In this interview in World Politics Review’s “Trend Lines,” Peter Navario, an adjunct associate professor of public policy at New York University and a former global health fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the evolution South Africa’s HIV/AIDS policy over the last decade, the country’s current relationship with pharmaceutical companies, and how South African President Jacob Zuma’s HIV/AIDS policy is received in the region and by international donors. “South Africa has gone from global laggard to playing a leading role in the global HIV response,” Navario said, adding that the country’s “policies are in lockstep with World Health Organization guidelines, and an aggressive new strategic plan aims to tackle HIV-related stigma, meet 80 percent of treatment need and cut new infections in half by 2016” (3/7).
Private Sector Involvement
IRIN examines ColaLife — a pilot project set to start in Zambia in September 2012 that will ship single-dose anti-diarrhea kits (ADKs) in crates of Coca-Cola bottles in an effort to increase the coverage of oral rehydration salts (ORS) for the treatment of diarrhea in children in the developing world. “Three-quarters of [diarrhea-related] deaths could be prevented with a simple course of [ORS] combined with zinc tablets, at a cost of just $0.50 per patient,” but, “despite being heavily promoted by the World Health Organization since the 1970s, fewer than 40 percent of child diarrhea cases in developing countries are treated with ORS,” the news service writes.
The “improvement and extension of health care in Africa is … being constrained by gaps in financing,” according to a new report (.pdf) by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) based on research commissioned by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog reports (Wheatley, 3/1). The report, titled “The Future of Healthcare in Africa,” “discusses the continent’s traditional health care issues, such as communicable diseases or financing health care in economically difficult circumstances” and “also addresses less well-known topics, such as the threat of obesity and heart disease, the use of mobile technology, development of more preventive care, and more,” according to the Janssen website (3/1). The report “identif[ies] the key trends shaping African health care systems” and uses them “to develop [five] scenarios that depict the possible health landscape on the continent in 2022,” a Janssen press release (.pdf) states (3/1).
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).
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).