Also In Global Health News: New GAVI CEO; U.S. Pledge To Expand African Health Workforce; International Drug Transfers; Humanitarian Situation In Cote d’Ivoire

GAVI Alliance Board Appoints IAVI Head Seth Berkley As New CEO

The GAVI Alliance Board on Tuesday announced it has appointed Seth Berkley, founder, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), as the new CEO of the GAVI Alliance, reports (3/9). “The GAVI Board is delighted to have attracted such a highly qualified and charismatic individual as Dr. Berkley,” GAVI Board Chair Dagfinn Hoybraten said in a GAVI press release, adding, “Dr. Berkley is an experienced leader in global public health with strong advocacy skills and is highly motivated to making vaccines available for all children. I am confident that, with Dr. Berkley as the CEO, the Alliance will further increase its crucial role in providing cost effective immunization for the world’s disadvantaged” (3/8). In an interview with Science magazine’s blog “ScienceInsider,” Berkley, who will begin in August, said, “Right now, the world is at the highest immunization rates that it’s ever been at, and there’s no reason we can’t get these new vaccines to more people. That needs to be the goal. We also need to finish the polio eradication agenda and see that development of vaccines for the next generation moves on” (Cohen, 3/8).

U.S. Committed To Bolstering Health Workforce, Research In Africa

The Canadian Press reports on a U.S. commitment to bolstering the African health care workforce through the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), as described on Tuesday by U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby. “Some $130 million” from PEPFAR and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “will be awarded as grants over five years to medical schools across sub-Saharan Africa to work with partner schools in the United States,” the news service writes. “Twelve countries and 13 schools, two in South Africa, already have had grants approved.” The article includes statistics on health worker shortages in sub-Saharan Africa, notes MEPI’s efforts to retain health care professionals in their home countries, and includes quotes from NIH Director Francis Collins (Faul, 3/8). “In addition to supporting doctors, nurses and community healthcare workers, the program will help train individuals who can be successful in applying for grant support to carry out research,” the Mail & Guardian writes (Parker, 3/9).

Wealthy Nations Should Do More To Promote Drug Transfer To Poor Countries, International Pharma Group Says

A report (.pdf) from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) says wealthy nations should do more to promote the transfer of drugs and equipment from drug companies to the developing world, Nature’s blog “The Great Beyond” reports. “IFPMA says wealthier nations should increase the funding they allocate to healthcare in poorer countries. Support from richer countries could also provide for ‘meaningful involvement’ of researchers from poorer countries, the new report suggests, by increasing access to international standard-setting bodies such as the International Conference on Harmonisation” (Cressey, 3/8). The paper also “recommends that low-income country governments should help to improve local companies’ attractiveness as technology transfer partners, encourage them to focus initially on more accessible technologies and to create larger, regional markets through mutual recognition of medicine approvals with neighboring countries,” according to an IFPMA press release (.pdf) (3/8).

Humanitarian Situation Among Cote d’Ivoire Refugees Becoming Critical, U.N. Agencies Say

An estimated 450,000 people have been displaced by “growing unrest” in Cote d’Ivoire, where it is “becoming increasingly more difficult to provide humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of displaced,” Jemini Pandya, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told a briefing on Tuesday, VOA News reports (Schlein, 3/8). According to Adrian Edwards of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the humanitarian needs in the country and neighboring Liberia, where at least 75,000 refugees have been registered over the past 10 days, are “growing fast,” Reuters writes. “This sudden influx [of refugees] is placing enormous strains on local communities and abilities of aid organizations to help,” Edwards said, adding that the water and sanitation situation in eastern Liberia is “critical,” according to the news service. He noted that cases of diarrhea and malaria, as well as food shortages have been documented, Reuters reports (3/8).

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