The Washington Post examines how the “discovery of an almost untreatable form of tuberculosis [TB] in India has set off alarm bells around the world and helped spur a dramatic expansion of government efforts to battle the killer lung disease.” The newspaper writes, “For the past decade, a nationwide tuberculosis program involving millions of health workers and volunteers has made slow but significant progress in battling the disease in India and has been hailed as a public health success story,” but “any sense of complacency was dispelled in December when a doctor in Mumbai, Zarir Udwadia, discovered a strain of the disease that did not respond to any of the 12 frontline drugs.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
Distribution Infrastructure, Effective Education Important For Success Of Micronutrient Powders To Treat Childhood Anemia
In this post in the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, journalist Sam Loewenberg examines the administration of micronutrient powders as a treatment option for anemia, “one of the most pervasive problems affecting the world’s children, and one that goes largely unaddressed.” “The presence of anemia usually signifies a host of other micronutrient deficiencies that are more difficult to test for,” so micronutrient powders — such as Sprinkles, the original and most common formulation — “contain not just iron, but 15 essential vitamins and minerals, including iodine, zinc and vitamin A,” he writes. “The Copenhagen Consensus, a group of expert economists convened in 2008 to determine the world’s most effective aid interventions, put micronutrient supplements at the top of the list,” he continues, adding, “According to their estimate, the cost of providing vitamin A and zinc to 80 percent of the world’s 140 million children who are lacking them would cost $60 million per year. The benefits of this treatment would be worth more than $1 billion.”
“The United States is adding $21 million to its humanitarian aid package for people displaced by violence in Syria, U.S. officials said Wednesday amid U.N. reports that more than 100,000 Syrians fled to neighboring countries in August,” the Washington Times reports (Taylor, 9/5). “USAID [Administrator] Rajiv Shah announced during a visit to Jordan that the new funds would be made available to the U.N. World Food Programme to help feed Syrians both inside and outside the country,” Agence France-Presse writes (9/5).
The Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) — an innovative financing mechanism that subsidizes the cost of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in order to expand access to the most effective treatment for malaria — “brought more than 100 million doses of malaria drugs to clinics and pharmacies in 2011” and “also increased access to the top malaria medicines by 26 to 52 percent in six countries,” according to results from the first phase of the program, which is hosted and managed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. The results of the evaluation, released on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., do not estimate how many lives were saved because of improved access to effective malaria medications, as “AMFm ran for only a year and half in most countries,” according to the blog. “The AMFm negotiated with drugmakers to reduce ACTs prices, and then the Global Fund subsidized the initial purchasing of the drugs by clinics and pharmacies,” the blog notes.
U.S. Foreign Aid Critical To Achieving Health Goals, Improving Lives, Strengthening International Relationships
“Day after day, American foreign aid is dramatically improving millions of lives and consequently, impressions of America,” former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and Ray Chambers, chair of the MDG Health Alliance and the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. For example, “[w]hen a mother in malaria prone sub-Saharan Africa puts her child to sleep under a mosquito net that Americans supported, America is building a relationship with that family” they state, noting, “Most Americans, when they realize that our investment in foreign assistance, at less than one percent of our GDP, can provide such transformative benefits, stand firmly behind this support, even in these more difficult economic times domestically.” The authors cite a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll that showed two-thirds of respondents felt U.S. spending on global health was too little or about the right amount.
“Spending on maternal and child health has stalled, according to an expert analysis, raising concerns that efforts to cut deaths in poor countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) may falter,” the Guardian reports. According to a report (.pdf) from the Countdown to 2015 Group published in the Lancet, there has been “a downturn in the total amount of overseas development aid earmarked for these goals between 2009 and 2010 — the latest year for which there is data,” the newspaper notes. “Over the period that Countdown has been tracking, funding for maternal and child health has more than doubled, from $2,566 million in 2003, to $6,480 million in 2010,” but after years of steady increases, the latest data show a slight decrease of 0.5 percent, or $32 million, in funding, the Guardian states.
“As many as 200 million children across the world fail to reach their full potential because their early brain development is held back by poverty, disease and malnutrition, global health experts said on Thursday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 9/13). The Canadian government-funded Grand Challenges Canada on Thursday “announced $11.8 million CAD [$12 million] in funding over two years for 11 bold ideas from innovators in the developing world, to address health conditions causing diminished cognitive potential and stunting,” according to a Grand Challenges Canada press release (9/13). The projects, which will be implemented in developing countries such as Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Colombia, “include plans to encourage so-called ‘kangaroo mother care,’ where low-weight newborns are held skin to skin rather than put into incubators, and ways of combating maternal depression to boost interaction between mothers and babies,” Reuters notes (9/13).
Devex News Analysis Examines Democratic, Republican Party Platforms On Foreign Policy, Including Global Health
A Devex news analysis examines the Democratic and Republican platform positions on foreign policy following the party conventions, writing, “Even as pocketbook concerns continue to overshadow foreign policy issues on the campaign trail, in both Charlotte and Tampa, top-billed speakers made the case for the U.S. foreign aid program.” The article examines the core principles of each platform, notes that neither platform offers specifics on foreign aid spending, and discusses the platforms’ stances on certain foreign policy issues, including global health, food security, climate change, and gay rights.
Developing Countries NGO Delegation To Global Fund Submits Report Highlighting Challenges, Recommendations
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses a report by the developing countries NGO delegation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, submitted recently to the Global Fund Secretariat. “Covering procedures involved in program planning, spending, accounting and in responding to realities on the ground, some of the issues it raises are likely to be addressed in the global charity’s new funding model, but some may not be, a delegation representative wrote in response to an inquiry from ‘Science Speaks,’” the blog notes and highlights some of the challenges and recommendations contained in the report (Barton, 9/4).
U.S. Commitment To Foreign Assistance, Global Health To Rise Or Fall With Presidential Election Outcome
In this Lancet opinion piece, Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines a number of social, political, and financial issues at play ahead of the November 6 U.S. presidential election and their implications for domestic and global health programs. “Fundamentally, the 2012 election reflects a Grand Canyon scale rift through the national psyche over the importance of government, provision of tax-supported public goods, including health care, and who is responsible for the 2008 financial crisis and ongoing economic doldrums,” she writes. “But the biggest concern for America’s future is the budget,” she continues. Garrett discusses how sequestration might affect foreign assistance and global health programs and states, “U.S. commitment to foreign assistance and such international ventures as the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Obama’s signature Global Health Initiative are also likely to rise, or fall with the elections” (9/1).