“[W]e are losing the global fight against bad medicines,” and though “[s]ome progress is being made,” the “problem is that … crackdowns tend to focus on counterfeit drugs” while a “much bigger public health problem … is substandard drugs that are the result of shoddy manufacturing and handling — or perhaps worse, deliberate corner-cutting,” Roger Bate, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “In poor countries, a frightfully high number of bad drugs reach patients through legitimate supply chains and even donor programs underwritten by U.S. and European taxpayers,” increasing the risk of harm to patients and the development of drug-resistant disease strains.
US Global Health Policy
Noting the recognition of International Human Rights Day on December 9, Purnima Mane, president and CEO of Pathfinder International, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “[E]very person should be able to make decisions about her or his body,” making reproductive rights a human rights issue. “From the London Summit on Family Planning supported by Melinda Gates, where thousands gathered to commit future investments in family planning, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s strong advocacy to ensure U.S. leadership in global health that includes reproductive rights as human rights, to the work that’s happening on the ground in myriad countries around the globe to provide contraception, improve maternal health, ensure HIV prevention and treatment, and much more — progress is happening,” Mane writes, noting some of the barriers and challenges that remain in “[e]stablishing reproductive rights as human rights for all” (12/9).
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby “was named to lead a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy on Friday, the State Department said,” the New York Times reports, noting, “Goosby will continue to head PEPFAR” (McNeil, 12/15). “The Global Health Diplomacy office was announced last July as the successor to President Obama’s Global Health Initiative,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes. “Goosby will be joined in creating the Global Health Diplomacy office by Leslie Rowe, previously U.S. ambassador to Mozambique, who will be in charge of its day to day operations,” the blog notes (Barton, 12/14).
The State Department on Friday announced the selection of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby to lead the State Department’s new Office of Global Health Diplomacy. The following press statement and article were published in response to the announcement.
On Wednesday, USAID, “along with representatives from seven government agencies and departments, [launched] the first-ever, whole-of-government strategic guidance on international assistance for children in adversity,” a USAID press release reports. The goal of the guidance — titled “United States Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity: A Framework for International Assistance: 2012-2017” and drafted by the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, and State, USAID and the Peace Corps — “is to achieve a world where all children live and grow up within protective family care and free from deprivation, exploitation, and danger,” the press release states (12/17).
Noting the recent release of the “PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), Kim Lufkin, communications officer at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), writes in the organization’s “Breakthroughs” blog, “It’s commendable that the U.S. government is continuing its legacy as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as this blueprint indicates. It’s also encouraging that the blueprint focuses on developing new scientific breakthroughs in the fight against the disease.” She continues, “As the Obama administration enters its second term in the new year, leaders across the administration must ensure that the priorities outlined in this blueprint are fulfilled, particularly the U.S. commitment to research and new HIV/AIDS tools. We cannot reach an AIDS-free generation otherwise” (12/3).
Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog reports on reaction from the international development community to the release last week of the “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf). “In general, aid groups welcomed the release of the blueprint and urged other donors to follow the United States’ lead,” the news service writes, adding, “There are, however, some groups that were disappointed with the lack of concrete funding commitments, among other details.” Devex provides reaction from DAI, Management Sciences for Health, and World Vision and quotes representatives of Save the Children, Abt Associates, and UNAIDS (Mungcal/Valdez, 12/4).
U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced the new top Democrats on House committees, Bloomberg reports (Rowley, 12/5). “Two key global health leaders are among the picks … [for] the Democratic Ranking Members for 113th Congress House Committees,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes. “Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) will succeed Howard Berman (D-Calif.) as the top Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee which has programmatic jurisdiction over all global health programs,” the blog notes, adding, “Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) will assume the top Democratic post on the all-important House Appropriations Committee — the committee charged with making annual funding decisions for all federal discretionary programs, including funding for [PEPFAR], global [tuberculosis (TB)] and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” (Lubinski, 12/5).
Through travel to Africa and “[a]s chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, we’ve seen firsthand the enormous toll of HIV/AIDS on families, communities and economies,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) write in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. “On December 1st, we marked World AIDS Day by honoring the lives lost to the scourge of AIDS and by recommitting ourselves to building an AIDS-free generation and ending this pandemic once and for all,” they write, adding, “Although we come from different political parties, we stand together in our belief that the United States should remain a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
Last week, the U.S. government announced up to $7.5 million in grants over the next two years to fund “implementation science projects exploring how to achieve the goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections while keeping mothers alive,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Barton, 12/5). According to a State Department press release, “Implementation science is critical to ensure that evidence-based and scalable interventions address current barriers to effective PMTCT programs. The results from successful operational and implementation science research are essential to improved program and health system performance” (11/28).