Also In Global Health News: EU-India Talks; China’s Health System Funding; Water In Ethiopia; Nonprofit Offering Health Services Abroad To Sell Off Assets; Polio In India

BMJ News Examines Ongoing EU-India Trade Talks’ Impact On Access To Affordable Medicines

In a piece examining health advocates’ ongoing concerns over how free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between the EU and India could impact access to affordable generic medicines, BMJ News writes, “Patients’ representatives and health aid workers who met officials from India’s commerce ministry on Thursday said that there seems to be internal conflict between different arms of the Indian government.” The piece quotes Kajal Bharadwaj, “a lawyer campaigning for wider access to drugs,” who describes a possible division between the country’s health and commerce ministries on the issue of data exclusivity. Although health advocates’ concerns regarding FTA talks “seem to be centred on data exclusivity, lawyers familiar with portions of the leaked [FTA] text say that other sections, such as those on investment and border control measures, may also adversely affect access to drugs,” according to the publication (Mudur, 3/7).

Chinese Government To Increase Health Care Spending To Improve Public Health

China’s central government plans to increase health care spending by 16.3% this year, or “roughly $26 billion, as part of a broader goal to improve public health and to complete overhauls to the country’s health care system it introduced in 2009,” Premier Wen Jiabao announced on Saturday during a speech on the government’s plans for the coming year, according to the Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time Report” blog. “We need to put people first, make ensuring and improving their well-being the starting point and goal of all our work,” Wen said. “Health spending accounts for 3.2% of the government’s 5.43 trillion yuan in overall expenditures this year, and will go toward the prevention of chronic and mental illnesses, as well as HIV and AIDS, Mr. Wen said,” according to China Realtime Report. “The government will also allocate 76 billion yuan to increase health insurance coverage and to boost insurance subsidies to 200 yuan, up from 120, per person,” the blog reports, describing the Chinese government’s plan to restructure the health system and other efforts to promote the public health (Burkitt, 3/6).

Guardian’s ‘Poverty Matters Blog’ Examines How Ethiopia Improved Access To Safe Drinking Water Over Past Decade

“Ethiopia has tripled people’s access to safe drinking water in the last 10 years,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports in a post examining how a combination of investments from donors and the Ethiopian government have strengthened the country’s water infrastructure. “The remarkable turnaround of the provision of a basic service in Africa’s second most populous country (after Nigeria) – from under 20% overall clean water access in 2000 to 68.5% today – has cost around $745 [million] since 2005, said water minister Kebede Gerba in an interview with the Guardian,” according to the post. Gerba estimated that “around 22.5 million people have benefited” from increased access to water since 2005, the blog writes (Vidal, 3/4).

AED Announces Plans To Sell Off Assets Months After Losing USAID Contracts

The Academy for Educational Development (AED), “a nonprofit group that contracts with U.S. government agencies and others to run health, education, social and economic development programs in about 150 countries, has announced that it plans to sell off its assets just months after it was suspended from receiving new government contracts” from USAID following reports of “‘serious corporate misconduct, mismanagement and a lack of internal controls,’ raising concerns about ‘corporate integrity,'” the Washington Post reports (Censer, 3/4). In a statement announcing the decision, AED Chairman Edward “Peter” Russell said, “While we have the ability to remain solvent in the near future, AED is choosing the prudent course of divesting itself of its projects and assets so that the important objectives of our programs can continue under the banner of another organization” (3/4).

Globe And Mail Examines Polio Fight In India

“Polio is all but gone from India, from this gigantic nation that has been the source for most of the critical new outbreaks in recent years, its last stand winnowed down to just two or three areas no bigger than 30 square kilometres. … Yet India’s moment has gone unnoticed by a world bored with the ‘this-close’ narrative of polio,” the Globe and Mail writes in an article examining India’s place in the global fight to eradicate polio. “India’s fight against polio holds two lessons for the rest of the world: the first concerns the perils of getting close to wiping out the virus, but not all the way there – and the second, the progress that is possible with a combination of political will, a healthy budget and scientific and social innovation,” the newspaper writes before reporting on immunization efforts in the nation (Nolen, 3/3). A photo slide show accompanies the article.

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