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Recent Releases In Global Health

Panel Examines Global TB Fight: The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on the recent briefing, “Accelerating Progress to Combat TB: Innovation and Partnership,” which featured TB experts and African health ministers discussing the global fight against TB. Kenneth Castro, director of TB elimination at the CDC; Rachel Orduno, a TB patient advocate with the TB Photovoice Project; and the health ministers from Lesotho and Swaziland participated in the panel. Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, moderated (Aziz, 4/6).

Required Rapid Testing Promotes Significant Reduction In ACT Consumption In Senegal: A PLoS One research article examines how requiring the use of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to diagnose malaria in Senegalese public health facilities has affected malaria drug consumption and disease reporting. “The data indicate high adherence of anti-malarial prescribing practice to RDT results after an initial run-in period. The large reduction in [artemisinin-based combination therapy] consumption enabled by the move from symptom-based to parasite-based diagnosis demonstrates that effective roll-out and use of malaria RDTs is achievable on a national scale through well planned and structured implementation,” according to the paper. Though additional information is needed, the authors write that “considerable cost-savings were achieved in ACT procurement” (Thiam et al., 4/6).

Consolidated U.S. Development Bank Could Provide Funds In Tough Fiscal Times: A draft paper (.pdf) by Todd Moss, vice president for corporate affairs and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Ben Leo, a research fellow at the center, calls for the creation of a U.S. development bank. The authors write on CGD’s “Global Development: Views from the Center” blog that “the current fragmented system means the United States is both losing out on potential commercial opportunities in the next wave of emerging markets and neglecting a key lever to support stability and prosperity abroad” (4/6).

Priority Areas For NCD Summit: “Many possible actions for the prevention and treatment of [non-communicable diseases] NCDs could be discussed in the lead-up to the U.N. [High Level Meeting] on NCDs in September 2011. A clear and focused set of requests for consideration at the meeting will have the best chance of success,” write the authors of a Lancet Health Policy article, where they outline five priority interventions for tackling what they call a “global crisis” (Beaglehole et al., 4/6). “Reducing tobacco and salt use, improving diets and physical activity, reducing hazardous alcohol intake, and achieving universal access to essential drugs and technologies have been chosen for their health effects, cost-effectiveness, low costs of implementation, and political and financial feasibility,” according to a Lancet press release (4/5).

The Importance Of Women’s Reproductive Rights In Achieving MDGs: Despite overall progress on the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the targets to promote gender equality (Goal 3), reduce maternal mortality (Goal 5), and fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (Goal 6) “significantly lag behind other goals, with women in Africa bearing the burden of this failure,” write the authors of a PLoS Medicine Policy Forum. The piece describes how women’s reproductive rights contribute to these challenges and how the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the African Women’s Protocol) offers a framework to overcome such barriers. “Through the ratification, domestication, and transparent reporting on the African Women’s Protocol, a framework can be implemented in Africa that creates contexts that support women’s reproductive rights. In so doing, a significant step can be made towards rolling back HIV and maternal mortality and thereby supporting the attainment of MDGs 3, 5, and 6,” they write (Gerntholtz et al., 4/5).

Free Public Database Offers Analysis On Quality Of Medicines Around World: With support from USAID and the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), the Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) program recently launched a free public database on the quality of medicines collected and analyzed from countries in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, according to a USP press release. According to the release, “To date, more than 8,700 records of tested samples collected from Ghana, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Peru, Guyana and Colombia have been entered into the database” (4/5).

Patent Information Database For HIV Drugs: The Medicines Patent Pool recently launched a “new database of patent information that will help shed light on where key patents exist for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in developing countries,” according to a press release from the organization. The Medicines Patent Pool developed it “with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and a wide range of national and regional patent offices that helped to provide and validate information on the legal status of patents” (4/4).

Lots Of Work Remains To End Malaria Deaths In Africa: “This is a time to celebrate the remarkable worldwide efforts to reduce malaria deaths – but also to take stock of how much work we have left to do,” Peter Chernin, chair of Malaria No More, writes on the organization’s “Buzzwords Blog.” Chernin writes: “The obstacles facing the malaria community are numerous, including challenges to secure adequate funding, research and development into new and effective tools and sustaining the successes made on-the-ground. We must stay dedicated and resolute in efforts to end malaria deaths in Africa” (4/3).

WHO Reform, Funding: “This is the time to define WHO’s role in an increasingly complex global health and development landscape where other players seemingly wield more power than WHO because of the resources they can mobilize, and where countries’ needs are changing as they develop,” Nandini Oomman, director of the HIV/AIDS Monitor at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes on the center’s “Global Health Policy” blog. “Moving forward, setting key objectives with measurable results, tailored to different constituents (global, regional, country) should be WHO’s first priority in reclaiming its role as a leader in global health. Form should follow function, and until that function is defined, re-forming WHO sounds like a lot of posturing and an enormous waste of resources” (4/1).

In a related Intellectual Property Watch column, Daniele Dionisio, a member of the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases, explains how a European Financial Transaction Tax could represent an important resource for WHO’s Global Strategy and Plan for Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (4/7).

Opioid Substitution Therapy In Resource-Poor Settings: An article in the most recent issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization examines the effectiveness and benefits of opioid substitution therapy programs, including for HIV prevention, and the need for wider implementation, particularly in resource-poor settings (Kermode et al., April 2011).

Do Price Subsidy Plans For Malaria Drugs Work?: The Evidence to Policy initiative, a collaboration between the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco and SEEK Development in Berlin, has published a policy brief (.pdf) that examines the evidence on whether price subsidies for artemisinin-based combination therapies lower the cost and expand access to them (undated).

World Health Day 2011: Several blogs and publications featured commentary marking the recent World Health Day: