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Recent Releases In Global Health

‘Accelerated Progress’ Required To Meet Child Mortality MDG By 2015

A Lancet Comment examines the “grossly insufficient” progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing under-5 child mortality. “Accelerated progress can be achieved, even in the poorest environments, through: integrated, evidence-driven, and community-based programmes that focus on addressing the major causes of death, including pneumonia, diarrhoea, newborn disorders, malaria, HIV, and undernutrition; reaching the unreached with a basic package of interventions at large scale and achieving coverage with equity; and using data for action and advocacy,” the comment concludes (You et al., 1/9).

Lancet Editorial Examines Treatments For Sleeping Sickness

A Lancet Editorial traces the history of treatment options for African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness. Though “[t]he continuing story of implementing effective and practical treatment for sleeping sickness is encouraging … [t]he account of this uphill struggle is a tribute to the determination of all those involved to overcome every problem hampering progress,” the editorial writes. “Research into new diagnostic methods to help identify those with treatable stage-one disease is urgently needed as is further research into safe, practical, and effective treatments and the implementation of a sustainable and efficient … delivery system” (1/9).

Blog: Recommendations To Reform USAID

A Huffington Post blog post makes recommendations to improve the efficacy of USAID. “Topping the list is the need to dismantle the current system of implementation, which largely relies on a group of contractors in the Washington area …,” according to the blog, which also suggests that administrator Rajiv Shah “focus on cycling out ideology-driven aid” and stopping aid “silos.” The blog concludes: “The sort of revolution needed in global assistance can’t simply be the work of the new USAID Administrator. It will require strong backing from Congress, the Executive Office, and the State Department. It will also require more concern from each of us about how our tax dollars are spent abroad, and a demand for results” (Ruxin, 1/7).

Blog: AIDS, Childhood Diarrhea Shouldn’t Compete For Funds

The Infectious Diseases Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog says that “[t]he link between HIV/AIDS and child and maternal health just got more inextricable” with a study that found “early weaning of uninfected infants more than doubled the risk of death among those children. … One can only conclude that the goals of fighting AIDS and childhood diarrhea should not be pitted against each other; more widespread access to antiretroviral therapy for pregnant and nursing mothers will not only save the lives of those mothers, but may also reduce the chances that their babies die from diarrhea” (Shesgreen, 1/6).

PLoS Medicine Asks: How Are Patents Impeding Medical Care And Innovation?

A PLoS Medicine Debate features comments by law and public health experts on their views of the current patent system. While members of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry argue the necessity of the patent system for stimulating research and development, others believe the system is holding back research and impeding medical care in poor countries (Gold et al., 1/5).

PLoS Medicine Policy Forum Explores The Transition Of Global Health Systems

A PLoS Medicine Policy Forum explores the “actors on the global health stage.” The traditional actors, such as the WHO “are now being joined (and sometimes challenged) by an ever-greater variety of civil society and nongovernmental organizations, private firms, and private philanthropists” as well as “an ever-growing presence in the global health policy arena of low- and middle-income countries, such as Kenya, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Thailand, and South Africa.” The forum notes the challenges of coordination and raises questions about interactions between groups (Szlezak et al., 1/5).

Annals Of Internal Medicine Examines Association Between ART Adherence, Health Care Costs

An Annals of Internal Medicine article examines the effects of antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence on health care costs in low-resource settings. Based on their analysis of 6,833 HIV-positive adult patients on ART in South Africa, the researchers found “[h]igh ART adherence was associated with lower mean monthly direct health care costs, particularly reduced hospitalization costs…” (Nachega et al., 1/5). A related Annals of Internal Medicine editorial reflects on the interconnectedness between focusing on the maximum benefit to the individual and population (Bangsberg/Deeks, 1/5).

Blog Examines Access To Information For Global Health Care Implementers

The “Open Forum” blog looks at different ways the Internet provides information exchange for health care implementers worldwide and barriers preventing access to that information. “While online tools … are important in sharing knowledge, electricity and internet access are prerequisites to accessing this information. Some off-line solutions have been developed for implementers in resource-limited settings, but these are makeshift options at best, as they do not address the need for up-to-date, context-relevant information. … In the context of providing access to life-saving health information, the provision of internet access is not a luxury, but a necessity,” according to the blog (1/5). 

Lancet Examines NTDs, Calls For Sustained Commitment To R&D For NTDs

A Lancet Comment outlines the launch of a new series focused on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The series examines NTDs “from perspectives of partnership, governance, and policy” and explores the importance of improving methods to track the diseases and the social and economic implications of the diseases (Molyneux, 1/2).

A Lancet Editorial examines a report by the WHO Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG) that listed “the innovative ideas for drug research and development least likely and most likely to work.” The editorial concludes, “History has not yet drawn a line under innovative research and development for neglected diseases. There is still time to put the health needs of poor people first in upcoming meetings to discuss the draft IGWG proposals. But a bold WHO and UNITAID are essential. Buckling under pressure is not an option” (1/2).

Blog: Counterfeit Drugs Have Several Negative Consequences, Must Be Tackled

The Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog, looks efforts to combat counterfeit drugs in light of the organization’s Drug Resistance Working group’s draft report. “For now, the attention of politicians, national drug regulators, global health agencies, and pharmaceutical companies is focused on tackling counterfeiting. But as they meet, they must keep drug resistance and other public health impacts uppermost in their minds. Counterfeiting is a crime. But its victims go beyond the companies whose intellectual property has been stolen and the procurement agencies whose resources are being wasted. The victims are sick patients everywhere, now and in the future – and substandard products of every type, not just counterfeits, present a risk,” according to the blog (Nugent, 12/28).