IRIN examines how the WHO’s recent declaration that the MenAfriVac meningitis A vaccine can be transported or stored for up to four days without refrigeration will affect immunization campaigns in Africa’s meningitis belt, which runs from Senegal to Ethiopia. “As a result, very remote populations will access the vaccine more easily, the logistics of vaccine campaigns will be simpler, and vaccine campaign costs will drop both for partners and for national governments, said Michel Zaffran, coordinator of WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), and Marie-Pierre Preziosi, director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a partnership between international NGO PATH and WHO,” IRIN writes. Zaffran said, “I am quite confident that within the next year or two, we’ll have one or two more [vaccines] re-licensed in this way,” according to the news service. “Analysis on the heat stability of hepatitis B and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines is under way; next on the list are yellow fever, rotavirus and pneumococcal disease,” IRIN notes (11/20).
Health Workforce & Capacity
Emergency Obstetric Care Reduced Maternal Mortality Rates Up To 74% In Two African Projects, MSF Reports
According to a new briefing paper (.pdf) from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), access to emergency obstetric care, including ambulance service, could help save the lives of up to three quarters of women who might otherwise die in childbirth, AlertNet reports (Batha, 11/19). In two projects, one in Kabezi, Burundi, and the other in Bo, Sierra Leone, MSF showed “that the introduction of an ambulance referral system together with the provision of emergency obstetric services can significantly reduce the risk of women dying from pregnancy related complications,” according to an MSF press release. The services, which cost between $2 and $4 per person annually, are offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are free of charge, the press release notes (11/19). The projects “cut maternal mortality rates by an estimated 74 percent in Kabezi and 61 percent in Bo,” Reuters writes, adding, “The charity hopes its model could serve as an example for donors, governments and other aid agencies considering investing in emergency obstetric care in countries with high maternal mortality rates” (11/19).
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, USAID assistant administrator for global health, writes in the agency’s IMPACTblog about his recent trip to Burma and the challenges the country faces as it transitions to an open society. “Hope springs anew for a transformative era of peace, prosperity and development for a country that’s just emerging from isolation from the international community,” he says, adding, “[W]hile maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, [tuberculosis (TB)] and malaria are obvious targets for investment, there was a strong emphasis on the importance of strengthening health systems and stemming the growing problem of chronic diseases and injuries.” Pablos-Mendez continues, “New commitments in health” from the country’s leadership, the U.S., and other partners “hold promise for the Burmese people” (11/14).
Writing in Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog, Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the board of the TB ACTION Group, notes “countries from north and south, U.N. organizations, private sector companies and [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] are meeting in Geneva [this week] at the Board meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to discuss how best to invest available resources against the three killer diseases.” She highlights “a new approach to fight AIDS, which basically could lead to the end of the global pandemic,” noting, “UNAIDS calls it ‘the people-centered investment approach.'” Chesire interviews Bernhard Schwartlander, director of evidence, innovation and policy at UNAIDS, about this new approach.
AllAfrica correspondent Cindy Shiner recently interviewed Vanessa Kerry, CEO of the Global Health Service Corps, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene taking place in Atlanta this week. Next year, volunteer doctors and nurses will travel through the Service Corps to Tanzania, Malawi, and Uganda to work in partnership with the Peace Corps, according to AllAfrica. In the interview, Kerry said the program grew out of a desire on the part of physicians and other health care workers to help in resource-poor countries, as well as calls from those countries for more U.S. assistance in building health system capacity. Kerry discusses the focus of the program, how it works as a private partner with public programs, and how the first countries were chosen (11/13).
The Wall Street Journal examines how “Greece has seen decades of advances in public health rolled back, as a flood of illegal immigrants, a dysfunctional government and budget cuts ravage a once proud health-care system.” Noting “[o]ver the past two years, more than 50 endemic cases of [malaria] and more than 100 imported cases have been identified in Greece,” the newspaper writes, “The return of malaria, a scourge in developing countries, to Greece is a disturbing indicator of the nation’s decline since it crashed in 2009 under the weight of a debt binge.” The Wall Street Journal examines the history of malaria’s return to the country and how the government is responding. “In addition to malaria, public health officials say they are worried about rises in everything from infectious respiratory-tract diseases and skin conditions to tuberculosis and HIV,” the newspaper notes (Granitsas, 11/14).
Noting “[t]he WHO has estimated that there is a global shortage of more than four million trained health care workers,” Robert Bollinger, professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, writes in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog, “It is very clear that new and innovative strategies are needed to train the large number of health professionals needed for Africa, Asia, and Latin America.” He continues, “It is also clear that these strategies must ensure that the quality of training is excellent and that there are new efforts to support the long-term training of graduates in their own communities, to reduce brain drain, and to ensure that the communities they serve benefit from more and better trained health care providers.”
A recent video from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on global health and national security discusses the importance of military and non-military health partnerships with middle- and low-income countries, the American Public Health Association’s “IH-Blog” reports. The video features commentary from leaders in security and health, according to the blog (11/9). A CSIS report titled “Global Health as a Bridget to Security” is available online (11/1).
Noting World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the World Knowledge Forum last month “spoke of the need to ‘lay the foundations for a new field that will collect and distribute Practical Knowledge that countries can use to get delivery right in their unique contexts,'” Wolfgang Munar, a senior program officer in the Family Health Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Larry Prusak, an adviser on knowledge networks for the Foundation, examine in the organization’s “Impatient Optimists” blog why “[p]ractical knowledge is a topic worth exploring and better understanding for business, governments and philanthropies.” According to the authors, “the global health community faces the challenge to better understand, foster, and share practical, implementation knowledge that can, in turn, improve people’s lives” (11/7).
“A yellow fever outbreak in Sudan’s Darfur region has killed 67 people so far,” and “the number of cases has more than doubled since the start of the epidemic last month,” the WHO said in a statement on Wednesday, the U.N. News Centre reports. The report “stated that the outbreak has now affected 17 localities in central, south, west and north Darfur, with 194 cases reported — a significant increase from the 84 initial cases reported at the start of the outbreak,” according to the news service (11/7). “WHO announced in the report a plan of action to counter the spread of the disease, including a vaccination campaign and training of medical cadres,” the Sudan Tribune writes. The Ministry of Health “said it needs four million vaccine units to counter the outbreak,” according to the newspaper (11/7). “The report’s recommendations also include strengthening disease surveillance in eastern Darfur, continuing laboratory testing of patients from newly affected localities, and finalizing a vaccination plan that identifies resources available as well as partners to implement it,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/7).