In this New York Times opinion piece, Frank Smithuis, director of Medical Action Myanmar in Yangon, and Nick White, professor of tropical medicine at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok, recount a brief history of the development of anti-malaria drugs and their contribution to “a significant global reduction in malaria” and note that this progress “is now threatened by the emergence of malaria parasites that are resistant to artemisinin on the Cambodia-Thailand border …, the same place where chloroquine resistance emerged 50 years ago and spread across Asia and Africa to claim millions of lives.” They write, “The spread of artemisinin resistance is a very serious threat to health in the tropics. There are currently no drugs that can satisfactorily replace artemisinins.”
The debate about two studies showing that, with few genetic mutations, H5N1 bird flu strains could become more easily transmissible among ferrets, a laboratory model for humans, “has become a debate about the role of science in society. Two questions should be addressed here: should this type of research be conducted at all; and if so, should all data generated by this research be published?” Ab Osterhaus, head of the Institute of Virology, at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, writes in a Guardian opinion piece. A team from Erasmus conducted one of the two studies, he notes.
In this post in the Global Health Governance Blog, contributing blogger David Fidler, a professor of law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, examines the potential implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on global health law, writing, “In the midst of this constitutional and political moment, I find myself wondering what this seminal American case means, if anything, beyond the United States in the realm of global health.” He concludes, “The lack of clear and immediate connections between the ACA litigation and global health concerns should not blind us … to deeper, more tectonic implications of the ACA’s fate for global health. As in an increasing number of policy contexts, global health practitioners and advocates have much at stake in the outcome of the ACA controversies but no way to influence what happens” (3/28).
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Robin Smalley, co-founder and international director of mothers2mothers, discusses how partnerships and access to a supportive network of individuals has helped mothers2mothers expand their efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS. She notes that an invitation in 2008 to the Skoll World Forum (SWF) on social entrepreneurship, held in Oxford, provided the organization “entree to a new family, one made up of extraordinary individuals running organizations impacting issues ranging from global health to social justice to the environment.” The conference, underway this week, “is a world dedicated to possibilities, where everyone unites to brainstorm ways we can make our planet a little bit better,” she writes.
In this Lancet opinion piece, Madhukar Pai, a professor and tuberculosis (TB) researcher at McGill University and consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses TB control in India. He writes, “Much has been said and written in the media about totally drug-resistant tuberculosis â€¦ However, all of these discussions really miss the key point — that tuberculosis continues to be a huge problem in India, and that the conditions for emergence of drug resistance are undeniably prevalent, in both public and private sectors.”
On Friday, March 23, President Obama nominated Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and president of Dartmouth College, to be the next president of the World Bank. The following is a summary of several opinion pieces, blog posts, and an editorial published in response to his nomination.
“Eradicating polio and improving the health of millions of children in Pakistan depend quite heavily on assuring that all children have access to life-saving vaccines,” but “[t]he most recent policy prescription from the Pakistani parliament to improve immunization coverage, however, misses the mark, and badly,” Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center, writes in this Huffington Post “World” blog post. “A draft bill being finalized in the Pakistani parliament would require compulsory vaccination of all children, and would introduce tough penalties — including fines and imprisonment — for parents of unvaccinated children,” Levine says. However, supply issues may prevent some parents from being able to vaccinate children, and the threat of punishment may force some to falsify immunization records, he notes.
The U.S. has “been working toward integrating HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence services for women overseas,” and “[i]t’s time we did the same at home,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes in this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post. With the AIDS 2012 conference being held in Washington, D.C., this year, “[t]he administration has already stated it will take lessons learned from global AIDS programs to enhance our programs in the U.S.,” she continues.
“It is not just quantity of aid that counts nowadays, but the quality and perspective of that aid, as well as innovation, investment and experience domestically,” Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” Noting a newly released report from the Global Health Strategies initiatives (GSHi) that says the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — are increasing their global health and development aid, Glennie continues, “Most of the BRICS are still developing countries in the traditional sense of that term, which means that they are combating extreme poverty, hunger and disease at home as well as in their aid programs.” He adds, “This is the main characteristic that sets them apart from traditional donors and philanthropic mega-foundations.”
In anticipation of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, commemorated on March 24, this Lancet editorial examines TB control and elimination efforts in 2012 and beyond. “Tuberculosis killed 1.45 million people in 2010 and about 500,000 people have drug-resistant disease,” the editorial states, adding, “Despite a woeful funding gap in 2012 of $1.7 billion, tuberculosis incidence is falling (from 9.4 million in 2009 to 8.8 million in 2010).” The editorial notes, “Ten new or repurposed tuberculosis drugs are in Phase II or III trials, which hopefully will reduce treatment times to about four months, compared with present multidrug-resistant tuberculosis regimens lasting 18-24 months,” adding, “Faster treatment will greatly improve adherence, reduce transmission, and cut costs.”