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.
Access to Health Services
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).
Investments to keep 3.5 million people living with HIV on antiretroviral drugs provided by programs co-financed through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria through 2020 will cost an estimated $14.2 billion, but “the financial savings would amount to between $12 billion and $34 billion,” according to a study published in the journal PLoS One, Sarah Boseley reports in her “Global Health Blog” in the Guardian (10/5).
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).
The use of mobile phones for medical purposes, or mHealth, holds “promising implications,” but “there are still some challenges to overcome,” PBS NewsHour reports. Additional research is necessary to determine whether people act on health-related text messages and whether the messages have value for a user, to “questions … around whether applications can be used across all mobile devices, and how to charge cell phones in areas where electricity is spotty or nonexistent,” the news service writes. “Despite all of the challenges, there is progress, especially in the area of collecting health information,” NewsHour notes (Epatko, 10/5).
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.
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.”