“The World Health Organization heralded major gains Tuesday in the fight against malaria, one of the developing world’s biggest killers, but warned universal access to treatment remains elusive,” Agence France-Presse reports, noting, “The assessment came on the eve of World Malaria Day,” observed Wednesday and “designed to shine the light on the mosquito-borne parasite that killed 655,000 people in 2010, including 560,000 children under five” (4/24). “A massive acceleration in the global distribution of mosquito nets, the expansion of programs to spray the insides of buildings with insecticides, and an increase in access to prompt antimalarial treatment has brought down malaria mortality rates by more than a quarter worldwide, and by one-third in Africa since 2000,” but “simply maintaining current rates of progress will not be enough to meet global targets for malaria control,” the agency writes in a news release (4/24).
Programs, Funding & Financing
USAID Administrator Shah Launches Social Media Campaign To Garner Support To Improve Child Health, Survival
Under the slogan “Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday,” USAID on Monday launched a social media campaign featuring childhood photos of celebrities, global health leaders and lawmakers, with the aim of “build[ing] support to fight preventable deaths of children,” CQ HealthBeat reports. “‘By asking others to remember their own fifth birthdays, we want to remind people that more than seven million children each year never get the chance to celebrate that milestone,’ USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement,” the news service writes, noting, “Children who reach age five are much more likely to become adults, experts say.” The article notes, “The campaign is a different tack for USAID, engaging the public as well as congressional leaders who decide the agency’s funding.” “The trend follows an attempt by the Obama administration, through its Global Health Initiative (GHI), to broaden and better coordinate U.S. global health policies, … addressing systemic health care problems in developing countries, rather than focusing primarily on individual diseases like HIV/AIDS or malaria,” CQ writes, noting, “Many advocates say that while the president’s [global health] plan is the right approach in terms of long-term international development,” it has “attracted tepid support from some lawmakers and has been dogged by the anti-spending environment in Congress.”
“President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney have both prioritized deficit reduction, which, of course, is a worthy goal,” former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), chair of the non-profit Hope Through Healing Hands, writes in an opinion piece in The Week. “[M]any surveys put global health at the top of the list of things to slash. That’s a mistake,” he continues and lists five reasons why global health programs “ought to be spared the chopping block.”
The Council on Foreign Relations recently released a new report titled, “The New Global Health Agenda: Universal Health Coverage,” in which “authors Oren Ahoobim, Daniel Altman, Laurie Garrett, Vicky Hausman, and Yanzhong Huang discuss [a] rise in support for universal health coverage and the financial benefits that may be reaped by implementing such schemes, and provide examples of models used to date by countries in establishing universal health coverage,” according to the report summary (4/19).
The following is a summary of several blog posts commenting on the launch of USAID’s “Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday” social media campaign by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah at an event at the Kaiser Family Foundation on Monday.
On Friday, the Board of Directors of the Global Health Council (GHC) announced “[w]ith deep regret, … that the Council will close operations within the coming months,” according to a statement on the organization’s homepage. “For the past four decades, the Council has been the neutral convening place for a diverse community of organizations, all advocating for improvement and equity in global health” and “working together to form broad-based coalitions to address challenges that affected us — whether advocating for increased U.S. government funding on global health or developing common positions on major health policy issues,” the statement says, concluding, “Although the Global Health Council will no longer play the same role, we will continue to fight for the goals that first inspired us to action” (4/20).
Study Linking Malaria Resurgence, Reduction In Malaria Control Programs Highlights Need For Sustained Funding
“Progress in eradicating malaria is jeopardized if programs to combat the disease are cut,” a study published in the Malaria Journal on Tuesday concluded, according to a BMJ news article. The study “looked at 75 documented cases of malaria resurgence worldwide since the 1930s” and “found that in 90 percent of the cases, resurgence was linked, in part, to weakening of malaria control programs,” the article states. “The study warns: ‘Today, the threat of resurgence again looms as constrained global funding and competing priorities threaten the sustainability of successes,'” and it “highlights brief increases in the incidence of malaria in some countries, including Rwanda and Zambia, as a matter for concern,” BMJ notes (Gulland, 4/24).
U.N. Calls For Increased Collaboration, Funding To Fight Malaria Ahead Of World Malaria Day On Wednesday
Speaking at a press conference at U.N. Headquarters ahead of World Malaria Day, observed Wednesday, a U.N. envoy on Monday called for “[a]n increase in collaboration and partnerships among donor and recipient countries … to boost efforts to prevent and treat malaria, … while also calling for an increase in funding to combat the deadly disease,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers “said that although malaria deaths have declined significantly in recent years, there is still much to be done to reach the target of zero deaths by 2015, and countries would need to increase their coordination in addressing the issue,” the news service notes (4/23).
U.K. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on Friday “announced a doubling of the U.K.’s effort to provide clean water and sanitation to the world’s poorest countries,” the Guardian reports (Elliot, 4/20). At a High-Level Meeting on Water and Sanitation in Washington, D.C., Mitchell “announced that the U.K., through [the Department for International Development (DfID)], would double the number of people it reached with aid in water, sanitation and hygiene education in the next two years, going from 30 to 60 million people globally by 2015,” according to a UNICEF press release (4/20).
In this post on the Foreign Policy Association’s “Foreign Policy Blogs Network,” writer Julia Robinson discusses a recent report showing “the rising profile of BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — in health and development assistance and call[ing] upon the group to further their cooperation for better global health in the developing world.” Robinson writes, “BRICS represents the enormous potential of emerging economies to change the current geopolitical landscape, especially in the realm of global health,” adding, “It is accepted fact that BRICS will influence the global agenda going forward. It remains to be seen whether they will also commit to supporting developing countries in their own struggles for greater economic development and improved public health” (4/21).