In recognition of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s 10th anniversary, Sisonke Msimang, executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, recounts the Fund’s history and development in this Project Syndicate opinion piece, stating that the organization is “driven by the idea that people need not die of preventable and treatable diseases simply because they are poor.” She continues, “And yet today, despite the Global Fund’s effectiveness and its strong anti-corruption track record, donors have cited ‘bad governance’ as an excuse for withholding further committed resources. Others have blamed the global financial crisis. The irony of this has not been lost on activists, who deal with the drivers of AIDS, TB, and malaria — corruption and poverty — on a daily basis.”
In this AlertNet opinion piece, Simon Bush, director of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) at Sightsavers, an international NGO helping people with visual impairments in developing countries, examines efforts to rid Africa of onchocerciasis — a blinding NTD. “In 1947 when Sightsavers’ founder, Sir John Wilson, coined the phrase river blindness to describe the almost unpronounceable disease, … there was little choice for those living in areas where what we now call a neglected tropical disease was endemic,” he writes, adding, “Today, although the World Health Organization estimates that 120 million people are at risk of river blindness, there is hope.”
A recently released OECD report (.pdf) “spells out the toll obesity can take on one’s health and on health care costs,” Indianapolis Star reporter Barb Berggoetz writes in this Star opinion piece, adding, “Obese people die on average eight to 10 years sooner than people at normal weight.” She notes that, according to the report, “[o]besity — responsible for between five to 10 percent of total health spending in the U.S. and one to three percent in most countries — will cause a rapid rise in health spending in coming years, as obesity related diseases set in.”
This post in KPLU’s “Humanosphere” blog examines the “gap between the disease burden of mental illness and the amount of funding and attention devoted to solving the problem,” referencing a post published Friday in the Global Health Interest Forum’s “Blog of Scientists for Global Health,” written by Paul Southworth, a visiting scholar on malaria and vaccine science at the NIH. The blog provides a breakdown of the global burden of disease in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and notes, “As you can see from the pie chart, mental illness (aka ‘neuropsychiatric disorders’) is the biggest slice in the pie. Yet it is rarely even mentioned at global health meetings or confabs, says Southworth” (Paulson, 2/21).
“While international attention focuses on Burma, [also known as Myanmar,] a health crisis in the country looms large,” Joe Billiveau, operations manager of Medecins Sans Frontieres’ (MSF) operational center in Amsterdam, writes in this opinion piece in Bangkok’s Nation. He continues, “An estimated 85,000 people infected with HIV in Burma are not receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART). This is an improvement on previous years, with new momentum in the country to tackle the crisis,” but the cancellation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Round 11 grants “threatens to undo improvements” and prevent the planned scale-up of ART for an additional 46,500 patients and treatment for another 10,000 tuberculosis (TB) patients.
In this post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says the FY 2013 International Affairs budget request “showcases President Obama’s commitment to making smart, efficient investments to help those in the greatest need while helping to create economic opportunity and safeguarding American security.” Despite “important results” from investments made last year in humanitarian assistance, HIV/AIDS, malaria and agriculture, “we’ve had to make difficult choices this year, consolidating some programs and eliminating others. Our 2013 budget shows a willingness to focus on countries and programs where we believe we can make the greatest impact,” Shah writes and outlines those efforts. “The investments included in the FY13 budget will improve the lives of people throughout the world. For millions, this assistance can literally mean the difference between life and death,” he concludes (2/16).
In this SciDev.Net opinion piece, journalist Priya Shetty writes that the Sustainable Development Goals — a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) proposed to begin in 2015 — “need more focus on health to continue the progress achieved with MDGs.” She continues, “[A]lthough early drafts of the SDGs address issues that the MDGs neglected, such as food security, they are light on health and many social issues (education, for example, or gender equity). This should be of major concern to public health experts.”
The “WHO should regulate alcohol at the global level, enforcing such regulations as a minimum drinking age, zero-tolerance drunken driving, and bans on unlimited drink specials,” Devi Sridhar, a lecturer in global health politics at the University of Oxford, argues in a commentary published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, Scientific American reports. “[A]lcohol kills more than 2.5 million people annually, more than AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis,” and it is a leading health concern for middle-income populations, “greater than obesity, inactivity and even tobacco,” according to the news service (Wanjek, 2/15).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Jill Sheffield, founder and President of Women Deliver, responds to an opinion piece published in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” on Friday in which Ofra Koffman — a Leverhulme postdoctoral fellow in the department for culture, media and creative industries at King’s College London — “questions the contributions that girls and young women can make to economies when they delay childbirth,” and argues “that the so-called ‘Girl Effect’ of delaying childbirth does not necessarily ‘stop poverty before it starts,’ as the Department for International Development (DFID) claims.” Sheffield writes, “The ability to choose if and when to have children is a huge piece of the puzzle to the ‘Girl Effect,’ but it is not the only piece. … The ‘Girl Effect’ is an amalgamation of exactly these three components: security, health, and power” (2/15).
“Globally, malnutrition is the most important cause of illness and death,” Jeremy Laurance, health editor at the Independent, writes in this editorial. Laurance details the physical effects of malnutrition on a child and notes, “Malnutrition contributes to more than half of child deaths worldwide. … It affects virtually every organ system,” and “[i]ts impact on the immune system is similar to that of AIDS.”