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Op-Eds: Pharma In Africa; U.S. Global TB Funding; ITN Distribution Strategies Examined

Economic Crisis Presents Opportunity To Reform Pharmaceutical Practices In Africa, Says UNAIDS Head

With an estimated 22 million people living with HIV in Africa, the demand for affordable and effective HIV/AIDS medications on the continent presents an opportunity to reform its pharmaceutical practices, Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, writes in a Mail & Guardian opinion piece. “What the continent needs is a single drug agency … [to] guarantee the quality of medicines on the continent,” Sidibe writes, adding how such changes could help to attract “private sector investment for the production of medicines within Africa” and serve as “a model for removing bottlenecks, but also for wider development that would contribute to an AIDS/MDGs movement in Africa.” Sidibe concludes, “In this economic crisis African leaders have an opportunity for innovation. Let AIDS not be an obstacle. Rather let the AIDS response provide an opportunity to transform the continent (7/7).

U.S. Congress Must Come Through On TB Pledge

Though H1N1 (swine) flu continues to dominate the daily headlines, “tuberculosis, is already killing about 4,800 people around the world each day,” and “[i]ncredibly, the world still does relatively little to stop it,” Jorge Sampaio, the U.N. envoy for the Global Plan to Stop TB, writes in an opinion piece appearing in the Times of Trenton. “The U.S. could make an enormous difference in TB control and reap significant diplomatic benefits with comparatively little financial investment” Sampaio writes, pointing to the devastating effects of TB in Africa and Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Of course, the main focus in Congress is on rebuilding the economy. But, we should not see TB as a distraction from that task, since the disease is already a massive weight on the global economy,” Sampaio writes, urging, “In accordance with the increase pledged last year, the Congress should provide $650 million in 2010 for the United States’ own global TB programs” (Sampaio, Times of Trenton, 7/6).

BMJ Editorial Examines Methods For Distributing ITNs

With the effort “under way across sub-Saharan Africa to increase the distribution of insecticide treated nets to achieve the Roll Back Malaria target of 80 percent coverage of children and pregnant women in endemic areas by 2010,” Thomas Eisele, of the International Health and Development at Tulane University, and Richard Steketee, of the of Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa examine the various approaches to ensuring high coverage, including private, public and mixed delivery strategies in an editorial appearing in the British Medical Journal. “Evaluations of feasible widescale delivery systems to maintain high equitable coverage in households and communities should be a high priority for countries once they achieve high bednet coverage,” the authors conclude (Eisele/ Steketee, 7/2).