In a guest post on the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Margaret McGlynn, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and William Snow, director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, discuss the recent AIDS Vaccine 2012 Conference that was held in Boston. “There has been so much progress in every aspect of HIV prevention research over the last three years that [researchers] had plenty to report,” they write, adding, “[I]t is increasingly clear that defeating HIV will require the combined application of a number of interventions.” They review the results of several studies and comments from several speakers and conclude, “[S]cientific partnership across borders and oceans has long been a hallmark of HIV vaccine development. That, after all, is what brought the field to where it is now: on the verge of a transformation” (Barton, 10/1).
Mobile phones and other SMS-based platforms are being used to improve health care systems worldwide and have “opened the gateway to establishing emergency triage systems, sending medication adherence reminders, enabling home-based antenatal care, tracking community immunization and dispatching mass announcements detailing satellite clinic schedules and locations,” Nadim Mahmud, co-founder of Medic Mobile, writes in a CNN opinion piece. “While I am focused on helping people in the developing countries, I am keenly aware that mobile health care innovations also impact people close to home,” he says.
“I’m encouraged by the focus on children’s health alongside other pressing global issues” at the U.N. General Assembly meeting last week, Dagfinn Hoybraten, vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chair of the GAVI Alliance Board, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, adding, “These discussions come in the wake of UNICEF’s latest report on declines in child mortality around the world.” He provides some statistics from the report and notes, “In June, the governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, along with UNICEF, launched a renewed global commitment to child survival at a meeting in Washington.”
“While reports from the United Nations as well as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) indicate that maternal deaths are declining around the world, far too many women continue to die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth,” Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “In fact, every 90 seconds a young woman dies unnecessarily when she is giving life,” she continues, noting, “More than 90 percent of these deaths could be avoided, if all women had timely access to good quality care.”
“Supplies — the essential medicines and medical equipment frontline health workers need to successfully do their jobs — are a vital part of the solution to saving the lives of mothers and newborns,” Catharine Taylor, a maternal health expert with PATH, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “And yet, they are frequently overlooked in the ongoing conversation about how to improve maternal health in the developing world.” She continues, “All the skilled health care workers in the world can’t deliver the care women need if a clinic’s stock is empty and the next round of supplies is weeks away. Reliable availability of maternal health medicines and supplies will ultimately strengthen health care systems and make frontline health workers more effective.”
In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Gary Darmstadt, Monica Kerrigan, and Wendy Prosser of the foundation discuss a new partnership announced on Wednesday at the U.N. to improve access to contraceptive implants for women in the developing world. The program, part of the FP2020 initiative to increase access to modern contraceptives, “will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of mothers and children and prevent millions of unwanted pregnancies by giving women access to information, supplies and services to delay, space and limit her births,” they write. “This new development puts the power in women’s hands with information, services and contraceptive methods they need and want,” they state, concluding, “Most importantly, though, it allows women in some of the poorest regions of the world the chance to make their own choices about how to plan their families” (9/27).
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflects on changes in U.S. global health diplomacy since taking office in this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece. “America had been leading the global health fight for decades,” but “we recognized that to sustain the impact of our work, we needed to change the way we did business,” she writes. “For example, while our agencies were providing tremendous leadership in isolation, they could still do more to collaborate effectively,” she writes, adding, “[W]e weren’t doing enough to coordinate our efforts with other donors or our partner countries,” and “we weren’t building sustainable systems to eventually allow our partner countries to manage more of their own health needs.” She says, “We were unintentionally putting a ceiling on the number of lives we could save.”
“When President Obama made a landmark speech against modern slavery on Tuesday, many of us in the news media shrugged,” but women survivors of human trafficking “noticed,” Nicholas Kristof writes in his New York Times column. “[T]he world often scorns the victims and sees them as criminals: these girls are the lepers of the 21st century,” he says, adding, “So bravo to the president for giving a major speech on human trafficking and, crucially, for promising greater resources to fight pimps and support those who escape the streets. Until recently, the Obama White House hasn’t shown strong leadership on human trafficking, but this could be a breakthrough. The test will be whether Obama continues to press the issue.”
“When we talk about HIV prevention, we tend to frame it as a medical challenge and of course it is one,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “To accelerate the progress in the AIDS response we must reduce transmission and people’s exposure to the virus,” but “ending AIDS is as much a social challenge as a clinical one,” he continues. “One of the clearest lessons of the past three decades is that illiteracy and poverty fuel the spread of HIV and that education can slow it,” he states, adding, “Education — not just sex education but literacy, numeracy, critical-thinking and global citizenship — is the social equivalent of a vaccine, and it’s already available for clinical use.”
“In a speech to the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, [Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney] acknowledged the value of foreign aid and its purpose: providing humanitarian assistance, improving security and encouraging economic growth,” but “we don’t know whether he would really protect the current budget … from further cuts if he is elected,” a New York Times editorial states. “Romney focused most of his attention on overhauling aid programs,” the editorial writes. “Romney’s call for more public-private partnerships on aid projects makes sense,” the editorial says, noting an Obama administration public-private partnership to provide cleaner cookstoves. In addition, “[h]is talk about the potentially transformative nature of American assistance and the need to invest more in small and medium-size businesses that will create jobs and lift ailing economies is also sensible and in line with administration policies,” the editorial states.