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Looking Back At Global Health In 2012

In a joint post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at the CGD; research assistant Denizhan Duran; and Kate McQueston, program coordinator to the global health policy team, recap major global health events in 2012, linking to previous coverage of highlighted issues. “The global health legacy of 2012 will be twofold, a year of both increased commitments to health and flat lining budgets,” they write, adding, “While these are all great news, it is still uncertain as to who will pay for these ambitious goals: biggest donors are already scaling down their health aid budgets, and there remains a tremendous resource gap to reach the end of AIDS” (12/20).

Can Crowdfunding Be Used Effectively To Advance HIV Vaccine Research?

“What will the next great leap forward be, and how can we make sure it gets tested ASAP?” Zachary Barnett, founder and executive director of Abzyme Research Foundation/ENDHIV.com, asks about HIV research in the Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “International sales of antiretrovirals in 2011 were over $15 billion, while commercial reinvestment into the testing of therapeutic vaccine and cure approaches was just $30 million, or just 0.2 percent,” he notes, adding, “So it appears we need more ways to get money flowing into new cure and therapeutic vaccine research.”

Reviewing G-FINDER Report Findings

Nick Chapman, a policy analyst at Policy Cures, writes in a guest post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog about “the results of the latest G-FINDER survey on global funding of [research and development (R&D)] for neglected diseases.” He discusses several findings and trends from the report, including the impact of the global financial recession on R&D funding; the relatively stable level of U.S. funding; the concentration of pharmaceutical company funding to “a limited number of diseases with some commercial overlap, such as dengue fever, bacterial pneumonia and meningitis, and tuberculosis (TB)”; the shift away from product development funding from public funders; and the effect of these trends on product development partnerships (PDPs) (Lufkin, 12/19).

U.N. Appeals For $1.5B In Humanitarian Aid For Syria

“The United Nations and its humanitarian partners [on Wednesday] appealed for $1.5 billion to assist civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria over the next six months, including those inside the country as well as those taking refuge beyond its borders,” the U.N. News Centre reports (12/19). “The twin appeals are for $519.6 million to help four million people within Syria and $1 billion to meet the needs of up to one million Syrian refugees in five other countries until July 2013,” Reuters writes (Nebehay/Charbonneau, 12/19). “Collectively they comprise the largest short term humanitarian appeal ever,” a UNOCHA press release states (12/19).

Voluntary Moratorium On H5N1 Avian Flu Research Likely To End Soon

Following the conclusion of a two-day meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week — meant “to gather feedback from flu researchers, others in the science community, and the public on its draft framework for funding H5N1 gain-of-function studies and to continue an international dialogue on issues related to benefits and risks of the research” — “experts anticipated that a voluntary moratorium on work with lab-modified strains that have increased transmissibility might end soon,” CIDRAP News reports (Schnirring, 12/18). “That’s because officials at the National Institutes of Health say they will be moving swiftly to finalize a new process for deciding whether or not to fund proposed experiments that could potentially create more dangerous forms of the bird flu virus H5N1,” NPR’s “Shots” blog notes.

‘Repackaging’ Of U.N. Cholera Initiative Detracts Attention From Epidemic’s Origin

“Those following the two-year-old saga of the United Nations and cholera in Haiti were startled by” the U.N.’s announcement last week of a $2.2 billion initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, freelance journalist Jonathan Katz and Tom Murphy, editor of the development blog “A View From the Cave,” write in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Since [the crisis began in October 2010], scores of epidemiologists — including those appointed by the U.N. itself — have unearthed overwhelming evidence supporting the hypothesis that [U.N. peacekeepers] carried the disease and introduced it to Haiti through negligent sanitation,” they continue, adding, “In response, U.N. officials have ignored, dismissed, or mischaracterized it all.”

Seattle Times Examines Partnership Between Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Uganda Cancer Institute

The Seattle Times examines a partnership between the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). In 2008, “the two institutes formally agreed to collaborate on clinical care and research projects, and more recently a major building project at Uganda’s only cancer-research center,” the newspaper writes. Corey Casper, director of the UCI/Fred Hutchinson Research Center Cancer Alliance, “says [the partnership] has the potential to demonstrate ‘that you can do first-rate research that can alter the impact of cancer care in the developing world, and that the craft of oncology can be practiced as well in Africa as it is in the developed world, just like it is with HIV,'” according to the Seattle Times (Silberner, 12/16).

Continued U.S. Leadership Crucial To Building On Global Progress Against TB

Tuberculosis (TB) “is the second leading cause of death due to infectious disease worldwide; taking approximately 1.4 million lives in 2011 alone,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” adding, “The good news is that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halt and reverse the TB epidemic by 2015 has already been achieved in several regions of the world.” She notes “advances have been made in TB diagnostics with the increased availability of Xpert, a new test that detects the disease — including in HIV-positive people — within 100 minutes.” However, she continues, “we cannot defeat the disease without the introduction of faster drug susceptibility tests and new drugs and vaccines.”

CSIS Paper Examines U.S. Role In Global Polio Eradication

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has published a paper (.pdf), titled “The U.S. Role In Global Polio Eradication,” that “provides an overview of the global polio eradication effort, emphasizing the U.S. role,” according to the paper’s summary. The paper, authored by CSIS Global Health Policy Center Fellow Nellie Bristol, aims “to explain how the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) came to where it is today and discuss plans for moving it forward.” The summary continues, “The focus on the United States is not meant to detract from the enormous international investments or essential contributions of individuals from other countries. But by highlighting American involvement, the paper aims to help U.S. policymakers understand the costs, benefits, and challenges of polio eradication and plans to complete eradication and transition GPEI methods and resources into other programs” (12/17).

Automatic U.S. Budget Cuts Would Hurt Global Health Efforts

In a post on the PATH blog, Rachel Wilson, senior director for policy and advocacy at PATH, examines the consequences of budget negotiations and “what enacting billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts could mean for people living in poverty around the world.” She continues, “According to a report from the Office of Management and Budget reported on the Kaiser Family Foundation website, if the automatic cuts take effect, global health funding through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department would decrease by $670 million, or 8.2 percent from 2012 levels.” Wilson writes, “These kinds of cuts would have very real consequences,” and she cites estimates from amfAR and the Guttmacher Institute about how cuts would affect access to HIV/AIDS, malaria, childhood disease, and reproductive health prevention and treatment. She concludes, “The United States has contributed to incredible gains in global health. Any retreat from our leadership would set us back in ways that are unimaginable” (12/17).

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