In this post in IntraHealth International’s “Global Health” blog, Editorial Manager Susanna Smith responds to an editorial published in the Lancet earlier this month that “issued a dire warning to the international medical community” about the use of medicine as a weapon of war in Syria, writing, “It is just the latest in a series of reports from across the Middle East on how medical care and medical professionals and facilities are being used to inflict politically motivated violence.” She adds, “The U.N.’s condemnation of this type of violence in Syria specifically is one step in the right direction, but it is high time the international medical community speaks out against the overt violations of medicine’s covenant with society, violations that are clearly a strategic weapon on the part of these political regimes” (2/27).
Private Sector Involvement
Pharmaceutical company Novartis “has spoken out following criticism about its challenge to India’s patent laws, insisting that access to life-saving drugs is not under peril by the move,” Pharma Times World News reports. The case, which the Indian Supreme Court is scheduled to hear next month, challenges “Indian patent law, notably Section 3(d), which states that a modification of a known chemical composition is non-patentable,” the news service writes.
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).
“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).
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…
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).
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).
“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.