Recent Releases In Global Health

What To Do About Antibiotic Resistance: A Lancet Infectious Diseases editorial describes the growing public concerns over a global rise in antimicrobial resistance. “Bearing in mind that our objective is to contain antibiotic resistance rather than eradicate it, several policies could be adopted to help guarantee a future for antibiotics,” the editorial states, adding, “We need reliable data to tackle antibiotic resistance. Thus establishment of a worldwide network of resistance-surveillance laboratories is essential, and a policy that WHO seems suited to implement” (April 2011).  

Africa Region Makes Progress Against Measles: The CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report examines the progress made in fighting measles in Africa over the past decade. In an editorial note, the publication states the region has “made remarkable progress in reducing measles mortality and morbidity” through vaccine administration and supplementary immunization activities. However, there were several major measles outbreaks in 2009-2010, which “highlight the need for full implementation of regional strategies” and review of “immunization program policies and delivery systems.” The editorial note concludes, “[R]enewed dedication by donors and governments is needed to ensure that national multiyear plans, budgetary line items, and financial commitments exist for routine immunization services and measles control activities” (4/1).

USAID Releases First Annual Letter: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on Thursday released on Twitter the agency’s first annual letter (.pdf), “[c]ommemorating President John F. Kennedy’s letter that called for the creation of the agency 50 years ago,” according to a USAID press release. Offering a progress report of USAID activities and reforms, the letter “describes how USAID is building a new culture and reforming to deliver American assistance faster, smarter and more efficiently” (3/31).

Series On Counterfeit Drugs:
SciDev.Net published several articles and opinion pieces about issues related to counterfeit drugs. The introduction asks, “How can new technologies help to detect fakes? What will it take for developing countries to thwart the trade? And are current policies targeting the right threat to patients’ health?” (3/30).

Food Security Aid Map: “Millions of people, perhaps as many as a billion people, suffer from hunger and inadequate, intermittent access to food,” and “‘food insecurity’ is on the increase,” reporter Tom Paulson writes in a post on KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog, where he describes InterAction’s Food Security Aid Map (3/30). According to group’s website, the map was developed in order “to provide detailed project-level information on food security and agriculture work being done by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). … With Food Security Aid Map, InterAction aims to dramatically increase transparency, facilitate partnerships, and improve coordination among those working to reduce hunger and increase access to enough, safe and nutritious food.”

Five Recommendations For Reforming WHO: “If the WHO is to hold its rightful place as the leader in global health governance, the organization must undergo fundamental reform,” write Devi Sridhar of the University of Oxford and Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University Law Center in a JAMA commentary, where they offer five recommendations for improvements. “There is no substitute for the WHO, with its progressive constitution and global legitimacy. … [W]hile remaining true to its normative and bold vision of health for all, the WHO must adapt to a new political climate, demonstrate global leadership, and deliver results,” they conclude (3/29).

How PEPFAR Is Addressing The Situation In Cote d’Ivoire: Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, writes on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog: “During this difficult period, PEPFAR has prioritized programs that provide essential services. … As the next step in our emergency planning, we are supporting key activities in the national contingency plan by supporting efforts to establish two antiretroviral drug distribution sites in every health district, and pre-position additional drug stocks in these sites” (3/29).

Areas Of U.S. Hit By Greatest Burden Of Neglected Infections: “The neglected infections of poverty represent the latest threat to the poorest people living on the Gulf Coast of the United States and in Washington,” D.C., Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, writes in a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases editorial. “I am particularly concerned about the Gulf’s vulnerability to emerging dengue fever infections, while for both the Gulf Coast and Washington, D.C., we must urgently address neglected diseases that disproportionately affect African American populations, including toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis, trichomoniasis, and congenital CMV infection; and those that affect Hispanic Americans, including Chagas disease and cysticercosis. The fact that we know so little about the neglected infections of poverty in America’s most distressed areas is representative of just how glaring these conditions are as health disparities,” Hotez writes (3/29).

Opportunities To Impact Childhood TB: On a recent trip to the U.S. to testify before Congress on global health funding and attend a an NIH conference, Anneke Hesseling of the Desmond Tutu TB Centre at Stellenbosch University in South Africa spoke with the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog about “integrating TB and HIV testing and services, the potential impact of the GeneXpert rapid TB test on children, and hot other topics.” The blog features a video interview and text transcript (3/29).

Meeting In Ethiopia Addresses Sustainable Immunization Financing: The Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) program of the Sabin Vaccine Institute recently convened the “first ever high-level meeting focused on sustainable immunization financing,” according to a Sabin press release. The meeting brought together more than “75 delegates representing ministries of health and finance and parliaments in 18 African, Asian and Latin American countries” (3/28).

Past, Present, Future Approaches To Increasing Access To ARVs: “We are at a crucial point in time” in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Ellen ‘t Hoen, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, and colleagues write in a Journal of the International AIDS Society review article that reflects on efforts to increase access to antiretrovirals (ARVs) through global trade and patent rules, and more recent approaches to drive down drug costs and promote development. “It is feasible that with better-adapted, more affordable ARVs, we can double or triple the number of people on treatment without doubling or tripling the cost,” while ensuring such medications are well-tolerated, the authors write. “High prices simply cannot be legitimate grounds for withholding lifesaving treatment from people. Access to medicines is a fundamental human right, which puts the obligation on all of us to do all we can to ensure that it is fully realized,” they conclude (3/27).

Lessons From Nuclear Accident In Japan: “[H]owever serious the radiation-related effects of a nuclear accident might be, the resulting psychosocial footprint is even larger,” Steven Becker, an associate professor in environmental health science at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, writes in a BMJ editorial. “At a minimum, medical care and psychosocial support need to be fully integrated. Healthcare professionals and other response personnel also need to be aware of groups at high risk,” he continues, highlighting the need for health professionals to respond to the needs of pregnant women and children. “The situation at Fukushima is also a reminder of one of the most crucial lessons learnt from earlier nuclear accidents: that the provision of timely, accurate, clear, and credible information may be the single most important way to save lives, reduce injuries and illnesses, prevent psychosocial effects, and help maintain people’s trust and confidence,” Becker states (3/25).

Better Transparency Essential In Resource Rich Nations: “Improved transparency can be a hard sell to donors and governments alike, but poor nations facing unexpected crises – or unexpected opportunities – must take the time to develop management capacity and strengthen systems for accountability so that they can steward their money well,” Kathryn Joyce of the Revenue Watch Institute writes on Devex’s “Full Disclosure” blog (3/25).

Global Health Council Releases Malaria, NTD Position Papers: The Global Health Council’s “Blog 4 Global Health” blog posts two recently published position papers on malaria (.pdf) and neglected tropical diseases (.pdf). The papers provide an overview of “the burden of the diseases, cost-effective interventions, and research needs,” describe the Council’s positions on malaria and NTD policy, “and give specific recommendations for next steps to control these diseases,” according to the blog (3/25).

USAID’s Commitment To Innovations In TB Diagnostics, Treatment, Prevention: Despite gains in efforts to reduce tuberculosis infections and deaths over the past two decades, TB remains an “area of health where innovation in diagnostics, treatment and prevention are greatly needed,” Christy Hanson, chief of the Infectious Disease Division at USAID writes in a post on the agency’s “Impact” blog. “USAID is currently investing in technologies that will decrease the length of treatment and improve the effectiveness of medication” and is supporting additional trials to “shorten [drug] regimen from six months to four months.” Hanson also describes USAID’s commitments to “strengthen country-level efforts to provide diagnostic and treatment services” and “expand the involvement of the private sector, integrate TB and HIV care, and encourage treatment of TB at the community level” (3/24).

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