“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.
Private Sector Involvement
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).
“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?”
“An expanding network of eye clinics has found an innovative way of providing quality, affordable treatment to millions of blind and visually impaired poor people in India,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog reports. The LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a not-for-profit organization that runs a chain of 82 eye care centers and a research institute in India, uses tiered pricing to charge wealthier patients for treatment, allowing the group to provide free treatment to poorer patients.
Meetings such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) “are highly beneficial for the health sector, since there is a genuine need for reaching out to non-state actors in the midst of the many transformations shaping global and domestic health sector public policy,” Sania Nishtar, founder of Heartfile and Heartfile Health Financing, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece. “But that is not all the World Economic Forum is doing for health. It is also contributing substantively in the normative and advocacy space,” according to Nishtar, who uses non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as an example. “By identifying NCDs as the top 10 risks to the world in WEF’s Global Risk Reports for two consecutive years (2009 and 2010) it helped raise concern, globally, at a time when it mattered the most,” especially leading up to last year’s U.N. High Level Meeting, she writes.
In this post in IntraHealth International’s “Global Health” blog, editorial manager Susanna Smith examines how health care workers operating in areas of conflict are “being used as pawns of warfare.” Smith highlights the decision by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) last month to suspend services in prisons in the Libyan city of Misrata due to reports of torture and notes, “[MSF] General Director Christopher Stokes called the situation an obstruction and exploitation of the organization’s work.” Smith cites a Center for Strategic and International Studies report released last week “calling for ‘the mere handwringing that has largely greeted attack on the health care in the past’ to ‘be replaced by concerted international action and a system on documentation, protection, and accountability,'” and concludes, “The international community owes at least this much to these health workers, who give so much and put themselves at risk to care for others” (2/2).
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).
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).