The New York Times’ “India Ink” blog examines how “a growing number of ‘affordable health care’ entrepreneurs are focused on developing new solutions for the rural and remote parts of the country.” According to the blog, “Across India, access to health care remains a pressing problem, exacerbated by the country’s large population and shortage of doctors. Nowhere is this challenge more acute than in rural India, which is experiencing a severe shortage of qualified health care practitioners.” But one pilot program in Tamil Nadu is training and certifying traditional medical doctors “to serve as ‘independent care providers’ in a rural setting,” the blog states, noting the program was developed in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Lavakare, 11/29).
Access to Health Services
In the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, writer Marianne Schnall interviews Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “about why she considers family planning such a vital issue, how she views the role of philanthropy, her excitement over a new crowdfunding platform she helped launch called Catapult, and the many ways she says giving has enriched her life.” Schnall writes, “Controversy over reproductive rights has been at the forefront of our national conversation, but philanthropist Melinda Gates would like to take the controversy out and transform the narrative into a global one through education and advocacy.”
Recognizing World AIDS Day is December 1, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe David Bruce Wharton writes in a Herald opinion piece, “Ending AIDS is a shared responsibility. … Everyone has a role to play — government leaders, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society, media, faith-based organizations, and each one of us.” Noting the U.S. has invested nearly $300 million in the fight against HIV in Zimbabwe since 2000 and plans to contribute $92 million more to the country through PEPFAR over the next year, Wharton says, “Through PEPFAR, the United States is working closely with Zimbabwe to build the country’s capacity to lead an effective national response” and increase “country ownership.”
“HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age,” and without HIV, “maternal mortality worldwide would be 20 percent lower,” Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the Board of the TB ACTION Group, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. She says that women “often face barriers accessing HIV treatment and care,” adding she recently “was struck with the significant role the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] has played in reducing women’s barriers to treatment.”
Leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1, the AIDS.gov blog published several pieces discussing progress in reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation. The pieces are summarized below.
UNAIDS and the Stop TB Partnership on Tuesday launched an “initiative aimed at reducing HIV deaths caused by tuberculosis (TB) by half” by 2015, the U.N. News Centre reports (11/27). The memorandum of understanding signed by the groups states they will “take action … to strategically address the intolerable burden of TB mortality borne by people living with HIV,” according to a UNAIDS press release. “The two organizations are developing a detailed work plan and have committed to collaboration to achieve three main objectives within the next three years: increase political commitment and resource mobilization for TB/HIV; strengthen knowledge, capacity and engagement of civil society organizations, affected communities and the private sector; and help most-affected countries integrate TB/HIV services,” the press release continues (11/27). “TB/HIV is a deadly combination. We can stop people from dying of HIV/TB co-infection through integration and simplification of HIV and TB services,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said, according to the U.N. News Centre (11/27).
Pharma Companies Improving Access To Medicines But Lack Oversight Of Outsourced Clinical Trials, Analysis Says
Pharmaceutical companies are showing “greater accountability in the boardroom today over access to medicines, with more openness, targets and investment in drugs relevant to the poor,” but they “show no evidence that they adequately supervise the conduct of outsourced clinical drug trials, according to a new analysis released on Wednesday,” the Financial Times reports (Jack, 11/28). Published every two years, the Access to Medicine Index “ranks the world’s 20 biggest drug companies,” BBC News notes, adding, “GlaxoSmithKline remains at the top of the index, followed closely by Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi.”
AVAC Report Calls For Greater Access To Combination Prevention Strategies, Protection Of Research Funding
AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention on Tuesday “released its annual report that calls for an ambitious pace of funding, implementation, and research,” VOA News reports, noting the report, titled “Achieving the End: One Year and Counting,” “calls for a three-part agenda for ending AIDS: Deliver, Demonstrate, and Develop” (DeCapua, 11/27). The report’s recommendations “address urgent, unresolved challenges that threaten the delivery of powerful new HIV prevention methods that could help dramatically reduce the 2.5 million new HIV infections that occur worldwide every year,” an AVAC press release states, continuing, “They include critical actions to speed access to HIV treatment, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and to safeguard vital new research on vaccines, microbicides, other HIV prevention options and a cure.” According to the press release, AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren said, “Right now, the world isn’t moving as fast as it should be to begin ending the epidemic. There is still time to get back on a winning pace but only with focused, aggressive action now. This can be the year that HIV prevention begins to achieve its potential — in fact, it has to be” (11/27).
In the Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360, examines the HIV treatment cascade, which he says “is crucial both to assuring the individual’s health and to achieving the public health goal of an AIDS-free generation.” The first step in the cascade is HIV testing, which determines whether an individual should be referred for and receive HIV care and treatment, he notes, adding, “We can use the cascade model to help gain accurate assessments of the ‘leakage points’ in the HIV care and treatment system. By knowing where in the cascade we need to focus, we can provide additional incentives for patients and resources for providers to improve retention.” Cates describes several novel prevention technologies, highlights programs in different countries working to bring people into the cascade, and concludes, “As we pause to reflect on 2012’s World AIDS Day, let’s resolve to get everyone on board to make the most of the tools we have. We can conquer this disease” (11/27).
“Eliminating the worldwide shortage of eyeglasses could cost up to $28 billion, but would add more than $200 billion to the global economy, according to a study” conducted by researchers from Australia and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published last month in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the New York Times reports. “The authors assumed that 703 million people worldwide have uncorrected nearsightedness or farsightedness severe enough to impair their work, and that 80 percent of them could be helped with off-the-rack glasses, which would need to be replaced every five years,” the newspaper writes, noting, “The $28 billion would cover the cost of training 65,000 optometrists and equipping clinics where they could prescribe eyeglasses, which can now be mass-produced for as little as $2 a pair” (McNeil, 11/26).