The Financial Times has published a special report (.pdf) on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) featuring 10 articles examining issues including prevention, research, and treatment.
Programs, Funding & Financing
“The U.K. has announced that Â£35 million ($56 million) in aid over the next three years will be aimed at improving nutrition for mothers and children in Yemen amid fears that a hunger crisis will derail fragile gains in the Middle East’s poorest country,” the Guardian reports. “More than 10 million people in Yemen, a country with a population of around 24.7 million, are thought to be at risk because of insufficient food,” and “[i]n the worst-affected parts of the country, as many as one in three children are suffering from life-threatening acute malnutrition,” the newspaper notes. “The U.K. funding will go towards long-term support to help improve nutrition for 1.65 million women and children in 60 of the most vulnerable, deprived and conflict-affected districts in the eight governorates where the need is greatest,” according to the Guardian (Tran, 10/10).
In a BMJ Group Blogs post, Caroline Robinson, global health advocacy manager for Results U.K., discusses the prevalence and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB in Europe and provides the example of Romania. She writes, “[E]vidence brought to light in a new report [.pdf] released recently outlining the effect funding shortages will have on HIV and TB, including drug-resistant TB, in the European region suggests that Romania does not have the institutional capacity to ensure its citizens have the basic right to health. The country relies on grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which look set to end in 2013.” She continues, “[Global Fund] Board members should ensure that middle-income countries with epidemics among key populations can access critical Global Fund contributions and the E.U. and its member states must continue to provide the resources the fund requires to meet demand. Unless such support is given, countries like Romania will continue to fall further down the league tables in terms of treatment for this curable disease” (10/10).
Gender Action recently released a new report (.pdf), titled “Banking on Health: World Bank and African Development Bank Spending on Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the organization’s website. The report, based on fieldwork in Cameroon and Uganda, “reviews World Bank and AfDB projects to highlight how good quality matters as much as high quantity in reproductive and sexual health and HIV/AIDS spending,” the website notes. In addition to the report, Gender Action created a database (.xls) “containing comprehensive information about World Bank and AfDB investments (2000-2012) addressing reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan African countries,” the website states (10/9).
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog examines the issue of HIV/AIDS in the presidential election, writing, “This campaign season, the fight against HIV/AIDS has been absent from the press materials released by both President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt] Romney — as well as from the conversation.” The blog provides examples of Obama’s actions addressing HIV domestically and abroad and summarizes remarks on the epidemic made by Romney during the campaign. The blog includes quotes from several experts and officials (Judem, 10/8).
Two U.N. experts have called for the creation of a “global fund to promote the creation of social safety nets for the most vulnerable people in poor countries,” the Guardian reports. Based on estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur for food, and Magdalena Sepulveda, the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the creation of a $60 billion fund — with $20 billion funded by rich countries — “would have two functions: to help the 48 least developed countries (LDCs) put in place a ‘social protection floor’; and to serve as a reinsurance provider to step in if a state’s social protection system was overwhelmed by an unexpected event such as extreme drought or flooding,” the newspaper writes.
The Financial Times examines the creation of UNITAID, an innovative financing mechanism and international drug purchasing facility, and how Philippe Douste-Blazy, chair of the UNITAID Executive Board and France’s former foreign minister who helped create the organization, is looking to move beyond drug financing to raise money through “microdonations” for development programs. Douste-Blazy is proposing tacking financial transaction taxes (FTTs) onto the price of certain products and services, creating “gifts so tiny that the donors don’t even notice they are giving them,” according to the newspaper. The Financial Times writes, “Douste-Blazy argues: ‘Certain sectors have benefited enormously from globalization: financial transactions, tourism and mobile phones. We need to tax an economic activity that’s only done by the rich, and tax it so lightly that nobody will notice.'” The newspaper continues, “Moreover, he points out, this tax would be popular. And it would save lives” (Kuper, 10/5).
The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Friday released a report (.pdf) titled “Improving Maternal Mortality and Other Aspects of Women’s Health,” the center reports on its webpage. Written by Phillip Nieburg, a senior associate at CSIS, the report “uses data and observations from Tanzania and many other countries to describe the specific burdens on women’s health that are associated with pregnancy, labor, and delivery” and “discusses many of the major interventions currently being planned and/or implemented by developing country governments and their supporters,” according to the report summary, which notes “it identifies key challenges for improving maternal mortality and women’s health overall in developing countries” (10/5).
“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.
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.”