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Investment In Health Systems 'A Critical Prerequisite' In Beginning To End AIDS

The XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) that took place last week in Washington, D.C., “ignited momentum to shift from ‘fighting AIDS’ to ‘ending AIDS,'” Mohga Kamal-Yanni, senior health adviser at Oxfam International, and Urvarshi Rajcoomer, policy and advocacy adviser at Oxfam in South Africa, write in a Mail & Guardian opinion piece. “Oxfam believes investing in health systems such as infrastructure and health worker, drug supply chain and health information systems, is a critical prerequisite to ending AIDS,” they write. However, “to make this a reality,” pharmaceutical companies, donor governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Bank “must now do their part,” they continue.

Recognizing The Role Of International Partnerships In Global Health

“When you’re dealing with a global public health crisis, having an international presence isn’t just advisable — it is imperative,” Margaret McGlynn, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), writes in this post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, adding, “That’s why [IAVI], in partnership with USAID, has worked diligently over the past several years to establish itself as a truly global non-profit partner.” She continues, “IAVI has created an enviable network of research centers in sub-Saharan Africa dedicated to assessing novel AIDS vaccine candidates in clinical trials and conducting supporting epidemiological studies on HIV,” and writes that these “partnerships have made meaningful contributions to the research capacity of many developing countries — a capability that is now helping local researchers tackle other diseases” (8/13).

Voters Need More Information On Free Trade Agreement That Could Impact Drug Prices

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.'”

Private Sector Becoming More Involved In Efforts To Reach Global Health Development Goals

In a post in the Guardian’s “Sustainable Business” blog, Lisa Herman, managing director of the global health practice area at consulting firm FSG, and Mike Stamp, a senior consultant with FSG, discuss “a new guide for companies on how to participate in global action on women and children’s health” recently launched at the London Family Planning Summit. “The guide, co-authored by social impact consultants FSG and sponsored by the Innovation Working Group in support of the global Every Woman, Every Child effort, sets out concrete opportunities for companies from many different industries to contribute to improving women and children’s health,” they write.

U.S., Norway Announce New Public-Private Initiative To Improve Maternal Health In Developing Countries

Speaking at a health conference in Norway on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. would provide $75 million toward a new public-private effort, dubbed “Saving Mothers, Giving Life,” which aims “to improve the health of mothers and their babies in developing countries,” Agence France-Presse reports (Mannion, 6/2). “At the same conference, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr said Norway would devote up to about $80 million to the effort, whose partners include drug maker Merck & Co. and nonprofit Every Mother Counts,” Reuters writes (Mohammed, 6/1). “Starting in Uganda and Zambia, [the initiative] is focusing on helping mothers during labor, delivery, and during the first 24 hours after a birth, when two of every three maternal deaths occur and 45 percent of newborn deaths occur,” VOA News reports (Stearns, 6/1).

Peace Corps, PEPFAR, Global Health Service Corps Launch Public-Private Partnership To Place Medical Professionals Overseas

The Peace Corps, PEPFAR and the Global Health Service Corps on Tuesday will announce a public-private partnership program to place U.S. health workers overseas to help address medical professional shortages, CQ HealthBeat reports (Bristol, 3/12). “The Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) will address health professional shortages by investing in capacity and building support for existing medical and nursing education programs in less-developed countries,” a joint press release (.pdf) states, adding, “The new program is expected to begin in Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda in July 2013.”

Employing ‘Strategy’ In Global Health

In this “Health Affairs Blog” post, Sachin Jain, a physician and former HHS adviser, explores the use of the term “strategy” in global health, writing “the term remains variably used and ill-defined.” He “offer[s] a definition enumerated for use by for-profit firms: Strategy is the unique set of activities and operating structures that an organization puts in place to deliver value to its customers,” and offers explanation about each segment of the definition. He concludes, “Strategy requires that organizations puzzle through different sets of ‘conflicting virtues’ — funders, activities, customers — and establish a priority order among them. None of these decisions are without their challenges; deciding to clearly define and grapple with them, however, will be an important step towards greater organizational effectiveness and results” (3/12).

Officials At WHA Fail To Agree On Convention To Encourage R&D Into Health Issues In Developing Countries

Health officials attending last week’s World Health Assembly “failed to come to an agreement on a binding convention on stimulating research and development [R&D] focusing on the health problems of developing countries,” BMJ reports. The negotiations focused on an April report by the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on R&D, which included a recommendation “that all countries — developing and developed — should commit around 0.01 percent of their gross domestic product to research into and development of treatments for the health problems of developing countries,” the news service notes. However, “[t]he United States (despite the fact that it already meets this target), the European Union, and Japan blocked this recommendation, and instead member states agreed on the final day of the assembly that the report would be discussed at regional committee meetings in the next few months,” BMJ writes, noting that “WHO will hold a global meeting later in the year that will report back to WHO’s executive board meeting in January” and that “[n]ew proposals will be put on the agenda for next year’s assembly” (Gulland, 5/28).

Al Jazeera Business Program Examines Fight Against Malaria

Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).

G8 Leaders Must Follow Through On Food Security Commitments

“I have just returned from a whirlwind visit to Washington, D.C., and Chicago, where I participated in a number of events around the G8 and NATO Summits focused on food and nutrition security,” Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “Among so many world leaders and high-level representatives from civil society and academia, I felt a sense of critical mass beginning to form in the fight to end global hunger.” He continues, “It’s a feeling I’ve had before — perhaps not this strong — only to be disappointed when promises went unfulfilled. We must keep calling our leaders to persevere, especially those in the G8, to ensure that does not happen this time.”

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.