all maternal deaths and half the deaths of children under five.” He writes, “Though global maternal deaths are in decline and women’s health has at last become a global priority, our goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent in 2015 is still a long way off. … It is unacceptable to allow mothers and children to die when we have the knowledge and resources to save them.”
The Guardian examines the future of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as it enters its second decade, writing, “Despite its staggering successes — including helping put 3.3 million people on AIDS treatment, 8.6 million on anti-tuberculosis treatment and providing 230 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria — the fund’s recent troubles had threatened to overshadow its accomplishments as it prepared to mark a decade as the world’s main financier of programs to fight these three global epidemics.” The news service highlights a $750 million pledge to the Fund by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses recent managerial changes within the Fund, and quotes a number of experts about future challenges (Kelly, 2/2).
“A pilot community program to improve [tuberculosis (TB)] detection in northern Tanzania has shown good results and could be replicated nationwide as the country seeks to improve its TB treatment and prevention systems,” IRIN reports. The program, run by Management Sciences for Health with help from PATH and Tanzania’s National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme and financial support from USAID, “emphasized that TB and HIV treatment must be done ‘hand in hand,'” according to IRIN.
“The Global Fund’s drive to ensure sustainability and efficiency means that it may not be able to meet its commitments to combat disease, says Laurie Garrett,” a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, in Nature’s “World View” column. Citing his resignation letter, Garrett discusses the “the political struggle” that led Michel Kazatchkine to step down as executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last week and writes, “It is a classic battle of titans, pitting urgency against long-term sustainability. … Kazatchkine essentially conceded victory to the forces for sustainability.”
Pharmaceutical company heads and global health leaders gathered at a conference on Monday in London to announce the formation of a large public-private partnership to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and endorse the “London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases” (.pdf), in which they pledged to work together and track progress. The following is a summary of two opinion pieces and a blog post in response to the news.