Opinions: AIDS Vaccine And Cure; China’s Role In The Global Fund; Child Marriage Prevention Act; Gorbachev On Safe Water

AIDS Vaccine, Cure Important Long-Term Solutions

A Globe and Mail editorial discusses the importance of “the quest for an AIDS vaccine and the search for a cure,” stating that “it is simply not possible to ‘treat’ our way out of this disease.” The authors write that “for every person who receives treatment – which must continue over their entire lifetime – about three new people become infected.”

The editorial cites two “exciting breakthroughs” and cautions that they “may take years to become therapeutic realities.” First, research published in Science “identified two antibodies in an HIV-positive individual which, when put together, block 90 percent of the HIV strains.” Additionally, “one researcher is focusing on the case of a leukemia patient in Berlin who appears to have been cured of HIV after a stem cell transplant. The donor had a genetic mutation that rendered him – and his recipient – resistant to HIV” (7/19).

China Should Shift From Major Global Fund Recipient To Donor

In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, Jack Chow, who was the lead U.S. negotiator at talks that established the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes about China’s relationship with the Global Fund, noting that although the country has “$2.5 trillion in foreign currency reserves,” it is the fourth largest recipient of grants from the fund. “China has won malaria grant money totaling $149 million (and $89 million more might be on the way) – in a country where only 38 deaths from the mosquito-borne illness were reported last year. That is more than the $122 million awarded to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which reported nearly 25,000 malaria deaths during the same period,” Chow observes before explaining why China is eligible for these grants and its motives in seeking them. 

Despite his opposition to the amount of money China receives from the Global Fund, he grants that China’s health system faces “formidable challenges,” but writes that it is “audacious for China to assert that it needs international health assistance on par with the world’s poorest countries.” Chow continues, “In fact, at the same time it is drawing from the Global Fund, China is building its entire global image … To boost its public profile and prestige, China spent billions to host the Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo. … Surely it could spend another $1 billion of its cash on health as well. And why not take it one step further? By becoming a Global Fund donor, China could win acclaim with the West and the world’s poorest – earning exactly the kind of respect that a rising power deserves” (7/19).

Congress Should Pass Act To Prevent Child Marriage

Congress can “take action by passing the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (H.R. 2103), a bill with 100 bipartisan co-sponsors that has the power to protect girls and bring an end to forced marriage,” Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) write in a Roll Call opinion piece.

“Beyond violating a girl’s most basic human rights, child marriage causes myriad negative educational, social and health consequences … child brides are at a higher risk for domestic violence, contracting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, and complications in pregnancy and childbirth,” the authors write. In addition, child marriage “undermines U.S. foreign assistance investments to improve education, health and economic development” because it hinders girls from accessing U.S. funded school or health assistance. The legislation, according to the piece, would require the U.S. to create an “integrated, strategic approach to protect girls” and “require the State Department to identify countries where child marriage is common in the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” (7/19).

Gorbachev Calls For Safe Water As A Human Right

“The right of every human being to safe drinking water and basic sanitation should be recognized and realized,” writes Mikhail Gorbachev in a New York Times opinion piece. He notes that the U.N. estimates that nearly “900 million people live without clean water and 2.6 billion without proper sanitation.” The former Soviet Union leader writes the “humanitarian catastrophe has been allowed to fester for generations. We must stop it.”

Gorbachev calls this month’s U.N. General Assembly vote on an “historic resolution declaring the human right to ‘safe and clean drinking water and sanitation'” a “pivotal opportunity.” The piece examines the situation in nations that have declared safe water as a human right, including ones in Asia and Europe, but writes “the United States and Canada are among the very few that have not formally embraced the right to safe water.” The author also states that “expanding access to water and sanitation will open many other development bottlenecks. Water and Sanitation are vital to everything from education to health to population control” (7/16).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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