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Science-Based Health Policies Could Prevent Nearly 4M Maternal, Child Deaths In Africa, Report Says

Nearly 4 million deaths among women and children in sub-Saharan Africa could be prevented annually if relatively inexpensive, “science-based health policies” reached 90 percent of Africans, according to an African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI) report (.pdf) published Monday, Nature News reports. The report, which is the initiative’s first policy paper, was released at the group’s fifth annual conference in Accra, Ghana, from Nov. 9-11.

Research Funding In Sub-Saharan Africa Needs To 'Reflect True Disease Burden'

With the disease burden of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria expected to make up less than 15 percent of the total disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 2030, and non-communicable diseases to account for nearly 40 percent of the total in the region, “[a] revision of the approach to research and health care in SSA is therefore urgently needed, but international donors and health communities have generally been slow to respond to the changing environment,” Ole Olesen and M. Iqbal Parker of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in South Africa write in a commentary in Tropical Medicine & International Health. “Private and public funding for health research in Africa remains therefore disproportionately focused on the three major infectious diseases, whereas only smaller amounts have been allocated to confront other diseases,” they write and provide examples.

Experts Respond To PLoS Editorial Comparing Chagas Disease To HIV/AIDS

“Chagas disease, a parasitic infection spread to humans by insects, is not the new HIV/AIDS of the Americas, according to infectious disease experts who called the comparison,” made in an editorial published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases last week, “‘unrealistic’ and ‘unfortunate,’” ABC News’ “Medical Unit” blog reports. “Rick Tarleton, president of the Chagas Disease Foundation, said the diseases have little in common beyond disproportionately affecting poor people,” the blog notes (Moisse, 6/1).

Blog Calls On Presidential Candidates To Discuss Global Health R&D

Noting “Mitt Romney will become the official nominee for the Republican Party at its convention in Florida” this week, Kim Lufkin, communications officer for the Global Health Technologies Coalition, writes in this post in the coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, “Science and research will likely not appear on the agenda, as Romney, expected Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, and others will instead focus on topics like reducing federal spending.” She continues, “It’s unfortunate that research will not be a part of the conversation, as new predictions coming out this week indicate that if Romney and Ryan win the election in November, changes could be coming for health research and efforts to develop much-needed new tools for global health.” She concludes, “It’s important that the candidates — from Obama and Vice President Biden to Romney and Ryan — start talking about these issues head-on,” and “no matter which party takes the White House in November, support for global health [research and development (R&D)] must continue” (8/24).

Researchers, Politicians Gather In London For Global Health Policy Summit

Medical researchers, politicians, and policymakers gathered at a Global Health Policy Summit in London Wednesday “to champion innovative solutions to the world’s major health problems,” Imperial College London reports in an article, which notes the summit, “the first event of its kind, is the result of a partnership between Imperial College London and the Qatar Foundation for education, science and community development” and “will tackle maternal health, primary care, non-infectious diseases and aging societies” (8/1). “This is a unique summit. We’re gathering the global thought leaders, very much to exchange ideas, to learn from each other, when it comes to innovative solutions to the significantly great challenges facing health care systems globally,” summit chair Ara Darzi of the Institute for Global Health Innovation tells BBC Radio correspondent Claudia Hammond in a “Health Check” audio report (8/1).

PEPFAR Announces $60M Initiative To Support Implementation Of Science Research, Evaluation Programs

PEPFAR on Wednesday “announced awards for a $60 million initiative, with potential for additional funding in year three, to support implementation science research and the evaluation of programs established under PEPFAR,” according to a U.S. State Department media note. “These evaluations, funded through collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will contribute to the evidence base for HIV programs and maximize the impact of its investments in programs around the world. Data gathered will help partner countries to strengthen their efforts to prevent new HIV infections and save lives,” the media note states, adding, “More than 35 evaluations in over 12 countries will be funded in 2012” (8/1).

Achieving AIDS-Free Generation Worth More Than Olympic Gold

In this post in Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, John-Manuel Andriote, a journalist and author living with HIV, writes, “For all of us living with HIV infection — Oct. 27 will mark seven years since my own diagnosis — the question we face daily, hopefully more consciously and deliberately than most, is how shall we live, knowing as we do that we will most assuredly die one day?” Reflecting on the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) that took place in Washington last month, he continues, “An AIDS-free generation is certainly a worthy goal,” but “even if tens of billions of additional dollars are allocated to address HIV/AIDS, even if the Republicans don’t succeed in inflicting their Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ upon the nation and the world, the question will continue to be what it has been for 31 years … Will we have the political will to end AIDS?”

Scientists Researching Ebola Virus Say Vaccine 'Unlikely' Due To Funding Restraints

“Scientists researching the lethal Ebola virus have told [BBC News] that a commercial vaccine to prevent the onset of infection may never be developed,” the news service reports. “Efforts to develop a vaccine have been funded in the main by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health,” which “have poured millions of dollars into scientific research because of concerns that the virus could be turned into a biological weapon,” the news service writes. But in recent days, two companies that had begun human safety trials of their vaccines, Sarepta and Tekmira, “have been told by the Defense Department to temporarily stop work on their vaccines due to funding constraints.”