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Opinions: HIV Prevention; PEPFAR; H1N1 Vaccine Donation; Developing Country R&D; Climate Change

HIV Prevention Strategies Are Essential

“For nearly 30 years scientists have been trying to break the back of the AIDS epidemic,” but the recent microbicide gel study and an AIDS vaccine trial in Thailand “show just how difficult and how distant that goal is,” according to a Washington Post editorial. “While scientists continue searching for a vaccine or a cure, prevention remains paramount,” the Washington Post concludes (12/16).  

Can’t Afford To Go ‘Backward’ With PEPFAR

PEPFAR “is arguably [former President George W.] Bush’s best legacy. Unfortunately, it is being scaled back by his successor in the White House,” a Hartford Courant editorial contends. “We really can’t afford to go backward with PEPFAR,” according to the newspaper. “The [Obama] administration wants to shift resources to buying goods that save more lives for less money, such as water filters, oral rehydration packets and generic antibiotics that fight respiratory and diarrheal illnesses. The international community should spend more money on such preventives. But it shouldn’t cut back on the fight against AIDS,” the editorial concludes (12/16).

U.S. Should Immediately Donate 10% Of H1N1 Vaccines For Developing Countries

“We recommend that the U.S. government and the governments of other wealthy countries immediately donate 10 percent of their H1N1 vaccine supply for the poorest countries, and state publicly when the donations will begin,” according to a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece written by Ruth Karron, director of the Center for Immunization Research, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center, and Ruth Faden, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

“Many developed countries can and should give more. They should make these donations as soon as possible to provide the greatest benefit. Also, because what gets measured gets done, the WHO should have a very public system for reporting contributions to the global H1N1 vaccine supply,” they write. “While delays in production have meant that [Americans] needed to wait weeks or months to get our doses of vaccines, our wait is just about over. People in poor countries have waited long enough” (12/16).

Developing Countries Should Invest More In R&D To Prevent Disease

“In the absence of concerted help from the industrial world … it is clear that developing countries must learn to tackle insect-borne diseases themselves. That means investing much more in local research and development (R&D),” George Kasali – a microbiologist at Copperbelt University in Zambia and a member of Energy and Environmental Concerns for Zambia, a research network – writes in Business Daily opinion piece. According to Kasali, there are several factors that foster insect-borne diseases. “But by far the biggest risk factor is the lack of R&D capability in developing countries.”

He writes: “Instead of surveillance, prevention strategies and health research, inadequate health facilities and low purchasing power are forcing people into self-medication and inappropriate drug use.” Kasali concludes, “Neglect of R&D explains why developing countries – despite possessing more natural resources than industrial nations – continue to wallow in poverty and disease” (12/16).

World Must Rethink Approach To Climate Change

“There is no question that global warming will have a significant impact on already existing problems such as malaria, malnutrition, and water shortages. But this doesn’t mean the best way to solve them is to cut carbon emissions,” writes Bjorn Lomborg, the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “Money spent on carbon cuts is money we can’t use for effective investments in food aid, micronutrients, HIV/AIDS prevention, health and education infrastructure, and clean water and sanitation,” he writes.

“This does not mean that we should ignore global warming. But it does raise serious questions about our dogmatic pursuit of a strategy that can only be described as breathtakingly expensive and woefully ineffective.” According to Lomborg, “the Kyoto approach is going nowhere … If we are serious about helping the world’s worst-off inhabitants, we are going to need to rethink our approach completely” (12/15).

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