In this post in the Center for Global Development’s “Views from the Center” blog, Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center, responds to an article published in the Washington Post on Monday, which highlighted the results of a recent MIT/Harvard study on the public health benefits of clean cookstoves. He writes that “the results of the MIT study will come as a disappointment to the clean cookstove movement,” but “they shouldn’t come as a surprise.” He highlights several previous studies on the issue and writes, “[T]he record of limited impact does suggest that we’ve got a long road ahead before we figure out what works and where when it comes to reducing indoor air pollution” (4/18).
“White House science adviser John Holdren has replied [.pdf] to questions asked last month by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) about how the Obama Administration has handled the controversy surrounding two studies that showed how to make the H5N1 avian influenza virus transmissible between mammals,” ScienceInsider reports. On March 1, “Sensenbrenner — a former head of the House of Representatives committees on science and the judiciary, and currently vice chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, sent a ‘fact-finding letter’ [.pdf] to Holdren” asking a “number of questions about how the government reviews potential ‘dual-use research of concern’ (DURC) that might be used for good or evil,” the news service writes.
Researchers Present Findings Of Retrospective Analysis Of Microbicide Study At International Conference
“More than three years after reporting the primary results of HPTN 035, one of the last trials of the so-called first generation microbicides, researchers from the National Institutes of Health-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) reported two new sets of findings gleaned” from the study data at the International Microbicides Conference in Sydney on Tuesday, an MTN press release states. According to a retrospective analysis of HPTN 035 data, researchers found that women who use hormonal contraception are not at an increased risk of HIV infection, but another study showed some women are more biologically susceptible to HIV infection than other women, the release notes. The press release details a number of other findings and highlights some of the “[m]ore than 40 oral and poster presentations by MTN investigators [that] have or will be presented at” the conference (4/17).
“Three decades after the full onset of the global HIV tragedy, science appears to finally be developing preventative measures, including microbicides that would thwart infections in the first place, according to individuals at” the biennial International Microbicides Conference in Sydney, the Asia Sentinel writes. “Now, however, the challenge is to put the solution into the hands of those most susceptible to the disease,” the news service adds (Ramakant, 4/17). Researchers, advocates and funders met this week at the conference “to discuss the state of HIV prevention research,” a conference press release states.
In this post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, guest blogger Jessica Taaffe, founder of Scientists for Global Health (SciGlo) and a postdoctoral fellow researching severe malaria immunopathogenesis at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “discusses the importance of the biomedical community’s contributions to improving health worldwide,” writing, “The collective voice and influence of the biomedical community in global health has been weak, despite our invaluable scientific contributions to improving health worldwide. This needs to change.” She continues, “One way the biomedical community can become more directly involved in global health is through raising awareness of the diseases on which we work. This effort is particularly crucial for those researching diseases occurring mainly outside of the U.S.” (4/16).
“One of the most talked-about public-health initiatives is improving indoor air quality in the rural developing world,” the Washington Post reports, noting “Over the past two years, the United States has pledged $105 million to fighting the cookstove problem.” The newspaper highlights the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, founded with the help of the U.S. government in 2010, which “aims to help 100 million households replace their stoves with clean alternatives by 2020.”
This post on IntraHealth International’s “Global Health Blog” discusses a new report (.pdf) from the WHO, titled “Research and Development to Meet Health Needs in Developing Countries: Strengthening Global Financing and Coordination,” which “concludes that ‘all countries should commit to spend at least 0.01 percent of GDP on government-funded R&D [research and development] devoted to meeting the health needs of developing countries.'” The post states, “The report has a double significance. First, it is a vigorous statement of the need for a binding agreement on health innovation to address diseases that mostly affect developing countries. Second, it is an important concrete step on the long path to it” (Chiscop, 4/13).
“In recent weeks, the emergence on the Thai-Myanmar border of malaria strains resistant to artemisinin, a plant-derived drug, have led to pessimistic headlines and reminders of the setback caused by resistance to the drug chloroquine, which began in the 1950s,” columnist and author Matt Ridley writes in the Wall Street Journal’s “Mind & Matter,” noting, “April 25 is World Malaria Day, designed to draw attention to the planet’s biggest infectious killer.” He continues, “For this reason, prevention generally works better than cure in eradicating infectious diseases: Vaccination beat smallpox, clean water beats cholera, less crowded living beats tuberculosis and protection from mosquitoes beats malaria.”
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Oshinsky examines the development of the world’s first polio vaccine, noting that the vaccine, developed by Jonas Salk of the University of Pittsburgh, turned 57 on Thursday. “Now, with an eye on the endgame, scientists and researchers are developing even better vaccines,” Oshinsky writes, concluding, “The fight to end polio will not be easy, but it surely can be done. … We must seize this historic opportunity, fulfilling the promise we made to our children — to all children — 57 years ago today” (4/12).
In this Daily Monitor analysis, Joseph Matovu, Rhoda Wanyenze and David Serwadda, all lecturers at Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda, respond to two articles related to male circumcision that were published in the Daily Monitor in March. In the analysis, the authors provide a brief overview of the articles — titled “Circumcision does not reduce HIV spread” and “Circumcision and HIV: are we being fed on half-truths?” — noting that they present anti-male circumcision perspectives, and write, “In writing this article, we intended to not only respond to these issues but also provide a more elaborate view of male circumcision and its role in HIV prevention based on scientific evidence at hand.” The authors recount the history of the male circumcision debate, referencing a number of relevant studies, and discuss the policy implications of this research. They conclude, “[M]ale circumcision is currently promoted as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package rather than as a single magic bullet, as anti-male circumcision crusaders would like to make us believe” (4/12).