The U.N. on Wednesday “presented a plan to make life-saving health supplies more accessible, while a new report found that, despite impressive reductions in maternal and child mortality in the past decade in some countries, millions of women and children still die every year from preventable causes,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “With its new plan, the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children aims to improve access and use of essential medicines, medical devices and health supplies that effectively address causes of death during pregnancy, childbirth and into childhood,” the news service writes (9/26). “Prices for long-acting contraception will be halved for 27 million women in the developing world through [the] new partnership, former President Bill Clinton and other world leaders announced” on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the Associated Press writes. “The deal will help avoid almost 30 million unwanted pregnancies and save an estimated $250 million in health costs, the partnership said,” according to the AP (DePasquale, 9/26).
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David Winder, chief executive of WaterAid USA, highlights the findings of the recently released UNICEF report on child mortality in this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, saying the decrease in annual number of child deaths “is great news, but is tempered by sobering statistics, especially for children in sub-Saharan Africa,” who continue to face high rates of mortality. “However all is not lost and much can be done to ameliorate the situation. Improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is a key step in preventing many of these needless deaths,” he writes, adding, “Known collectively as WASH, these three basic services are important factors in preventing pneumonia and diarrhea, the leading causes of mortality among children between one month and five years of age.”
Blog Examines U.S. Presidential Candidates' Foreign Policy, Science Stances With Respect To Global Health
“If nothing else, this presidential election season has brought the good news that both major party candidates have taken stances against preventable death and disease,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes, noting the blog “looked at two recently published examinations of the candidates’ foreign policy and science stances, candidates’ party platforms and other posted materials for clues to where the candidates diverge on major global health issues.” According to the blog, an analysis from Devex “looks at the candidates’ words, supporters’ statements and party platforms on an array of foreign spending issues, including global health,” and an article in Nature “invited the candidates to share thoughts on matters scientific, including research investment, vaccinations, pandemic preparedness, and the role of science in public policy” (Barton, 9/17).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “warned on Friday that Haiti was struggling to cope with a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands and deteriorating conditions in tent camps as aid groups withdraw from the impoverished country due to a lack of funding,” Reuters reports. “In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban said there had been an increase in the number of cholera cases since the rainy season began in early March and the World Health Organization had projected there could be up to 112,000 cases during 2012,” the news service writes.
The Guardian examines a new Millennium Villages Project (MVP) — “the integrated approach to rural development spearheaded by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute” — that was launched last week in northern Uganda “by Ghana’s new president John Dramani Mahama and U.K. international development secretary Andrew Mitchell.” According to the newspaper, “Like the 13 other MVP sites … the project will attempt to provide a package of proven, science-based interventions for agriculture, education, health and rural infrastructure.”
The “growing public health problems” of West Nile and dengue viruses in the U.S. can “serve as opportunities to pull the U.S. squarely into the global fight against these mosquito-borne viruses,” a Bloomberg View editorial states. “The two illnesses have come to the U.S. courtesy of climate change and globalization,” the editorial notes, writing, “No vaccines, no cures and no specific medicines exist to prevent or treat dengue or West Nile.” It continues, “That is not uncommon for illnesses that predominantly affect the developing world,” as “[c]ompanies with the know-how to develop such products have generally lacked the profit motive to make the necessary investments, given that sales would be mainly in poor countries.”
“The non-communicable disease [NCD] community always talks about the importance of prevention; many consider it the Holy Grail in the fight against NCDs. Why was it so hard to also accept treatment as part of the solution?” Princess Dina Mired, director general of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation in Amman, Jordan, asks in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog, noting only one target of the 2011 U.N. High-Level Meeting on NCDs “deals with treatment, the target on ‘essential medicines and basic technologies for treatment.’” She continues, “Treatment and prevention are heavily interrelated. The success of one is directly related to the other.” She adds, “A person in the developing world will not buy in to the importance of prevention if there is no treatment option available should that person get the disease.”
The board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria began a two-day meeting in Geneva on Thursday, “with one topic high on the agenda: a new funding model,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports. “The board will tackle aspects of a new funding model, which, according to Global Fund Director of Communications Seth Faison, ‘will change the way the Global Fund has made grants for 10 years,’” the news service writes, adding that the model, according to the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, “will see the Global Fund dropping its ’round’ grant-making process and replacing it with a ‘more flexible’ system.” In addition, “an ‘iterative dialogue process’ is also reportedly being explored,” Devex reports. “The proposed reforms seem good for the fund and its beneficiaries … [b]ut some have expressed their concerns on the funding model under consideration, specifically on the ‘historical disease application’ approach,” the news service writes (Ravelo, 9/13). According to an article on the Stop TB Partnership website, the new approach “would cap the proportion of funding available to tuberculosis (TB) projects at 16 percent,” and the proposal, “which is based on the proportion of grants awarded to TB in the past, met with strong objections from the community of people working on TB worldwide” (9/13).
Pending Cases Against India's Patent Laws Threaten Public Health, Misinterpret International IP Agreements, Report Says
“Pending cases against India’s patent laws threaten public health and misinterpret international intellectual property (IP) agreements,” researchers from Queen Mary, University of London argue in a special report published online in the Lancet on Monday, PharmaTimes reports (Taylor, 9/11). “The report highlights legal challenges by two pharmaceutical companies, Bayer and Novartis, to key provisions of India’s Patents Act,” a university press release notes, adding, “Bayer’s appeal was heard last week, and the Indian Supreme Court is due to hear Novartis’ appeal on 11 September.”
In this episode of the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Prosperity Wonkcast,” CGD’s Lawrence MacDonald interviews Amanda Glassman, a senior fellow and director of the global health policy program at the center, about global health funding in “this austere budget climate.” In an accompanying blog post, MacDonald notes “generating ‘value for money’ (VFM) is a top concern for global health funding agencies and their donors, who want the biggest bang for their buck in terms of lives saved and diseases controlled.” According to the blog, the discussion focuses on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “a multilateral agency that emerged from the G8 meeting process in 2002 when times were better and global health was seen as an area where money could make a difference” (9/5).