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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report - Friday, March 23, 2012

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In the News

Clinton Announces U.S. Water Partnership To Address Global Water Challenges

Speaking at State Department headquarters in recognition of World Water Day on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "announced a new partnership of organizations to apply the nation's abundant experience in water issues to solving global water challenges," according to IIP Digital. "The partnership will bring together more than 30 agencies, institutions and advocacy organizations with diverse experience and knowledge of water issues," the news service writes (Porter, 3/22). The U.S. Water Partnership will "creat[e] a platform for fostering new partnerships among the U.S.-based private sector and the non-profit, academic, scientific, and expert communities" and "will mobilize the 'Best-of-America' to provide safe drinking water and sanitation and improve water resources management worldwide," according to a State Department press release (3/22). "Something as simple as better access to water and sanitation can improve the quality of life and reduce the disease burden for billions of people," Clinton saidVOA News notes (3/22).

Water Scarcity May Cause Global Instability, U.S. Intelligence Agencies Say In Report

U.S. intelligence agencies released a report (.pdf) on Thursday warning that "[d]rought, floods and a lack of fresh water may cause significant global instability and conflict in the coming decades, as developing countries scramble to meet demand from exploding populations while dealing with the effects of climate change," the Associated Press reports (Lee, 3/22). "The Intelligence Community Assessment report says the water challenges will increase regional tensions and distract countries from working with the U.S. on important issues," VOA News writes, noting, "The report's purpose was to assess the impact of global water issues on U.S. security interests over the next 30 years" (3/22).

The report includes a section on how lack of access to water and sanitation increases disease risk, where the authors write, "Water scarcity -- driven in part by poor or inadequate water infrastructure -- forces populations to rely on unsafe sources of drinking water, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid fever." The report adds, "Furthermore, water diversion projects (e.g., dams, reservoirs, and irrigation systems) cause waters to be stagnant or slow-moving, which creates favorable conditions for increased populations of disease-transmitting vectors such as mosquitoes (e.g., dengue, malaria), flies (e.g., onchocerciasis), snails (e.g., schistosomiasis), or copepods (e.g., Guinea worm)" (2/2).

U.N. SG Calls For 'Global Solidarity' In Fight Against TB

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday during a visit to the Institute of Respiratory Medicine in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, "urged countries to step up their efforts to prevent tuberculosis (TB)" and "called for 'intensified global solidarity to ensure that the children and people of all the countries get medical support, so that they can breathe with health,'" the U.N. News Centre reports. Speaking ahead of World TB Day on March 24, Ban said "that countries have the means to prevent unnecessary deaths, but need to implement policies that not only raise awareness about the issue but provide accessible health care to their citizens," according to the news service. In 2011, 1.4 million people died of TB, the news service notes (2/22).

Additional information on World TB Day is available from the Stop TB Partnership and the CDC.

NGOs Release Joint Statement Calling For Governments To Increase Payments To Global Fund To Fill Gap In TB Funding

Ahead of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24, three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) released a joint statement warning that "[a] $1.7 billion funding shortfall to fight [TB] over the next five years means 3.4 million patients will go untreated and gains made against the disease will be reversed," Reuters reports. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance, the Stop AIDS Campaign and Results UK said in the statement that the cancellation of Round 11 grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was endangering the expansion of treatment and prevention programs, the news agency notes. The statement "called on governments to scale up funding of TB, HIV and malaria programs at a G20 meeting in Mexico in June in an effort to replenish the Global Fund with $2 billion," according to Reuters (Mollins, 3/23).

Swazi, South African Activists March To U.S. Consulate In Johannesburg To Call For Emergency Global Fund Meeting

"Almost a thousand Swazi and South African HIV activists marched to the United States consulate in Johannesburg on [Thursday] to demand that the U.S. continue supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria, and safeguard funding of its President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)," PlusNews reports. "The march organizers -- a coalition of international and regional HIV organizations, including the global medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the World AIDS Campaign, and the AIDS Rights Alliance Southern Africa -- also called on the British and Australian governments to join their American counterparts in kick-starting a response to solve the Global Fund's financial crisis," according to the news service.

"Without an emergency donor meeting, the Fund -- already in need of at least $2 billion -- will only secure additional funding at its next scheduled replenishment in 2014," PlusNews writes, noting, "Representatives from MSF, Section27 and the South African AIDS lobby group Treatment Action Campaign, were to meet with consular and PEPFAR representatives to discuss their concerns." The news service highlights a new MSF report, titled "Losing Ground," (.pdf) which, "[i]n addition to an emergency Global Fund donor meeting and replenishment, ... recommends that countries adopt innovative funding mechanisms like financial transaction taxes to support HIV care and treatment" (3/23).

Slight Drop In Infant, Child, Maternal Mortality Indicators For Africa, Report Says

According to a report (.pdf) drafted by the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union (A.U.) Commission that reviews the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for Africa, the continent recorded a slight drop in infant, child, and maternal mortality in 2011,PANA/Afrique en ligne reports. Released at a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday, the report showed that while North African nations are making good progress on maternal, infant, and child mortality indicators, countries in sub-Saharan Africa still lag behind U.N. goals for reducing mortality, the news service reports. In sub-Saharan Africa, the under-five mortality rate fell from 174 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 121 per 1,000 live births in 2009, and at least 24 nations in the region had a maternal mortality rate above 500 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008, according to PANA (3/23).

Editorials & Opinions

Lancet Editorial Calls For TB Control, Elimination Efforts To Be On G20 Agenda

In anticipation of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, commemorated on March 24, this Lancet editorial examines TB control and elimination efforts in 2012 and beyond. "Tuberculosis killed 1.45 million people in 2010 and about 500,000 people have drug-resistant disease," the editorial states, adding, "Despite a woeful funding gap in 2012 of $1.7 billion, tuberculosis incidence is falling (from 9.4 million in 2009 to 8.8 million in 2010)." The editorial notes, "Ten new or repurposed tuberculosis drugs are in Phase II or III trials, which hopefully will reduce treatment times to about four months, compared with present multidrug-resistant tuberculosis regimens lasting 18-24 months," adding, "Faster treatment will greatly improve adherence, reduce transmission, and cut costs."

The editorial continues, "An ambitious target to be discussed on World TB Day is that of zero children dying from tuberculosis by 2015. To reach this goal, sustaining the gains seen so far and improving case finding will be vital." The editorial concludes, "Some observers argue a broader vision is needed, pursuing zero infections, zero deaths, and zero stigma from tuberculosis for people of all ages. Both these objectives will require commitment at the highest political levels and should be on the agenda when G20 leaders meet in Mexico in June" (3/24).

Africa Must Develop Its Own Pharmaceutical Pipeline Through Creation Of Policy Frameworks

"To break free of its dependence on donor money and supplies from India, Africa must develop its own pharmaceutical pipeline by creating policy frameworks that encourage a fledgling drug industry," journalist Priya Shetty argues in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. "Although India's drug industry continues to churn out generics against killer diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, there is no end to resistance from global pharmaceutical companies wanting to extend the duration of market exclusivity on their brand-name drugs to prevent competition from generics," she writes, and notes, "The Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) forum, to be held in South Africa in April 2012, will discuss how resource-poor nations can become more self-sufficient."

"There's another reason why African countries should experiment with developing a drugs industry -- the least-developed nations have until 2016 before they are bound by the international agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), which dictates patent protection for new drugs," she continues. "Africa will not bolster its pharmaceutical capacity without considerable incentive -- by subsidizing land to build manufacturing plants, for example, or reducing import taxes on chemicals -- from national governments, and perhaps from donors in the short term," she writes, concluding, "It will require extraordinary collaboration between industry and government agencies. But if it works, it will produce the most important set of public-private partnerships yet" (3/22).

Recent Releases

World Water Day Resources Available From USAID, 'DataBlog'

USAID's water team on Thursday, World Water Day, published a new edition of their Global Waters Magazine to recognize the day, according to USAID's IMPACTblog. The issue is available as an e-zine or a downloadable file (3/22). Also on Thursday, the Guardian's "DataBlog" published graphics depicting the latest data from UNICEF and the WHO, which "show targets for safe drinking water are being met ahead of time" (Evans, 3/22).

Efforts Must Continue To Bring Clean Water, Sanitation, Food To The World

In a post on Science Blogs' "The Pump Handle," Liz Borkowski, a research associate at the George Washington University School of Public Health's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, recognizes World Water Day, discusses the importance of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and writes, "This World Water Day is both a celebration of an achievement and a reminder that we still have a long way to go before everyone has the water, sanitation, and food needed to live healthy lives" (3/22).

'The Hunger Games' Film Could Raise Awareness About Hunger

In this post in State Department's "DipNote" blog, Paul Weisenfeld, assistant to the administrator of the USAID Bureau of Food Security, writes of the new film "The Hunger Games," "I was struck by how much the premise relates to the very heart of what we are trying to address at USAID and through Feed the Future." He continues, "Among other themes, the [film] touches on the fundamental right everyone should have: access to food," and concludes that the movie is "an entry point for discussion and engagement on a very real issue based on an incredible pop culture success. If it gets people talking about hunger, the need for political will and access to resources, the consequences of inaction, and the transformative power of our collective commitment, that -- for me -- is a success beyond any box office record the film might set" (3/22).

Bringing Together NTD And WASH Sectors Of Public Health

In this post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases' "End the Neglect" blog, Stephanie Ogden -- a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and neglected tropical disease (NTD) consultant with Emory's Center for Global Safe Water, Children Without Worms, and the International Trachoma Initiative -- writes about a partnership among these organizations "that will encourage actionable dialogue and increased coordination between the NTD and WASH sectors." She concludes, "I see more than ever that it will be essential for those in the WASH and NTD sectors to form long-term partnerships to achieve their common goals for health and development" (3/22).

Polio Eradication Must Be Achieved Or World Risks Rise In Number Of Cases

In this BMJ Group blogs post, Richard Smith, editor of the BMJ until 2004 and director of the United Health Group's chronic disease initiative, examines whether efforts to eradicate polio can be successful, writing, "Despite the problems of geography, war, insurgency, politics, communication, finance, and people management, there are optimistic signs, said ... Sir Liam Donaldson, former chief medical officer in England and now chair of the International Monitoring Board for the Global Polio Eradication Programme." He continues, "This is, [Donaldson] concluded, a 'unique moment in public health': with one last heave the disease could be eradicated, but if it isn't financial backing will disappear, health workers will not be paid, systems will break down, and cases of polio will rise back into the tens or hundreds of thousands" (3/22)

Blog Posts Comment On World TB Day

Several blog posts recently commented on the upcoming World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, commemorated on March 24. "Despite a clear legislative mandate, the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI) has consistently failed to live up to the goals of" the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), and Malaria Reauthorization Act, passed by Congress in 2008, John Fawcett, legislative director for RESULTS, writes in the Center for Global Health Policy's "Science Speaks" blog. He continues, "Current GHI TB treatment goals are less than 60 percent of what was mandated in the Lantos-Hyde Act," and concludes, "As the final authorized fiscal year of the Lantos-Hyde Act is debated, there's still time to embrace its mandate: a bold effort to confront the world’s leading curable infectious killer" (Mazzotta, 3/22). "As people across the globe celebrate World TB Day this week, several groups are highlighting the fact that the current tools to prevent, test, and treat tuberculosis (TB) are greatly outdated," Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), writes in the GHTC "Breakthroughs" blog. She commends GHTC members for their efforts to develop new technologies (3/22).

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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