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Recent Releases In Global Health

Developing World Access To Medication: “Access to life-saving, essential medicines must be improved,” Josh Ruxin, founder and director of the Access Project and director of Rwanda Works, writes in a Forbes’ “Science Business” blog. After looking at the debate over whether the free market can help improve access and examining programs, such at PEPFAR, that have gotten treatment to people in need, Ruxin writes, “One success I’ve observed on the ground in Rwanda is what happens when a government takes seriously its role as importer of all major essential drugs. This virtually eliminates counterfeits, and ensures that the health system has the low-cost, high-quality drugs it needs” (11/11).

Global AIDS Coordinator Talks With Reporters: “PEPFAR has shown that indeed one disease responded to with significant resource infusion can have outcomes that have changed the way we think about global health,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and PEPFAR Administrator Eric Goosby told reporters in Washington, DC, on Nov. 10, Stephen Kaufman writes on America.gov  During the conversation with reporters, Goosby described the success of PEPFAR to date and the increased emphasis on shifting PEPFAR from “its initial emergency focus” to what Goosby described as “‘a more stable, sustained response.’ … ‘We’re lean and clean in our ability to deliver more with fewer people and for less money,’ he said,” according to America.gov (11/10). Reporter John Donnelly writes on the Center for Global Health Policy “Science Speaks” blog about Goosby’s comments on circumcision in Africa and the integration of HIV/AIDS services with family planning (11/11).

PNAS Study Describes How Drug Stops Tropical Disease Worms: A Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study details how a team of researchers uncovered the mechanism by which the drug ivermectin “kills the worms brought on by the filarial diseases river blindness and elephantitis,” according to a Michigan State University press release. “Ivermectin is one of the most important veterinary and human anti-parasitic agents ever,” Michigan State’s Charles Mackenzie, lead author on the study, said in the press release. “Knowing specifically how it interacts with the body’s own immune system and kills parasitic worms opens up whole new treatment avenues” (11/10).

Global Fund Donations From Africa: The Rwandan government has donated $1 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the organization announced in a press release. “Rwanda is the fourth African country to give financial support to The Global Fund,” according to the release (11/10). Also, donors at a recent private sector summit in Rwanda pledged $2 million to the Global Fund, a second press release states before noting some of the major donors (11/10).

International Policy On Water, Sanitation Is ‘Inadequate’: “While rarely discussed alongside the ‘big three’ attention-seekers of the international public health community – HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria – one disease alone kills more young children each year than all three combined. It is diarrhoea, and the key to its control is hygiene, sanitation, and water (HSW),” write the authors of a PLoS Medicine Policy Forum article, an introductory piece in a four-part PLoS Medicine series on water and sanitation. In it, the authors argue the U.N. Millennium Development Goal target on water and sanitation “is inadequate” and call upon “health professionals and health systems to do more for HSW” (Bartram/Cairncross, 11/9).

National Governments Must ‘Commit To Ensure Water Services For All’: “A safe, reliable, affordable, and easily accessible water supply is essential for good health,” but roughly one billion people lack it, write the authors of a PLoS Medicine Policy Forum article that argues “for a serious commitment by national governments and their partners to ensure adequate water supply services for all” and calls “for increased attention to be paid to ensuring continuing service provision. This will mean finding new ways to enhance public demand for improved services (that might translate into a willingness to pay), and a public and private sector ethos that puts high value on the quality of construction and ongoing service delivery” (Hunter/MacDonald/Carter, 11/9).

GHI Plus Countries: The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on the meeting Monday with Amie Batson of USAID, Ann Gavaghan of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) and Donald Shriber from the CDC, and members of the global AIDS community to discuss recent progress on the Global Health Initiative (GHI), including the GHI Plus Countries. According to the “deputy trio,” six of eight strategic plans for the initial GHI Plus countries are currently under review and are expected to be publicly released by the end of the year, and an updated GHI strategy document is also in the works “which will take into consideration comments received from the community on the GHI implementation consultation document, with a particular focus on women, girls and gender equality” (Mazzotta, 11/9).

New TB drug trial: A new three-drug combination that “shows promise to treat both” drug-sensitive TB and multi-drug resistant TB has started undergoing Phase II clinical trials, according to a Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) press release. The drug has the potential to “alter the course of the TB pandemic by shortening and simplifying treatment worldwide” (11/8).

Revolutionizing Agriculture In Africa: In a Foreign Affairs essay, Roger Thurow of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs examines the role Africa can play in meeting the world’s future food demands. “[A]gricultural production on the continent could jump quickly if farmers there simply used existing seed, fertilizer, and irrigation technology. And if more efficient networks were developed to distribute and sell the harvests, boosting agricultural yields in Africa could be a major step toward feeding not just the continent but also the rest of the world,” he adds. The essay examines the history of how Africa became “so far behind the rest of the world agriculturally,” the obstacles that need to be overcome to promote an “African agricultural revolution” and the role the U.S. can play in helping to make such a revolution a reality, through programs such as Feed the Future (November/December 2010).