“Commonwealth government leaders meeting in Australia agreed Saturday to step up efforts to eradicate polio worldwide, despite the Afghanistan war setting back vaccination efforts there and in neighboring Pakistan,” the Associated Press reports (10/29). “Leaders from Britain, Canada, Australia and Nigeria, and” representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “on Saturday pledged tens of millions of dollars in extra funding to wipe out the disease” in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — the four countries where polio remains endemic, Reuters states (10/29).
Programs, Funding & Financing
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University, notes some of the parallels between the development of RTS,S, the experimental malaria vaccine currently being tested in Africa, and the polio vaccine, but he says “there are also some particularly disappointing ways in which the polio and malaria efforts could differ.”
“Despite a massive increase in humanitarian operations and international funding since famine was formally declared 100 days ago, the relief effort in Somalia is expected to miss almost all its key targets for 2011, a draft United Nations report reveals,” the Guardian reports, adding, “[m]alnutrition rates have more than doubled, less than 60 percent of the 3.7 million people targeted have received monthly food assistance, and only 58 percent of a targeted 1.2 million people received critical non-food aid items.”
World Bank, Experts Discuss Findings, Approaches And Policy Implications Of Conditional Cash Transfer Program Evaluations
A Center For Global Development “Global Health Policy” blog post reports that the World Bank this week “brought a distinguished group together to discuss new findings, evaluation approaches and policy implications” of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs, writing, “Although 75 percent of published evaluations on [CCT programs] are sourced from Latin America,…
“The shortage of health workers in Uganda is a ‘crisis,’ says the Minister of Health, and activists say expectant mothers are bearing the brunt of the country’s staffing deficiency,” IRIN reports. “Just 56 percent of Uganda’s available health positions are filled,” the news service writes, adding, “A parliamentary committee’s recent attempt to redirect 75 billion Ugandan shillings — about US$27.5 million — out of a national budget of more than 10 trillion shillings ($3.6 billion) towards hiring enough health workers was rebuffed in September.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a partnership to support new research and development (R&D) and production of new products for global health and agriculture, Agence France-Presse reports (10/26).
Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and Khai Hoan Tram, an Allan Rosenfield Fellow at amfAR, write in this Huffington Post opinion piece that what’s missing from the discussion of foreign aid — which accounts for approximately one percent of the U.S. national budget — “is the fact that [it] is actually used to aid those in need while advancing our country’s humanitarian and diplomatic goals. And it’s working.”
In this post in PBS NewsHour’s blog “The Rundown,” senior correspondent Ray Suarez reports on his time in Nicaragua with the NewsHour’s global health unit for the national rollout of a pneumococcal pneumonia immunization campaign. The vaccine cost $100 per dose when it came to market in the last several years, Suarez notes, writing, “At that price, Nicaragua certainly couldn’t pay to vaccinate all its children. The GAVI Alliance, formed as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, worked to find a way to close that yawning gap between great danger to children and a life-saving medicine, between deep poverty in Nicaragua and Pfizer’s high costs.”
Disconnecting Global AIDS From Reproductive Health Stalled Efforts to Expand Family Planning Services, UNFPA Head Says
Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNPFA), said in an interview with the Guardian that “efforts to expand family planning services in the developing world stalled for a decade while global health organizations turned their energies to fighting HIV/AIDS. ‘We made a mistake. We disconnected HIV from reproductive health. We should never have done that because it is part and parcel,’ he said.” The newspaper adds, “Osotimehin said the international community was regaining momentum in its efforts to make family planning services available to women in all countries” and “argued it was crucial for developing countries to devote a larger share of their own resources to family planning and health.”
Addressing Barriers To Successful Immunization Programs Important While Vaccine Development Progresses
Immunizations can be a cost-effective means of disease prevention, but “[t]o reach the fully realized stage of cost-effectiveness, … it is vital to acknowledge — and more importantly, address — the barriers that often prevent them from either being as cheap or as widely used as needed,” Forbes contributor Sarika Bansal writes in a Forbes opinion piece. She cites costs associated with vaccines, such as shipping and refrigeration; time and monetary commitments from potential vaccine recipients; a lack of medical professionals in rural areas; and the implementation of public awareness campaigns as barriers to successful immunization campaigns.