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On World No Tobacco Day, WHO Calls On National Leaders To Stand Together Against Tobacco Industry 'Attacks'

“On World No Tobacco Day (31 May), WHO is calling on national leaders to be extra vigilant against the increasingly aggressive attacks by the industry which undermine policies that protect people from the harms of tobacco,” a WHO press release reports, noting that nearly six million people die of tobacco-related illnesses each year and tobacco is a leading preventable cause of illness and death worldwide. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “In recent years, multinational tobacco companies have been shamelessly fuelling a series of legal actions against governments that have been at the forefront of the war against tobacco. … We must now stand together with these governments that have had the courage to do the right thing to protect their citizens,” according to the press release. “More countries are moving to fully meet their obligations under the 2003 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC),” the press release adds (5/30). PANA/Afrique en ligne reports that WHO has released a technical resource paper based on 2008 guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC “to help guide countries on ways to combat tobacco industry interference” (5/30).

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).

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).

Capitol Hill Briefing Addresses Research Agenda To End AIDS Epidemic

In a guest blog post on the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research, and Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, summarize a Capitol Hill briefing “on the research agenda for beginning to end the AIDS epidemic” that took place Wednesday. “[R]esearchers, policymakers, and advocates joined our organizations and the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus” at the briefing to discuss “the research agenda needed to bring the epidemic to a close, with special focus on” combination interventions for treatment and prevention; “progress on vaccine and cure research”; and the importance of HIV testing, they write. Collins and Warren conclude, “We need to finance the response, make strategic choices about what to bring to scale (and what not to) and stop discriminating against high-risk populations. Whether you’re a researcher, policymaker or advocate, new scientific developments are how we end the epidemic” (5/24).

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.”

5 Questions About The New Alliance For Food Security and Nutrition

In this article on the Feed the Future initiative’s webpage, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, and Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security and deputy coordinator for diplomacy for Feed the Future, ask and answer five questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched last week by the Obama Administration. The authors discuss the participants in the initiative, the specific commitments of these participants, as well as the costs of the initiative (5/23).

Invest In Proven Ways To Curb Maternal Mortality, Morbidity

Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and founder of Every Mother Counts, notes in this GlobalPost “Global Pulse” opinion piece that “99 percent of women who die during or after childbirth live in the developing world,” and women and girls ages 19 and younger are at a higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. But “[w]e know what many of the solutions are,” she says, including “access to health care, inexpensive drugs that stop post-partum hemorrhaging, a scale-up of community health workers, and reproductive health so that pregnancies can be spaced,” as well as education.

Bill Introduced In U.S. Senate Is Latest Push To Award Prizes For New Drug Development

“As Washington prepares for a major international AIDS conference this summer, developments on the drug front are once again elevating the subject of the continuing epidemic in the public eye,” CQ HealthBeat reports. The article mentions an FDA panel’s recent recommendation for the approval of Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV among healthy people at risk of contracting the virus and a bill (S 1138) introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) aimed at reducing the cost of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). The bill, which is focused on the cost of ARVs in the U.S., would “create a $3 billion ‘prize fund,’ through which [pharmaceutical] firms that bring a new HIV or AIDS medicine to market would get awards” in exchange for relinquishing patent rights to the drug, according to CQ (Norman, 5/18).

Opinion Pieces Discuss Global Action On Food Security

The Hill’s “Congress Blog” on Friday published two opinion pieces addressing global food security, the G8 summit, and the New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security. The following are summaries of the pieces.