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Recent Releases: Measuring Maternal Death; Improving Health Systems; Goosby Remarks; World Health Summit; Early Nutrition Programs; ART Delivery Model; HIV/AIDS Research; Cash Transfers As A Standard For Aid; G20, U.N. Neglect Global Health

Researchers Tackle How To Capture ‘An Accurate Picture’ Of Maternal Death

In order to meet the Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal deaths, “countries need an accurate picture of the causes and levels of maternal deaths,” write the authors of a WHO Bulletin editorial that describes the recent efforts by the WHO to create a maternal death classification system. “By using the same classifications, reliable comparisons can be made within and between countries and regions,” and “help to identify the health system shortfalls that countries need to address in order to reduce complications and fatal outcomes of pregnancy and childbirth,” the authors write (Souza, 10/09). A selection of studies and other articles relating to global health also appear in the October issue of the Bulletin.

Blog: H1N1 Vaccine Donation ‘Hopefully’ A First Step To Improving Health Systems In Developing Countries

The Obama administration’s recent decision to “take a global leadership position in sharing a significant proportion of the U.S. H1N1 (swine) influenza vaccine supply with the people of developing countries … seems to signal a new level of trust in both multilateral approaches to global health and in the institution of WHO, at least for this particular crisis,” according to the CSIS Commission on Smart Global Health Policy’s blog.

But the donation of these vaccines, “while ground-breaking and important for saving lives, does not go very far toward addressing the long term need to improve health systems in developing countries,” according to the blog, which identifies “better preparedness for pandemics and other health crises” as “especially critical” because of a “general consensus … that faster identification in developing countries of new disease outbreaks could benefit the entire global community.” The blog concludes, “This H1N1 vaccine donation by the United States and other countries hopefully represents only an initial step of a new commitment, a first step on a long road toward improving overall health systems in developing countries, and thereby improving global health equity” (Nieburg, 9/25).

Blog: Goosby’s Remarks At State Dept. Meeting

At recent meeting at the State Department, Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, “tried to reassure the global AIDS community that he has his eye on both the immediate and the far-reaching,” writes the blog, “Science Speaks.” According to the blog, “Goosby said his overarching goal as head of PEPFAR is to build an enduring program that will be there to serve the sick and poor in developing nations for decades.” The blog also reports on Goosby’s answers to several questions form the audience (Shesgreen, 9/27). “Blog 4 Global Health” also reported on the meeting (Rollason, 9/30).


Lancet Comment Outlines Discussion Points For Upcoming World Health Summit

In light of the upcoming World Health Summit in Berlin, October 14-18, Peter Piot and Geoff Gannett, both of the Institute for Global Health at the Imperial College London, outline efforts needed to meet the goals of the global health agenda in a Lancet comment. Among other things, the authors note the global health community should focus on and call for more multidisciplinary research, increased funding for global health and greater attention to global health in medical education. “Above all, global health should initiate a new era of multilateral partnerships, which are people oriented rather than restricted to technology and which are mainly based in low-income and middle-income countries. The world needs more equity not only for health and disease, but also for setting the agendas for research and implementation,” they conclude (Piot/Gannett, 10/3).

Lancet Comment Examines Role Of Early Nutrition Programs

A second Lancet comment examines the role of early nutrition programs as a method to improve health over the lifetime – an issue that the author writes “is especially relevant at a time when the global food and financial crises are disproportionately affecting nutrition of the poorest families in low-income and middle-income countries.” Though “[t]here is still much to be learned about specific aspects of the associations between early nutrition, adult health, and human capital … The main challenge now is how to incorporate these findings into health policies, and especially how to convince governments that early nutrition programmes are long-term investments in human and social development” (Victoria, 10/3).

Journal of the International AIDS Society Study Examines Alternative ART Delivery Model

Researchers describe an antiretroviral therapy (ART) delivery model that utilized HIV-infected patients to monitor and dispense antiretrovirals to the community in western Kenya in a Journal of the International AIDS Society study. The success of the model “support[s] further exploration of the role of HIV-infected lay individuals in providing specific HIV-care services,” the authors conclude (Wools-Kaloustian et al., 9/29).

Blog: President Obama’s ‘Welcome’ Investment In HIV/AIDS Research

“President Barack Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that his administration has allocated $5 billion in medical research grants through the Recovery Act is welcome news not only for scientists, but for the American and global populations that will benefit from the breakthroughs and discoveries this investment will inevitably bring about,” Kevin Frost, CEO of amfAR, writes in a Huffington Post blog entry that examines the how investments in HIV/AIDS research has yielded promising returns. “I hope that this $5 billion investment is only the beginning. Such leadership would be a lasting legacy of his administration and a model for presidents who follow” (10/1).

Blog: Donations Should ‘Be At Least As Good’ As Cash Transfers

“Cash Transfers [CTs] are less dramatic (and possibly less efficient) than throwing money from a helicopter, but CTs are increasingly accepted as a standard aid mechanism,” Franck Wiebe, chief economist at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, writes on the blog, “Aid Watch.” In the post, Wiebe examines the use and impact of CTs. According to Wiebe, “enhancing aid effectiveness means putting more resources behind those interventions that put more money in the hands of the poor, and CTs should be considered an option that might outperform many of our traditional (and some traditionally ineffective) interventions.” He concludes that “in the interest of aid effectiveness and as a starting point, donors could agree not to fund projects unless they can be demonstrated to be at least as good as a cash transfer. Is that too much to ask of aid?” (10/1).

Blog: Not Much Focus On Global Health At U.N., G20 Meetings

Though “much ground” was covered at the recent U.N. General Assembly and the meeting of the G20, “[u]nfortunately, global health was not a focal point of the leaders’ discussions, particularly at the G20 Summit,” the Global Health Council’s “Blog 4 Global Health” writes. But according to the blog, the next meeting “originally planned as a G8, will include a second meeting with all the nations that comprise the G20,” including China, India and Brazil. “Though these transitional countries have growing economies, they face tremendous health challenges – AIDS, maternal mortality and child health among them. This might create an opportunity for engagement in advancing the cause of global health at the next Summit, which will be held in Canada” (Flores, 9/25).