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).
Programs, Funding & Financing
The Financial Times on Wednesday published a special report (.pdf) on global health policy to coincide with the Global Health Policy Summit in London. The special report features 10 articles on a variety of topics, including an article examining the complexities of applying health policies, delivering treatment and measuring program performances on a global level; an article highlighting potential strategies for lowering health care costs globally; and an article discussing the need for innovative approaches to combating infectious diseases (8/1).
“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).
Highlighting a recently released UNAIDS and Kaiser Family Foundation report (.pdf) on the financing of the global response to HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries in 2011, Devex assesses the HIV/AIDS initiatives and funding levels of the five leading donor governments for that year. According to the report, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and Germany “collectively contributed $6.5 billion, or nearly 86 percent, of all international HIV/AIDS assistance” in 2011, Devex notes before detailing these contributions by country (Piccio, 7/30).
In her “Global Health Blog,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley notes that she spoke with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah during last week’s XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012). She writes that though he “has a very clear vision of where USAID is going and what it hopes to achieve … [h]e appears to be a little concerned, however, that Europe may not keep pace — particularly on the finance but perhaps also on the approach.” She continues to say “Shah’s main anxiety is clearly … about the diminishing funding from European allies for the efforts to turn the tide of AIDS … but also about the financial commitment to global health generally.”
Lawrence Altman, former senior medical correspondent for the New York Times, writes in an opinion analysis in the newspaper that while there was much discussion about “ending the AIDS epidemic” and an “AIDS-free generation” at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) last week in Washington, D.C., “[o]ne obstacle is a failure to clearly define the epidemic or what it means to have an AIDS-free generation.” He continues, “Definitions of terms like these may help determine how many billions of dollars the world devotes to the battle against AIDS and how many millions of lives will be extended. A failure to meet ill-defined goals could lead to public misunderstandings that limit investments and the number of people who have access to the lifesaving antiretroviral drugs in the future.”
Inter Press Service reports on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, a region with “the second highest incidence of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa.” The news service highlights a report titled “Together We Will End AIDS,” released by UNAIDS ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C. last week, which “noted that AIDS-related deaths in the Caribbean have declined by almost 50 percent in 10 years.” The news service highlights progress made in various countries in the region and quotes a number of experts and officials who spoke at or before the conference.
“The number of people needing food aid in Zimbabwe will rise by 60 percent this year to 1.6 million, the World Food Programme [WFP] said on Friday, citing an annual assessment carried out by the United Nations and the Zimbabwean government,” Reuters reports (7/27). “The deteriorating food situation, said the WFP, was caused by erratic rainfall and dry spells, limited access to agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer, a reduction in the planted hectarage, poor farming practices and inadequate crop diversification,” VOA News writes (Dube/Zulu, 7/27). “The WFP said its $119 million (97 million euro) aid program, meant to run through to March next year, is facing a $87 million shortfall,” according to Agence France-Presse (7/27). The agency said it plans to import cereals from surrounding countries and provide cash transfers to affected populations to allow them to purchase food, Reuters notes (7/27).