IHSJ Reader April 2012 Issue 22
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US Candidate Is Chosen to Lead the World Bank (Annie Lowrey, The New York Times, April 16, 2012)
On Monday, April 16th, the World Bank selected its next president: Dr. Jim Yong Kim, co-founder of Partners In Health and president of Dartmouth College. As the president of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim will be instrumental in advancing pro-poor strategies for achieving the broad mandate of the World Bank—including reducing global poverty.
GLOBAL HEALTH FUNDING
Global Health Funding and Economic Development (Greg Martin, Alexandrea Grant, Mark D’Agostino, Globalization and Health, April 10, 2012)
Despite consisting of predominantly caring individuals, society as a whole fails to translate individual empathy into the collective action necessary to stop millions from dying of preventable and treatable diseases. This editorial argues that in order to increase investments in global health commensurate with the need, global health must be acknowledged not only as a moral imperative, but as an engine of economic growth in four ways. First, healthier populations are more economically productive; second, strong public health systems save costs associated with lack of care; third, improved health itself represents an economic end; and fourth, investments in health care have an economic multiplier effect by increasing demand across the economy.
Vaccination Against Cholera Finally Begins In Haiti (Richard Knox, NPR, April 12, 2012)
Haiti’s National Ethics Committee approved the launch of a cholera vaccination campaign in mid-April. Partners In Health has started vaccinating 50,000 people living in a rural community in the Artibonite River Valley; the other 50,000 vaccines will be delivered by GHESKIO in Port-au-Prince. Since cholera was first detected in Haiti eighteen months ago, the Ministry of Health has documented 530,000 cases and more than 7,000 deaths from this curable disease. This vaccine will serve as one step in a comprehensive approach to ending the cholera epidemic that includes dramatic improvements in water and sanitation infrastructure.
A New Resolution for Global Mental Health (Rebecca Hock, Flora Or, Kavitha Kolappa, Matthew Burkey, Pamela Surkan, William Eaton, The Lancet, April 14, 2012)
The authors of this comment applaud the World Health Organization for adopting a resolution calling for a response to the global burden of mental illness, while encouraging all actors, including the WHO, UN member states, caregivers, and civil society groups to increase investments in mental health. Currently, one fifth of all nations allocate less than 1% of their health budgets to mental health care despite the fact that mental illness is the most common cause of disability globally.
ACCESS TO MEDICINE
Judgment on Generic Medicines – Kenya’s First Victory on the Right to Health (Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & AIDS, April 23, 2012)
In 2008, the Kenyan government passed the Anti-Counterfeit Act in response to the importation of counterfeit medicines. Unfortunately, the language of the Act confused counterfeiting with patent infringement, so also threatened the importation of generic medicines. Three people filed suit shortly after this law was passed, arguing that inhibiting the flow of generic medications, including antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV/AIDS, was a violation of their right to life, human dignity, and health. Last week the Kenyan High Court ruled that sections of the Anti-Counterfeit Act of 2008 will not apply to generics.
WHO Says Give AIDS Drugs Earlier to Check the Spread of HIV (Sarah Boseley, The Guardian, April 19, 2012)
Guidance on couples HIV testing and counseling, including antiretroviral therapy for treatment and prevention in serodiscordant couples
Groundbreaking research in 2011 showed that antiretroviral treatment not only saves lives, but also reduces the chance of transmitting HIV to an uninfected sexual partner by 96%. The World Health Organization released new guidelines recommending that anyone living with HIV who has an uninfected partner be started on treatment as soon as possible. Continued advocacy is needed to pressure donors to increase support for HIV/AIDS treatment programs in order to implement these recommendations.
How Malawi Fed Its Own People (Jeffrey Sachs, The New York Times, April 19, 2012)
Following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi earlier this month, development economist Jeffrey Sachs reflects on one positive legacy: the agricultural input subsidy program. Mutharika’s government pioneered a national subsidy program to help millions of smallholder farmers buy the seeds and fertilizer necessary to improve agricultural yields. Not only did the program defy free market economic prescriptions, but it has been credited with spurring wider economic growth, poverty reduction, and increased food availability for the nation’s poor—the majority of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. This success story demonstrates why country governments must have the policy space to make deliberate investments where they see potential for sustainable development.
Malawi’s First Female President: A Quiet and Earth Shaking Victory (Joia Mukherjee and Jonas Rigodon, The Huffington Post, April 13, 2012)
Sometimes the lives and experiences of leaders serve as rays of hope. President Joyce Banda is one such leader. Her dedication to advancing women’s rights and the right to health and education has already helped reduce the structural causes of poverty and premature death in some of Malawi’s hardest-to-reach communities. In this op-ed, Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health, and Jonas Rigodon, Malawi Country Director, Partners In Health/Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo, commend President Banda’s commitment to civil society and government engagement on human rights and look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Malawi to strengthen the health sector in the rural district of Neno and improve TB care nationwide.
Obstructed Labor and Caesarean Delivery: The Cost and Benefit of Surgical Intervention (John Meara, Paul Farmer, et al., PLoS One, April 25, 2012)
The major causes of maternal mortality—hemorrhage, sepsis, hypertensive disorders, and obstructed labor—cannot always be predicted, but they can be effectively treated if facilities are accessible, well-equipped, and appropriately staffed. Yet each year, nearly 275,000 women die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. This new study from Harvard Medical School calculates the economic benefit of providing Caesarean deliveries in cases of obstructed labor. Across a sample size of 49 developing countries, every $1 invested in this surgical procedure generated an average of $6 in productivity gained from preventing death and disability. These findings confirm that investing in the training, staffing, and infrastructure needed to provide surgical interventions such as Caesarean delivery not only saves lives, but is highly cost-effective.
Family Planning: Making the Fundamental Human Right a Reality (Babatunde Osotimehin, The Huffington Post, April 9, 2012)
Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund applauds David Cameron and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on their announcement of a summit in July dedicated to raising funds for voluntary family planning. When women are counseled, educated, and provided with contraceptive options, they are more likely to delay childbearing, have fewer children, and reduce their risk for obstetrical complications. However, an estimated 215 million women in developing countries lack access to modern contraceptives, contributing to more than 100,000 maternal deaths every year. The outcomes from this summit in July will hopefully address this unmet need by expanding the availability of family planning services.
No Woman, No Cry Trailer (Christy Turlington Burns, Every Mother Counts)
Every 90 seconds a woman dies from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Learn more by watching the trailer to “No Woman, No Cry,” a powerful movie dedicated to sharing the stories of pregnant women in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and the United States. Every Mother Counts has multiple opportunities for those committed to reducing maternal mortality to raise awareness and funding to eliminate maternal deaths.
Congressional Briefing on Cholera in Haiti (Georgetown University Law School O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and Center for Economic and Policy Research, April 18 2012)
Watch a videotaped recording of the April 18, 2012 briefing on Capitol Hill. Representatives John Conyers and Maxine Waters share their concern about the epidemic and panel members address the health, infrastructure, legal, and aid policy implications of the outbreak and response to it.