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Activists Protest Novartis Challenge To Indian Patent Law

In this guest post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Brook Baker of the Northeastern University School of Law Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, “describe[s] and comment[s] on pharmaceutical company Novartis’s court challenge to India’s strict standards of patenting medicine” and worldwide protests against the company that took place last week prior to its shareholder meeting (Mazzotta, 2/27).

South Sudan Hoping NTD Initiative Will Bring Relief From High Levels Of Disease, IRIN Reports

“Decades of war, neglect, and lack of development have left South Sudan with nine out of 10 of th[e] key neglected tropical diseases [NTDs] — all but Chagas disease, which is endemic to South America,” and health workers in the new nation are hoping that the recent formation of a large public-private partnership to combat the diseases “will finally help to have an impact on South Sudan’s appalling health indicators,” IRIN reports. With only one in four people in South Sudan able to access health care, people “seek other explanations for diseases such as sleeping sickness, as they are liable to blame its symptoms on witchcraft and only seek medical attention as a last resort,” the news service writes. The nation has the highest incidence of guinea worm disease and the third-highest incidence of sleeping sickness, according to IRIN (2/23).

CHAI Official Discusses Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria

In this post in the Results for Development Institute’s “Center for Global Health R&D Policy Assessment” blog, Project Director Jean Arkedis and Program Associate Edith Han interview Megumi Gordon, deputy director for malaria at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), “to take an exclusive look into the [Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm)] and its innovative mechanism to increase access to antimalarials.” Megumi discusses “AMFm’s current status, early lessons, and the latest in the ongoing — and sometimes contentious — debate about whether to subsidize [artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)] in the private sector” (2/22).

Trade Officials, Public Health Advocates To Discuss Intellectual Property, Access To Medicines At Open Hearing

“The U.S. government has an unfortunate history of pressuring low- and middle-income countries to observe strong intellectual property protection on medicines …, block[ing] access to generics in countries unable to afford expensive brand name drugs sold by American drug companies,” a post on infojustice.org reports. “[Thursday], trade officials will hear from public…

Private U.S. Investments Improve Maternal Care Capacity In Ethiopia

Writing on the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s website, Sarah Sagely Klotz, executive director of Hamlin Fistula USA, reports on how private U.S. investments “are building maternal care capacity and producing tremendous results” in Ethiopia. “Unfortunately, around the globe women are often neglected and have very limited access to maternal care,” she writes, adding, “Through the generous investments made by many Americans, however, communities in developing countries are yielding substantial and lasting benefits” (2/14).

Partnerships, Cooperation Key To Eliminating NTDs

The announcement at the end of January of the largest coordinated effort to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) provides “more reason to hope that we may soon see a future free of these diseases,” Adetokunbo Lucas, former director of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, writes in a Daily Monitor opinion piece. “This new coordinated action will take these previous efforts to a whole new level,” he writes, adding, “Together, these partners have pledged to increase the supply of existing drugs and invest and collaborate on research to accelerate the development of new and better drugs.”

Experts Discuss Benefits Of Combining Deworming, School Feeding Programs At Meeting With U.K. Parliament

This post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog reports on an event held on Wednesday in London during which John Kufuor, former president of Ghana and winner of the 2011 World Food Prize, addressed the U.K. Parliament “about how school feeding programs can help millions of people currently living in poverty.” According to the blog, “In coordination with [the Partnership for Child Development (PCD)] and Deworm the World, the Global Network shared information at the event about combining deworming efforts with school feeding programs in order to strengthen agriculture, health and education programs,” noting, “Parasitic worm infections often undermine existing school feeding programs by causing malnutrition and anemia even in children who are well-fed” (2/9).

Large Group Of U.S. Businesses Calls For New Agenda At World Trade Organization

“A top U.S. business group, frustrated with years of stalemate in world trade talks, on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to pursue a new agenda with fewer countries centered on services trade, health care and cross-border digital data flows,” Reuters reports. The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), “which includes big U.S. corporations like Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Proctor & Gamble, United Technologies, and Wal-Mart, has long pushed for a Doha round agreement among the 153 members of the World Trade Organization that would open markets in agriculture, manufacturing and services” but “those talks have been stalled since at least 2008,” Reuters notes.

Administration Officials Announce New Initiatives To Promote Innovations In Global Development

In a White House briefing on Wednesday, “senior Administration officials announced a series of new initiatives to promote game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges” in response to President Obama’s “call to harness science technology, and innovation to spark global development,” Gayle Smith, special assistant to the president, and Tom Kalil, senior adviser for science, technology, and innovation, write in this post in the White House Blog (2/8). “The new collaborations we’re launching today will help save lives from hunger and disease, lift people from poverty and reaffirm America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being,” President Barack Obama said at the briefing, according to a White House press statement, which details several new public and private sector initiatives announced at the meeting (2/8).

More Collaborative, Flexible Approach Needed To Combat NTDs

“To tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), we need a far more collaborative and flexible approach,” Mark Booth, acting deputy director of Durham University’s Wolfson Research Institute and head of the N8 Parasitology Group, writes in this New Statesman opinion piece. Booth references the publication of new malaria mortality estimates in the Lancet and the signing of the so-called “London Declaration on NTDs” by a consortium of public and private partners last week and writes, “Malaria is not classified as an NTD because relatively large amounts of attention and funding have been pitted against the parasite. But if we now have to rethink malaria control strategies, then how confident can we be about controlling or eradicating any of the 17 NTDs identified by the World Health Organization?”