“Surrounded by Sudan, Chad and Congo where more high-profile crises are taking place, [the Central African Republic's (CAR)] dire and desperate health situation — in which few people have access to health care and many die of easily treatable diseases — has received little attention and even less assistance,” writes Unni Karunakara, international president of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), in an article on MSF’s webpage. “The international community — donor countries, United Nations and other multilateral agencies, humanitarian and development agencies — needs to be more effectively involved in the setting of health priorities and supporting the delivery of health care in CAR,” Karunakara writes, adding, “If this situation was occurring anywhere else in the world, you would surely have mobilized by now” (8/17).
Programs, Funding & Financing
“Former President Bill Clinton delivered an energizing ‘call to action’ at the closing session of [the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012)], encapsulating the high hopes and the sobering challenges facing the fight against global HIV/AIDS,” Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center, writes in the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog. “In order to build the necessary political momentum going forward, he focused on certain key areas: supporting greater commitments from affected countries, driving down the costs of treatment, and creating innovative financing mechanisms to accompany traditional donor funding,” she notes, and highlights key messages from his Closing Session address (7/31). A webcast of the session is available online from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Health care, taxes, energy, favorite flavor of ice cream — it seems our elected leaders must disagree at every turn. But one issue that has so far repulsed the partisan pressures of the times was highlighted [at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012)] in our nation’s capital last week: the fight against HIV/AIDS,” former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) writes in an opinion piece in “The Week.” He says, “The conference was a celebration of the remarkable success made because of this leadership, and a call for continued support” in the response against HIV/AIDS. Noting he moderated a panel discussion with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on congressional bipartisanship at the conference, Frist continues, “I witnessed what I felt to be an accurate portrayal of how we got to the point where we could celebrate so many successes. Fundamental to the progress has been bipartisanship.”
The New York Times reports on efforts by the GAVI Alliance to deliver vaccines for children in war-torn and secretive countries. According to the newspaper, the non-profit group “sold to North Korea a vaccine against five diseases, and has announced plans to roll out other vaccines soon in Yemen, the Republic of Congo and Pakistan.” The newspaper notes that the alliance “does not do the vaccinating, but negotiates low prices from manufacturers and resells the vaccines at prices on a sliding scale, depending on a country’s gross national income per capita.” According to the New York Times, “[F]irst the group studies whether the country can use the vaccine — whether officials can keep it refrigerated even in rural villages, for example, and whether there are enough trained vaccinators” (McNeil, 7/30).
Inter Press Service reports on the successful efforts of Tanzania’s Kigoma Region “to train assistant medical officers to conduct life-saving c-sections at its rural health centers,” allowing pregnant women with complications to deliver at more local facilities instead of having to travel to regional or district hospitals. Tanzania’s maternal mortality rate is high, at 578 deaths for every 100,000 live births, IPS notes. “[A]t one point the Kigoma Region had the highest rate in the country, at 933 per 100,000 live births in the early 1980s,” but “maternal mortality in this region [now] is considered to be lower than in the rest of the country,” according to the news service.
Noting “Mitt Romney will become the official nominee for the Republican Party at its convention in Florida” this week, Kim Lufkin, communications officer for the Global Health Technologies Coalition, writes in this post in the coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, “Science and research will likely not appear on the agenda, as Romney, expected Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, and others will instead focus on topics like reducing federal spending.” She continues, “It’s unfortunate that research will not be a part of the conversation, as new predictions coming out this week indicate that if Romney and Ryan win the election in November, changes could be coming for health research and efforts to develop much-needed new tools for global health.” She concludes, “It’s important that the candidates — from Obama and Vice President Biden to Romney and Ryan — start talking about these issues head-on,” and “no matter which party takes the White House in November, support for global health [research and development (R&D)] must continue” (8/24).
IRIN Examines Conditional Cash Transfer Program Aimed At improving Maternal Health In The Philippines
“A nationwide conditional cash transfer program in the Philippines is slowly improving maternal health, but more is needed to reverse the climbing maternal mortality ratio, say women’s groups,” IRIN reports. “Known locally as ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program’ (4Ps), five-year conditional cash transfers (CCTs) were first rolled out in 2007 as a pilot program to cut poverty,” the news service writes, adding, “Now, with a budget of $227 million, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) aims to make CCTs available to 5.2 million eligible households by 2015.”
Medical researchers, politicians, and policymakers gathered at a Global Health Policy Summit in London Wednesday “to champion innovative solutions to the world’s major health problems,” Imperial College London reports in an article, which notes the summit, “the first event of its kind, is the result of a partnership between Imperial College London and the Qatar Foundation for education, science and community development” and “will tackle maternal health, primary care, non-infectious diseases and aging societies” (8/1). “This is a unique summit. We’re gathering the global thought leaders, very much to exchange ideas, to learn from each other, when it comes to innovative solutions to the significantly great challenges facing health care systems globally,” summit chair Ara Darzi of the Institute for Global Health Innovation tells BBC Radio correspondent Claudia Hammond in a “Health Check” audio report (8/1).
In this post on the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, CGD’s Victoria Fan, Rachel Silverman, and Amanda Glassman examine “the preliminary report [.pdf] on the pilot of PEPFAR’s Expenditure Analysis Initiative, an important and exciting move by PEPFAR towards evidence-based decision making and greater transparency.” Expenditure analysis (EA) “provides an account of where money gets spent and on what,” they continue, adding, “Here’s why it could be a game changer: This seemingly simple tool is essential for realizing huge potential gains in both technical and allocative efficiency, two core components of value for money.” After describing some of the report’s shortcomings, they write that “the report demonstrates the wide range of potential applications for using EA to improve value for money, which is particularly encouraging given PEPFAR’s plans to institutionalize EA into its routine annual reporting” (8/1).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at the center, reports on the contribution of economists to the global health field, writing, “Economists are not global health’s most popular human resource. … Yet a new view of the contribution of economists to global health is emerging.” She notes, “At the International AIDS Economics Network (IAEN) meeting earlier this month, [U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator] Ambassador Eric Goosby gave a terrific overview of the policy questions that need to be addressed by the field and the role that economists need to play in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the HIV/AIDS response,” and provides a number of quotes from his address (8/1).