“One of the most urgent global public health problems is the increasing capability of bacteria to resist antibiotic drugs,” a Washington Post editorial states. “The specter of a world without effective antibiotics has been looming for years, but recent evidence suggests that the superbugs are evolving ever faster,” the editorial continues. “Meanwhile, the pipeline of new antibiotics is running dry, leaving some patients with no effective treatment for life-threatening disease,” it adds.
Programs, Funding & Financing
The Lancet examines the history of the Obama administration’s attempt to “reform the way the country delivers development assistance for health abroad” by establishing the Global Health Initiative (GHI). “Despite unusual bipartisan support in Congress and broad consensus among development practitioners about the goals of reform, it proved surprisingly difficult for the multiple entities involved in U.S. global health assistance to agree on a way forward,” the journal states, noting that GHI leadership and the three core entities of GHI — USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR — announced the closure of the GHI office and an end to the initiative’s current phase on July 3. The Lancet outlines several challenges the initiative faced, including collaboration among the three agencies, leadership, and external factors, such as “the austere budgetary climate.”
Forbes features two interviews with global health leaders. Contributor Rahim Kanani spoke with Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, about GAVI’s impact, innovation, public-private collaboration, and leadership and responsibility. In the interview, Berkley said vaccinating children not only protects them from disease, but it “protects families and whole communities. And it reduces ongoing health care costs, expands educational opportunities and creates a more reliable workforce. This, in turn, creates a more stable community, higher productivity and stronger national economies. Immunization provides an important foundation for political stability and economic growth” (10/4).
This Lancet editorial reflects on a panel discussion held last week at Europe House in London, titled “Beyond the Eurozone Crisis: New Realities for Global Health.” The editorial notes the aim of the meeting “was to discuss opportunities and challenges that Europe faces in the midst of the financial crisis, and how it can reposition itself around policies for global health in the context of a longer term shift in the world economic order, where developing countries have become the engines of growth.” The Lancet writes, “Despite a number of treaties, white papers, and communications around Europe and global health in the past decade, a clear European vision for global health has been strikingly absent,” adding, “The meeting discussed how individual member states have led the way in advancing the global health agenda, for example, the U.K. and its Health is Global strategy.” The editorial concludes, “In a shifting landscape, it is important that Europe reframes its position in global health and aligns itself to gain greater coherence between policies, strategies, and practices. Huge health, economic, and societal benefits for developing countries and Europe can be achieved” (10/6).
Blog Summarizes Analyses Examining Possible Effects Of Sequestration On Global Health, Science Research
The Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog examines “the likely devastating impact of sequestration on U.S.-funded global health, research, science, and development programs” and summarizes several recently released reports on potential budget cuts. The blog outlines the findings of an updated analysis from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, which examines the possible human and global health impacts of budget sequestration; a new analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that says sequestration would “no doubt have significant impacts on federal funding of science, research, and innovation”; a document (.pdf) from Bread for the World that examines the potential impact of sequestration on the international affairs budget; and an updated analysis (.pdf) from Research!America looking at how sequestration could affect health research and science at several U.S. agencies (Lufkin, 10/4).
Doctors in Kenya on Wednesday were striking for the 17th day to protest poor conditions in some of the nation’s public hospitals, where “[e]mergency rooms … frequently don’t have gloves or medicine, and power outages sometimes force doctors to use the light from their phones to complete a procedure,” the Associated Press reports. Last week, “Kenya’s government fired 1,000 of the 2,000 striking doctors … despite a shortfall of skilled medical practitioners,” the news service writes, noting Kenya has one doctor for every 6,250 people and the WHO recommendation is one for every 100 people. “Attempts to hold talks this week with officials from the Ministry for Medical Services failed, prompting the doctors to flood social media with tell-all stories about deplorable conditions in public hospitals,” the AP states.
In the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Sarah Jane Staats, director of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking Foreign Assistance Initiative, compares the foreign assistance positions of President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “The U.S. presidential campaign has been more about saving jobs at home than saving lives abroad,” but “America’s role in the world was center stage at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last week, where President Barack Obama decried modern slavery and Mitt Romney unveiled his vision for foreign assistance,” she writes. “The surprise: so far, Romney sounds a lot like Obama on foreign aid,” she continues.
“[W]omen and children everywhere deserve quality health care,” Kathy Bushkin Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “As many in the development community say, investing in the health of women and children isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do,” she continues, adding, “When women and children are healthy, they can learn more and earn more, which leads to more stable and productive communities.” Though the world has made “important progress on this front,” “[w]e must continually assess our progress and talk about where we need to do better, because when the international community mobilizes, we can generate meaningful change,” she says, noting “we have more work to do … in order to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which set critical targets for reducing child and maternal mortality by 2015.”
Devex features three video segments from an interview with Jonathan Quick, president and CEO of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), in which he discusses health systems innovation and the challenge of addressing non-communicable diseases. In one clip, Quick describes the founding principles of MSH and how the organization works to build local capacity in the communities where it works. In a second clip, he talks about how health systems innovation — organizing people, processes and resources — will help deliver health technologies more quickly and efficiently (Rosenkrantz/Schwetje, 10/3). And in a third clip, Quick says the international community has made “stunning progress” in the past decade against HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, but a growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases are killing more people than those three diseases combined. He says synergies of care and treatment and integration will be important to address these illnesses, instead of the more vertical models that have worked over the past decade (Rosenkranz/Schwetje, 10/2).
“The government of Uganda is planning to establish a $1 billion HIV trust fund to finance local HIV programs,” IRIN reports. “According to a working paper released in September, ‘Justification for Increased and Sustainable Financing for HIV in Uganda,’ the fund will generate cash through levies on bank transactions and interest, air tickets, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes, as well as taxes on goods and services traded within Uganda,” the news service writes, adding, “Small fees will also be levied on civil servants’ salaries; corporate and withholding tax will be increased slightly; and a small tax will be added to telephone calls and to each kilowatt of electricity consumed.”