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Recent Releases In Global Health

WHO Bulletin Editorial Reflects On Health-Related MDGs Progress, Challenges

After highlighting successes and failures of efforts to reach the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an editorial appearing in the WHO Bulletin reflects, “[t]he variable progress achieved begs the question of the feasibility of the MDG goals and targets. … The MDGs were initially defined globally; their translation into country-specific targets gives little consideration to baselines, contexts and implementation capacities. The global targets were ambitious and based on little evidence of feasibility in low-income countries. Perhaps rather than making targets ends in themselves, it would be more realistic and relevant to focus instead on the overall direction and pace of change” (AbouZahr/Boerma, May 2010).

Lancet Comment Explores Efforts Of Asia-Pacific Malaria Elimination Network

A Lancet Comment addresses “stories of malaria elimination from Asia–Pacific [that] have been under-recognised and under-appreciated within the region and by the international community,” and the aims of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) to make the successes more visible. “APMEN will help to increase cross talk and give a voice to the progress and needs of the region. The network will not only facilitate elimination of malaria in Asia–Pacific but also catalyse and give hope to similar initiatives in other regions of the world,” the comment concludes (Hsiang et al., 5/8).

Lancet Proposes New Statement On Leading Causes Of Death In Women

Instead of stating that worldwide “HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age,” as was reported in a 2009 WHO report, a Lancet Comment proposes this: “Globally, failure to provide women with high-quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, combined with factors that prevent them from negotiating protection from HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and unwanted sex, are the leading causes of death and disease in women of reproductive age.” The proposed statement provides “an accurate story and could certainly lead to effective action. That is, strategic investment in education and health systems to provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and services to all; empowerment of girls and women to negotiate safe sex, and demand and use high-quality health services; and protection of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health,” according to the piece (Germain/Dixon-Mueller, 5/8).

Blogs Report On CDC Director’s Recent Talk On Global Health

The “Science Speaks” blog reports on a recent speech by Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, focusing on the agency’s Center for Global Health. “The new Center aims to strengthen the use of data to manage health programs and bolster governmental public health systems. Other goals include developing country capacity, ensuring global health security, and ultimately helping people live longer and healthier lives,” according to the blog (Aziz, 5/6).

The Commission on Smart Global Health Policy’s blog writes: “[Frieden] emphasized the power of evidence to motivate policymakers and guide wise investments, and he argued that building countries’ capacity is essential to collecting and making use of data. ‘There are no shortcuts,’ the director said. ‘We have to build government health capacity.'” The post includes a full video of the event (Gannon, 5/6).

Cutting Foreign Aid ‘Makes No Sense’

“[T]here are no sound indications that cuts or reductions in foreign assistance support are merited. These programs are saving and enhancing lives all over the world,” according to a Council on Foreign Relations Expert Brief, which explores some of the questions Congress is likely to consider when it evaluates President Barack Obama’s foreign aid request. The brief concludes: “America embarked on a set of bold initiatives under President George W. Bush … The Obama administration foreign assistance proposals should be viewed as a continuum in that arc of American diplomacy, generosity and strategic thinking: Abandoning it, for the sake of sparing less than 1/100th of the federal budget, makes no sense” (Garrett, 5/6).

PEPFAR Commits Additional $30M To Scale Up Gender-Based Violence Prevention, Response Efforts In Tanzania, Mozambique, DRC

PEPFAR on Wednesday announced the decision to commit “an additional $30 million to support three partner countries – Tanzania, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo – in scaling up GBV [global-based violence] prevention and response efforts,” according to a State Department press release, which adds that the “commitment is part of PEPFAR’s broader gender response and reflects the Administration’s increased focus on gender outlined in the Global Health Initiative” (5/5). A second State Department press release notes that U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby and Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer will participate in a GBC consultation “to ensure efficient and coordinated scale-ups in the three countries” May 6-7 (5/5).

PLoS Medicine Policy Forum Looks At Challenges Associated With Negotiating Equitable Vaccine Access

A PLoS Medicine Policy Forum examines why “negotiating equitable access to influenza vaccines in the context of HPAI-H5N1[bird flu] and 2009-H1N1 [swine flu] has been, and promises to continue to be, a difficult diplomatic endeavor.” Several challenges highlighted include: “Existing international legal regimes on global health provide no templates for negotiating the new global access framework that WHO and others perceive is necessary. Similarly, negotiations for equitable access to resources, or the benefits of their exploitation, have generally failed in other areas of international relations, dimming prospects that precedents for a global access framework for pandemic influenza vaccines can be found outside the global health context” (Fidler, 5/4).

Report Recommends Strategies For Congress, Administration To Improve Global Health R&D

A new Global Health Technologies Coalition report recommends strategies U.S. policymakers could enact to strengthen U.S. global health research and development. The report also addresses how the U.S. can increase its coordination with domestic and international stakeholders in an effort to get global health tools to reach their intended populations around the world (April 2010).

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