“A global alliance to protect the world’s people from toxic lead, chromium, mercury, pesticides and other pollution has been formed by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, U.N. agencies, donor countries, foundations and non-government experts in July,” freelance journalist Ben Barber reports in this post in Huffington Post’s “Green” blog. “The Global Alliance for Health and Pollution (GAHP) aims to work together to protect the health of over one hundred million people in poor countries who are at risk from toxic pollution,” Barber writes, adding, “The group will work with governments to clean-up toxic hotspots where children, especially, are being poisoned. It could also respond to emergencies such as a recent lead poisoning outbreak in Nigeria that killed hundreds of children” (8/10).
Private Sector Involvement
In this “Health Affairs Blog” post, Sachin Jain, a physician and former HHS adviser, explores the use of the term “strategy” in global health, writing “the term remains variably used and ill-defined.” He “offer[s] a definition enumerated for use by for-profit firms: Strategy is the unique set of activities and operating structures that an organization puts in place to deliver value to its customers,” and offers explanation about each segment of the definition. He concludes, “Strategy requires that organizations puzzle through different sets of ‘conflicting virtues’ — funders, activities, customers — and establish a priority order among them. None of these decisions are without their challenges; deciding to clearly define and grapple with them, however, will be an important step towards greater organizational effectiveness and results” (3/12).
VOA News reports on a March 20 panel meeting in Washington, D.C., that highlighted the contributions of corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Chevron, which has “invested $30 million for the three-year period between 2008 and 2011 and has pledged another $25 million through 2013,” was recognized at the meeting as “the first Global Fund Corporate Champion,” according to VOA (DeCapua, 3/23).
“Nothing could be more appropriate than the World Food Day focus on cooperatives this year,” because “[t]he collective power of cooperatives can enable better access to market, better returns, better access to inputs and services, and a better support network for smallholder farmers,” leading to “[h]igher returns” which allow farmers to “better provide for the nutrition, education and health of their families,” Mark Bowman, managing director of SABMiller, writes in an AllAfrica.com opinion piece. Africa is “at the center of the global challenge of food security,” “because one in three of the world’s hungry live on the continent” and “because Africa has the potential not only to feed its own people but also to become a more significant food exporter,” he says. Smallholder farmers are essential to meet this “challenge and potential,” Bowman notes, but he adds they are “cut off” by location or lack of funding from new products and technologies, efficient transport, and information.
Pharmaceutical company Novartis “has spoken out following criticism about its challenge to India’s patent laws, insisting that access to life-saving drugs is not under peril by the move,” Pharma Times World News reports. The case, which the Indian Supreme Court is scheduled to hear next month, challenges “Indian patent law, notably Section 3(d), which states that a modification of a known chemical composition is non-patentable,” the news service writes.
“In October 1987, Roy Vagelos, then the chief executive of [pharmaceutical company] Merck, launched the largest pharmaco-philanthropic venture ever,” William Foege, an epidemiologist and former director of the CDC, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece highlighting the company’s efforts to combat onchocerciasis in the developing world through the free distribution of its drug Mectizan. Initially developed to protect dogs against heartworms, Merck found a human version of the drug “could inhibit the microfilaria of onchocerciasis for a year with a single dose,” Foege continues, adding, “Merck said that it would supply the drug as long as it was needed. Extended surveillance has shown this to be one of the safest drugs ever developed.”
In a joint initiative headed by GBC Health, UNAIDS, and Levis Strauss & Co., more than 40 CEOs have signed a pledge urging 45 countries to repeal policies and laws restricting travel for people living with HIV, TakePart.com reports (Doheny, 11/28). “CEOs oppose HIV travel restrictions because they are discriminatory and because to succeed in today’s globalized economy, companies must be able to send their employees and best talent overseas, regardless of their HIV status,” according to a joint press release. Forty-five countries, including key hubs for international business, “still deny entry, stay, residence or work visas for people living with HIV,” the press release notes (11/28). Restrictions in some countries “also include denial of work visas, disallowing short-term stays for business trips or conferences, and blocking longer-term stays, such as residence-for-work relocations and study-abroad programs, according to UNAIDS,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/28).
The Financial Times has published a special report (.pdf) on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) featuring 10 articles examining issues including prevention, research, and treatment.
Scientific American examines the intersection of humanitarian aid, economic development, and climate change, saying, “Environmental, humanitarian, and economic challenges do not exist in isolation, but that is how the world most often deals with them.” The article quotes several speakers who attended an event on “resilient livelihoods” held on September 25 at the Rockefeller Foundation. Shrinking water supplies and increased urbanization continue to affect agriculture outputs, and hunger remains a problem worldwide, “[s]o finding new ways to fund environmental improvement and economic development at the same time will be crucial,” the news magazine writes.
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.