In this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, responds to a recently released analysis of adult mortality rates in African countries, which “found that between 2004 and 2008, in those nations where the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was most active, the odds of death were about 20 percent lower than in other countries in the region.” He writes, “It was one more piece in the growing collection of evidence that PEPFAR has been a tremendously successful program, advancing U.S. humanitarian and diplomatic priorities and saving millions of lives.” Collins continues, “That is why the proposal in President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget to cut bi-lateral HIV programming through PEPFAR by nearly $550 million, or 11 percent, has stunned so many on Capitol Hill and in the global health community.”
Daniel Wolfe, director of the International Harm Reduction Development Program, part of the Open Society Public Health Program, writes in the Open Society Foundations’ blog about “a recent joint U.N. statement calling for the immediate closure of the hundreds of centers in which drug users are detained in the name of treatment,” saying the statement “came not a moment too soon.” He continues, “This call for closure of drug detention camps comes after years of horrifying reports of abuses in these facilities.” According to Wolfe, “The message, endorsed by agencies such as UNAIDS, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and the International Labor Organization, is unequivocal. Locking people up and abusing them in the name of drug rehabilitation is ineffective. It violates human rights. And countries shouldn’t do it” (3/13).
Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), addresses a recent New York Times article on “medical brain drain” in this CGD “Global Development: Views From The Center” blog post, saying the article’s approval of “a horrific proposal to put recruiters of health workers on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity … is breathtakingly misguided.” He continues, “Recruiters do not ‘steal’ people. They give information to people about jobs those people are qualified for. The professional ambitions of those people have equal value to yours and mine, and those ambitions cannot be realized without information.” Clemens says “coercively blocking the unconditional right of a health worker to emigrate — such as by declaring her to be owned by a government and prosecuting her recruiter at The Hague — is a crime against humanity,” and cites several other articles he has written on the subject (3/12).
In this Globe and Mail opinion piece, columnist Andre Picard examines the efforts of a new group, the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership — which includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save The Children, the CDC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the WHO — to “make screening for syphilis a routine part of pregnancy care with the goal of eliminating congenital syphilis.” Picard writes, “According to the World Health Organization, some 2.1 million women with syphilis give birth every year,” and notes, “Almost 70 percent of their babies are stillborn, and many of the rest suffer from low birth weight (putting them at great risk for a host of illnesses), hearing loss, vision loss and facial deformities.”
“The rising enthusiasm for providing more medicines threatens to come at the expense of promising initiatives for preventing HIV infections in the first place — initiatives that could save many lives, with less money,” Craig Timberg, the newspaper’s deputy national security editor, and Daniel Halperin, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, write in this Washington Post opinion piece. “Ambitious treatment efforts and smart prevention programs are, of course, not inherently at odds. But especially in an era of fiscal constraint, these two goals could come into conflict,” they write, continuing, “The result, wasteful in dollars spent and lives diminished, would represent only the latest misjudgment by powerful donor nations such as the United States, which still struggle to understand the root causes of an epidemic that has spread most widely in weaker, poorer nations.”
In a letter (.pdf) published Wednesday in the Lancet, officials from the CDC refute “point by point” three letters previously published in the journal that were critical of the agency’s Center for Global Health, ScienceInsider reports. Lancet Editor Richard Horton on February 11 “published criticisms of the institution’s Center for Global Health that he received from an anonymous letter writer” and then “ran complaints made by two more unnamed critics of the CDC center on March 3,” the news service states, adding, “As Horton noted, the letters ‘raise questions about leadership, management of resources, proper use of the CDC’s authority and power, and the scientific rigor of CDC research.'”
“As we honor the enormous impact women have on their families and communities worldwide, we also call on lawmakers to do more for global maternal and newborn health,” Former White House Press Secretaries Mike McCurry and Dana Perino write in a post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” marking International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on Thursday. “When we reach out with simple interventions to promote health and save women’s lives, we build international allies for life,” they write.
“The health status of women is linked to their fundamental freedoms and empowerment,” Susan Blumenthal, public health editor at the Huffington Post and former U.S. assistant surgeon general, and Jean Guo, a health policy intern at the Center for the Study of Presidency and Congress, write in the website’s “Healthy Living” blog in a post marking International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on Thursday. “With 3.4 billion women worldwide, women’s health is a global issue today. Yet, societal and environmental factors including poverty, discrimination, and violence are undermining the advancement of women’s health,” they write.
“Women who are at risk of unplanned pregnancy are also at risk of HIV, and vice-versa so separation of these services no longer makes sense. The global health community must work to bring family planning and HIV services together — and quickly — to save women’s lives,” by Dana Hovig, chief executive of Marie Stopes International, and Alvaro Bermejo, executive director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, write in this RH Reality Check blog post marking International Women’s Day. The authors conclude, “We call on the public to urge leaders to support integration of services in the developing world. We encourage organizations working with us to support the integration of family planning and HIV services” (3/7).
“While only a small part of the Farm Bill, food assistance is a critical component of our nation’s global development and national security strategies, reaching 50 million people a year,” Ellen Levinson, executive director of Alliance for Global Food Security and president of Levinson & Associates, writes in the Hill’s “Congress Blog,” adding, “Improvements made to international food aid programs in the 2008 Farm Bill have borne fruit.” She notes, “By 2050, world population is expected to reach nine billion and food production will have to increase by 50-70 percent to keep pace.”