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Recent Releases In Global Health

Insecticides To Fight Malaria: In a Daily Caller opinion piece, Richard Tren of Africa Fighting Malaria and Donald Roberts of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences write in support of using insecticides, like DDT, to combat malaria: “Unless the donor nations that fund global malaria programs, such as the U.S., firmly reject the unscientific, fear-based opposition to insecticides, progress against this preventable and curable disease will be lost.” The authors discuss U.N.-supported experiments on non-insecticide vector control efforts that “made the bold and impressive claim that they achieved a reduction in malaria of over 60%. We recently reviewed these experiments in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal, Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine (RRTM), and found them to be based on manipulated and false data” (1/20).

Shah’s Modern Development Enterprise Plan For USAID: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “ambitiously seeks to transform the way USAID operates by injecting an entrepreneurial business model within the agency,” Connie Veillette, director of the initiative writes on the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog. Veillette, reflecting on Shah’s recent speech where he outlined several ways to improve USAID, describes the opportunities and challenges associated with such an approach (1/20).

Don’t Completely Destroy Known Smallpox Virus Stocks: “In May 2011, the World Health Assembly – the decision-making body of the World Health Organization – will vote on whether to set a date by which [the known remaining smallpox virus stocks in the U.S. and Russia] should be destroyed. They should not be eliminated, at least not completely,” argues a Nature editorial. “The scientific case for retaining live variola virus to improve public health is strong. The risk of doing so is largely political.” The editorial describes the potential for a “political stand-off,” pitting the U.S. and Russia against countries in Asia and Africa, “further complicated by the rare involvement of security and defense officials also weighs in on the viability of a compromise solution in which the U.S. and Russia would “agree to destroy part of their collections” (1/19).

U.S. Should Support More R&D: In a Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s “ModernizeAid” blog post, David Cook of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), writes that President Obama and the new Congress “should consider the proven value of investments in biomedical research and development to address the major diseases and health issues facing the world.” After outlining the benefits of funding R&D and how it meshes with improving U.S. foreign aid, Cook concludes that “lawmakers looking to find common ground on how to spur the economy both in the U.S. and in the developing world have a great place to start in global health R&D” (1/19).

Screening HIV-Positive Patients For TB In Resource-Poor Settings: The “[a]bsence of all of current cough, fever, night sweats, and weight loss can identify a subset of people living with HIV who have a very low probability of having TB disease,” write the authors of a PLoS Medicine study that used individual participant data meta-analysis to identify factors that could be used to create a standardized TB screening rule for resource-constrained settings.” While “[g]reatly improving TB screening, diagnosis, and treatment in people living with HIV will require deployment of a rapid, accurate, point-of-care TB diagnostic test. … In the absence of such a test, we believe that a standardized algorithm employing symptoms, as we propose here, can improve the diagnosis and treatment of TB for people living with HIV, and by doing so would save many lives,” the authors conclude (Getahun et al., 1/18).

MCC Head On Development: “I have a client – the U.S. taxpayer. I have a partner – the countries receiving MCC assistance and the citizens they represent. And, I have a goal – to get the best return on America’s investment,” Daniel Yohannes, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, said in a recent speech, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s “ModernizeAid” blog writes, highlighting some of the themes in Yohannes’ speech about development and aid (1/18).

Imminent Health Problems In Pakistan: The floods in Pakistan “represent one of the greatest public health challenges in modern history. In a conventional model of disease, the floods represent an ‘acute on chronic’ condition, with Pakistan having been previously afflicted by several chronic maladies … previous bouts of disaster such as the 2005 earthquake,” Haider Warraich, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, writes in Foreign Policy’s blog “The AfPak Channel.” Warraich highlights the range of potential health problems facing the nation. “Unless public health is made central to national and international relief policy and the focus of the international community is sustained, the sick man of South Asia might not recover from this newest bout of illness,” he writes (1/14).

Congress’ Role In Ensuring Global Food Security: After highlighting the Obama administration’s global food security programs, Roger Thurow, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, writes on the “Global Food for Thought” blog, “this new policy framework needs a firm foundation that can withstand the tests of time and political trends.” He continues: “Providing sustainable funding and authorizing a strong, consistent national commitment to American leadership on agriculture development and global food security would be a truly historic achievement of the 112th Congress. The next year or two will be critical in determining whether this leadership becomes an effective and lasting feature of U.S. development policy – or whether this moment of great opportunity will be squandered” (1/10).

Key House Republican Members For Global Health Funding: In two posts (here and here), the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog profiles House Republicans influential over funding for global health programs. “The new Congress brings about a number of important changes to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee, which determines most of the funding levels for U.S. global health programs through the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee,” according to the blog, which notes that the subcommittee “plays a major role in determining annual funding levels” for the PEPFAR, the Global Fund and global TB programs. “It can also use the appropriations process to effect policy changes by conditioning the use of funds,” the blog states (January 2011).

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