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Recent Releases In Global Health

JAIDS Supplement Focuses On Global Health Systems

“Action always leads to reaction, a fundamental law of nature,” write the authors of an introduction appearing in a Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS) supplemental issue that focuses on global health systems. “Central to the debate [over investments in HIV/AIDS spending] has been the question of whether the disease-specific efforts of initiatives such as the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have strengthened or undermined national health systems in low- and middle-income countries.” The supplement examines the “impact of HIV scale-up on health systems in a diverse array of countries and contexts,” the authors write (El-Sadr/De Cock, 11/09).

One supplement article examines the contributing factors to PEPFAR’s success over the past five years. “The fundamental principles of PEPFAR’s success are the fundamental principles of a new era in development. As we look to the next 5 years, it is important to draw on these successes and acknowledge the countless opportunities for improvement. If we maintain the focus on country ownership, a results-based approach and accountability, good governance, and the engagement of all sectors, and if the resource commitments are met, everything is possible,” the author writes (Dybul, 11/09).

Global Health Magazine Looks At Chronic Diseases In Developing World

The latest edition of the Global Health Council’s Global Health Magazine focuses on chronic diseases in developing countries. “While HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis have taken center stage, chronic diseases such as mental illness, cardiovascular disease and cancers have been sidelined. Yet according to the World Health Organization, developing countries shoulder more than 60 percent of the global burden of coronary heart disease” (Fall, 2009).

Lancet Editorial Examines the ‘Undernutrition Epidemic’

Ahead of the World Food Summit, a Lancet editorial examines how despite global efforts to fight hunger, people continue to die because they lack access to food. “While acknowledging the crucial socioeconomic elements associated with food, and the need for the right to food agenda, the medicalisation of food might help to make this life-saving commodity more of an immediate priority for the international community and global health sector.” The editorial concludes, “The current dysfunctional global nutrition system needs to be urgently fixed but the international community remains reluctant to take on this challenge. … The international community can and must act now to ensure that a sixth of the world’s population receive the treatment they need—nutritious food” (10/31).

Drug, Insecticide Resistance Could Unravel Progress In Malaria Fights

“Scientific progress and support from the highest levels of government galvanised the [malaria] field, and the global community has begun to coalesce around the most ambitious goal possible –eradication,” but “the spread of drug and insecticide resistance threatens to unravel the progress,” according to a Lancet comment. “We must learn from the past, and focus on research that accelerates development of new tools and supports effective use of existing ones,” according to the authors who identify several areas that need improvement, including diagnostics and access to effective treatments. “Substantial political and financial support is needed, along with a critical mass of scientists working on malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, to maintain and implement an effective malaria research agenda,” they conclude (Kilama/Ntoumi, 10/31).

Lancet Comment Calls For Renewed Global Action To Fight Childhood Pneumonia

“Whether a political leader or a physician, one of the cruel ironies we face is that we are losing children we know how to save,” write the authors of a Lancet comment that examines the global action needed to fight childhood pneumonia. “The heart-breaking truth is that financial barriers – not medical or scientific ones – are preventing 9 million children every year from reaching the age of 5 years.” The comment includes details on an upcoming Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia roadmap, produced by the WHO and UN, scheduled for release on November 2, 2009, coinciding with the first-ever World Pneumonia Day. “Resources and political will are standing between children and their futures,” the authors conclude. “With the right tools, we should not fail the next generation of leaders and doctors” (Frist/Sezibera, 10/31).

GAO Report Addresses U.S. Food Aid

At a House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health hearing, GAO representatives discussed “(1) host government and donor efforts to halve hunger, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, by 2015, and (2) the status of U.S. agencies’ implementation of GAO’s 2008 recommendations” to address food security issues, which included “(1) develop an integrated government-wide U.S. strategy that defines actions with specific time frames and resource commitments, enhances collaboration, and improves measures to monitor progress and (2) report annually to Congress on the implementation of the first recommendation” (Policy Tracker, 10/29). More information on recent U.S. global health policy developments is available on Kaiser’s Policy Tracker tool.

U.N. Special Representative On Food Security and Nutrition Appointed

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday appointed David Nabarro from the U.K. as his Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition, according to a U.N. press release. Nabarro will coordinate the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis. “Nabarro has more than 30 years experience of public health, nutrition and development work at country, regional and global levels, and has held positions in non-governmental organizations, universities, national Governments and the United Nations system” (10/29).

Blog: Bill To Improve Newborn, Maternal Health Introduced

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), with the support of Senators Corker (R-TN) and Durbin (D-IL), on Wednesday introduced the Global Child Survival Act, which is designed to provide U.S. aid “to improve the health of newborns, children, and mothers in developing countries,” the “End the Neglect” blog writes (Hohlfelder, 10/29).   

Blogs: Congressional Malaria Caucus Expands To Include Focus On NTDs

On Wednesday, during a Capitol Hill briefing, the Congressional Malaria Caucus announced its expansion to include neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the “Malaria Watch” blog reports. Speakers included Mark Dybul, the former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Kari Stoever, the managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases and others. “The briefing focused on the linkages between both NTDs and malaria,” which can be jointly addressed, the blog writes (Brophy, 10/28). The “End the Neglect” blog announces the expansion and writes about the event (Hohlfelder, 10/28).

Another “End the Neglect” post addresses the need for global health advocates to “integrate work against a number of diseases to be the most effective and truly change our world.” According to the blog, “Health centers, expertise, treatments and the distribution of needed tools could be coordinated between efforts to fight both NTDs and malaria. This combining of treatments can reduce anemia-caused morbidity and mortality for less than 10% additional cost. That isn’t just goodwill, it’s good economic sense” (Green, 10/28).

Blog: U.S. Navy’s Involvement In Global Health

The CSIS Commission on Smart Global Health Policy’s blog covers an event exploring the U.S. Navy’s engagement in global health. Topics discussed included: Operation Continuing Promise, the Fourth Fleet’s program for health outreach to the Americas and the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s work on training and treatment policies. The post also includes a podcast interview Captain James Terbush (10/27).

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases Examines Role Stigma Plays In Commitments To Neglected Tropical Diseases

The “labeling of some neglected tropical diseases as ‘stigmatizing’ may indeed increase political commitment to these diseases, but it also bears some risks. Research can easily end up confirming previous assumptions, i.e., that it is the social stigma associated with the disease that leads to social isolation, hampers access to care, and reduces treatment adherence,” write the authors of a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases symposium piece. “[W]hile supporting current appeals to place stigma on researchers’ and implementers’ agendas, we strongly caution against uncritically using ‘stigma’ as an all-explaining concept in public health” (Ribera et al., 10/27).

Blog: PEPFAR Hasn’t Achieved Country-Ownership Yet

“I can buy result-based accountable approach and engagement of all sectors and might even be sold on the idea of good governance. But I am sorry, I can’t swallow the idea that PEPFAR exemplifies the principles of country-ownership,” according to “Karen Grepin’s Global Health Blog” in response to a Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes commentary about PEPFAR. According to Grepin, though PEPFAR “has changed the game in global health in many good ways … Real country ownership is a lot more than contracting with local NGOs and informing the country about operational plans” (10/27).

PLoS Pathogens Examines Past, Future Of TB Research

“Renewed efforts in tuberculosis (TB) research have led to important new insights into the biology and epidemiology of this devastating disease. Yet, in the face of the modern epidemics of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and multidrug resistance – all of which contribute to susceptibility to TB –global control of the disease will remain a formidable challenge for years to come,” write the authors of a PLoS Pathogens review article that examines the past and future of TB research (Comas/Gagneux, 10/26).