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Recent Releases In Global Health

Lancet Infectious Diseases Examines Funding In Relation To Disease Burden: In response to two recent papers on neglected tropical diseases, Nicola Dmitri of the University of Siena in a Lancet Infectious Diseases Reflection addresses “how research funds could be guided by [the global burden of disease] GBD.” The results show, for example, that HIV/AIDS is allotted the highest amount of research and development funding, but falls below diarrheal diseases in number of deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs). The article presents two tables – the first “assess[es] whether 2007 research and development funds were mainly allocated to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, regarding the total numbers of DALYs and deaths in table,” and the second shows “how many U.S. dollars are invested in research and development for each DALY and each death” (October 2010).

WHO Bulletin Explores Joint Learning Initiative On National, Global Responsibilities For Health: A WHO Bulletin article examines the establishment of the Joint Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health “to articulate an overarching, coherent framework for sharing the responsibility for health that goes further than the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The Initiative forges an international consensus around solutions to four critical challenges: (i) defining essential health services and goods; (ii) clarifying governments’ obligations to their own country’s inhabitants; (iii) exploring the responsibilities of all governments towards the world’s poor; and (iv) proposing a global architecture to improve health as a matter of social justice” (Gostin et al., October 2010).

U.S. Development Strategy: A Lancet editorial about President Obama’s new global development strategy, including “a revamped USAID,” argues that it is “time to match rhetoric with deeds,” noting that the pledge is “exactly the same line that Obama took over 3 years ago – repeating it now has more to do with the political need to re-assert capitalism as the engine of development than it does about new thinking on aid” (10/2).

MMWR Tracks Global Progress Toward Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease: The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report looks at the elimination of dracunculiasis or guinea worm disease: “At the end of December 2009, dracunculiasis remained endemic in four countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, and Sudan). The number of indigenous cases of dracunculiasis worldwide had decreased 31%, from 4,613 in 2008 to 3,185 in 2009. Of the 766 cases that occurred during January – June 2010, a total of 745 (97%) were reported from 380 villages in Sudan. Ghana, Ethiopia, and Mali each are close to interrupting transmission, as indicated by the small and declining number of cases” (10/1).

Blog Reports From Pan American Health Conference: The Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO/WHO) blog features coverage from the 50th Meeting of the PAHO Directing Council this week in Washington, D.C., including discussions on safe hospitals, a strategy to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, chronic malnutrition and strengthening drug regulatory systems as well as newsmaker interviews (9/30).

Blog Examines How To Achieve Integration In Global Health: Achieving integration in global health will require “looking at the critical underlying factors that contribute to good health,” finding “innovative approaches” and engaging local communities to help “ensure the initiatives succeed in local contexts,” Jane Hayes of PATH writes on the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s “ModernizeAid” blog as part of a series on the Global Health Initiative (9/30).

Blog: Critical Look At FAO World Hunger Numbers: A “closer look” at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) world hunger numbers shows that they do “not directly measure malnutrition but try to estimate it,” William Easterly and Laura Freschi, both of New York University Development Research Institute, write in a post on the institute’s “Aid Watch” blog that explores how such estimates are computed (9/30).

Appointment Of Haiti Special Coordinator: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the appointment of Thomas Adams as Haiti Special Coordinator, whose office will “oversee U.S. government engagement with Haiti, including diplomatic relations and the implementation of a reconstruction strategy in partnership with the Government of Haiti, and other donors,” according to a State Department press release (9/30).

GAO Releases Report On Water And Sanitation Aid: According to the Kaiser Global Health Policy Tracker, the GAO released a report on U.S. water and sanitation aid, finding “millions of beneficiaries” in developing countries, but adding the “Department of State needs to strengthen [its] strategic approach” (9/30).

USAID Not On Path To Be Emboldened: While President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have promised to “rebuild USAID into ‘the world’s premier development agency’” after the release last week of the presidential directive on development, the Center for Global Development’s Connie Veillette writes on CGD’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog“: “I fear that reality will not match the rhetoric in this case, and political dynamics will continue to work against USAID” (9/28).

GAVI’s Success, Need For Funding: The Global Health Council’s “Blog 4 Global Health” reports on a panel at the MDG summit hosted by the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and the government of Kenya. Topics addressed include GAVI’s successes as well as its need for $4.3 billion in new donor commitments. The council’s Alexandra Federova wrote the post (9/27).

Kaiser Family Foundation Global Health Survey: A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that when Americans were “asked about ‘improving health in developing countries,’ 28 percent say the U.S. spends too much, while nearly two-thirds say such spending is too little (23%) or about right (42%).” In a press release, Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman said, “The old canard that most Americans do not support ‘foreign aid’ is a misunderstanding of how the public really feels. When the specific purposes of spending abroad are put before the public, Americans are more supportive of health and development funding” (9/24).

African First Ladies Address Health Issues: The Pardee RAND Graduate School “has created an African first ladies fellowship program and will work together with Women’s Campaign International to strengthen the capacity of Africa’s first ladies and their offices to address health and social problems across Africa,” according to a press release (9/24).

Drug Companies And Human Rights:
PLoS Medicine features three perspectives examining whether drug companies are “living up” to their human rights responsibilities: “Sofia Gruskin and Zyde Raad from the Harvard School of Public Health say more assessment is needed of such responsibilities; Geralyn Ritter of Merck & Co. argues that “multiple stakeholders” could do more to help states broaden access to health; and Paul Hunt and Rajat Khosla introduce Hunt’s work as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to health (2002-2008), regarding the human rights responsibilities of pharmaceutical companies and access to medicines,” the journal writes. PLoS also includes an editorial on the subject that calls for drug companies to be more “accountable” and “make medicines available and accessible to those in need” (September 2010).