In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation, reflects on Angola’s success against polio, writing, “Angola marked a full year without a new case of polio” this month, an accomplishment that serves as “the latest evidence that we are extremely close to ending polio forever.” He continues, “Polio is a formidable foe and Angola is one of the world’s poorest nations with numerous health challenges to tackle, which makes Angola’s achievement especially noteworthy,” adding, “Like all 125 countries that have gotten rid of polio since 1988, Angola’s leaders and citizens also deserve the global resolve needed to ensure that no country ever has to go back and re-do the hard, expensive work that’s already been done to protect their children from polio” (8/27).
In an opinion piece in the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, discusses potential policies contained within the “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a pact that the United States is negotiating with Australia, Canada, Japan and eight other countries in the Pacific region.” However, “[a]t this point, it’s not really possible to discuss the merits of the TPP since the governments are keeping the proposed text a secret from the public,” he says. Noting “[a] few items that have been leaked give us some insight as to the direction of this pact,” he discusses how the “pharmaceutical industry is … likely to be a big gainer” from the TPP if the pact includes “stronger and longer patent protection and also increased use of ‘data exclusivity.'”
Noting “Mitt Romney will become the official nominee for the Republican Party at its convention in Florida” this week, Kim Lufkin, communications officer for the Global Health Technologies Coalition, writes in this post in the coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, “Science and research will likely not appear on the agenda, as Romney, expected Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, and others will instead focus on topics like reducing federal spending.” She continues, “It’s unfortunate that research will not be a part of the conversation, as new predictions coming out this week indicate that if Romney and Ryan win the election in November, changes could be coming for health research and efforts to develop much-needed new tools for global health.” She concludes, “It’s important that the candidates — from Obama and Vice President Biden to Romney and Ryan — start talking about these issues head-on,” and “no matter which party takes the White House in November, support for global health [research and development (R&D)] must continue” (8/24).
“It seems public health is the latest casualty of Pakistan’s fight against homegrown militants and extremist groups,” Huma Yusuf, a columnist for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, writes in this post in the New York Times’ “Latitude” blog, highlighting a recent ban on polio immunization campaigns by the Taliban. “After a period of retreat, the polio virus has recently been detected in sewage samples from several Karachi localities,” she notes, writing, “Today, 22,000 children may be at risk in Karachi, and as many as 250,000 in the tribal areas where Bahadur is based.” She continues, “The resurgence of polio in Karachi is especially worrying because the city is an incubator of disease.”
In this CNN opinion piece, Jamie Drummond, co-founder and executive director of ONE, notes the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is approaching, assesses progress towards these goals and examines issues surrounding the creation of a new set of goals. “With partners we’ve worked on a few specific commitments in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger, and disease and seen how when they are focused, such agreements can make a real measurable difference,” he writes, and briefly discusses progress made against AIDS and malaria over the last decade. “When you’ve seen campaigns such as these go from the margins to the mainstream and achieve real success and save lives, it is hard not to be supportive of more such goals,” but “the key thing here is, what do you think should be in the new goals?” he continues. “The process by which they could be agreed in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century should certainly look very different than that through which they were agreed at the end of the 1990s” because of advancements in technology, he writes, noting, “We can today poll, scientifically, people across the developing world in ways we couldn’t before. We can also ask a wider community of people around the world what they want the goals to be and how they want to support the achievement of these goals.” He concludes, “My belief is that not only will the new goals build on the momentum of the original goals and in many cases finish off the job they started, but we will also develop a bigger constituency for getting the goals finished than we had the first time around” (8/26).
Highlighting a recent report by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine about the use of the drug misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and the WHO’s inclusion of the drug on its Essential Medicine List, Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in this post in her “Global Health Blog,” “Seldom has there been a drug that has excited as much controversy as misoprostol.” She continues, “Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract, which is why it can stop postpartum hemorrhage, the cause of around a quarter of maternal deaths,” but “there has been a huge fight over whether and how well it works, which in some quarters has been ideologically motivated, because misoprostol can also bring about an abortion.”
“Over the 30 years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease has had a profound impact on every country in the world,” and “in each country, that impact is experienced a different way,” Vivek Anand, CEO of the Humsafar Trust, and Kenneth Mayer, medical research director of Fenway Health and co-director of the Fenway Institute, write in this post in Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “But one reality remains: In nearly every country, HIV rates are disproportionately high in gay and bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM) who do not identify as either,” they continue, adding, “The full scope of the epidemic simply cannot be addressed until we recognize that there is no country in the world where we can overlook the MSM population.”
“Although food prices remain below their February 2011 peak, and the situation has not yet reached international crisis proportions, the recent spike is cause for serious concern,” Robert Hormats, U.S. under-secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece, adding, “That’s why it’s especially important now that countries not make matters worse, as some have done in recent years in the face of food shortages.” He continues, “In response to popular demands, governments in some exporting countries have in the past imposed restrictions on the sale abroad of domestically produced agricultural output,” noting, “These measures have taken many forms, such as export quotas, prohibitive export taxes, or outright bans.”
In this Forbes opinion piece, John Lechleiter, president and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company, examines the business of counterfeit medicines, writing, “With global sales last year estimated as high as $200 billion, counterfeit medicine is big business, and it’s growing.” “In a recent Forbes column, Henry I. Miller cited an estimate by Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute that more than 100,000 people die every year from counterfeit drugs,” he continues, adding, “That’s why fighting counterfeits is essential to safeguarding health. We need action — national and international — to better secure the pharmaceutical supply chain.”
International Community Must Address Challenges To Food, Water Security In A Systematic, Coherent Manner
“New ideas and approaches to the water and food nexus will be addressed at World Water Week,” which will take place in Stockholm, Sweden from 26-31 August, Anders Jagerskog, an associate professor and director of knowledge services at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), writes in this post in the AlertNet Blog. He highlights a report (.pdf) being launched by the institute called “Feeding a Thirsty World: Challenges and Opportunities for a Water and Food Secure Future,” noting it is aimed at “provid[ing] an overview of the areas that relate to food security and water” ahead of the event.