The U.S. government, and in particular U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, the head of PEPFAR, “have a unique opportunity to make [the program's] money stretch farther and do more good, at very little cost to U.S. taxpayers: release the reams of data that PEPFAR and its contractors have already collected, at substantial cost — perhaps as much as $500 million each year,” Mead Over, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in the Center’s “Global Health Policy” blog. “This would be a first step in what I hope will be [a] 2013 drive to improve the efficiency, the quality and the accountability of the U.S.’s most frequently praised foreign assistance program,” he states. Over goes on to describe the Data Working Group and its recommendations to PEPFAR (11/13).
Noting that an estimated $2 billion was spent on the U.S. presidential campaigns, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, writes in the Huffington Post “Healthy Living” blog, “Many of us in the global health community can only look upon that $2 billion figure in awe because of the potential for those dollars to be repurposed to immediately and dramatically improve the lives of the poorest people who suffer from disease.” Hotez says neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) “are the most pervasive and common infections of the world’s poorest people” and “not only impair health but actually trap people in poverty.” He says the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases can provide pharmaceutical “rapid impact packages” that “can control or even eliminate many of these diseases as public health problems … for as little as 50 cents per person per year, making NTD treatments one of the world’s most cost-effective public health interventions.”
The Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria began as a pilot program in 2010 to “provide a ‘co-payment’ to the manufacturers of [artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)], thereby allowing commercial wholesalers and private or government health services to purchase the drugs at a fraction of the already low negotiated price,” Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel laureate in economic sciences in 1972 and an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. The program subsidized ACTs — a newer, more effective malaria treatment — to “sell [them] as cheaply as [less-effective] chloroquine in Africa’s private pharmacies and shops, where half of all patients first seek treatment for malaria-like fevers,” he states. “Strikingly, it has worked,” Arrow writes, noting a recent independent review of the program published in the Lancet.
Mary Beth Hastings, vice president of the Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog that despite “the pervasive myth that no one wants female condoms,” “[d]emand is increasing because female condoms provide men and women with something they want: more options when it comes to protecting themselves.” USAID officials “were surprised to hear evidence of an unmet demand for female condoms,” Hastings says, adding, “[W]hen presented with evidence to the contrary, USAID started talking with different institutions about meeting the demand.” She continues, “To its credit, the U.S. government is a global leader on female condoms. But there is still room for improvement.”
Noting “[t]he WHO has estimated that there is a global shortage of more than four million trained health care workers,” Robert Bollinger, professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, writes in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog, “It is very clear that new and innovative strategies are needed to train the large number of health professionals needed for Africa, Asia, and Latin America.” He continues, “It is also clear that these strategies must ensure that the quality of training is excellent and that there are new efforts to support the long-term training of graduates in their own communities, to reduce brain drain, and to ensure that the communities they serve benefit from more and better trained health care providers.”
Recent successes in increasing the treatment and decreasing the incidence of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria, along with other global health advances, “is thanks to the hard work and cooperation of people from many different walks of life: politicians of all stripes, business leaders, grassroots activists, clergy, health workers, government agencies and many more,” Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog. She says the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been “[c]entral” to these developments, and the “U.S. government has been a crucial leader in supporting international health and the Global Fund.” She adds, “Sustained commitment will ensure more lifesaving success.” Derrick also recognizes the work of doctors and businesses.
Sometimes “[w]hen the international aid community descends on a vulnerable place … good intentions make a bad situation even worse,” a Boston Globe editorial states, adding that is “what happened two years ago, when United Nations peacekeepers arrived in Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake, bringing the deadly disease cholera with them.” According to a panel of U.N. experts, poor sanitation in the peacekeepers’ camp likely caused the outbreak, which has killed 7,000 people and sickened 500,000, the editorial notes. “So far, the United Nations has declined to apologize for its role, or even admit it — perhaps because it is facing a deluge of expensive legal claims brought by the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti on behalf of the victim’s families,” the editorial states, noting that after a year, the “U.N. says it is still studying the claims.”
In a post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan and Heather Lanthorn from the CGD examine the controversy surrounding the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), writing, “No doubt, the debate on the AMFm has devolved into bickering and accusations from many sides. But the overstated rhetoric obscures genuine differences of opinion on how best to move forward with an evidence-based decision-making process, and what counts as ‘evidence’ sufficient to approve, modify, or scrap the program.” They continue, “Evidence needs to be at the core of these discussions. Ultimately, all malaria advocates share the same goal: to reduce the burden of malaria and the burden it places on human and economic development” (11/8).
“Inadequate health systems have a disproportionate and crippling effect on the growth of developing nations. And yet the solution is within closer reach than many realize, says Dr. Brian Brink, chief medical officer of Anglo American,” in a piece provided by the mining company to the Guardian’s “Sustainable Business” blog. “A robust health system lies at the heart of building a country that has a healthy population, healthy society and healthy economy,” the blog writes, adding, “The irony is that the countries that need those health care systems the most are paying the heaviest price.”
“With donor money to fight HIV and AIDS falling, spending in sub-Saharan Africa must be targeted to get the best results,” Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, noting, “Sub-Saharan Africa has 10 percent of the world’s population but is home to 70 percent of those living with HIV and AIDS.” He continues, “The problem is neither beaten nor going away: new infections continue to outpace the number of people put on treatment,” and writes, “One of the biggest impediments to the fight is the incorrect perception in developed nations that the epidemic is beaten. Thanks to donor fatigue and tougher economic conditions, many donor countries have reduced their contributions significantly.”