MSH’s “Global Health Impact” blog provides a Storify summary of a Washington Post Live panel discussion on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that took place last week. The blog notes, “One year after the U.N. summit on non-communicable diseases, Washington Post Live convened experts in the NCD and public health community to engage in an in-depth, collaborative working session and analysis in front of a small group of media, fellow health experts, and policymakers” (Hassinger, 10/22). The Washington Post provides video highlights from the discussion (10/17).
Private Sector Involvement
“Nothing could be more appropriate than the World Food Day focus on cooperatives this year,” because “[t]he collective power of cooperatives can enable better access to market, better returns, better access to inputs and services, and a better support network for smallholder farmers,” leading to “[h]igher returns” which allow farmers to “better provide for the nutrition, education and health of their families,” Mark Bowman, managing director of SABMiller, writes in an AllAfrica.com opinion piece. Africa is “at the center of the global challenge of food security,” “because one in three of the world’s hungry live on the continent” and “because Africa has the potential not only to feed its own people but also to become a more significant food exporter,” he says. Smallholder farmers are essential to meet this “challenge and potential,” Bowman notes, but he adds they are “cut off” by location or lack of funding from new products and technologies, efficient transport, and information.
Negotiators from the United States and 10 other countries last month concluded a 14th round of private talks in Leesburg, Va., “to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, poised to become the largest trade deal in U.S. history,” the Charlotte Observer reports. The talks “involve a tussle over how far to go to protect intellectual property rights and, with them, the finances of brand-name drug companies,” according to the newspaper, which adds, “If drug companies get their way in protecting brand-name drugs in a new international trade deal, critics say, millions of AIDS patients in poor countries will go untreated, losing access to cheaper generic drugs that could keep them alive.”
The non-profit advocacy group Research!America on Monday released a list titled “Top 10 Reasons To Invest In Global Health R&D,” which “provides compelling reasons why the investments are critical, from the humanitarian benefits to being a powerful driver of U.S. economic activity,” according to an e-mail alert (10/15). The list’s webpage states, “The U.S. needs to strengthen its investment in this important research, not only because it saves millions of lives worldwide but because it benefits the health of Americans, spurs new businesses and jobs in the U.S., helps protect our troops on the ground, and promotes global stability and security. Federal funding for global health R&D is the smart thing to do for the U.S. and the right thing to do for the world” (10/15).
Though the number of children dying of preventable and treatable diseases worldwide has dropped significantly since 1990, there is “realistic hope for much more” progress, particularly if “[i]mproved hygiene and sanitation … play a key role in the next stage,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. Noting that “diarrhea and pneumonia are the two leading killers of children, accounting for almost 30 percent of under-five deaths globally,” they state, “Vaccines can help, but improved hygiene and sanitation are also vital, and therefore key to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of cutting the child mortality rate by at least two-thirds by 2015.”
Intellectual Property Watch reports on a roundtable on global health law, innovation, access and justice, hosted last week by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and Georgetown Law School. “At issue is the capacity of the pharmaceutical industry to innovate, and the potential barriers to access in a context of widespread diseases that blur the boundaries between developed and developing countries,” the news service writes, noting, “Most panelists concluded that governments should hold primary responsibility for the health of their populations” (Saez, 10/15).
“The Peace Corps has announced a strategic partnership with the Water and Development Alliance (WADA) — a long-standing public-private partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coca-Cola Company (Coca-Cola) — to improve local capacity to deliver sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for the reduction of waterborne disease around the world,” a Peace Corps press release reports. According to the press release, “WADA will work with the Peace Corps’ WASH initiative to raise awareness and build capacity among Peace Corps and community trainers around sustainable water supply and sanitation services, as well as improved hygiene behaviors” (10/12). “The training package will equip more volunteers to help communities create and strengthen WASH efforts in their homes, in schools, and in health facilities,” Jill McGrath-Jones, program specialist for the Peace Corps Office of Global Health and HIV, writes in the AIDS.gov Blog. She adds, “Key actions promoted in the training include building tippy-taps to increase access to water, maintaining latrines, ensuring safe water supplies, and educating others about hygienic practices and behaviors” (10/15).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Al Ansari Exchange, “a major foreign exchange and remittance company in the [United Arab Emirates], have committed $10 million over the next five years to tackle” polio and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Devex reports (Ravelo, 10/10). “The agreement, which was jointly signed in Abu Dhabi by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and Mohammed Ali Al Ansari, chairman of the board of Al Ansari Exchange, will kick off with an initial co-funded contribution of $4 million to support polio eradication activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the prevention and treatment of NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa,” an Al Ansari Exchange press release notes (10/9). In his blog, “The Gates Notes,” Gates provides a transcript of his speech at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Media Summit, where the agreement was signed (10/9).
The Financial Times has published a special report (.pdf) on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) featuring 10 articles examining issues including prevention, research, and treatment.
To fight chronic “diseases in Mexico, the nation with the world’s highest rate of obese and overweight adults, a Reuters investigation found that WHO’s regional office has turned to the very companies whose sugary drinks and salty foods are linked to many of the maladies it’s trying to prevent,” the news service reports. “The office, the Pan American Health Organization, not only is relying on the food and beverage industry for advice on how to fight obesity,” but, “[f]or the first time in its 110-year history, it has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in money from the industry,” Reuters writes.