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Recent Releases In Global Health

Lancet Infectious Diseases Comments Examine Use Of Quinine To Treat Malaria

A Lancet Infectious Diseases comment presents an argument for the continued use of quinine monotherapy to treat malaria in Africa. Benefits of the therapy include its known efficacy, known long-term safety, low cost and availability compared to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). Though ACT “is the safest treatment for malaria, … quinine remains a good asset in the treatment of malaria. The risks, benefits, and acceptance of dropping quinine should be addressed with health-care workers in Africa and should not be swept away in the euphoria of artemisinin-based combination therapy development,” the authors conclude (Barennes/Srour/Pussard, March 2010). A related Lancet Infectious Diseases comment calls for additional studies to evaluate the effectiveness of “combination therapies using quinine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in pregnancy” (Chico/Chandramohan, March 2010).

Clinton Testifies On State And Foreign Operations Budget

This week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before four congressional committees on the FY 2011 State and Foreign Operations budget request, including on the Global Health Initiative (GHI) and the role of PEPFAR. Other related topics addressed included the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) to define global needs and properly align U.S. capabilities, increasing the capacity of the State Department and USAID, food security, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), long-term recovery efforts in Haiti, and advancing equality and opportunity for women and girls. The Kaiser Policy Tracker includes links to Clinton’s testimony, webcasts of the hearings and lawmakers remarks (2/25).

Blog: Clinton, Vilsack Discuss Their Departments’ Roles In The Global Food Security Initiative

In congressional hearings this week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack “stressed the important role their respective departments will play in implementing the Administration’s Global Food Security Initiative,” according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food For Thought” blog. “Secretary Clinton reiterated the Administration’s pledge to invest at least $3.5 billion in food security over three years, and that this year’s request includes $1.6 billion, of which $1.2 billion is funded through the State Department,” according to the blog. “Vilsack noted that a productive U.S. agriculture system ‘is critical to increasing global food security,’ while also remarking on USDA’s foreign food assistance programs, its work in rebuilding Afghanistan’s agriculture system, as well as the department’s assistance towards developing countries to help enhance their agricultural capacity” (2/25).

Combination ART, TB Treatment Slash Co-Infected Patient Mortality Rates, Study Finds

The initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) during tuberculosis (TB) therapy “significantly improves” treatment-naive, HIV-postive patient survival, a New England Journal of Medicine study finds (Karim et al., 2/25). Combined therapy in the clinical trial of 642 patients reduced mortality rates by 56 percent, according to a Columbia University press release (2/25). “[O]ur findings provide compelling evidence of the benefit of initiating antiretroviral therapy during tuberculosis therapy in patients with HIV coinfection. The findings also support recommendations by the WHO and others for the integration of tuberculosis and HIV care,” the study authors concludes (2/25).

Blog: New USAID Point Person On GHI Announced

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on Wednesday announced that Amie Batson has been selected to lead USAID’s efforts on the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative and will serve as deputy assistant administrator for global health, according to the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog. According to a notice from USAID, “Batson joins USAID after a 20-year career in global health that has included positions in the WHO, UNICEF, and most recently, the World Bank.  As one of the original drivers behind the creation of the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunization (GAVI Alliance) she led the World Bank’s efforts in vaccine financing, including the establishment of new financing mechanisms like the Advance Market Commitment and the use of donor financing to ‘buy-down’ loans from the International Development Assistance program” (Shesgreen, 2/24).

Global Health Universities Should Make NTD Research A Priority, PLoS NTD Editorial Says

As universities prepare to respond to a growing number of students interested in the field of global health, “what remains overlooked in this rapidly expanding global health movement is real innovation for prevention and treatment of the diseases of poverty; existing drugs, some more than 50 years old, accrue microbial resistance and, on the whole, exist only in unadjusted dosages for pediatric patients,” write the authors of a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases editorial. “While we advocate an increase in the overall investment in global health disease research, we specifically call for a new and prominent focus on research for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a group of infections that together rival the disease burdens of more widely known global health epidemics, yet receive especially limited research and development,” they write before outlining several ways research universities can contribute to NTD research (Kishore/Tavera/Hotez, 2/23).

Blog: GHI Proposal ‘Falls Short In Key Respects’

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog outlines its concerns with the Obama administration’s proposed Global Health Initiative (GHI). “In an official response submitted to the State Department today, the Global Center’s two co-chairs write that the Consultation Document includes many significant and laudable goals. But they said the GHI blueprint falls short in key respects, from scaled-back targets for TB treatment to murky details about funding to inadequate plans for addressing the health care worker shortage. … On HIV/AIDS, the Global Center notes that the Consultation Document is short on specifics explaining how the Administration would meet key treatment and prevention goals with the modest funding increases proposed.” Text of the submission is available on the blog (Shesgreen, 2/22).

Blog: 10 Ideas For Global Prosperity

In light of a recent meeting to explore the international development community’s possible goals after the U.N. Millennium Development Goal deadline in 2015, the Center for Global Development’s “Views from the Center” blog suggests “10 actionable ideas for global prosperity.” Ideas include an international initiative for independent evaluation, a visa to allow people from low-income countries to immigrate to the U.S., and other items (Birdsall, 2/22).

DNDi Report Highlights Ways To Improve Regulatory Process of Neglected Diseases Drugs In Africa

A Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) report (.pdf) offers recommendations on ways to improve the regulatory authorization process of drugs to treat neglected diseases in Africa. “The recommendations aim at a closer collaboration between developing and developed countries by involving regulators of endemic countries in all regulatory assessment of new drugs for neglected diseases,” according to a DNDi press release (2/21).

Blog: Congress Should Avoid Foreign Aid Cuts

Despite the “challenging fiscal times,” a Daily Caller blog post argues that the international affairs budget shouldn’t be the target of budget cuts. “Simply put, whether it’s … responding to international disasters such as the recent earthquake in Haiti, or more generally advancing U.S. interests in key countries and regions throughout the world, our development and diplomacy tools have never been more vital to our national interests.” To make the case, the blog highlights the various foreign initiatives aimed at reforming U.S. foreign aid and looks at current programs like PEPFAR and PMI (Green, 2/19).

Blog: PEPFAR’s Role In The GHI

The State Department’s “DipNote” blog recently examined how PEPFAR fits into the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). “Reflecting the principles of the GHI, under our new PEPFAR Five-Year Strategy, PEPFAR is transitioning from an emphasis on an emergency response to a sustainable one. To accomplish this, PEPFAR is working with partner governments to increase their ownership of, and capacity to lead, HIV/AIDS responses in country. … [The GHI] represents a new and innovative way of doing business for the U.S. Government, promoting coordination among agencies and programs to avoid duplication of efforts and maximize the impact of each dollar invested. As part of GHI, PEPFAR will work closely with other United States government programs to build the efficiency and effectiveness of national health systems, strengthening their ability to meet the variety of health needs individuals face, including HIV-related needs” (Goosby, 2/19).