The Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) — an innovative financing mechanism that subsidizes the cost of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in order to expand access to the most effective treatment for malaria — “brought more than 100 million doses of malaria drugs to clinics and pharmacies in 2011” and “also increased access to the top malaria medicines by 26 to 52 percent in six countries,” according to results from the first phase of the program, which is hosted and managed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. The results of the evaluation, released on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., do not estimate how many lives were saved because of improved access to effective malaria medications, as “AMFm ran for only a year and half in most countries,” according to the blog. “The AMFm negotiated with drugmakers to reduce ACTs prices, and then the Global Fund subsidized the initial purchasing of the drugs by clinics and pharmacies,” the blog notes.
The annual number of child deaths worldwide has fallen more than 40 percent since 1990, “the result of myriad improvements in nutrition, access to vaccines and antibiotics, cleaner deliveries, better care of infants immediately after birth, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets,” according to “the findings of a report released Wednesday by three United Nations agencies and the World Bank,” the Washington Post reports (Brown, 9/12). “In 1990, there were 12 million deaths of young children, but the latest figures … show that deaths had fallen by nearly half, to 6.9 million, by 2011,” the Guardian writes (Boseley, 9/12). “[T]he number of deaths is down by at least 50 percent in eastern, western and southeastern Asia, as well as in northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean,” the report says, VOA News notes (Schlein, 9/12). However, “[i]n some, mainly sub-Saharan countries, the total number of deaths of children younger than five increased,” BBC News writes, adding, “The Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Somalia, Mali, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso saw annual deaths of children under five rise by 10,000 or more in 2011 as compared with 1990” (Doyle, 9/13).
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflects on changes in U.S. global health diplomacy since taking office in this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece. “America had been leading the global health fight for decades,” but “we recognized that to sustain the impact of our work, we needed to change the way we did business,” she writes. “For example, while our agencies were providing tremendous leadership in isolation, they could still do more to collaborate effectively,” she writes, adding, “[W]e weren’t doing enough to coordinate our efforts with other donors or our partner countries,” and “we weren’t building sustainable systems to eventually allow our partner countries to manage more of their own health needs.” She says, “We were unintentionally putting a ceiling on the number of lives we could save.”
Forbes features an interview with Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in which she “discusse[s] her motivations for pursuing a career in international affairs and social change, her experience as a senior program officer at the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], what lessons she learned during her time at Gates that are most applicable in her new executive role at Friends of the Global Fight, the current landscape of challenges and solutions, and the role of technology in accelerating progress.” In the interview, Derrick said, “The mobilization to defeat these diseases in the past decade has been stunningly successful. … But there is so much more that needs to be done. If we don’t muster the resources to keep up the fight, and all commit to doing our part in a time of constrained resources, we risk backsliding on the progress we’ve already invested in” (Kanani, 9/21).
The U.S. Army news service reports on a five-day Medical Civil Action Program, or MEDCAP, in Tanzania, during which “Tanzanian medical providers working in partnership with U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa provided medical care to more than 2,100 Tanzanian women and children.” According to the news service, “The program supported the Tanzanian Health Initiative, a program that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to health for the Tanzanian people and parallels the U.S. government’s Global Health Initiative.”
A BBC News article and related video examine the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s battle with malaria. “‘Malaria is the main killer here in Congo, especially for pregnant women and children,’ says Dr. Vincker Lushombo, from Save the Children,” BBC writes. “Two decades of conflict and chaos have destroyed key infrastructure and left many families in the east living in makeshift camps, often exposed to malarial swamps,” according to the news service.
“Over the next few weeks, appropriators will be engaged in the challenging task of evaluating U.S. foreign assistance funding, including how effectively Congress’ global health investments are being used,” Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Molly Joel Coye, interim president and CEO of PATH; Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children; and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, write in this Roll Call opinion piece. They continue, “As organizations funded in part by the U.S. government to implement global health programs in the field,” we “see firsthand how U.S. global health programs are working, and why now is not the time to cut multilateral and bilateral funding for these efforts.”
The Globe and Mail reports on “a massive resurgence of malaria [in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] that has baffled scientists and raised doubts about the global fight against the deadly scourge.” “Malaria is already the single biggest killer in Congo, with nearly 200,000 people dying annually, and now the trend is worsening,” the newspaper writes, noting that “the number of malaria patients has soared by a stunning 250 percent … since 2009,” according to data from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
In this post in the Guardian’s “The Observer,” Mark Honigsbaum, a research associate at the University of Zurich’s Institute for Medical History, interviews Peter Seeberger, the director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, about a recent announcement that Seeberger and colleague FranÃ§ois LÃ©vesque “have discovered a simple and cost-effective way of synthesizing artemisinin from the waste products of the” sweet wormwood plant from which it is extracted. Honigsbaum notes that “extracting artemisinin is expensive and because it takes time to cultivate the plant there are often bottlenecks in supply,” and writes, “Their discovery has the potential to make the drug more affordable for the 225 million people affected by malaria every year” (2/4).
“More than 200 health experts have gathered in Sydney for a three-day conference to bolster political commitment to tackle the spread of malaria,” IRIN reports (10/31). “‘Malaria 2012: Saving Lives in the Pacific’ is being co-hosted by [Australian] Foreign Minister Bob Carr and United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria Ray Chambers,” according to an AusAID press release, which adds, “The conference, which is being convened by AusAID, begins on Wednesday with two days of technical and policy discussion, culminating on Friday 2 November with a ministerial action meeting” (10/30). “‘There were 30 million [malaria] cases and 42,000 deaths reported in Asia [in 2010] so we aim to achieve greater regional collaboration and coordinated efforts from this conference,’ Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, executive director of Roll Back Malaria Partnership, told IRIN,” the news service notes (10/31).