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Protection Of Health Workers Necessary To Eradicate Polio

“The murders of charity and aid workers in Pakistan has dealt a devastating blow to a national campaign to wipe out polio and other deadly diseases,” a New York Times editorial states. “No one has claimed responsibility for the most recent attack, but suspicions point to the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups that have opposed the vaccination drives, calling them a cover for government or international spies, or part of a plot to sterilize Muslim children,” the editorial says.

Support Innovative Financing Mechanisms For Global Health

“Millions of lives are saved today in developing countries because of bold, innovative financing arrangements over last 10 years. These financing mechanisms are good examples of private sector partnership with public sector for common good,” Taufiqur Rahman, an international health consultant, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He describes several examples, including the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), UNITAID, Clinton Foundation efforts, and the patent pools, Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and Pool for Open Innovation. Rahman concludes, “Our efforts must be to support and expand these innovative financing mechanisms and promote innovation for efficient pricing arrangements. At the same time, we must ensure that these financing mechanisms remain lean, efficient, and transparent” (1/4).

NEJM Begins Series Of Review Articles On Global Health

The January 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine “includes the first article in a series of review articles on global health,” Harvey Fineberg of the Institute of Medicine and David Hunter of the Harvard School of Public Health write in an NEJM editorial. “The series is built around articles that explain the need for global health, the challenges to achieving it, and the solutions to problems related to it,” they add. They discuss how “the meaning of the term global health has evolved over time,” and say, “In developing this series, we adopted the concept of global health as ‘public health for the world,'” which “condenses the definition offered by the Institute of Medicine’s Expert Committee on the U.S. Commitment to Global Health in 2008.”

Pushing 14 Years For Philippines Reproductive Health Bill Took ‘Courage’

Jose “Oying” Rimon, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Ben de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc., write in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog that the many people who worked for 14 years to pass a reproductive health bill in the Philippines are “profiles in courage.” They continue, “This is the story of these courageous people but it’s also a story of resolution in staying the course, abiding with scientific evidence and facts, and the nobility of staying positive against on onslaught of insults and misinformation.” The bill represents “an unparalleled educational process in which common sense and science prevailed,” they conclude (1/2).

Banning Thimerosal From Vaccines Could Hinder Achievements In Global Childhood Immunization

“Thanks to a herculean effort by health advocates, 78 percent of children in low-income countries receive the basic set of childhood vaccines, covering diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza,” a Bloomberg View editorial states. However, “[t]his campaign will be disrupted, and lives lost, if immunization critics win their latest battle for an international ban on a vaccine component” — thimerosal, a mercury-containing organic compound — “that has proved to be safe time and time again,” the editorial writes, noting, “Groups such as the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs and the Coalition for SafeMinds are pressing their case before the United Nations Environmental Program [UNEP] meets on Jan. 13 to prepare a global treaty reducing mercury use.”

More Work Ahead In TB Drug Development, Treatment Delivery

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the tuberculosis (TB) drug Sirturo, also known as bedaquiline, “appears to be just the first step in an exciting renaissance for TB drug development,” Mark Harrington, executive director of Treatment Action Group (TAG), writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Another new drug, delamanid, is currently in late clinical trials and has been submitted to the European Medicines Agency for review as a treatment for [multidrug-resistant (MDR)] TB,” he notes. Harrington concludes, “It’s an exciting time for TB treatment, but much more needs to be done and more resources are needed. We need to focus not only on the discovery and development of new drugs, but also on ensuring that news drugs are delivered to those who need them and in combinations that can prevent the emergence of new types of drug resistance” (12/28).

Can Crowdfunding Be Used Effectively To Advance HIV Vaccine Research?

“What will the next great leap forward be, and how can we make sure it gets tested ASAP?” Zachary Barnett, founder and executive director of Abzyme Research Foundation/ENDHIV.com, asks about HIV research in the Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “International sales of antiretrovirals in 2011 were over $15 billion, while commercial reinvestment into the testing of therapeutic vaccine and cure approaches was just $30 million, or just 0.2 percent,” he notes, adding, “So it appears we need more ways to get money flowing into new cure and therapeutic vaccine research.”