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Recent Releases In Global Health

Scientific American Examines Neglected Tropical Diseases

A Scientific American article examines recent efforts to tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The author writes “NTDs have plagued humankind for thousands of years. … What is new, however, is that donors, drugmakers, health ministries in low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), and public-private partnerships are linking their efforts to combat the NTDs in a more coordinated and systematic way.” The article highlights the progress and challenges of NTD-control programs, and examines why NTDs tend to be overlooked when it comes to funding (Hotez, 12/21).

Lancet Comment, Viewpoint Address Connection Between Climate Change, Health

Nearing the conclusion of the Copenhagen conference, a Lancet comment addresses the role health professionals should play in helping to ensure conversations around climate change “be informed by the best available scientific evidence on the benefits and harms of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.” The comment introduces a series of articles in the journal that examine the relationship between carbon emissions and health effects. “The Copenhagen conference presents an important opportunity to choose those policies that can not only achieve needed reductions in greenhouse gases, but also move toward development and health goals,” the authors conclude (Haines et al., 12/19).

“Climate change is creating for the health sector a formative moment, a moment of need and opportunity to affirm the role of population health as a criterion for achieving ways of living that are environmentally sustainable and equitable,” write the authors of a Lancet viewpoint that also examines the connection between climate change and health. “Meanwhile, pleasingly, policies for climate change mitigation can provide quick and positive population health dividends on investments in restructuring of society’s basic technological, commercial, and social practices—including investments in stronger multisectoral public health and primary prevention capacities” (McMichael et al., 12/19).

Blog: Interview With Council On Foreign Relations Senior Fellow For Global Health


Change.org’s “Global Health” blog interviews Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, about health system strengthening, the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, President Obama’s Global Health Initiative and other related topics (Gordon, 12/15). The second part of the interview, which highlights a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey of Americans’ attitudes about the U.S. role in global health, is available here (Gordon, 12/16).

Blog: Congressman Send Letter To White House Expressing Concern About PEPFAR Funding

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and four other House members sent a letter to the President expressing concern that “continued rapid roll out of AIDS treatment is endangered in Africa,” the Infectious Diseases Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. The letter asked the White House “to dramatically ramp up funding in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. A similar letter, from a bipartisan group of U.S. senators,” is also expected to be sent to the White House. “In addition to Lee, the House letter was signed by Reps. Henry Waxman [D-Calif.], Donald Payne [D-N.J.], John Conyers [D-Mich.], and Eliot Engel [D-N.Y.],” according to the blog (Shesgreen, 12/16).

Blog: Family Planning In Omnibus Spending Bill Explored

The blog, “RH Reality Check,” looks at the family planning funds in the 2010 omnibus appropriations spending bill. The blog notes, “for the first time in many years the U.S. will contribute $55 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).” It adds, “unfortunately an attempt to permanently eliminate the global gag rule – also known as the ‘Mexico City policy’ was passed by the Senate but pulled out during conference committee” (Larris, 12/15).

PLoS Medicine Essay Calls For Stronger Flu Surveillance In Africa

A PLoS Medicine essay examines the scant data available on the rates of influenza and influenza vaccine efficacy in Africa. “[U]ntil recently, the burden of influenza in Africa was believed to be negligible. However, sporadic reports from the Gambia, Senegal, Congo, Madagascar, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and from Gabon, have indicated that influenza is circulating and may be causing epidemics regularly,” the authors write. They conclude that “proper surveillance systems should be set up in already existing and well-established clinical research centers to understand the epidemiology of influenza in Africa, which in turn may help the processes of decision making regarding influenza vaccination on the continent, which may have a high impact on health in Africa” (Yazdanbakhsh/ Kremsner, 12/15).

Blog: Increased Need For ARVs Is Not An Insurmountable Challenge, U.S. Official Says

The “Science Speaks” blog reports on a recent event, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, featuring Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a related panel of experts. Fauci asked, “If you have increased global HIV prevalence and more individuals requiring antiretroviral therapy, is this an insurmountable challenge or are we going to have to rise [to the] occasion to address this?” According to the blog, “His answer was unequivocal: ‘It is not insurmountable,’” (Shesgreen, 12/14).

Blog: U.S. Foreign Aid Should Address Unique Barriers Of Women

“New global challenges such as climate change, rising food and energy costs, and HIV/AIDS all undermine efforts to combat poverty in developing countries and must be better addressed. But for this to happen, our outdated foreign assistance system must be reformed to meet the needs of a changing world. … reform must enable U.S. foreign assistance to better address the unique barriers women … face,” according to a Huffington Post blog post. “Investing in women goes well beyond the individual, as women reinvest in their children, families and communities. Programs simply will not do as well as they could without ensuring that women as well as men benefit,” the author writes (Sharmu, 12/14).

Journal Of International AIDS Society Commentary Argues PMTCT Of HIV Is Not Enough

A Journal of the International AIDS Society commentary proposes interventions aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV should extend beyond prevention to improve the long-term health needs of the mother and child. “Attempts to encourage women to abstain from all breastfeeding or to shorten the optimal duration of breastfeeding have led to increases in mortality among both uninfected and infected children,” the authors write. “A better approach is to support breastfeeding while strengthening programs to provide antiretroviral therapy for pregnant and lactating women who need it and offering antiretroviral drug interventions through the duration of breastfeeding” (Kuhn et al., 12/11).