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Scientific Exploration Important On Earth, In Space

In the New York Times’ “Scientist At Work” blog, Alexander Kumar, a physician and researcher at Concordia Station in Antarctica, examines the question of “why humans should venture out to other planets, and perhaps in the process create new problems, when we have so many problems on our own planet,” including HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other “largely preventable and treatable” conditions. Kumar, who is “investigat[ing] the possibility of one day sending humans to Mars” for the European Space Agency, says he is “repeatedly asked … why the human race would invest its precious and finite resources (money) into space exploration?” He continues, “People have presented valid arguments both ways: those against, about depriving the bottom billion of our planet by diverting much-needed funding; and those in favor, for furthering mankind’s now-desperate need for discoveries and new life-saving technology through exploration in space.

Affected Countries, Communities Should Conduct Global Health Priority-Setting

“Global health is changing — both in policy and practice,” Alanna Shaikh, a development consultant and blogger currently working on a USAID-funded health project, writes in an opinion piece in the Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog, adding the field is getting “far more attention in the past decade than in the years before,” which “also creates challenges.” Finding ways to prioritize resources and issues can be difficult, she says, but using the “global health perspective is valuable across the board” because it “focuses on linkages — between individuals, communities and nations, and among health topics.”

Skoll World Forum, ‘Impatient Optimists’ Examine How To End AIDS

The Skoll World Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog have co-produced a blog series to answer the question, “What will it really take to end AIDS?” In the first of six posts, Steffano Bertozi, director of HIV in the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, writes, “[D]espite evidence of measurable progress, it’s important to recognize that we still don’t have all of the tools that we need to end AIDS,” therefore “we still have an essential moral obligation to discover, develop and deliver new and better ways to help people protect themselves from HIV infection” (12/3). In another post, Erin Hohlfelder, ONE’s policy manager for health, says with “scaled-up financing, targeted programming, and expanded political will,” as well as “renewed urgency and concerted action, the world can transform the beginning of the end of AIDS from a vision to a reality and chart a course towards ending this pandemic” (12/3).

U.S. Working With Namibia On AIDS Response

U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Wanda Nesbitt writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, “Here in Namibia, the United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is working closely with the people and Government of Namibia to prevent new HIV infections, provide lifesaving HIV treatment to those who need it, and help put an end to AIDS in the country.” She discusses the recently released Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation (.pdf), progress in Namibia’s AIDS response, and the transition period in which Namibia will take full responsibility for its HIV program. “We are proud to work with the government and people of Namibia to do our part toward achieving the goal of creating an AIDS-free generation. By investing smarter and working together, we will win this fight,” she writes (12/3).

Opinion Pieces, Editorial Address Global AIDS Response

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced the Obama administration’s “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), and the international community recognized World AIDS Day on December 1. The following opinion pieces and editorial address issues related to the global AIDS response.

Showing Progress In The ‘Decade Of Vaccines’

In a post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Christopher Elias, president of global development at the foundation, discusses progress on “the Decade of Vaccines, a vision and commitment to reach all people with the vaccines they need.” He says “the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a roadmap for saving more than 20 million lives by 2020,” as well as the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, WHO, health experts, dedicated vaccinators and many others,” are helping “vaccines [reach] more children, in more places, than ever before.” According to Elias, the Gates Foundation is “co-hosting a vaccine summit in Abu Dhabi in April” during World Immunization Week. He notes, “We’re holding the summit in Abu Dhabi to recognize that Middle Eastern and Islamic countries are emerging as leaders in efforts to immunize children against polio and other diseases” (12/2).

Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV Can Be Eliminated Through Collective Alliances

“The global economic crisis has caused many to reassess, refocus and redirect financial priorities,” and “[a]s a result, vital international aid to combat global health issues like HIV/AIDS is threatened,” Rhonda Zygocki, executive vice president of policy and planning at Chevron Corporation, and Frank Beadle de Palomo, CEO of mothers2mothers International, write in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “But there is good news: Mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be eliminated,” they continue, adding, “Through education, voluntary testing and counseling, antiretroviral therapies, safe delivery practices and breastfeeding protocols, we can ensure babies are born HIV-free.”