“Medical researchers in the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) have been empowered to set their own research priorities through a funding mechanism backed by a French oil company, according to scientists speaking at the second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), in South Africa this month,” SciDev.Net reports. “In 2011, the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research signed an agreement with TOTAL, stipulating that the energy giant would fund specific research activities and pay salaries,” which “enabled the foundation to set its own research priorities — a break with the usual funding constraints whereby researchers’ priorities are dictated by foreign funding agencies,” the news service writes.
Private Sector Involvement
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday announced it will “integrate” the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), implemented in 2010 as a pilot program to provide low-cost artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in poor and rural areas, “into its existing core system of providing grants to countries to purchase drugs, bed nets and other malaria-control measures,” Nature News Blog reports (Butler, 11/15). “During a transition period in 2013, the lessons learned from the operations and resourcing of Phase 1 of the AMFm, such as manufacturer negotiations and the co-payment mechanism, will be integrated into core Global Fund processes,” a Global Fund press release states.
“In a breakthrough for the fight against meningitis in poor countries, researchers say the WHO has ruled that a key vaccine can be transported or stored for up to four days without refrigeration,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Called MenAfriVac and made by the Indian company Serum Institute, the vaccine costs less than 50 cents a dose and, according to the latest research, can be conserved without any refrigeration, even an icepack, at temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for four days,” the news agency writes (11/15). “Epidemics of meningitis A occur every seven to 14 years in Africa’s ‘meningitis belt,’ a band of 26 countries stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia, and are particularly devastating to children and young adults,” Reuters notes.
With recent suggestions “of privatizing the [U.S.] government’s emergency response capability for natural and human-caused disasters and infectious diseases,” Henry (Chip) Carey, an associate professor of political science at Georgia State University in Atlanta, writes in the World Policy Blog, “One might want to look at Haiti for a case study in the effects of bypassing the government health sector for private organizations.” He continues, “In Haiti, the result of decoupling the state from health care has been across the board decreases in water and sanitation quality.” Carey reviews the history of Haiti’s health system and conditions surrounding the 2010 cholera outbreak. He concludes, “What is needed are comprehensive, low-tech sanitation systems and clean, common water sources throughout the country, overseen by the Haitian government. In the past three decades, the U.S. has not given Haiti’s leaders the chance to show us that they can rise to the occasion. It is high time we change course and help the Haitians help themselves” (11/14).
AllAfrica correspondent Cindy Shiner recently interviewed Vanessa Kerry, CEO of the Global Health Service Corps, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene taking place in Atlanta this week. Next year, volunteer doctors and nurses will travel through the Service Corps to Tanzania, Malawi, and Uganda to work in partnership with the Peace Corps, according to AllAfrica. In the interview, Kerry said the program grew out of a desire on the part of physicians and other health care workers to help in resource-poor countries, as well as calls from those countries for more U.S. assistance in building health system capacity. Kerry discusses the focus of the program, how it works as a private partner with public programs, and how the first countries were chosen (11/13).
After President Barack Obama’s re-election on Tuesday, the following blog posts addressed possible foreign policy priorities during the next administration.
Wall Street Journal Examines Program In Pakistan Looking To Provide Health Insurance For Poor Urban Residents
The Wall Street Journal examines how “some local social entrepreneurs are coming up with new ideas to provide the poor with access to better medical services” in Pakistan, where the health care system is “split between low-cost government-funded hospitals offering basic services and expensive private-sector medical institutions … [b]ut the majority of the country’s 190 million people have little access to health care.” The newspaper describes how one program, called Naya Jeevan — “a non-profit micro-insurance program for the urban poor” that “offers an insurance program at subsidized rates under a national group health-insurance model” — operates to help ensure affordable medical care for the poor and how it has come “under scrutiny from the country’s insurance regulator” (Bahree, 11/6).
“[I]t has been a banner year for media attention, political will and global resources on family planning and women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment,” Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360; Laneta Dorflinger, a scientist with FHI 360; and Kirsten Vogelsong, a senior program officer with the family planning division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, write in the Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog, noting the London Summit on Family Planning, World Contraception Day, and the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. “To achieve the ambitious goals set forth by these international initiatives, however, the global health and development community must act on the current political momentum and not lose sight of the challenges that remain,” they state. Though there are “many contraceptive choices available to prevent unintended pregnancy,” access to contraception is limited for many women and “the currently available methods do not always meet their needs, preferences or budgets,” they write.
InterAction President and CEO Sam Worthington, as part of a series organized by the Chicago Council On Global Affairs’ Global Agriculture Development Initiative and InterAction to highlight the importance of public-private partnerships in agricultural development, writes in the Chicago Council’s “Global Food for Thought” blog that recent figures showing one in eight people in the world is undernourished is “a call to collective action.” He continues, “The private and public sectors have enormous potential to work together and leverage each other’s added value to spur this kind of economic development in a way that will, ultimately, decrease hunger and improve nutrition.” Worthington concludes, “Smart public-private partnerships that draw on the added value of government, business and civil society will ensure that we can reduce hunger and improve nutrition in sustainable, people-centered ways that ultimately improve lives and save them” (10/31).
The Associated Press examines the debate over the future of the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), after the recent release of two papers evaluating the program’s effectiveness. AMFm was established in 2010 as “a pilot project to subsidize artemesinin combination drugs, the most effective malaria treatment,” the AP writes, noting the $460 million program is managed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “Last week, a report by Oxfam, an international charity, labeled the program a failure and said there was no proof it had saved lives because officials didn’t track who received the drugs,” the news service writes, adding, “But in another paper published Wednesday in the journal Lancet, experts insisted the program was ‘an effective mechanism’ to lower the price of preferred malaria drugs and make them widely available.” The Global Fund is scheduled to discuss the future of the program at a meeting next month, according to the AP (Cheng, 10/31).