Opinions: Investing In Science, Technolgy; Indian Public-Private Partnership For NTDs; U.S. Global Food Security Investments; Clinton’s Statements On PEPFAR; U.S. Foreign Aid; Primary Care

Investments In Science, Technology Improve Health, Make Economic Sense

“Now is the time to support science and technology – especially in difficult economic times. It is the right thing to do, and it makes good economic sense,” Alex Dehgan, science and technology adviser to the USAID administrator, and Kaitlin Christenson, coalition director for the Global Health Technologies Coalition, write in an opinion piece appearing on The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” 

“Over the course of 50 years, the American public through USAID has improved the health of people in the developing world by working with partner governments and investing in global health research that resulted in truly innovative approaches to solving some of the most challenging public health concerns of our time. This research is critical to fulfilling USAID’s development mission,” Dehgan and Christenson write, noting recent gains in HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis research.

“Our science and technology community is on the brink of discoveries that will improve the health of all people in the world, creating the conditions where foreign assistance is no longer needed, and bolstering America’s leadership in the scientific research that helps industry create jobs for the future. If the achievements of this past year are any indication of future progress, we will be well-positioned to better protect ourselves and the world from today’s public health threats, lead on tomorrow’s technologies, and grow the jobs that accompany them,” they conclude (3/8).

An Indian Public-Private Partnership For NTDs Could Boost The World’s ‘Bottom Billion’

“[W]hile much of the global health attention is largely focused on sub-Saharan Africa, the truth is that India and adjoining Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are just as devastated by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs),” Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, writes in an opinion piece in The Hindu, in which he describes the economic toll of NTDs and the country’s recent efforts to control and eliminate them.

However, because “[t]he people who need new NTD vaccines and treatments the most can never afford to pay for it … there is no financial incentive for India’s private industry to embark on research and development activities for NTDs,” Hotez says, adding that the solution is for India to create “new strategies to link its government institutions and its powerful private biopharmaceutical companies together in a public-private partnership to stimulate innovation for the poor.” Hotez concludes, “An Indian public-private partnership for NTDs could produce a new generation of drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines that will benefit all of South Asia, and indeed the entire world’s ‘bottom billion’ – the 1.4 billion people in the world who live in extreme poverty. Innovation for the poor could truly become India’s greatest gift to the world” (3/8).

No Time For Congress To Pull Back On U.S. Global Food Security Investments

“Feeding a global population of seven billion, amid unpredictable weather, rising transportation costs and uneven productivity is an increasing challenge. Yet from our different viewpoints, the most important element of any global solution is the small farmer,” Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O’ Lakes, and Ritu Sharma, co-founder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide, write in a Politco opinion piece. They observe that the majority of small farmers in the world are women and call for “greater productivity, greater investment and sustainable solutions for small-scale farmers” and the global food production system.

They note that “in Washington’s deficit-cutting environment, there is a real danger we will cut off global sustainable agriculture programs just when they are needed most. The appropriations legislation … completely eliminates the president’s Feed the Future Initiative.” Making those cuts “would be a serious mistake,” according to Policinski and Sharma. “Relatively small agriculture investments are an insurance policy against wild price swings, and a down payment toward a future with a more sustainable global food system. Investing in women farmers more than pays for itself – helping pull entire communities out of poverty, as women reinvest any food or income they have in their children. With 7 billion mouths to feed, this is no time to pull back,” they conclude (3/8).

Sec. Clinton’s Statements On The Impacts Of FY11 On PEPFAR

Journalist Glenn Kessler examines recent statements made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the potential impact the proposed budget cuts for FY11 could have on PEPFAR in the Washington Post’s “The Fact Checker” blog.

Clinton’s “statement that, ‘Hundreds of thousands of people will be cut off of their life-sustaining drugs. Others will never have access to them,'” is “certainly alarming,” and suggestive “that some of the 3.2 million people currently on antiviral drugs would lose access to them. If true, that would be headline news, since AIDS groups had privately said that people currently on the drugs would not lose their access,” Kessler says, concluding,  “A State Department official tried to argue that Clinton’s language referred to 400,000 people who are expected to get onto a drug regimen but who would be turned away after the spending cuts. Nice try. Clinton clearly is referring to that 400,000 in her next sentence, when she says ‘others will never have access to them'” (3/7).

Clearing Up Misconceptions On Foreign Aid Would Show It Is A Good Investment

Americans’ misconceptions about foreign aid “need to be cleared up as we enter this budget season, or millions around the world are going to suffer,” Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, writes in a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece, adding, “The point is, foreign aid aimed at the developing world isn’t just a moral duty; it’s a good investment.”

Hackett outlines the diverse programs that receive foreign aid funding. “Certainly there are food assistance programs to help the hungry and vulnerable – often children – but there is still so much more to foreign aid. For example, foreign assistance develops agriculture so that self-reliance can grow in areas where, now, one bad harvest or one dry rainy season can create a need for emergency aid. Other programs bring water, sanitation, and health services … Self-reliance is the focus and goal of such foreign aid today,” according to Hackett. He also addresses accountability in foreign aid programs. “As with any endeavor, there’s always room for improvement, but the idea that the U.S. is simply throwing money at problems, which results in throwing money away, is a big misconception” (3/7).

To Improve Maternal, Child Health, Invest In Primary Care

Primary care “is the bedrock of a good public health system and is comprised of access to reliable diagnostics, medications, adequate nutrition, clean water, sanitation, electricity, basic surgical capabilities, and most importantly, skilled health-care workers,” Canadian physician and Member of Parliament Keith Martin writes in a National Post opinion piece, calling upon Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to lead global efforts to improve child and maternal health by ensuring women and children have access to primary care. “This is the pathway through which everything from public health education, prevention programs, treatment, and follow up can occur,” Martin says, adding, “If you do not invest in a strong primary care system and fit specific interventions into that framework, then you can have scattered, disjointed, individual activities that do not create the long term capacity building low resource communities desperately need.”

“Mr. Harper can do much to direct the $40 billion pledge by the G8 and UN to strengthen primary care systems in the developing world. He could effectively do this by partnering with organizations that already have sites and reliable logistical systems in place,” Martin writes. “Every dollar spent in primary care ultimately reduces health-care costs by $4 and social costs by a staggering $30. Thus, investing in primary care makes excellent economic sense: healthy people are productive people who can then lift their families, communities and countries out of poverty. Sick people cannot do this,” he concludes (3/5).

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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