IHSJ Reader     November 2011     Issue 12         

Note: Triple asterisk (***) indicates subscription-only sources.


How We Can Save Millions of Lives (Paul Farmer, Washington Post, November 17, 2011)
Partners In Health exists to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care, because every year, nearly ten million people die of entirely preventable and treatable diseases. The vast majority of the world’s poor still lack access to the medicine, food, and water that would prevent these “stupid” deaths. Still, public health victories are possible. In only ten years, antiretroviral therapy (ART) for AIDS has gone from being virtually unavailable in developing nations to being provided for more than 6 million people. Initiatives like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM) have made many global public health advances possible, but this progress can only be sustained through robust political and financial support for global health programs.

Innovation with Impact: Financing 21st Century Development (Bill Gates, November 2011) +
Bill Gates’s Plan to Assist the World’s Poor (Bill Gates, Washington Post, November 1, 2011)
Bill Gates’ report to the G20 heads of state calls on global leaders to fundamentally shift the way we think about financing development. In addition to the vital role of official development assistance (ODA), Gates argues that a financial transaction tax is feasible and could generate substantial resources--to the tune of $48 billion annually. Other opportunities for revenue include: legally binding measures to enforce transparency in the oil, gas and mining sector; advanced market commitments for new products; innovative partnerships with emerging economies such as China and Brazil; taxes on tobacco and shipping; and minimal transaction costs on remittances. Meanwhile, wealthy countries such as the US should take steps to invest 0.7% of GNP in poverty-focused ODA and improve the effectiveness of aid.



Making Nutrition a Sustainable Business in Haiti (Duff Wilson, New York Times, November 1, 2011)
Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) is a vital tool in the fight against child malnutrition.  In 2007, PIH and our Haitian sister organizations began manufacturing RUTF locally. In 2010, Zanmi Agrikol (Haitian Creole for “Partners In Agriculture") manufactured 56 tons of Nourimanba and Zanmi Lasante (“Partners In Health”) effectively treated thousands of severely malnourished Haitian children. Partners In Health believes that high quality RUTF should be produced locally wherever possible to increase access to treatment and strengthen local economies. This partnership with Abbott Laboratories will increase the quality and quantity of Nourimanba production in Haiti.

Over 5,000 Haitian Cholera Victims Sue UN, Seeking Justice (Press Release, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, November 8, 2011)
On November 3rd, over 5,000 Haitians affected by the devastating cholera epidemic submitted claims to the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). In addition to seeking a public apology for MINUSTAH’s introduction of cholera into Haiti, the victims’ claims demand individual financial compensation, in some cases, for loss of family members. These claims are based on the UN and MINUSTAH’s liability in failing to screen and treat peacekeeping soldiers, dumping untreated wastes into a tributary of the Artibonite River, and failing to adequately respond to the epidemic that has killed over 6,600 Haitians.

New Haiti Cholera Campaign Faces Tough Questions (Trenton Daniel, The Guardian, November 9, 2011)
Partners In Health and GHESKIO will be rolling out a cholera vaccination campaign in January 2012 as part of a comprehensive approach to slowing cholera in Haiti. Complementary interventions include continuing to educate communities on prevention measures, providing access to clean water and latrines, treating infected patients, and advocating to build water and sanitation systems. Representatives from the WHO and other organizations have expressed doubt as to the success of the vaccination program because of the purported complexities that surround it (each patient must receive two doses and the vaccine must be stored at a refrigerated facility). However, strong community connections and the extensive community health worker network will make it possible for PIH and our partners to successfully reach and retain patients.



 A TB Breakthrough: The “Espresso” Machine (John Donnelly, GlobalPost, November 13, 2011)
In this GlobalPost article, John Donnelly explores the opportunities and challenges surrounding the GeneXpert tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic (aka “espresso”) machine in the Philippines. The standard way of diagnosing TB typically takes weeks in low-resource settings--and depends on technology that has been around for more than half a century. With the introduction of DNA-based rapid diagnosis, patients with access to GeneXpert technology can receive test results for TB and multidrug-resistant TB in just two hours. Robust contributions to the Global Fund as well as long-term bilateral and local government funding will be vital to ensuring an equitable distribution of GeneXpert in poor countries and driving down costs for public health systems.   

Out of the Dark: Meeting the Needs of Children with TB (Medecins Sans Frontieres, October 26, 2011)
TB in children remains a neglected issue and receives insufficient funding for research and appropriate pediatric drug formulations. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) main strategy for identifying and managing cases of TB is largely ineffective for children under the age of ten who tend to have smear-negative forms of TB.  Equally alarming, pediatric drug formulations which correspond to WHO dosage guidelines are not being produced. Despite the current state of pediatric TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, awareness is on the rise, and advocates should continue pushing donors and the international community to achieve zero TB deaths among children.



Closing the Cancer Divide: A Blueprint to Expand Access in Low and Middle Income Countries (Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries, November 4, 2011)
More than two-thirds of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries where the poor largely lack access to health care. Yet the expansion of cancer care into low-resource settings is impeded by myths about the burden of disease and the affordability and feasibility of treatment. Most pernicious is the notion that treating cancer is inappropriate because it would reapportion funding reserved for communicable diseases.  This report identifies a series of interventions to dispel these harmful myths, and makes the case for expanding access to cancer care in low- and middle-income countries.



Call to Action on Global eHealth Evaluation (Hamish Fraser, GHDonline, October 20, 2011)
With funding from various development agencies, many eHealth projects have sprung up over the past decade, but the value of these systems has yet to be determined. Several months ago, a group of eHealth experts convened to address the crucial need for comprehensive evaluation; this statement is their first call to action. As a learning organization, Partners In Health emphasizes the importance of feedback loops, and prioritizes the sharing of information across sites to improve the quality of care.



Creating and AIDS-Free Generation (Secretary Clinton, National Institutes of Health, November 8, 2011)
In this highly-anticipated address, Secretary Clinton announces the Obama Administration’s new policy priority of “creating an AIDS-free generation”. The rhetorical shift marks a major advancement in the Administration’s commitment to scale up AIDS antiretroviral treatment (which has been shown to reduce transmission by 96% among discordant couples), eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and strengthen health systems. Strong leadership from the White House is critical to protecting life-saving global health and foreign assistance programs from Congressional budget cuts. If President Obama builds upon Secretary Clinton’s announcement with bold new treatment targets, the vision of an AIDS-free generation could become reality.

Re-imagining Accompaniment in Global Health: Global Health and Liberation Theology (Paul Farmer, Gustavo Gutierrez, Kellogg Institute, Nov, 7, 2011)
Listen to Paul Farmer and the acclaimed father of liberation theology, Gustavo Gutierrez, discuss the structural drivers of poverty and the importance of “accompaniment”. This video offers a unique chance to hear Dr. Farmer and Father Gutierrez ruminate on the issues that have driven much of the philosophy behind the work of PIH.