“Basic science plays a critical role in the quest to improve global health, but it’s only one part of a multi-pronged effort that includes changing the dynamics of global health so that developing nations have a more leading role in fulfilling their health care needs,” a panel of experts concluded at the 2012 Kavli Prize Science Forum in Oslo, Norway, held this week, according to a Kavli Foundation press release. “The forum featured four leading international science experts on global health: Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, U.S.; Alice Dautry, president of the Institut Pasteur, France; Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, U.S.; and Kiyoshi Kurokawa, chairman of the Health and Global Policy Institute, Japan,” the press release notes, adding, “Moderated by BBC News science correspondent Pallab Ghosh, the discussion also included an opening address by Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg” (9/4). A webcast of the forum is available online from the Kavli Foundation (9/3).
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In this episode of the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Prosperity Wonkcast,” CGD’s Lawrence MacDonald interviews Amanda Glassman, a senior fellow and director of the global health policy program at the center, about global health funding in “this austere budget climate.” In an accompanying blog post, MacDonald notes “generating ‘value for money’ (VFM) is a top concern for global health funding agencies and their donors, who want the biggest bang for their buck in terms of lives saved and diseases controlled.” According to the blog, the discussion focuses on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “a multilateral agency that emerged from the G8 meeting process in 2002 when times were better and global health was seen as an area where money could make a difference” (9/5).
Distribution Infrastructure, Effective Education Important For Success Of Micronutrient Powders To Treat Childhood Anemia
In this post in the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, journalist Sam Loewenberg examines the administration of micronutrient powders as a treatment option for anemia, “one of the most pervasive problems affecting the world’s children, and one that goes largely unaddressed.” “The presence of anemia usually signifies a host of other micronutrient deficiencies that are more difficult to test for,” so micronutrient powders — such as Sprinkles, the original and most common formulation — “contain not just iron, but 15 essential vitamins and minerals, including iodine, zinc and vitamin A,” he writes. “The Copenhagen Consensus, a group of expert economists convened in 2008 to determine the world’s most effective aid interventions, put micronutrient supplements at the top of the list,” he continues, adding, “According to their estimate, the cost of providing vitamin A and zinc to 80 percent of the world’s 140 million children who are lacking them would cost $60 million per year. The benefits of this treatment would be worth more than $1 billion.”
The Washington Post examines how the “discovery of an almost untreatable form of tuberculosis [TB] in India has set off alarm bells around the world and helped spur a dramatic expansion of government efforts to battle the killer lung disease.” The newspaper writes, “For the past decade, a nationwide tuberculosis program involving millions of health workers and volunteers has made slow but significant progress in battling the disease in India and has been hailed as a public health success story,” but “any sense of complacency was dispelled in December when a doctor in Mumbai, Zarir Udwadia, discovered a strain of the disease that did not respond to any of the 12 frontline drugs.”
“The United States is adding $21 million to its humanitarian aid package for people displaced by violence in Syria, U.S. officials said Wednesday amid U.N. reports that more than 100,000 Syrians fled to neighboring countries in August,” the Washington Times reports (Taylor, 9/5). “USAID [Administrator] Rajiv Shah announced during a visit to Jordan that the new funds would be made available to the U.N. World Food Programme to help feed Syrians both inside and outside the country,” Agence France-Presse writes (9/5).
Rwanda next week will host the Conference on Social Health Protection in the East African Community, which “will consider various approaches to providing universal health coverage in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi,” VOA News reports. The news service highlights a new study on universal coverage, published in the WHO Bulletin, “that reviewed health systems in 12 African and Asian countries” and, based on “impact indicators” that include “the way financial resources are collected to fund insurance plans, the amount of coverage provided to recipients, whether that coverage is provided to all segments of society and whether there’s been an improvement in the quality of life,” found “social and community health insurance plans ‘hold untapped potential’ for achieving universal coverage.” According to VOA, study author Ernst Spaan of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands said “that the study’s findings ‘back the World Health Organization’s view that pre-paid financing mechanisms, such as health insurance, are a key route to universal coverage'” (DeCapua, 9/4).
U.S. Commitment To Foreign Assistance, Global Health To Rise Or Fall With Presidential Election Outcome
In this Lancet opinion piece, Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines a number of social, political, and financial issues at play ahead of the November 6 U.S. presidential election and their implications for domestic and global health programs. “Fundamentally, the 2012 election reflects a Grand Canyon scale rift through the national psyche over the importance of government, provision of tax-supported public goods, including health care, and who is responsible for the 2008 financial crisis and ongoing economic doldrums,” she writes. “But the biggest concern for America’s future is the budget,” she continues. Garrett discusses how sequestration might affect foreign assistance and global health programs and states, “U.S. commitment to foreign assistance and such international ventures as the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Obama’s signature Global Health Initiative are also likely to rise, or fall with the elections” (9/1).
PlusNews examines the recently approved grants under the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Transitional Funding Mechanism (TFM), stating, “Last week, the Fund announced that 45 new grant applications, from countries such as Burundi, Malawi and Swaziland, have been approved under the TFM.” The news service notes, “Almost 25 percent of this combined total will go towards [tuberculosis (TB)], which represents a significant increase from the average 16 percent of funds allocated for TB since the Global Fund was created in 2002, according to a StopTB Partnership statement released in response” to the fund’s announcement. PlusNews notes, “Unlike regular grants, which can run for up to five years, those awarded under the TFM will be limited to two years, by which time the fund is expected to have launched its new funding model” (9/4).
“In mid-July, … the near-final draft of the independent evaluation of the Affordable Medicines Facility — Malaria (AMFm) was released,” Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Heather Lanthorn, a doctoral candidate at Harvard School of Public Health, write in this post in the center’s “Global Health Policy” blog. “Never intended to be an experiment or quasi-experiment, the pre-post evaluation of the AMFm has so far been interpreted cautiously and optimistically; we’re encouraged by this,” they write. “But given that the evaluation considers trends in the outcomes of interest before and after AMFm in only the chosen AMFm countries, the evaluation lacks a counterfactual or comparison group,” they continue and detail the findings of the report. They conclude, “Regardless of what is decided for the next phase of AMFm, we strongly recommend that resources be allocated for, at a minimum, tracking outcomes more frequently and also in the non-AMFm countries” (9/4).
“Kenya has launched an investigation after researchers claimed HIV-positive women were being routinely sterilized without their consent in government hospitals,” the Guardian reports. The African Gender and Media Initiative issued a report “based on interviews with 40 women, suggest[ing] the practice was widespread and ongoing,” according to the newspaper. “The report also includes examples of coercive tactics used by medical staff to obtain consent — for instance, threatening to withhold antiretroviral medication or baby milk if the woman did not agree to the procedure,” the newspaper writes. “‘These allegations are very serious and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board is going to investigate them before appropriate action is taken,’ Shariff Shahnaz, the director of public health, told the Daily Nation newspaper,” the Guardian reports (Mojtehedzadeh, 9/4).