U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday “announced the members of a High-level Panel to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The eight MDGs, agreed on by world leaders at a U.N. summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development,'” the news service writes (7/31).
Private Sector Involvement
The XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) that took place last week in Washington, D.C., “ignited momentum to shift from ‘fighting AIDS’ to ‘ending AIDS,'” Mohga Kamal-Yanni, senior health adviser at Oxfam International, and Urvarshi Rajcoomer, policy and advocacy adviser at Oxfam in South Africa, write in a Mail & Guardian opinion piece. “Oxfam believes investing in health systems such as infrastructure and health worker, drug supply chain and health information systems, is a critical prerequisite to ending AIDS,” they write. However, “to make this a reality,” pharmaceutical companies, donor governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Bank “must now do their part,” they continue.
“When you’re dealing with a global public health crisis, having an international presence isn’t just advisable — it is imperative,” Margaret McGlynn, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), writes in this post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, adding, “That’s why [IAVI], in partnership with USAID, has worked diligently over the past several years to establish itself as a truly global non-profit partner.” She continues, “IAVI has created an enviable network of research centers in sub-Saharan Africa dedicated to assessing novel AIDS vaccine candidates in clinical trials and conducting supporting epidemiological studies on HIV,” and writes that these “partnerships have made meaningful contributions to the research capacity of many developing countries — a capability that is now helping local researchers tackle other diseases” (8/13).
In an opinion piece in the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, discusses potential policies contained within the “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a pact that the United States is negotiating with Australia, Canada, Japan and eight other countries in the Pacific region.” However, “[a]t this point, it’s not really possible to discuss the merits of the TPP since the governments are keeping the proposed text a secret from the public,” he says. Noting “[a] few items that have been leaked give us some insight as to the direction of this pact,” he discusses how the “pharmaceutical industry is … likely to be a big gainer” from the TPP if the pact includes “stronger and longer patent protection and also increased use of ‘data exclusivity.'”
In a post in the Guardian’s “Sustainable Business” blog, Lisa Herman, managing director of the global health practice area at consulting firm FSG, and Mike Stamp, a senior consultant with FSG, discuss “a new guide for companies on how to participate in global action on women and children’s health” recently launched at the London Family Planning Summit. “The guide, co-authored by social impact consultants FSG and sponsored by the Innovation Working Group in support of the global Every Woman, Every Child effort, sets out concrete opportunities for companies from many different industries to contribute to improving women and children’s health,” they write.
The Harvard School of Public Health announced on Thursday that Regina Rabinovich, former director of infectious diseases at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been chosen to be the ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence, “where she will focus on innovative strategies to combat malaria,” according to a Harvard press release. “The ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence program is one of several activities under a new cross-university initiative called ‘Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe,’ which aims to produce, transmit and translate knowledge to support the control and ultimate eradication of malaria,” the press release states, adding, “Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), in collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute, is spearheading the effort, which is being launched in partnership with the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria. The ExxonMobil Foundation is funding the one-year residency program” (10/4).
The Financial Times examines the creation of UNITAID, an innovative financing mechanism and international drug purchasing facility, and how Philippe Douste-Blazy, chair of the UNITAID Executive Board and France’s former foreign minister who helped create the organization, is looking to move beyond drug financing to raise money through “microdonations” for development programs. Douste-Blazy is proposing tacking financial transaction taxes (FTTs) onto the price of certain products and services, creating “gifts so tiny that the donors don’t even notice they are giving them,” according to the newspaper. The Financial Times writes, “Douste-Blazy argues: ‘Certain sectors have benefited enormously from globalization: financial transactions, tourism and mobile phones. We need to tax an economic activity that’s only done by the rich, and tax it so lightly that nobody will notice.'” The newspaper continues, “Moreover, he points out, this tax would be popular. And it would save lives” (Kuper, 10/5).
October 24 “is World Polio Day, a day to celebrate the remarkable progress we’ve made in the fight against polio and to focus on the urgency of the work we still have to do,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in “The Gates Notes” blog. “But equally important, it’s also a day to say ‘thank you’ to the millions of people around the world who have generously given their time and money to this critical effort,” he continues, and features a video thanking the different organizations working together to bring an end to polio. “To ensure success, we need to fully fund polio campaigns and routine immunizations”; “continued leadership and accountability”; and “ensure the security of vaccination teams so they can get to children — even in the most difficult areas,” Gates writes (10/24). In a post on the Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Jay Wenger, head of the polio program at the foundation, lists five reasons why he’s “excited” about World Polio Day. “It’s really because I have seen an unprecedented series of successes, commitment from existing and new donors and signs of progress that give me confidence we can finish the job,” he writes (10/23).
World Bank President Addresses Meeting of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America
The World Bank provides a transcript of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s remarks at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America. Kim discusses his engagement in Africa and Latin America as co-founder of Partners In Health, highlights the World Development Report, which he says “is focused on jobs,” and emphasizes the role of the private sector in economic growth. “As good as we might be at delivering health and educational services in the small projects that we worked, at the end of the day, what everyone in the world wants is a good job, and 90 percent of those good jobs happen in the private sector,” he said, according to the transcript (10/1).
In the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, Leena Menghaney, a lawyer and India manager of the Access Campaign at Medecins Sans Frontieres, writes about “two critical legal battles between multinational pharmaceutical companies and the Indian government [that] are taking center stage in an ongoing struggle over India’s medicines patent law.” Before describing each case in detail, she summarizes, “One case goes to the heart of what merits a patent. The other addresses what countries can do when patented life-saving medicines are priced out of reach for the vast majority of patients.” Menghaney concludes, “The world is watching closely, as these cases could have a profound impact on access to life-saving medicines for millions of people worldwide” (10/1).