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Recent Releases In Global Health

Ahead Of AIDS 2010, Lancet Issue Explores ARV Therapy, Gender Inequity

Looking ahead to AIDS 2010 which will be held in Vienna, Austria, July 18-23, a Lancet editorial writes that 2010 marks “the deadline set by global leaders to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care. Sadly, the world will not meet these ambitious goals.” However, the latest issue of the Lancet “offers some new insights to progress,” the editorial notes.

The journal features a series of articles, including on the effectiveness of nurse-monitored antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, the “best time to start” ARVs, and the role of gender inequity and intimate partner violence in increased incidences of HIV infection (7/3).

Lancet Review Tracks Progress, Challenges To Controlling Diarrheal Diseases

A Lancet review article tracks the progress and challenges associated with efforts to control diarrheal diseases. “Diarrhoea mortality rates dropped by 75% from 1980 to 2008, but remain unacceptably high,” the authors of the review write. “New interventions for treatment (low osmolarity oral rehydration solution and zinc) and rotavirus vaccines for prevention of diarrhoea have provided an opportunity to revitalise diarrhoea-control programmes around the world. International agencies, donor communities, and host countries should put renewed emphasis on prevention of unnecessary deaths from this neglected disease that claims the lives of nearly 1.5 million children every year,” according to the article (Santosham, et al., 7/3).

Blog: Engage Civil Society, Decentralize Aid In Haiti

Change.org’s “Global Poverty” blog features a post outlining “3 Things Washington Needs to Remember in Haiti”: engage Haitian civil society, decentralize aid resources from Port-au-Prince, and create jobs through local procurement. The author also writes, “the U.S. Senate should pass S. 3317, the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding (HEAR) Act … this bill provides a clear framework and set of priorities for U.S. aid in Haiti based on development principles that we know work.” The act, according to the post, also makes U.S. aid transparent, so that taxpayers can “be sure our government is doing its part” (Gerson, 6/30).

GAO Report Calls For USAID To Improve Strategic Planning To Address Current and Future Workforce Needs

In this report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “examined (1) changes in USAID’s workforce and program funding since 2004, (2) the extent to which it has developed a strategic workforce plan, (3) the efforts it has taken to implement two key human capital initiatives, and (4) the challenges and constraints that affect its workforce planning and management” and recommended “that USAID take several actions to develop more comprehensive workforce plans and improve its workforce data” (6/30). More information on recent U.S. global health policy developments is available on Kaiser’s Policy Tracker tool.

Blog: Cutting Off Aid Not A Solution To Corruption

“If Afghanistan aid is cutoff for corruption, why not Senegal and Haiti too?” asks the author of a post on the Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog.” The post articulates “two big problems” with retracting aid from Afghanistan: “development in Afghanistan is supposedly part of our national security” and other “development partners,” including Senegal and Haiti, “are hardly much better” at combating corruption. The post concludes that a “better answer for countries where we probably won’t walk away” is to “innovate more on the aid delivery side to ensure we get what we think we are paying for” (Moss, 6/30).

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases Policy Platform Looks At Current State, Future Challenges Of Chagas Disease

One hundred years after the discovery of Chagas disease, a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases Policy Platform piece “highlights the current state of research and innovation related to control and care of Chagas disease, as well as challenges for the next decade. … A forum is urgently needed to address the challenges of keeping Chagas disease on the agendas of scientific and funding agencies” (Lannes-Vieira, et. al., 6/29).

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases Examines Challenges Of Clinical Trials In Resource-Limited Settings

“To improve clinical trial conduct in resource-limited settings we need easier operational tools and guidance as well as skilled staff. This needs to be more than conducting externally sponsored trials that are designed and led elsewhere,” write the authors of a PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease Viewpoints piece that explores the challenges of conducting clinical trials in developing countries. The authors conclude, “We suggest true capacity-building might be best achieved by establishing a community of developing country based researchers to share locally derived solutions and build a set of validated methods and operational tools that will enable pragmatic and locally led development” (Lang et al., 6/29).

PLoS Medicine Essay Reflects On Maternal Health Science-To-Policy Gap

As part of a series on maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH) in Africa, a PLoS Medicine Essay examines the current gaps between science, policy and practice. The article examines “what is already known about how scientific evidence has influenced MNCH policy and practice, then it considers some of the key challenges in closing the science to policy and practice gap, and concludes by identifying promising paths for future action.” The authors of the piece also propose suggestions for bridging the science to policy gap, including: developing MNCH policy networks, mainstreaming the use of MNCH science, and “investing in innovate approaches to develop and apply MNCH evidence” (Bennett/Ssengooba, 6/29).

Coordinated R&D Needed In Africa, PLoS Medicine Health In Action Argues 

“A novel approach to supporting health product research and development (R&D) and access in Africa is urgently needed,” write the authors of a PLoS Medicine Health In Action piece. As part of the development of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), researchers “analyzed biomedical research output and collaborative research undertaken across the continent.” They found that “significant health R&D capacity exists in different parts of Africa, but this capacity is fragmented” and most collaborative research is done with Europe and the United States rather than other African institutions. The authors present ANDI “as a new approach to address these challenges, through the creation, coordination, and funding of African health R&D networks” (Nwaka, et. al., 6/29).

Blog: Building On G8 Global Health Commitments

A post on the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog outlines the G8 global health initiatives and discusses the “opportunity for the G20 and others to build on them.” About the Muskoka Initiative, the author writes, “While new money is always good news, even if it doesn’t meet global health advocates’ expectations, the lack of new ideas on how to spend money more effectively is disappointing.” About the G8’s commitment to HIV/AIDS, the author writes, “It is clear that global funding for health is being reallocated to address a broader set of global health priorities, but it is also clear that G8 donors aren’t coming clean with their rationale and plan for getting ‘as close as possible to universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support for HIV/AIDS’ AND for delivering on their new maternal and child health pledges by 2015” (Oomman, 6/29).

Blog: A Dissection Of GHI Terminology

Change.org’s “Global Poverty” blog features a “quick primer” to three key terms frequently used in the Global Health Initiative (GHI): country ownership, integration and cost-effectiveness. “Unfortunately when it comes to eight of the countries recently selected” for GHI Plus, U.S. officials seem to argue that “such countries would benefit more from ‘management and technical support rather than funds,’ the blog author writes. The post also notes the GHI’s movement toward “integrated” services for a variety of diseases, and asks, “Can this kind of ‘integration’ create savings and a higher quality and array of services for patients? These questions remain to be answered.” The piece also examines how comparing costs and benefits of various interventions has “become more dominant in calculations over out to spend money” and argues that “[p]itting diseases vs. diseases in the battle for funding doesn’t seem like the best way forward for global health” (Roy, 6/28).

Blog: Leadership Needed For Feed The Future Program

President Barack Obama’s new Feed the Future initiative “needs a leader: an official with policy and budget authority to execute his or her responsibilities. That leader should be USAID Administrator Raj Shah,” according to the Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking Foreign Assistance” blog. The author states that a “leader” rather than “coordinator” should be appointed to serve as the program’s point person to be “accountable to President Obama, Congress and American taxpayers for the new resources” and writes that Shah should be considered because of his “enormous expertise in agriculture.” In addition, a coordinator for Feed the Future would add to the “gross fragmentation and … confusing array of mandates and directives” already present in U.S. development programs, according to the post (Birdsall, 6/25).