“The U.S. government is the largest funder of global health research and development [R&D] in the world, spending $12.7 billion over the past 10 years,” according to a report (.pdf) released by the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) and Policy Cures on Friday, United Press International reports. The report, titled “Saving Lives and Creating Impact: Why investing in global health research works,” “found each year the U.S. government provided around 45 percent of the total global investment and 70 percent of all government investment worldwide in global health research and development,” the news service writes. “The U.S. funding helped lead to the development of more than half of the 45 new health products — including vaccines, drugs, diagnostics — in the last decade that have been used to save lives around the world, the report said,” according to UPI.
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“Although coming off a rocky year in 2011, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is ‘not in crisis,'” Inter Press Service reports, referring to comments made by the organization’s deputy general manager, Debrework Zewdie, at a roundtable hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday. Zewdie noted the resumption of commitments to the fund from bilateral donors, despite the international economic crisis and last year’s allegations of mismanagement, the news service adds.
Youth Facing Greater Health Risks Today Than In Past; Those In Developing World Face Increasing Challenges, Lancet Series Suggests
“Young people today face greater risks to their physical and mental health than generations past, new research has found, with adolescents in the developing world rapidly acquiring the unhealthy habits of their wealthier counterparts,” the Financial Times reports. A series of studies published on Wednesday in the Lancet “present a general portrait of increasing hazard due to drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, violence and inadequate employment opportunities,” the newspaper writes (Rowland, 4/25). Decreasing child mortality rates have led “to the largest generation of adolescents in history: 1.2 billion to be exact,” CNN’s “The Chart” blog notes, adding, “As many of those teens face poverty, natural disasters and wars in addition to overwhelming physical and emotional changes, researchers worry about the lack of available health resources” (4/24).
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Friday released a summary of a joint workshop by the Institute of Medicine, the Indian National Science Academy, and the Indian Council of Medical Research, titled, “Facing the Reality of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis: Challenges and Potential Solutions in India.” According to the report’s webpage, “The aim of the workshop was to highlight key challenges to controlling the spread of drug-resistant strains of [tuberculosis (TB)] in India and to discuss strategies for advancing and integrating local and international efforts to prevent and treat drug-resistant TB” (4/27).
A strain of malaria that is resistant to artemether, the main ingredient in Coartem, a widely used drug to treat the disease, may be spreading in Africa, according to a study published Thursday in Malaria Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “Studies in Cambodia and Thailand have shown that drugs based on artemisinin, the class of remedies to which artemether belongs, are becoming less effective there,” the news service writes, adding that study author Sanjeev Krishna of the University of London said, “Drug resistance could eventually become a devastating problem in Africa, and not just in southeast Asia where most of the world is watching for resistance.” According to the authors, “[t]he effectiveness of other artemisinin-based drugs, such as artesunate, wasn’t significantly affected by the mutations,” the news service states (Bennett, 4/26).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday during travel to India met with Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nazi Azad and “commend[ed] the country’s progress on health,” its “continued efforts towards achieving universal health coverage,” and its “commitment to the Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health,” highlighting “its innovative programs in this area” and “the need to do more to promote the well-being of women and children,” the U.N. News Centre reports (4/26). Recognizing the “work still to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Ban said he would like to showcase India’s experiences and best practices in dealing with maternal and child health issues for others to follow,” according to the IANS/Daily News. Ban also “said [U.N.] member nations … are ready to help India in dealing with polio, malaria, tetanus, measles and HIV transmission-related mortality,” the news service notes (4/26).
In a Huffington Post Blog opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), describes watching the suffering of an infant with severe pneumonia and his parents while in Ghana on Thursday, writing that the experience was “a personal reminder as to why our work to prevent disease is so perilous, and why disease control so promising in Africa.” Noting that last year in Ghana, “approximately 50,000 young children — nearly seven out of every 100 — died before their fifth birthday,” Levine adds, “I also saw the promise of prevention in Ghana,” with the launch of an immunization campaign to provide both pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. With support from the GAVI Alliance, Ghana is the first country in Africa to introduce two new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea at the same time,” he notes.
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog continued its coverage of the 2nd International Treatment as Prevention Workshop in Vancouver. One post describes a presentation by Zunyou Wu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who “offered … new information about China’s response to new evidence on treatment as prevention” (Lubinski, 4/25). A second post discusses a presentation by Vladimir Novitsky of the Harvard School of Public Health, who “offered … a snapshot of a four-year treatment as prevention study planned for Botswana (Lubinski, 4/25). “Chewe Luo, a senior adviser for UNICEF, discussed efforts to eliminate vertical HIV transmission from the perspective of treatment as prevention,” according to a third post (Lubinski, 4/26). Finally, Stephen Lawn of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine “reminded the audience … that antiretroviral therapy (ART) goes a long way to protect HIV-infected individuals from tuberculosis (TB),” a fourth post notes (Lubinski, 4/26).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, discusses including contraception on the global health agenda. “I have learned a lot from following the reaction to the talk I gave at TEDxChange two weeks ago,” she writes, adding, “Because I’m so passionate about the issue, I’m excited to see so many people talking about it online. The more people talk, I think, the more they’ll realize how much agreement there is around the basic argument that birth control saves lives and helps families build a better future.” She concludes, “I believe in giving women the methods they want to use so they can do what’s best for themselves and their families. … I hope we can agree that there really is no controversy around this idea” (4/26).
“To commemorate World Malaria Day, top malaria researchers came together Wednesday to present their work at a research and development event on Capitol Hill, hosted by Malaria No More,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “Representatives from 20 academic and research organizations discussed the contributions American private companies, universities, and research institutions are making to the fight against malaria through” research and development, the blog writes, noting, “Researchers at the briefing celebrated achievements made so far but warned that malaria remains a huge public health hazard” (Aziz, 4/26).