“[I]t has been a banner year for media attention, political will and global resources on family planning and women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment,” Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360; Laneta Dorflinger, a scientist with FHI 360; and Kirsten Vogelsong, a senior program officer with the family planning division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, write in the Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog, noting the London Summit on Family Planning, World Contraception Day, and the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. “To achieve the ambitious goals set forth by these international initiatives, however, the global health and development community must act on the current political momentum and not lose sight of the challenges that remain,” they state. Though there are “many contraceptive choices available to prevent unintended pregnancy,” access to contraception is limited for many women and “the currently available methods do not always meet their needs, preferences or budgets,” they write.
“Despite a sudden increase in July this year, prices of cereals on world markets remained fairly stable,” Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), writes in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. “But there are no grounds for complacency, as cereals markets remain vulnerable to supply shocks and disruptive policy measures,” he states, adding, “In this context, the good harvests that are expected in the Southern Hemisphere are important.” He notes, “In the last 10 years we have seen major changes in the behavior of food prices,” and continues, “All this makes it timely to reflect on recent price events and the reactions of the international community, especially since price volatility is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”
“Doctors were at the forefront of the AIDS treatment revolution a decade ago, denouncing stigmatization and inequality from conference platforms and lobbying politicians alongside the activists,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health” blog, asking, “Could we see cancer doctors take up the banners and the slogans on behalf of the poorest in the same way?” She continues, “Until last weekend, I personally did not think so. But in a lakeside hotel in Lugano in Switzerland, at a meeting of the World Oncology Forum, I watched what looked like a process of radicalization take place.” She adds, “Nearly 100 of the world’s leading cancer doctors were there,” noting, “The question for discussion over a day and a half was ‘Are we winning the war on cancer?'”
“My worry, as the high-level panel on post-2015 development goals meets this week, is that my voice — and those of many others working at the sharp end of development — won’t ultimately have much influence,” Francess Fornah head of the school of midwifery in Makeni, Sierra Leone on a three-month commonwealth fellowship placement organized by VSO and based at King’s Health Partners in London, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. “Every day, thousands of community health workers, voluntary groups, teachers, entrepreneurs and civil servants engage in development activities in their own communities. … know what works, because they’re out there doing it; and they know what doesn’t work, because they’ve seen it fail,” she continues.
Noting the progress made since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the upcoming recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, Ronald Valdiserri, deputy assistant secretary for health, infectious diseases at the Department of Health and Human Services, writes in a Public Health Reports opinion piece (.pdf), “[W]e would do well to keep in mind the following caution. No matter the elegance of the controlled trial, the statistical significance of the results, or the superiority of the science, we must confront this inevitable reality: We will never be able to take full advantage of our progress in HIV clinical and prevention science until we develop and sustain the human, organizational, and structural capacities necessary to implement these new scientific breakthroughs.” He continues, “If we fail to attend to the ‘on-the-ground’ details of implementation, we risk dissipating the promise of new drugs, novel therapies, and enhanced interventions that could, in fact, lead us to an AIDS-free generation.”
As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an opinion piece by Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School and Partners In Health. With an estimated 1,000 people with HIV dying of tuberculosis (TB) every day, “[i]t is clear that our current approaches to addressing the global tuberculosis pandemic are inadequate,” he writes. Keshavjee says, “First, bold targets for reducing tuberculosis incidence and zero TB-HIV deaths must be prioritized in the blueprint. … Second, known strategies for stopping the spread of tuberculosis have to be actively implemented. … Lastly, any effective strategy has to ensure that HIV advocates at the community level are educated about the threat of tuberculosis,” and he describes each of his points in detail. He concludes, “The United States has shown visionary leadership in the area of HIV treatment and changed the lives of countless people for the better. It is time to take on tuberculosis with the same moral and pragmatic vigor” (Barton, 10/31).
The following opinion pieces were published ahead of a high-level U.N. panel meeting taking place in London this week, where global leaders and policymakers will gather to discuss a post-2015 development agenda to address global poverty.
Sarah Arnquist, who runs Global Health Hub, writes in Harvard University’s Global Health Delivery Project blog about a Monday session at the American Public Health Association’s annual conference that discussed “[u]sing online communities to promote health and engage communities — of either professionals or patients.” As a member of the panel, Arnquist discussed GHDonline, “a platform of expert-led communities where health care implementers collaborate to improve the delivery of health care” and provide discussion through “virtual expert panels” to members of the GHDonline community, she says. “Each discussion is summarized into a ‘discussion brief’ that provides busy people a quick overview of key points and links to useful background research,” she writes and details some recent topics (10/31).
Writing in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Nicola Pardy, an editorial intern at GlobalPost, reflects on the closure of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) office announced in July, noting that the government announced the establishment of a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy. She asks, “So, what has changed in this next phase of the initiative?” Pardy quotes Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” and the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blogs, which commented on the announcement. She also cites a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation that examines how countries are responding to and implementing the women, girls, and gender equality principle of the GHI; highlights two case studies on GHI reproductive health-related activities in Guatemala (.pdf) and Ethiopia (.pdf) released by the Change Center for Health and Gender Equity in June; and notes an analysis of the GHI published in the Lancet this month. She concludes, “GHI’s lofty objectives have yet to come to fruition. Now it’s time to see whether the initiative has both the momentum and leadership to get there” (10/26).
While there is “much to be proud of” in the progress in the fight against polio, “there’s still more work to be done,” former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. Martin, a polio survivor, notes that in 1988, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched, 350,000 cases in more than 125 countries were recorded annually, but “[s]o far this year, we’ve seen just 171 cases, and only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria have never stopped transmission.” He continues, “Canada has been a leader in this fight,” but “[t]he credit for this progress, of course, goes far beyond Canada” to “the work of global partners like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the frontline workers whose tireless efforts make all of this possible; and the countries that are making the political and financial commitments necessary to see the end of this disease.”