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Recent Releases: Health Development In Afghanistan; Trade Agreements Effect On Drug Access; Outside Experts In Patent Reviews; Neglected Disease Legislation; Management In Public Health; Foreign Aid Reform « » The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Recent Releases: Health Development In Afghanistan; Trade Agreements Effect On Drug Access; Outside Experts In Patent Reviews; Neglected Disease Legislation; Management In Public Health; Foreign Aid Reform

Lancet Editorial Examines Health Developments In Afghanistan

A Lancet editorial examines Afghanistan’s progress in health developments since 2001, in light of the country’s recent presidential election. Though “[t]here have been substantial improvements in coverage of basic health services, especially in rural areas … the quality of facilities is variable and staff shortages, especially of nurses and female health workers, remain a problem” as do high rates of communicable diseases, maternal mortality and mental illness, according to the editorial. “The health priorities for the next government should include the development of a functioning referral system, ensuring the security and neutrality of health-care providers in conflict zones, addressing the health needs of specific vulnerable groups—eg, women, children, and people with mental health problems, and training health workers such as midwives and female nurses, who will be crucial for increasing women’s access to health services,” the authors write (8/28).

Health Affairs Study Looks At How Trade Agreements Impact Access To Drugs

The “intellectual property rules on data exclusivity and patents” of the Central America Free Trade Agreement “are responsible for the removal of several lower-cost generic drugs from the market in Guatemala and for the denial of entry to a number of others,” according to a recent Health Affairs study. In order to “support Guatemala in exploring ways to obtain lower-price drugs from donors and on the market … the Obama administration and Congress should aim for a fairer balance between promoting access to medicines and long-term incentives for drug innovation, particularly in developing countries,” the study authors write (Shaffer/Brenner, 8/25).

Health Affairs Paper Examines Role Of Outside Expert In Patent Review

In a separate Health Affairs paper, authors explore the role outside experts can play in the review of drug patents in countries through several case studies. “The pre-grant review and post-grant reexamination processes prevent access to medicines being hindered by patents that do not meet the level of innovation required by local intellectual property law,” the authors write. “If such patents are not overturned, few alternatives remain for addressing nonmeritorious patents on drug products that make low-cost production difficult in resource-poor settings” (Amin et al., 8/25).

Blog: Three Things To Consider About Neglected Disease Legislation

A recent amendment to pending legislation passed the Senate and “has the potential to do a world of good” for people with neglected diseases, Tom Bollyky writes on the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog. However the amendment, which calls for regulatory guidance and internal review standards for “products for use in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of rare diseases and neglected diseases of the developing world,” requires “three additional stipulations” in order to be effective, according to Bollyky. The post includes a description of his recommendations, which are to coordinate with other U.S. actors, include international and developing country regulatory processes and incorporate new and existing incentives to help bridge financing gaps (Bollyky, 8/20).

Blog: Effective Public Health Requires Management Systems

For the “effective distribution of drugs to those who need them” and the “effective use of that equipment to cure disease or keep people healthy … we need health care infrastructure: bricks and mortar – yes, but more importantly, we need management systems and people with leadership skills,” Josh Ruxin, country director for the Millennium Village Project in Kigali, Rwanda, writes in the Huffington Post.

Although “[e]veryone talks a good deal about public-private partnerships … truly effective partnerships are rare as hen’s teeth,” according to Ruxin. He writes that “infrastructure is not complete if it’s just the material components of aid; to Africans, the knowledge that management training and mentorship programs provide is essential to successfully building capacity” (Ruxin, 8/26).

Blog: U.S. Needs To Modernize Foreign Aid

“A more modern foreign aid system will strengthen our efforts to alleviate poverty and hunger, fight disease, and create economic growth for struggling people in developing countries,” David Beckerman, president of Bread for the World, writes in the Huffington Post. The current U.S. foreign assistance system is a “fragmented, duplicitous, and non-transparent network of programs,” according to Beckerman, who also reviews recent developments in foreign aid reform. “Although it isn’t clear yet whether the administration and Congress will choose fundamental reform over the patchwork approach, one thing is irrefutable: we can’t afford for our leaders to hurry up and wait when so much is at stake,” he concludes (Beckerman, 8/27).