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Recent Releases In Global Health

Lancet Comment Calls For Global Plan For Justice In Response To Health Inequalities

A Lancet Comment appeals for “an international call to action through a global plan for justice—a voluntary compact between states and their partners” to help meet the health needs of people living in developing countries. Such a plan “would set achievable funding targets for a global health fund to be distributed according to need. Although WHO would negotiate the funding levels, developed countries could donate, for example, 0.25% of gross national income (GNI) per annum, in addition to current foreign assistance. The total amount countries should give, taking into account both a global plan for justice and discretionary funds, would be 0.7% of GNI per annum” (Gostin, 5/1).

To Fight Malaria Most Effectively, Malaria Control Programs Need Better Coordination

“Despite an at times discouraging global picture, malaria control, elimination, and eradication are potentially achievable within a century,” writes a Lancet Infectious Diseases’ Leading Edge piece that reflects on some of the progress and challenges of fighting malaria worldwide.”However, bodies involved in the many disparate branches of malaria control programmes need to coordinate their efforts more effectively, to enable national malaria control programmes to integrate with national health systems, and to ensure that funds are not wasted on duplicated research and surveillance. Only then will maximum benefits be realised and real progress made in the most intractable settings” (5/1).

Lancet Infectious Diseases Looks At Recent Progress Towards HIV Vaccine

A Lancet Infectious Diseases review reflects on the recent progress being made in efforts to produce an effective HIV vaccine, as documented in the AIDS Vaccine 2009 Conference: “The development of an effective, safe, and affordable HIV/AIDS vaccine remains an unmet goal. However, the promising results of the Thai RV144 phase 2b clinical trial represent an extremely significant advancement in the AIDS vaccine field because they show that protective immunity can be elicited by a vaccine. … The clear message is that a continued commitment to basic research, in addition to preclinical studies and clinical trials, is required to move the field forward and identify the ideal HIV vaccine” (Ross et al., 5/1).

For a Fraction Of the Cost, Nuclear Powers Could Eliminate Most NTDs In Country

“Despite the technological sophistication that has enabled the 11 nuclear weapons states to produce and deliver nuclear bombs, most of these nations simultaneously also suffer from high internal rates of poverty and endemic neglected diseases,” according to a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases editorial. “[F]or a tiny fraction (less than 1/10,000th) of the costs of producing and maintaining a nuclear arsenal the 11 nuclear powers [named by the editorial as: China, France, India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, U.S., U.K., and  'possibly Syria'] could eliminate most of their neglected diseases and engage in joint neglected disease research and development efforts that help to reduce international tensions and promote world peace” (Hotez, 4/27).

PLoS Medicine Policy Forum Looks At The Policy Changes China Made In Public Health Since SARS Outbreak

A PLoS Medicine Policy Forum examines the policy changes in the area of public health that took place in China since the SARS outbreak in 2003, as documented in literature reviews and interviews with Chinese health officials. The piece highlights China’s “more proactive stance in global health diplomacy” as well as “signs that China is now using public health as a means to strengthen its diplomatic relations with the developing world, in particular the African continent.”

“While China is seeking to adhere as much as possible to the underlying norms and rules of global health governance (and sometimes even applies them to their extremes), as evidenced by its handling of the recent swine flu outbreak, the major step forward is perhaps to reframe health as a global public good that is available to each and every individual of the world, rather than merely as an issue of concern to nation-states,” the piece notes (Chan/Chen/Xu, 4/27).

Blog: Scientists, Physicians Send Letter To Congress Highlighting U.S. HIV, TB Funding Concerns

A coalition of almost 300 U.S. physicians and scientists sent a letter (.pdf) to members of Congress Thursday expressing “serious concern” about the White House’s budget request for global AIDS and TB programs, “saying the proposed funding levels signal a retreat in the U.S. response to the twin epidemics of HIV and TB,” according to the “Science Speaks” blog.

“We cannot retreat from the lifesaving mission we as a nation embraced in 2003 through the creation of the PEPFAR program,” according to the letter. “Regrettably, the President’s FY 2011 budget reflects such a retreat by failing to request adequate resources to continue to scale-up HIV treatment or to respond to the twin epidemics of HIV and TB in southern Africa and elsewhere in the developing world” (Shesgreen, 4/29).

In a related blog post, “Science Speaks” writes about a recent talk by Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Kazatchkine said he was hoping Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton could attend the October Global Fund replenishment meeting. “It would be extremely meaningful if Secretary Clinton could attend and come with a pledge for three years,” he said. A video clip accompanies the post (Shesgreen, 4/22).

Report Provides Global Food Security Recommendations For U.S. Government

The CSIS report, “A Strategy for U.S. Leadership on Productivity, Agricultural Research, and Trade,” provides recommendations for how the U.S. government could improve global food security and incorporate agriculture in U.S. development efforts (Tuttle et al., 4/27).

USAID Announces 20 ‘Feed The Future’ Countries

Rajiv Shah, the USAID administrator, recently announced the 20 focus countries that will be part of USAID and the World Bank’s Feed the Future initiative that “aims to reduce poverty, hunger, and undernutrition,” according to a USAID press release. “In 2008, the Lancet identified just 36 countries that are home to 90 percent of all children whose growth was stunted for lack of adequate food. Based on this global burden of undernutrition and other criteria that examined the prevalence and dynamics of poverty, country commitment, and opportunities for agriculture-led growth, the 20 Feed the Future focus countries are: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia in Africa; Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Tajikistan in Asia; and Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and, Nicaragua in Latin America” (4/24).

A related post on the “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog” discusses some of the testimonies from a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee on global food security. “Time will tell whether Feed the Future signals the future of foreign aid reform, but I suspect we’re seeing strong signals of what’s in store. Defining development as part of U.S. moral, economic and national security interests isn’t new. A central focus on economic growth and job creation could be” (Staats, 4/27).

Blog: Global Agriculture And Food Security Program Donors Should Push For WFP Improvements

While additional funds to address hunger are a “good idea … To make the most of the new money—and greatly decrease the number of poor people who needlessly suffer from hunger and malnutrition—the United States and other donors to the new fund should encourage the World Food Program (WFP) to modernize its outdated approach to procurement and risk management,” writes “Views from the Center” of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. The blog includes three policy recommendations (Ramachandran, 4/22).