Following the announcement on Monday that 13 pharmaceutical companies, several large non-profit organizations, governments, and U.N. agencies are joining forces to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story” interviewed several experts in the field, asking, “Why have these diseases been neglected for so long? And how effective will the new plans be to counter these diseases and, in turn, alleviate poverty? Is the target date of 2020 set by the initiative realistic to wipe out some of the world’s deadliest conditions? And what is in it for them?” according to the show’s summary. Host James Bays discusses these and other issues with guests Tido Von Schoen-Angerer, director of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Access Campaign; Lorenzo Savioli, director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the WHO; and Mario Ottiglio, associate director of Global Health Policy and Public Affairs at the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (2/1).
Private Sector Involvement
This report, published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday and titled “The Private-Sector Role in Public Health,” reflects on an evolution in the roles and responsibilities of business in global health over the recent decades. “Private-sector engagement was among the main issues addressed at the recent 4th High Level Forum for Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea,” CSIS writes on its website, adding, “[A]s Lars Thunell, executive vice president and CEO of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), observed, ‘This could be the turning point where we recognize the mutually supportive roles of the private and public sectors in promoting development'” (Sturchio/Goel, 1/31).
This post on the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health” blog reports on a presentation hosted by the Global Health Policy Center on Monday which “highlight[ed] the contributions faith-based-organizations (FBOs) make to global health, including the fight against HIV/AIDS.” The post highlights quotes from several speakers at the event, provides audio footage of the event, and links to podcast interviews with Kay Warren, founder of the HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church, and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services (1/31).
In her “Global Health Blog,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley speaks with GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty about the year-long efforts to bring together the heads of more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies in a large public-private initiative to control or eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). “In terms of what should this industry be doing preferentially, it should be making available the drugs which nobody else has for people in these countries who suffer from these diseases … and we should be committing ourselves to discover more, better drugs for the future, and we’re doing that today and we’re collaborating with others to make it happen quicker,” Witty said (1/31).
Pharmaceutical company heads and global health leaders gathered at a conference on Monday in London to announce the formation of a large public-private partnership to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and endorse the “London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases” (.pdf), in which they pledged to work together and track progress. The following is a summary of two opinion pieces and a blog post in response to the news.
The New York Times examines developments in circumcision technology, after “three studies have shown that circumcising adult heterosexual men is one of the most effective ‘vaccines’ against [HIV] — reducing the chances of infection by 60 percent or more.” The newspaper writes, “[P]ublic health experts are struggling to find ways to make the process faster, cheaper, and safer” and “donors are pinning their hopes on several devices now being tested to speed things up.” The New York Times reports on several circumcision methods currently being tested, including PrePex, which received FDA approval three weeks ago and “is clearly faster, less painful and more bloodless than any of its current rivals” (McNeil, 1/30).
In this AlertNet commentary, GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley discusses how “public-private partnership is part of the GAVI Alliance’s formula for success that has helped countries to immunize 325 million children in our first 10 years, saving more than 5.5 million lives.” Writing last week from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Berkley says, “In fact, public-private partnerships are part of what brings me to Davos this week.”
Thirteen pharmaceutical companies; the governments of the U.S., U.K. and United Arab Emirates; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the WHO; the World Bank; the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi); and other global health organizations “announced a new, coordinated push to accelerate progress toward eliminating or controlling 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade,” according to a press release (.pdf) from Global Health Strategies. “In the largest coordinated effort to date to combat NTDs,” the partners will provide 14 billion doses of medications by the end of the decade and share expertise and products to speed research and development of new drugs, the press release notes.
Business and political leaders meeting in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Thursday agreed that the focus on the global financial crisis “won’t matter unless people have one basic thing: Enough food to eat,” the Associated Press reports. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “estimates there are at least 925 million undernourished people in the world — almost one in seven,” the AP notes. FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, “The problem is not the supply side. … The problem is the access — they don’t have the money to buy it or they don’t have the water and land they need if they are subsistence farmers,” according to the news service (Heilprin, 1/26).
Speaking at an event organized by the Every Woman Every Child initiative on Thursday, “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [called on] business leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, to increase their investment in women’s education and health to ensure their well-being and encourage their participation in the world economy,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The business community can help. Your partnership is crucial in preventing unnecessary suffering for women and girls everywhere,’ Mr. Ban said, adding that despite recent progress, much remains to be done,” the news service notes.