Speaking this week at “the 99th Indian Science Congress, the country’s largest annual gathering of scientists,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “said the occasion demanded looking anew at the role of science in a country ‘grappling with the challenges of poverty and development'” and “emphasized that ‘the overriding objective of a comprehensive and well-considered policy for science, technology and innovation should be to support the national objective of faster, sustainable and inclusive development,'” SciDev.Net reports. “Singh also underscored the need to use innovations creatively for social benefit,” the news service writes.
Private Sector Involvement
The January issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on non-communicable diseases and post-conflict countries; a public health round-up; an article on Arab health professionals; a research paper on caesarean section rates in China; and a series of round table articles on the Global Fund and the interaction of public and private interests (January 2011).
J&J Will Not Join Medicines Patent Pool; Company’s Pharma Head Says Mechanism Could ‘Cause Disaster’
Pharmaceutical company “Johnson & Johnson has rejected calls to offer patent rights on its HIV medicines to generic drug companies through a” Medicines Patent Pool, created to promote low-cost antiretroviral drugs in low-income countries and the development of new drug combinations and formulations, the Financial Times reports. “Paul Stoffels, worldwide head of pharmaceuticals at J&J, … cautioned that the pool could trigger a ‘mixing and matching’ of medicines that would cause a rapid surge in patient resistance to innovative HIV drugs” that could “cause a huge disaster,” according to the newspaper.
The Guardian examines how ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) — “small packets of a sticky, peanut butter-like paste, fortified with minerals and vitamins, that can reverse severe malnutrition within six weeks” — “have revolutionized famine relief in Africa,” and asks whether these products could be produced in the countries in which they are being distributed. “The vast majority of RUTFs are produced in the U.S. or Europe, bought by aid agencies such as UNICEF, and transported great distances to reach those in need,” the newspaper writes, adding, “But a small group of social enterprises is questioning this business model, redesigning it with a more local footprint in mind.”
Public-private partnerships “will boost small enterprises, bring technology to schools and improve sanitation and clean water in Jamaica,” a VOA News editorial states and highlights three such partnerships created by USAID. The first, between USAID and the Jamaican National Building Society, will create a Social Enterprise Boost Initiative; the second, between food processing company GraceKennedy Ltd. and the Western Union Company, will train teachers and bring technology to 13 schools in Jamaica; and the third, between USAID in Jamaica and the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, will help provide access to sanitation and clean water in a neighborhood of Jamaica’s capital. “The effect of USAID’s aid to Jamaica expands exponentially with these public-private partnerships,” the editorial writes, adding, “The projects are valued at more than $7 million. USAID’s contribution is less than $2 million” (12/18).
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are increasing their sales of reduced-cost pneumonia vaccines to developing countries through the GAVI Alliance “by more than 50 percent, marking the scale-up of an international program to protect millions of children,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 12/16).
“Chevron Corporation and Texas Children’s Hospital [on Thursday] announced a $6 million, five-year agreement to expand the hospital’s Global Health Corps program that provides life-saving pediatric health care, treatment, and training to the most medically underserved populations in Africa,” a Chevron press release states. “Chevron’s contribution will support the recruitment and…
In this post in the Health Affairs blog, Martha Kwataine, executive director for the Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) and head of the Access to Medicines Campaign in Malawi, examines the role of local advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country’s health system. She writes, “Amidst [Malawi’s health] challenges, the role of civil society, especially advocates, cannot be overemphasized. Civil society organizations are the ‘watchdogs’ of government. Historically, they have played a critical role, not just by influencing policy formulation, but also by providing checks and balances to government power.”
In this post in the Hill’s “Congress Blog,” John Castellani, president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, reports on how biopharmaceutical exports benefit the U.S. economy and global health, writing, “Leadership is needed to help keep U.S. biopharmaceutical research companies competitive in the global export market.” He continues, “According to the Administration, if we increased exports by just five percent, we would create hundreds of thousands of new U.S. jobs. … Among the ways that they can advance this effort is by knocking down foreign barriers and promoting strong intellectual property (IP) protections that allow biopharmaceutical companies to bring their medicines into other markets and, importantly, to the patients who need them.”
In this Africa.com opinion piece, Ana Ruth Luis, medical director of the Southern Africa Strategic Business Unit at Chevron Africa and Latin America Ex in Angola, discusses what she calls “the important role Chevron has in driving down the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Africa.” She writes, “Chevron was able to drop new infections to zero among our employees and their babies by educating our employees, establishing a culture of voluntary, confidential testing and treatment, addressing stigma and discrimination in the workplace, and providing comprehensive medical care for expectant mothers.”