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Recent Releases In Global Health

Haiti’s Water Needs: Though “cholera epidemics of the 19th century forged the way for the revolution in sanitation and the provision of safe sources of public water, … more than 1 billion people … have little access to safe sources of water,” write the authors of a Lancet Comment that reflects on Haiti’s cholera outbreak. “[S]ubstantial improvements in water quality and sanitation will be needed for Haiti before reliable interruption of cholera transmission can occur. … Hopefully, this latest threat for the people of Haiti might represent a turning point in their quest for access to the most basic of human needs – safe water” (Harris et al., 12/11).

U.N. Resolution On Global Health, Foreign Policy: U.N. General Assembly delegates on Thursday adopted a consensus resolution in which they “urged States to consider health in the formulation of foreign policy and requested the secretary-general and World Health Organization (WHO) director-general to submit a report to the next session on ‘improving the effectiveness of governance for global health’,” according to a U.N. press release. “[T]he Assembly also underscored the urgency of strengthening health systems by improving infrastructure and ensuring affordable access to quality services, safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and acknowledged the need to make the global health architecture more effective, efficient and responsive with a view to enhancing ‘health equity’,” according to the release (12/9).

Cut Weak Programs, Not Foreign Aid Budget: “The foreign assistance budget makes up approximately one percent of the entire federal budget. Cutting foreign assistance wouldn’t even dent our current deficit,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes in a Huffington Post blog post. She also provides three recommendations for incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) (12/9).

Reactions To Rapid TB Test Approval: IDSA/HIVMA Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog and ONE’s blog address the WHO’s recent approval of the Xpert MTB/RIF rapid tuberculosis test. Also, PEPFAR, USAID and HHS released a joint statement about the news, noting the new test “will be critical for programs supported by the U.S. government.” The statement includes quotes from Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC (12/8).

Fighting Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak: In a post on USAID’s “Impact” blog, Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for the USAID Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, writes: “Our goal is first to ensure every Haitian receives information about how to prevent infection … Secondly, we are determined to reduce both fatalities and the number of severe cases that require hospitalization. We’re already seeing progress. Early in the outbreak, about 9 percent of hospitalized cholera cases were fatal. In the latest reports from Haiti’s Ministry of Health, that figure is down to 3.5 percent” (12/8).

USAID Should Lead Obama’s GHI: “We think that a strengthened and empowered USAID should lead the GHI, but we welcome greater transparency and a rationale for the [transition’s] timing and the seeming conditionality of capacity and benchmarks raised by the QDDR draft,” Nandini Oomman, director of the HIV/AIDS Monitor, and Connie Veillette, director of CGD’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, write on the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog.” Oomman and Veillette also raise related questions, including “where PEPFAR will be anchored” (12/7).

Public Health Leaders Must Engage In Climate Change Discussion: In post on the Global Health Council’s “Blog 4 Global Health,” the Public Health Institute’s Jade Sasser writes about the U.N. Climate Change conference, where “out of 1,000 officially registered side events, only 4 address human health issues. … Whether reflective of a need for capacity building within the health sector, or increased collaboration between researchers and program managers in the health and environmental sectors, these numbers reveal a significant gap in research and interventions working at the nexus of climate change and human health” (12/5).

Discussing AIDS Exceptionalism: A Journal of the International AIDS Society article “reviews the histories of the disease, policy developments and funding patterns to chart how the meaning of AIDS exceptionalism has shifted over three decades,” as described by the authors. The paper “argues that, while the connotation of the term has changed, the epidemic has maintained its course, and therefore some of the justifications for exceptionalism remain” (Smith/Whiteside, 12/3).

Bill Fights Violence Against Women: “Congress has a chance to take a stand” against global violence against women by voting on the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), Meghan Rhoad of Human Rights Watch writes in a post on The Hill’s “Congress Blog” that describes the bill’s goals. “Congress has a lot to accomplish in the waning days of the lame duck session, but the opportunity presented in this bill is too significant to set aside. Amid a slew of partisan fights brewing in Congress, this could be a victory for all. More important, the problem it addresses is too urgent to postpone” (12/2).

Ensuring Donated Drugs Get To Intended Patients: In an AEI Health Policy Outlook, Roger Bate, Legatum fellow in global prosperity, argues that “many [developing country] drug-distribution systems are plagued by waste, delay, and theft.” As such, Bate writes that “[t]he U.S. government should conduct an independent review of practices at donor agencies such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM) to ensure that drugs are used by those intended, rather than facilitating illegal parallel drug-distribution systems in recipient countries” (December 2010).

Professionalization Of Humanitarian Workforce: “Over the past fifteen years, humanitarian aid has changed from a fringe activity in crisis environments to a mainstream concern. It now employs hundreds of thousands of workers, affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and spends billions of dollars each year,” write the authors of a Health Affairs article that examines “the case for professionalizing humanitarian action through an international professional association, the development of core competencies, and the creation of a universal certification system for aid workers” (Walker et al., December 2010).

Medical Male Circumcision (MC): MC “is a proven, one time, low-cost biomedical intervention that could save millions of lives and significant resources if implemented,” according to a Center for Global Health Policy issue brief (.pdf) that summarizes prior studies demonstrating the benefits of MC for men and their partners, outlines a strategy for MC scale-up and details current U.S. funding of MC. “It is vital that the U.S. global AIDS program continues to have resources to support countries in their efforts to implement this lifesaving prevention intervention. In this challenging budgetary environment, it is more essential than ever that HIV prevention resources are directed to programs and strategies that are proven to work,” the brief states (December 2010).

USAID’s Support Of Methadone Clinics In Vietnam: A USAID FrontLines article examine the agency’s support of methadone clinics in Vietnam to help treat heroin addiction and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. “Methadone treatment, used for more than three decades in many western countries, is now part of a comprehensive set of health-care services supported by USAID,” according to the article. “In May 2008, … the Vietnamese government, with PEPFAR support, launched six methadone clinics in Hai Phong, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City – three of which are supported by USAID … Of the more than 30 PEPFAR countries, Vietnam was the first country to use the program’s funds to support medication-assisted therapy” (Nyberg, November 2010).