In a Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, Tom Murphy, founder of the development blog “A View From The Cave,” examines Rwanda’s efforts to reduce cancer incidence by implementing screening programs for breast and cervical cancers and vaccinating girls and young women for human papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer. Discussing the new programs, Minister of Health Agnes Bingawaho said, “We are a government that is evidence-based and result-oriented. … We always go for a policy first — the science in front of everything. We develop a strategy plan, followed by an implementation plan and then fundraise,” according to Murphy. He discusses Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s push for accountability within the government, the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution recognizing non-communicable diseases as a global problem, and efforts by Merck and the GAVI Alliance to vaccinate more girls against HPV (12/18).
Access to Health Services
“The remarkable gains made in the treatment of malaria over the past decade are under threat because of insufficient increases in funding over the past two years, according to an annual progress report by the World Health Organization,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 12/17). In its World Malaria Report 2012 (.pdf), the [WHO] notes that rapid expansion in global funding for malaria prevention and control between 2004 and 2009 leveled off between 2010 and 2012,” the U.N. News Centre writes (12/17). “Global funding for malaria control remained at $2.3 billion in 2011, the WHO said” in the report, Bloomberg notes, adding, “Money available for combating the mosquito-borne disease is expected to peak at about half of the $5.1 billion that’s needed annually to provide bed nets, tests and drugs to all the people who need them, the WHO said” (Bennett, 12/17). “This means that millions of people living in highly endemic areas continue to lack access to effective malaria prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment,” according to a WHO press release (12/17).
“Lawmakers on Monday approved legislation calling for government-funded contraception and sex education classes in the Philippines, a first in the heavily Catholic nation,” CNN reports (12/17). The House of Representatives and the Senate … approved the Reproductive Health (RH) bill on third and final reading, pushing the controversial bill a step closer to being signed into law,” the Philippine Star writes (Diola/Cerda, 12/17). “Voting 13-8 with no abstention, the Senate passed the RH bill on third and final reading,” Inquirer News notes, adding, “At the House of Representatives, lawmakers voted 133 to 79 with seven abstentions to approve its version of the measure” (Ager/Santos, 12/17).
Experts Warn Banning Thimerosal From Use In Vaccines Would Harm Immunization Campaigns In Developing World
“A group of prominent doctors and public health experts warns in articles to be published Monday in the journal Pediatrics that banning thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines, would devastate public health efforts in developing countries,” the New York Times reports. “Representatives from governments around the world will meet in Geneva next month in a session convened by the United Nations Environmental Program to prepare a global treaty to reduce health hazards by banning certain products and processes that release mercury into the environment … [b]ut a proposal that the ban include thimerosal … has drawn strong criticism from pediatricians,” the newspaper writes (Tavernise, 12/17).
“On Thursday (Dec. 14), [Nigeria] signed five grant agreements with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” with some of the money going “to provide for antiretroviral therapy treatment and prevention services, particularly on mother-to-child HIV transmission,” Devex’s “The Development Newswire” blog reports. Of the total $335 million, $265 million will go toward HIV/AIDS activities, while $70 million will be used for TB initiatives, the blog notes (Ravelo, 12/14). “For Nigeria, [the] grant agreements address a tremendous need: Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world and only 30 percent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving antiretroviral therapy,” a Global Fund press release states (12/13).
The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog “reports on the challenges of eliminating river blindness from Africa by 2025.” “The implications of shift from disease control to elimination are considerable, as has been the case with the objective to eliminate onchocerciasis (better known as river blindness) by 2025, decided by the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) back in 2009,” the blog writes, detailing elimination efforts against the disease since the 1970s. “Together, 20 years of vector control and 25 years of ivermectin treatment have brought onchocerciasis prevalence down to insignificant levels in many countries,” the blog states. However, “the disease still exists,” the blog notes and highlights a number of challenges to achieving elimination, such as raising funds for surveillance efforts and achieving universal treatment coverage due to “a potentially lethal reaction [to the drug] in patients infected with loa-loa, a parasite common in forest areas” (Filou, 12/17).
Global Burden Of Disease Study Finds People Worldwide Living Longer, But With More Illness, Disability
“A sharp decline in deaths from malnutrition and infectious diseases like measles and tuberculosis has caused a shift in global mortality patterns over the past 20 years, according to a [study released] on Thursday, with far more of the world’s population now living into old age and dying from diseases mostly associated with rich countries, like cancer and heart disease,” the New York Times reports (Tavernise, 12/13). The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, “published in the Lancet, has taken more than five years and involves 486 authors in 50 countries,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog notes (Mead, 12/13). Researchers worldwide “drew conclusions from nearly 100,000 data sources, including surveys, censuses, hospital records and verbal autopsies,” NPR’s “Shots” blog writes (Doucleff, 12/13). The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2010 consists of “[s]even separate reports conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, the Harvard School of Public Health, and elsewhere [that] gauged people’s health in 187 countries and determined that developing countries are looking more like richer Westernized countries in terms of the health problems that pose the biggest burden: high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease,” according to the Boston Globe (Kotz, 12/13).
In the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, highlights a report released by the organization last week, titled “Voices from Urban Africa: The Impact of Urban Growth on Children.” The stories of families, government and community leaders “reveal that the ‘urban advantages’ of better health care, education and opportunities to make a good living — often associated with city life — are in reality an urban myth,” she writes, adding, “With greater study and understanding of urban challenges — and ultimately rethinking strategies and increasing investment — the development community, including donors and policymakers, can help Africa respond more effectively to the needs of vulnerable children.” She continues, “Whether addressing children’s protection, health, education or future livelihoods, it is clear that programs must not stand alone” (12/11).
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine this week are hosting a conference in New York, titled “Lives in the Balance: Delivering Medical Innovations for Neglected Patients and Populations,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In a video presentation, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim “told the conference … that the goal is to ‘lay the foundation of a health science that works for the poor,'” according to the newspaper. “That means innovative research on diseases and delivery systems geared to people in developing nations, not the more affluent ones, greater sharing of ideas, and support for developing nations so they can assist in the process from beginning to end,” the newspaper writes (Sell, 12/14).
“If the world scales-up HIV treatment and prevention in the next two years, a critical tipping point — in which those on treatment outnumber those newly infected with the virus — could be reached, according to the global HIV prevention advocacy organization AVAC,” PlusNews reports. The news service “breaks down the issues likely to top the HIV prevention agenda in the coming year,” including better defining “combination prevention” for country- and local-level needs, preparing for new voluntary medical male circumcision methods, and protecting HIV prevention research funding (12/13).