Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation writes in an opinion piece in Nigeria’s Vanguard, “My top priority as a co-chair of the foundation I run with my husband is making sure that all families have access to safe and effective contraception tools that empower them to make a decision about what’s best for them and their family. And that means encouraging aid donors and governments here in Nigeria and across Africa to make family planning a priority.” Improved access to modern methods of contraception and child spacing would save millions of lives, “[b]ut family planning doesn’t just save lives; it also makes life better for families and communities, becoming a key driver of economic development,” Gates continues.
The cause of malnutrition in India — which “results in a loss of productivity, indirect losses from impaired cognitive development, and losses from increased long-term health care costs” — is “not so much a lack of nutrient-rich food, but rather a weakness in the food supply chain,” William Thomson, a research assistant at the U.S. Naval War College, writes in an opinion piece in The Diplomat. “Rather than correct supply chain issues, which would increase availability of food while reducing costs, the government” has passed a National Food Security Bill that would subsidize grain purchases “at a time when it can ill afford the expense associated with underwriting grain purchases for almost two thirds of the country’s population,” he continues.
In this Reuters opinion piece, finance blogger Felix Salmon responds to a New York Times (NYT) article published on Monday in which journalist Deborah Sontag examines the global response to Haiti’s cholera epidemic. He writes, “There’s no doubt that Haiti’s cholera epidemic was massive and tragic, and that the response to it could have been better, in an ideal world. But Sontag barely attempts to address the question of why the response was suboptimal. … Rather, [she] spends a huge amount of effort tracking down, on the one hand, purely anecdotal stories of individual Haitians who were exposed to the disease, and on the other hand, the detailed story of whether and how the outbreak could be traced back to a group of Nepalese peacekeepers on the island.”
“That India is free of wild polio today is a testament to the commitment of the Indian government,” which “invested more than $1 billion over the last decade and collaborated with community leaders, health workers, businesses, and parents,” as well as governments, non-governmental organizations, and multilateral agencies, to fight the disease, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius writes in a Foreign Affairs opinion piece. “The victory over the disease in India has saved millions of lives from disability and death. And although the world must remain vigilant against polio to prevent its resurgence, India’s success will gradually allow the nation to focus resources and experience on [other] diseases and initiatives,” she states.
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.