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WHO Director-General Highlights Global Health Gains, Challenges At Executive Board Meeting

During the WHO’s recent executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan reflected on public health gains over the past decade and the challenges that lie ahead, Nigeria’s Guardian reports. Chan commended the international community’s response to H1N1 and global efforts to reduce child mortality, fight malaria and tuberculosis.

“Ten years into this new century, we are seeing signs that aid for health development can bring solid results,” Chan said. “Equally important, in the drive to reach a limited number of time-bound health goals, fundamental problems are being uncovered, and solutions are being found that benefit public health across the board. We are making progress, as the reports before you show. We need to keep on setting our sights higher, aiming to do more, for more and more people.”

Chan noted that the major challenges ahead include funding to sustain progress in matters of global health, overcoming health care worker shortages and improving laboratories around the world (Muanya, 1/25).

Reports issued during the WHO’s executive board meeting are available here.

WHO Africa Director Highlights ‘Limited Budgetary Resources’ In Reelection Acceptance Speech 

At the meeting, Luis Gomes Sambo, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, thanked health ministers in an acceptance speech for his reelection earlier this year, Agencia AngolaPress reports. During the speech Thursday, Sambo also expressed concerns over “limited budgetary resources” available to member states “in areas such as management of health systems, the health information systems, non-communicable diseases, maternal health and neglected tropical diseases.” The news service reports that Sambo’s second term will begin on February 1 (1/22).

WHO’s Board Reviews Novartis Plan For Neglected-Disease Fund

Bloomberg/BusinessWeek examines the plans of the drugmaker Novartis “to raise about $1 billion annually for 10 years to fund development of drugs against neglected illnesses including guinea-worm disease, malaria and tuberculosis that afflict more than 1 billion people.” According to Paul Herrling, head of corporate research at Novartis, groups interested in creating treatments for “diseases that get little drug-development interest because they typically wouldn’t be profitable” would be able to draw from the fund, the news service reports.

“The Novartis proposal is one of three … aimed at doubling funds for research and development of medicines for neglected diseases” that the WHO considered during its executive board meeting, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek writes. The article adds details about how the fund would operate and statistics on the drug approval rates of treatments for neglected diseases (Bennett, 1/22).

FOXNews.com Examines Proposed Mechanisms For Funding Neglected Diseases Research

FOXNews.com looks at a report by the WHO’s Expert Group on Research and Development Financing (EWG), scheduled to be released Monday, that examines “‘new and innovative sources of funding’ to reshape the global medical industry.” The 98-page report is the result of 14 months of deliberations by the working group, according to FOXNews.com.

The report outlines “indirect consumer taxes” as well as “greater donations by wealthy governments as a percentage of gross domestic product, voluntary individual payments tied to such things as individual mobile phone use, health care lotteries, new commitments from charitable and philanthropic organizations, and the possible diversion of current philanthropic giving from developed-world causes into developing world health care,” FOXNews.com writes. “The report lays out, and generally endorses, a number of public-private partnerships in the developing world with some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical firms. But it also raises the idea of a tax on pharma-profits from low-income countries that could raise as much as $160 million a year,” according to the FOXNews.com

The article includes estimates of the money raised by such taxes, how the money would be channeled and a link to the full report (Russell, 1/22).