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G8 Should Discuss World’s Over-60 Population To Develop Policies For ‘Healthy, Active And Productive Aging’

“Within five years, for the first time in history, the number of adults 65 and older will exceed the number of children younger than five, the World Health Organization reports,” “which is why the aging global population’s impact on social stability, economic growth and fiscal sustainability should be part of the agenda at next month’s Group of Eight summit,” Michael Hodin, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and executive director of the Global Coalition on Aging, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. “And yet, the agenda for the G8 summit appears deficient on the topic of how countries can work together to develop policy reforms that would create pathways for healthy, active and productive aging,” he writes, adding, “What’s needed are profound policy changes in health, education and urban living that facilitate an active aging.”

Next Five Years Important For S. Africa To Show It Can Effectively Respond To HIV, TB

South Africa’s recently released “National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) 2012-2016” “marked an important milestone” in the nation’s fight against infectious diseases, a Lancet editorial states. “The plan [.pdf] has several broad goals: to reduce new HIV infections by at least 50 percent; to start at least 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral treatment; to reduce the number of new tuberculosis infections and deaths by 50 percent; to ensure a legal framework that protects and promotes human rights to support implementation of the plan; and to reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and tuberculosis by at least 50 percent,” the editorial notes.

GlobalPost Examines HIV/AIDS In Asia, Africa

As part of its series titled “The State of HIV/AIDS,” GlobalPost published two stories examining the epidemic in different regions of the world. In one article, the news service looks at the spread and control of HIV in Asia, writing, “No generalized epidemic has broken out across the region, HIV infection rates have stabilized in many countries, and more and more people are receiving antiretroviral medication.” However, “[t]he disease continues to spread: for every person in Asia that begins antiretroviral treatment, roughly two new adults are infected with HIV. Moreover, funding is too tight — the total of $1.1 billion spent on campaigns in Asia in 2009 was less than one-third of what the U.N. says is needed for universal success,” according to the news service (Carlson, 12/1). In a second article, GlobalPost says in Africa, “statistics tell an upbeat story,” noting that the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen over the past decade. “But despite all the positive progress, experts warn against complacency. Sub-Saharan Africa still accounted for almost three-quarters of all new HIV infections worldwide last year,” the news service continues (McConnell, 12/3).

GlobalPost Series Examines HIV/AIDS In European, MENA Regions

As part of its ongoing series, titled “The State of AIDS,” GlobalPost published two articles examining the epidemic in different regions. In Eastern Europe, rates of HIV/AIDS diagnoses have risen in several countries, including Ukraine and Russia, according to the first article, which discusses some of the potential reasons for the increases. Also, “with the economic crisis affecting much of Western Europe, there is concern that declining health spending and cuts to research budgets could hurt AIDS treatment across the continent, even in nations that are leading the way in HIV/AIDS prevention and care like the United Kingdom,” the news service writes (Ames, 12/7).

PEPFAR Scale-Up Linked To Strengthening Of Health Systems, Study Says

Noting “PEPFAR has been criticized for its vertical or ‘stove-piping’ structure, with resources targeting a specific disease rather than working to strengthen the underlying health system,” a study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes “aimed to evaluate whether PEPFAR activities were associated with system-wide improvements in both proximal and distal indicators of health systems strengthening.” According to the abstract, “[t]he progressive scale-up of PEPFAR-supported activities was associated with consistent improvements in proximal indicators of health systems strengthening” and “was also associated with improvements in broader measures of health system strength, most clearly life expectancy” (Cohen et al., 12/18).

Kenya Working To Integrate PMTCT Services Into Maternal, Child Health Care Clinics

“Health programs integrating services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV into regular maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) clinics, rather than operating PMTCT services as stand-along programs, are showing positive results in Kenya, experts say,” PlusNews reports. “Some 13,000 Kenyan children contract HIV annually; the country is among some 22 nations accounting for 90 percent of all pregnant women living with HIV,” according to the news service. PlusNews examines how “[t]he government is now moving towards the integration of HIV and other public health services, part of efforts to strengthen the overall health system,” in order to reach its goal of eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015 (12/19).

World Bank Study Examines Quality Of Health Care In India

A study led by World Bank economist Jishnu Das and published in Health Affairs on Monday examines the quality of primary care delivered by private and public health care providers in rural and urban India, a World Bank press release notes. The study found many providers do not have medical degrees; the quality of medical training is low; and less than half of providers provide correct diagnoses, according to the press release, which says the results show an “urgent need” to carefully measure the quality of care. “The study could help policymakers make evidence-based decisions,” the press release notes, adding, “In November, the government announced a five-year plan to triple health spending and improve the quality of health services” (12/3).

NPR’s ‘Shots’ Blog Examines Malaria Drug Resistance In Southeast Asia

“Global efforts to combat malaria are under threat from new strains of drug-resistant malaria, which are cropping up in Southeast Asia,” particularly in Cambodia, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Thailand and Vietnam, NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. “Although the resistance is still limited to Southeast Asia, WHO officials worry that it could spill out of the region,” the blog notes. “Shots” includes a video report from NPR correspondent Jason Beaubien on efforts to properly treat the disease in Thailand (Beaubien/De La Cruz, 12/18).

AIDS.gov Blog Highlights Themes From mHealth Summit

The AIDS.gov blog recaps some of the major themes of the mHealth Summit: Connecting the Mobile Health Ecosystem, which was held at the beginning of December in Washington, D.C. According to the blog, these include the effectiveness of wireless technology in health programs; the importance of policy, infrastructure, and ownership; and the need for health literacy in any intervention. Noting “the Summit has grown from 800 attendees to thousands” in four years, the blog adds that more information about the meeting is available online at mhealthsummit.org (12/18).

Seattle Times Examines Partnership Between Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Uganda Cancer Institute

The Seattle Times examines a partnership between the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). In 2008, “the two institutes formally agreed to collaborate on clinical care and research projects, and more recently a major building project at Uganda’s only cancer-research center,” the newspaper writes. Corey Casper, director of the UCI/Fred Hutchinson Research Center Cancer Alliance, “says [the partnership] has the potential to demonstrate ‘that you can do first-rate research that can alter the impact of cancer care in the developing world, and that the craft of oncology can be practiced as well in Africa as it is in the developed world, just like it is with HIV,'” according to the Seattle Times (Silberner, 12/16).