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U.S. Government’s Draft Guidance On Funding For H5N1 Research Receives ‘Mixed Reception,’ Science Reports

“Researchers are giving a mixed reception to a draft U.S. government plan to do more stringent funding reviews of certain kinds of H5N1 avian influenza research — and perhaps even require some studies to be kept secret,” Science reports. “The proposal, presented last week at a meeting of the government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) in Bethesda, Maryland, is the latest fallout from the controversy surrounding two studies in which scientists engineered the H5N1 virus, which normally causes deadly infections in birds, to move between mammals, potentially opening the door to a human pandemic,” the magazine continues. The plan contains “seven criteria that a study would have to meet to be eligible for NIH funding,” the magazine notes and includes reaction from several researchers. According to Science, “NIH says it will soon release for public comment a white paper that details the plan, and officials will present it at an international workshop on H5N1 research that HHS is hosting in Bethesda on 17 and 18 December” (Malakoff, 12/7).

FAO Report Calls For Increased Investments In Global Agriculture To Eradicate Hunger

“Excessive corruption, poor infrastructure and scarce government resources were deterring investment in agriculture and contributing to high levels of malnourishment around the world,” Xinhua writes, noting the release on Thursday of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) annual report. “A new investment strategy is needed that puts agricultural producers at its center,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, Xinhua notes. According to the report, farmers in low- and middle-income countries invest more than $170 billion annually in their farms, which is “three times as much as all other sources of investment combined, four times more than contributions by the public sector, and over 50 times more than official development assistance to these countries,” Xinhua reports (12/7).

Lancet Editorial Examines Possibility Of ‘AIDS-Free Generation,’ PEPFAR Blueprint

“After three decades of global emergency responses and a series of scientific breakthroughs in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is now tempting to ask if we are marching towards the end of AIDS,” an editorial in the Lancet states. Noting the November 29 release of the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation, the Lancet writes, “The first and foremost signal the report has sent is that the U.S. commitment to the global AIDS response will continue to be ‘strong, comprehensive and driven by science,'” and the report “calls on partner countries, civil society, donors, foundations, multilateral institutions, and people living with HIV to step up together and make concrete commitments.” The editorial continues, “The vision of ‘an AIDS-free generation’ in the blueprint relies heavily on scientific and technological feasibility … However, eradicating a disease goes far beyond scientific advances, which will go unrealized without strong social support and public health actions as well as substantial and sustainable investments.”

Conference Addresses Issues Of Innovation For Neglected Diseases

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine this week are hosting a conference in New York, titled “Lives in the Balance: Delivering Medical Innovations for Neglected Patients and Populations,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In a video presentation, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim “told the conference … that the goal is to ‘lay the foundation of a health science that works for the poor,'” according to the newspaper. “That means innovative research on diseases and delivery systems geared to people in developing nations, not the more affluent ones, greater sharing of ideas, and support for developing nations so they can assist in the process from beginning to end,” the newspaper writes (Sell, 12/14).

Examining Developing Country Contributions To AIDS Response

“World AIDS Day 2012 offered numerous personal stories in the global fight against HIV and AIDS, but perhaps the most intriguing story, however, was a policy one: How developing countries are making significant contributions to the fight against AIDS in their own countries,” Nicholas Rogacki, a policy fellow with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), writes in the USGLC Blog. “For the first time in the history of the disease, spending by recipient nations to combat AIDS has exceeded spending by donor nations like the United States,” he writes, adding, “While many aid recipient countries have begun to play a larger role in development, there is still much to accomplish in global health and beyond” (12/13).

PlusNews Reviews AVAC Priorities For 2013 HIV Prevention Agenda

“If the world scales-up HIV treatment and prevention in the next two years, a critical tipping point — in which those on treatment outnumber those newly infected with the virus — could be reached, according to the global HIV prevention advocacy organization AVAC,” PlusNews reports. The news service “breaks down the issues likely to top the HIV prevention agenda in the coming year,” including better defining “combination prevention” for country- and local-level needs, preparing for new voluntary medical male circumcision methods, and protecting HIV prevention research funding (12/13).

Though Progress Made, Global Burden Of HIV/AIDS Requires Greater, ‘Better’ Response

“Optimism and momentum has been building around the real possibility that an AIDS-free generation is imminent. … Yet, the most recent estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence and of AIDS-related mortality released by UNAIDS, together with data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the Lancet, make it clear that AIDS is not over,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Mark Dybul, incoming executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, write in a Lancet opinion piece. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and UNAIDS data “highlight a persistent, significant, and egregious burden of avoidable death,” the authors write, noting global statistics and recent success in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and incidence rates worldwide.

IPS Examines NGOs’ Call To Reform World Bank’s Funding For Poorest Countries

“With the World Bank expected to announce a new funding package for the world’s poorest countries Wednesday, NGOs are making a last-minute appeal to donor countries to use their leverage to compel reforms at the institution,” Inter Press Service reports in an article examining the changes being requested and considered.

Opinions: Kangaroo Care; NTDs, Women’s Health

Kangaroo Care Could Help Mothers In Poor Settings To Save Their Babies New York Times contributing writer Tina Rosen, on the newspaper’s “Opinionator” blog, examines the success of a system known as kangaroo care, which has helped to improve the survival rates of premature infants by using skin-to-skin contact with…