Noting “there is a huge ‘cancer divide’ between rich and poor,” with more than half of new cancer cases and almost two-thirds of all cancer deaths occurring in developing countries, this year’s World Cancer Day theme, “Together It Is Possible,” “calls on all individuals, organizations and governments to do their part to reduce premature deaths from cancers by 25 percent by 2025,” Felicia Knaul, secretariat for the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries, and Jonathan Quick, president of Management Sciences for Health, write in a Huffington Post opinion piece. “But there have been four myths that have held back cancer care and control in developing countries,” they write.
In this post in TIME World’s “Global Spin” blog, TIME’s Africa bureau chief Alex Perry examines questions surrounding an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) study published in the Lancet on Friday that suggests “malaria kills almost twice as many people a year as previously believed,” writing, “If correct, at a stroke that overturns medical consensus, makes a nonsense of decades of World Health Organization (WHO) statistics — the official malaria numbers — and plunges the current multibillion-dollars anti-malaria campaign, and the push to reach a 2015 deadline for achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals, into grave doubt.”
“Sugar poses enough health risks that it should be considered a controlled substance just like alcohol and tobacco, contend a team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF),” in an opinion piece called “The Toxic Truth About Sugar,” published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, TIME’s “Healthland” blog reports (Rochman, 2/2). “While acknowledging that food, unlike alcohol and tobacco, is required for survival, [authors Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis] say taxes, zoning ordinances and even age limits for purchasing certain sugar-laden products are all appropriate remedies for what they see as a not-so-sweet problem,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Health” blog writes (Hobson, 2/2).
In December 2011, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) advised that two research teams that had genetically altered the H5N1 virus to be easily transmissible among ferrets redact some of the research details before publishing in the journals Science and Nature. The board’s primary concern was that the altered virus could possibly be used as a bioweapon. Scientists in January voluntarily suspended bird flu research for 60 days, and the WHO is expected to hold a summit later this month to discuss the issue. The following are summaries of two opinion pieces on the topic.
In this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete examines efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on maternal and child mortality in Africa, noting, “Although Africa has just 12 percent of the global population, it accounts for half of all maternal deaths and half the deaths of children under five.” He writes, “Though global maternal deaths are in decline and women’s health has at last become a global priority, our goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent in 2015 is still a long way off. … It is unacceptable to allow mothers and children to die when we have the knowledge and resources to save them.”
In this PLoS Medicine editorial, the editors review progress toward the journal’s goal of reflecting and addressing inequity in the burden of ill-health around the world as part of the Global Burden of Disease project — a “comprehensive work studying the burden of ill-health and death resulting from specific conditions, injuries, and risk factors,” a PLoS press release writes. “By prioritizing studies in areas that contribute most substantially to the global burden of ill-health and premature mortality, PLoS Medicine, as an open-access journal, can specifically ensure that this important research is disseminated and reused widely,” the press release states (1/31).
In this New York Times opinion piece, Paul Farmer, chair of the department of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-founder of Partners in Health, examines the importance of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as it faces a “serious financial shortfall,” writing, “Beyond AIDS, the Global Fund is currently the largest donor in the world for tuberculosis and malaria programs. … The question is not whether the Global Fund works, but how to ensure it keeps working for years to come.”
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance” blog, Connie Veillette, director of CGD’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, highlights two recent posts by CGD’s Amanda Glassman and Nandini Oomman on the future of the Global Health Initiative (GHI). She writes, “With the Appropriations Committee weighing in by requiring a status report by mid-February on transitioning GHI to USAID, it is no understatement that the GHI is at an important juncture. Declining budgets for foreign assistance will also require new thinking on where the U.S. provides assistance and for what purpose” (1/31).
“The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has proved to be one of the world’s most important and innovative multilateral funding agencies,” a Financial Times editorial states. Therefore, “[t]he abrupt reshuffle of top management last week” â€“ with the resignation of Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine and the appointment of General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo â€“ “must not distract attention from its achievements over the past decade, which on their own justify further donor support,” the editorial continues. “[T]here is a need to re-examine the agency’s management and operations, particularly when squeezed donors are seeking better value for money,” and that involves “scrutinizing grant applications to ensure its stretched finances go to the neediest: those with fewest resources, the highest disease burden, and policies that do most to prevent and treat infection,” the editorial states.
“The Global Fund’s drive to ensure sustainability and efficiency means that it may not be able to meet its commitments to combat disease, says Laurie Garrett,” a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, in Nature’s “World View” column. Citing his resignation letter, Garrett discusses the “the political struggle” that led Michel Kazatchkine to step down as executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last week and writes, “It is a classic battle of titans, pitting urgency against long-term sustainability. … Kazatchkine essentially conceded victory to the forces for sustainability.”