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.
Non Communicable Disease/Chronic Disease
IRIN examines the next steps in fighting non-communicable diseases (NCDs), “the leading cause of death worldwide,” noting, “The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), aims to reduce preventable deaths from [NCDs] like diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancers, by 25 percent by 2025.” According to IRIN, “WHO is coordinating negotiations on the surveillance, indicators and voluntary targets that will form an eventual global plan to fight NCDs, and is drafting recommendations to be considered by member governments in October 2012.” IRIN provides a link to a WHO summary of “recent discussions [.pdf] with civil society and government representatives on the best ways to rein in NCDs, and how to measure progress.”
“The ruling this week by Australia’s high court to uphold its government’s right to introduce ‘plain packaging’ for tobacco products is a landmark event for global health,” John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, writes in this Health-e opinion piece. “As the chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, I am grateful for this ruling on plain packaging, as it will undoubtedly reduce the cancer burden in Australia,” he continues. “However, the significance of this Australia ruling extends to countries around the world and the global health community,” he adds, noting, “The reason tobacco companies have fought vociferously against plain packaging is because they know this will have a major impact in not only decreasing the number of new consumers who may become addicted, but also because other countries may follow Australia’s lead.”
“In one of the most significant victories for public health policy, the Australian High Court upheld the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act, which effectively removes the last form of advertising available to the tobacco industry in the country — logos on cigarette packs,” Cynthia Lewis, a senior program officer for the tobacco initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “After a multi-million dollar legal battle, the Government of Australia effectively defended its right to legislate to protect the health of its citizens,” she continues, adding, “While the battle is not yet over — Australia still faces two additional cases with Philip Morris Asia and the World Trade Organization — [Wednesday's] victory establishes an important precedent for plain packaging, and encourages those who seek to implement it elsewhere” (8/15).
“Australia’s highest court Wednesday rejected a challenge from big tobacco companies to tough new plain-packaging laws due to come into effect later this year, in a legal battle closely watched around the world,” the Wall Street Journal reports, adding, “The ruling is a major blow for global tobacco giants that had been seeking to stop Australia implementing the new laws, fearing the move would set a precedent for other countries to follow” (Curran, 8/14). “Tobacco companies British American Tobacco, Britain’s Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco challenged the laws in Australia’s high court, claiming the rules were unconstitutional because they effectively extinguished the companies’ intellectual property rights,” according to the Guardian (8/15). “The law, approved by Parliament last year, requires cigarettes to be sold in drab dark packaging starting in December, without logos but featuring graphic images of smoking-related diseases,” the Washington Post writes, adding, “Brand names can still be used, but only in a standard font, size and position” (Hume, 8/15).
One Blog Examines GAVI Alliance's Efforts To Accelerate Introduction Of Hepatitis B Vaccines In Developing Countries
“I am looking forward to participating in the 2012 World Cancer Leaders’ Summit, to be held in Montreal, Canada on August 27,” GAVI Alliance Deputy CEO Helen Evans writes in this post in the One Blog. “This will be an opportunity to take stock of where the world is with regards to cancer prevention and treatment and to learn more about action to address the existing challenges to eliminating cancer as a life-threatening disease for future generations,” she writes, and discusses GAVI’s efforts to “accelerat[e] the introduction of hepatitis B vaccines in developing countries since 2000,” noting “GAVI has helped prevent an estimated 3.7 million deaths from liver cancer (caused by hepatitis B)” (8/21).
“Secretary Clinton’s inspiring piece on how the interests of the U.S. and India are aligned on issue after issue compelled me to articulate one more way in which the world’s two biggest democracies could pave the way for international co-operation. This is a remarkable opportunity for the U.S. and India to join together in addressing NCDs, chronic non-communicable diseases,” Nalini Saligram, founder and CEO of Aroyga World, writes in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health” blog. She describes several initiatives underway to curb NCDs, including the mDiabetes text-messaging program being implemented by Aroyga World in India. Both the U.S. and India “have the bold leadership and technology advances needed [to tackle NCDs], and both countries consider the pursuit of healthy living a worthy aspiration and believe fully in the power of innovation,” she states (6/15).
The Economist’s “Graphic Detail” blog features an infographic depicting the probability of dying from a non-communicable disease, by country. “You are more likely to be killed by a non-communicable disease (NCD), like cancer or heart disease, than anything else,” the blog notes, adding, “In 2008 they accounted for 63 percent of the 56 million deaths worldwide” (6/1).
The Huffington Post is running “a series of blogs by leading NGOs to call attention to a range of issues that should be raised at the G8 summit at Camp David in rural Maryland from May 18-19,” according to the news service. The following summarizes some of the posts published over the past three days.
“The 65th World Health Assembly concluded Saturday after adopting 21 resolutions and three decisions on a broad range of health issues,” a WHO press release reports (5/26). “Several resolutions were adopted, â€¦ including on non-communicable diseases, counterfeit health supplies, and the World Health Organization’s role during emergencies,” Devex writes (Ravelo, 5/28). “It is the first time that countries will set a concrete global goal for reducing premature deaths from cardiovascular and lung diseases, diabetes, and cancer,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes, adding that the member states agreed to cut deaths from the four diseases by one-quarter by 2025 (5/25). “In the WHO text, its 194 member states voice ‘strong support for additional work aimed at reaching consensus on targets relating to the four main risk factors, namely tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity,’” Reuters writes (Nebehay, 5/25).