The New York Times reports on efforts by the GAVI Alliance to deliver vaccines for children in war-torn and secretive countries. According to the newspaper, the non-profit group “sold to North Korea a vaccine against five diseases, and has announced plans to roll out other vaccines soon in Yemen, the Republic of Congo and Pakistan.” The newspaper notes that the alliance “does not do the vaccinating, but negotiates low prices from manufacturers and resells the vaccines at prices on a sliding scale, depending on a country’s gross national income per capita.” According to the New York Times, “[F]irst the group studies whether the country can use the vaccine — whether officials can keep it refrigerated even in rural villages, for example, and whether there are enough trained vaccinators” (McNeil, 7/30).
As part of its monthly series Stories Behind the Statistics, “guest edited by FHI 360 on behalf of USAID’S IYWG, which provides technical leadership to improve the reproductive and sexual health of young people,” the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog features a story by Gaj Bahadur Gurung, program coordinator for the National Federation of Women Living with HIV and AIDS in Nepal, who discusses the impact of adolescent pregnancy on girls and young women in South Asia. He writes, “Policies and programs must both help prevent early and unintended pregnancy (for married and unmarried women) and mitigate the negative consequences for girls who do become pregnant. Programs should provide young women access to, control over, and informed choice of their sexual and maternal health services” (8/3).
“PrePex, a bloodless circumcision device for adults, will be tested in at least nine African countries in the next year, according to the backers of the tests,” the New York Times reports. PEPFAR “will pay for PrePex circumcisions for about 2,500 men in Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, said Dr. Jason B. Reed, a technical adviser to the plan,” the newspaper writes. “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will pay for similar studies in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe,” it adds. According to the New York Times, the device “was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in January, and World Health Organization approval is expected soon.” The newspaper notes, “No surgeon is needed for the procedure; a two-nurse team slides a grooved ring inside the foreskin and guides a rubber band to compress the foreskin in the groove,” and adds, “After a week, the dead foreskin falls off like the stump of a baby’s umbilical cord or can be painlessly clipped off, said Tzameret Fuerst, chief executive of PrePex” (McNeil, 8/13).
In a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Perri Sutton, an associate program officer on the family planning team at foundation, discusses Senegal’s history of contraceptive stock-outs and Minister of Health Awa Marie Coll-Seck’s plan to “fix the problems that result in stock-outs and ensure that women have access to the full range of contraceptive options.” In pilot tests of an “informed push” model of contraceptive distribution, “[n]ot only have stock-outs been eliminated across the clinics involved, but the average weekly dispensing of a variety of contraceptives has increased dramatically,” Sutton says, adding, “As this system is rolled out across the country, Senegal will have confidence in national estimates of future demand for each product.” She concludes, “Every woman deserves the ability to decide whether, when and how many children she has. Senegal’s Minister of Health is taking bold action to provide the women of her nation with this life-saving opportunity” (8/8).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, co-chair Bill Gates discusses the foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Fair, held this week in Seattle, which “brought together about 200 grantees, partners, and others who are passionate about creating safe, effective, and inexpensive sanitation services for people without access to flush toilets.” “The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population,” Gates writes, noting, “Worldwide, there are 2.5 billion people without access to safe sanitation — including one billion people who still defecate out in the open and more than one billion others who must use pit latrines” (8/14). A related post in the blog offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Gates Foundation campus was transformed for the toilet fair (8/14).
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday “announced the winners of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge — an effort to develop ‘next-generation’ toilets that will deliver safe and sustainable sanitation to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have it,” according to a foundation press release (8/14). “To pass the foundation’s threshold for the world’s next toilet, it must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system, not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of five cents a day,” according to the Associated Press (Blankinship, 8/15). “The new commodes are being showcased at a ‘Reinvent the Toilet Fair’ Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle,” CNN writes, adding, “The foundation also announced a second round of grants totaling some $3.4 million to organizations that are working to innovative latrines” (8/15).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation, reflects on Angola’s success against polio, writing, “Angola marked a full year without a new case of polio” this month, an accomplishment that serves as “the latest evidence that we are extremely close to ending polio forever.” He continues, “Polio is a formidable foe and Angola is one of the world’s poorest nations with numerous health challenges to tackle, which makes Angola’s achievement especially noteworthy,” adding, “Like all 125 countries that have gotten rid of polio since 1988, Angola’s leaders and citizens also deserve the global resolve needed to ensure that no country ever has to go back and re-do the hard, expensive work that’s already been done to protect their children from polio” (8/27).
“NPR’s new global health and development beat is a good example of a hybrid approach to storytelling, one that places just as much emphasis on social media as it does on shoe-leather reporting,” Poynter.org Associate Editor Mallary Jean Tenore reports in the organization’s blog. “Joe Neel, deputy senior supervising editor and a correspondent on the Science Desk, said the global health and development beat is helping NPR’s science team reshape the way it approaches stories,” with correspondent Jason Beaubien reporting from the field and associate producer Michaeleen Doucleff working on multimedia and social media engagement, Tenore states, noting, “The beat, which is part of NPR’s Science Desk, is supported by a grant from the [Bill & Melinda] Gates Foundation” (8/27).
In this Globe and Mail opinion piece, columnist Andre Picard examines the efforts of a new group, the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership — which includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save The Children, the CDC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the WHO — to “make screening for syphilis a routine part of pregnancy care with the goal of eliminating congenital syphilis.” Picard writes, “According to the World Health Organization, some 2.1 million women with syphilis give birth every year,” and notes, “Almost 70 percent of their babies are stillborn, and many of the rest suffer from low birth weight (putting them at great risk for a host of illnesses), hearing loss, vision loss and facial deformities.”
Campaign To Elicit Donations For Health Projects From Airline Travelers Winds Down Amid Funding Woes
The Switzerland-based Millennium Foundation, a Unitaid-funded campaign to solicit donations for health projects from airline travelers, “is being wound down after spending nearly $20 million to generate less than $300,000 over the past four years,” the Financial Times reports. “The lack of successful fundraising sparked concerns from health campaigners over the waste of scarce resources at a time when funding is declining and millions of people around the world are dying each year from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria,” the news service writes.