“Our global food security challenges are daunting: food price spikes and increasing food prices look set to continue unabated, around one billion are suffering from chronic hunger, and we must feed a growing population in the face of a wide range of adverse factors, including climate change,” but “I believe there is reason for optimism,” Sir Gordon Conway, professor of international development and agricultural impact at Imperial College London, writes in the Huffington Post U.K. “Impact” blog. “Yes we can feed the world, but only if we accept that agricultural development is the best route to achieving sustainable economic growth in developing countries, and achieve an agriculture that is highly productive, stable, resilient and equitable,” he continues, adding, “I believe there are four interconnected routes to achieving a food secure world: innovation, markets, people and political leadership.”
In a BMJ Group Blogs post, Caroline Robinson, global health advocacy manager for Results U.K., discusses the prevalence and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB in Europe and provides the example of Romania. She writes, “[E]vidence brought to light in a new report [.pdf] released recently outlining the effect funding shortages will have on HIV and TB, including drug-resistant TB, in the European region suggests that Romania does not have the institutional capacity to ensure its citizens have the basic right to health. The country relies on grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which look set to end in 2013.” She continues, “[Global Fund] Board members should ensure that middle-income countries with epidemics among key populations can access critical Global Fund contributions and the E.U. and its member states must continue to provide the resources the fund requires to meet demand. Unless such support is given, countries like Romania will continue to fall further down the league tables in terms of treatment for this curable disease” (10/10).
“Today about 12 percent of the health work force [in the U.S.] is foreign-born and trained, including a quarter of all physicians,” Kate Tulenko, senior director of health system innovation at IntraHealth International, writes in a New York Times opinion piece, adding, “That’s bad for American workers, but even worse for the foreign workers’ home countries, including some of the world’s poorest and sickest, which could use these professionals at home.” She says expensive schooling and strict credential requirements, which some foreign-trained workers do not have to meet, are keeping U.S. health workers from entering the workforce.
Noting the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly begins on September 25, Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, writes in his Bloomberg Businessweek blog, “Small World,” “Accompanying the usual podium speeches will be the start of backroom discussions as to what will replace the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs], a set of targets for global progress agreed to at the 2000 General Assembly meetings.” He continues, “The original Millennium Goals committed the world to halve poverty between 1990 and 2015, alongside ambitious targets to reduce childhood deaths, ensure that every child worldwide completes primary school, safeguard equal access to education for girls, improve access to sanitation, and reduce deaths from maternal mortality, AIDS, and malaria,” and he adds, “The planet has actually done pretty well in meeting these initial targets.”
“South Africa faces significant challenges when it comes to sexual health, and with the high prevalence of rape, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases and infections, schools need to implement strong and informative programs on sexuality and contraceptive use,” Jos Dirkx, founder of Girls & Football SA, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, published in partnership with Women Deliver as part of a series on youth perspectives to recognize World Contraception Day, observed annually on September 26. She discusses some women’s personal experiences with contraception, and concludes, “Girls & Football SA strongly believes that by creating a safe space through our programming, we are able to present girls with the chance to ask questions, get accurate information and start a dialogue about their bodies, their health, and their sexuality” (9/18).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a CGD research fellow, and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant for the global health team at the center, examine the future of UNITAID. “Perhaps due to its relative obscurity and late entry to a crowded global health field, UNITAID has proactively worked to differentiate itself through a focus on commodities, market shaping, novel funding sources, and innovation,” but, “as UNITAID celebrates its sixth birthday …, it stands at a potential crossroads,” they write. Fan and Silverman note that a five-year evaluation report on the future of UNITAID, commissioned by its Executive Board, is forthcoming, and they highlight a paper (.pdf) in which they “outline some contradictions and limitations of UNITAID’s current approach.” They write, “We hope that the imminent evaluation provides the impetus for UNITAID to turn inward and do something truly innovative: buck institutional inertia, change course as necessary, and reinvent itself as the solution to 2012’s biggest global health challenges” (9/17).
Bill Gates Describes How 'Catalytic Philanthropy' Can Help Bring Vaccines, Medicines To Untouched Markets
In an essay adapted for Forbes magazine from a speech given at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy in June, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses how “[i]nnovations for the poor suffer from … market limitations” and his idea of “catalytic philanthropy.” Gates writes, “The market is not going to place huge bets on research when there are no buyers for a breakthrough. This explains why we have no vaccine for malaria today, even though a million people die from it every year.” Therefore, “when you come to the end of the innovations that business and government are willing to invest in, you still find a vast, unexplored space of innovation where the returns can be fantastic,” he continues.
In a guest post on USAID’s “IMPACT Blog,” Rachel Cohen, regional executive director of DNDi North America, writes, “The United States government and its country partners should be commended for the tremendous achievements in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) NTD Program” and the National Institutes of Health. “However, not all NTD research is created equal,” she writes, adding, “Beyond basic research, much more research and development (R&D), including late-stage product development, for new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics is urgently needed for those NTDs where adequate tools do not exist.” Noting that African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) “are not yet included in the USAID NTD Program,” Cohen says “greater commitment to developing new NTD treatments and other tools is sorely needed if disease control or elimination is to be achieved” (9/18).
“When it comes to getting aid right, an all-too-familiar problem seems to be balancing the priorities of rich governments with what communities actually want,” AlertNet reports in an article examining an essay written by Oxford University researcher Devi Sridhar and published in PLOS Medicine. The essay “assesses the system of financing for health research,” according to the news service (Nguyen, 9/26). “Sridhar argues that since the priorities of funding bodies largely dictate what health issues and diseases are studied, a major challenge in the governance of global health research funding is agenda-setting, which in turn is a consequence of a larger phenomenon — ‘multi-bi financing,'” according to a PLOS press release (9/25). “Multi-bi financing refers to the practice of donors choosing to route non-core funding — earmarked for specific sectors, themes, countries, or regions — through multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank and to the emergence of new multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance,” she writes.
“When we talk about HIV prevention, we tend to frame it as a medical challenge and of course it is one,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “To accelerate the progress in the AIDS response we must reduce transmission and people’s exposure to the virus,” but “ending AIDS is as much a social challenge as a clinical one,” he continues. “One of the clearest lessons of the past three decades is that illiteracy and poverty fuel the spread of HIV and that education can slow it,” he states, adding, “Education — not just sex education but literacy, numeracy, critical-thinking and global citizenship — is the social equivalent of a vaccine, and it’s already available for clinical use.”