Newsletter

GHC News Flash: Global Health Roundup – 10/23/2017
WHO Requests Feedback on the WHO Director-General Election Process
In an ongoing effort to be more transparent, WHO has invited non-state actors to solicit feedback on the election process for the new Director-General through a confidential web-based public survey hosted on a secure WHO platform. The organization aspires to utilize the findings from the survey as well as data from other stakeholders to facilitate an informed discussion at the 142nd session of the Executive Board in January 2018.The deadline for the survey is October 31. Access the survey.


UNAIDS Launches New Coalition to Prioritize HIV Prevention
On October 10, the first meeting of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition was held in Geneva, Switzerland, showcasing a renewed commitment to the cause.  During the meeting, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and partners also launched the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map, which highlights 10 concrete steps that countries must take to accelerate progress in this area. The Coalition includes United Nations Member States, civil society, international organizations, and other partners dedicated to preventing the rise of new infections by 75 percent by 2020. Read the press release.


PATH Releases Recommendations on Engaging the Private Sector in the Global Health Landscape
As USAID is undergoing the next phase of the government reform process, a new policy paper from GHC member PATH, Innovating Foreign Assistance, Harnessing the Power of the Private Sector to Achieve US Global Health and Development Goals, offers recommendations for how the U.S. government can garner more private investment to overcome development challenges. This paper was developed with insights based on PATH’s 40 years of experience building partnerships with the public, private, and social sectors to achieve health and development results.


 NEWSBITES:

1) October 8 The U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID) recently awarded an A+ rating to GHC member IMA World Health-implemented Addressing Stunting in Tanzania Early (ASTUTE) program.
2) October 9GHJournalSearch is a centralized database of core peer-reviewed global health journals developed by the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Communication Programs’ Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project and GHC member Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), which will aid authors in locating the best platform for their intended publication.
3) October 11The release of the WHO Global Coordination Mechanism for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (GCM/NCD) Progress Report for 2014-2016 highlights achievements of global stakeholders who have worked to reduce the burden of NCDs.
4) October 13: GHC member Arogya World recently completed testing of a new nutrition tool, “My Thali,” which aims to encourage healthy eating habits among the urban demographic in India.
5) October 18: A new report from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners in the Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME), Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2017, reveals that the rate of newborn deaths is not decreasing as fast as the rate of deaths in children aged one to five.

Conquering Cervical Cancer Worldwide

This blog post was written by Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, and the nation’s leading advocacy organization helping to defeat cancer by educating the public, elected officials and candidates about cancer’s toll on public health. ACS CAN is a Global Health Council 2017 member.

We can end deaths from cervical cancer. It’s a simple, but perhaps unknown fact that cervical cancer can be prevented and treated successfully at a very low cost. Yet, an estimated 528,000 women develop cervical cancer globally each year, and nearly 266,000 women die from the disease.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most-common cancer in women worldwide and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in 38 low- and middle-income countries. In fact, about 87 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in less-developed regions.

The U.S. government has a significant role to play in ending deaths from cervical cancer. Because cervical cancer deaths are preventable and interventions are proven and cost-effective, we should be providing resources to protect women against this disease, just like we provide resources to save lives from childbirth and AIDS. That’s why ACS CAN is engaging with federal policymakers on the issue.

This year, ACS CAN launched a global campaign aimed at eliminating death from the disease. Deaths from cervical cancer can be eliminated in girls and women through increased access to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations, screening, and treatment in developing countries where U.S. global health programs are already assisting countries in need and addressing other health challenges.

If Congress takes immediate action, eliminating death from cervical cancer worldwide is an achievable goal.

On October 3, ACS CAN brought together health experts, cancer advocates and congressional staff for a panel discussion on Capitol Hill to examine the global burden of cervical cancer. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nita Lowey addressed the crowd and discussed their support for integrating cervical cancer prevention, screening, and treatment services into existing U.S. global health initiatives, specifically by incorporating language in the FY 2018 State and Foreign Operations appropriations.

Both the House and Senate have included language in their respective FY18 State and Foreign Operations appropriations reports. Language included in the Senate appropriations report would require the USAID to examine ways to utilize the HPV vaccine to significantly reduce mortality from cervical cancer in high-prevalence, low-income countries. As the bill moves through the appropriations process, ACS CAN urges Members of Congress to support this language in the final appropriations report.

Where you live should not determine if you live. As part of our global campaign, we’ve created a visual concept featuring a young girl, Grace. We believe that without cervical cancer standing in their way, all young girls like Grace, and women everywhere, can live productive lives and grow up to achieve anything they put their minds to.

To learn more about ACS CAN’s efforts in eliminating cervical cancer worldwide, visit www.acscan.org/globalcervical.

Microbicides: Innovative Solutions to Help Women Stay HIV-Free

This guest post was written by GHC Member International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM). IPM is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing new HIV prevention technologies for women and making them available in developing countries where the epidemic has hit hardest. IPM collaborates with a global network of public, private, philanthropic, academic and civil society partners to develop products designed to empower women with the tools they need to protect themselves against HIV and improve their sexual and reproductive health, so they can live healthy and productive lives.

Why do women continue to be at high risk for HIV? Social expectations, cultural norms and economic inequities all limit women’s ability to negotiate safe sex practices, or even select their partners or the timing of sex. Condoms, while highly effective, are simply not a feasible option for many women. Women are also biologically more susceptible to HIV infection than men.

As a result, HIV/AIDS remains a serious epidemic among women. It is the leading cause of death globally in women ages 15-49. In sub-Saharan Africa, infection rates among women are alarmingly high—young women there are at least twice as likely to become infected with HIV as young men, putting their sexual and reproductive health at risk.

How can we stem the tide of HIV infection among women?
Women urgently need new prevention options, particularly discreet methods they can use without partner involvement. Among the most promising women-centered products are vaginal microbicides, biomedical products being developed to protect women from HIV during vaginal sex. They could come in different forms—such as a monthly vaginal ring developed by the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) recently shown to reduce women’s HIV risk—and other products in early development like films and tablets.

The flexible silicone ring, which women insert and replace themselves each month, slowly releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine over the course of a month.

IPM’s dapivirine ring is the first long-acting HIV prevention method shown to safely reduce HIV risk and is under regulatory review.

What are the next steps for microbicides?
Several vaginal microbicides are being studied in preclinical studies or early-stage clinical trials. The most clinically advanced microbicide is IPM’s dapivirine vaginal ring, which is currently in open-label studies following late-stage efficacy trials. At the same time, IPM is seeking regulatory approval to license the product for public use. The monthly ring is under review by the European Medicines Agency and will be submitted to the South African Medicines Control Council and US Food and Drug Administration in 2018, followed by applications to additional regulatory agencies in Africa. The first regulatory decisions on the ring could come as early as 2019 in some African countries. If approved, the dapivirine ring would become the first microbicide licensed for HIV prevention.

Multipurpose products are also being developed that would offer women increased convenience by combining STI prevention and contraception in a single product. IPM has designed a three-month HIV prevention-contraceptive ring that entered its first safety clinical trial earlier this year.

 

How do microbicides fit in the HIV prevention landscape?
No one product will end the HIV epidemic. Women need multiple prevention options that they can choose from that makes sense for their lives, from monthly vaginal rings to daily oral ARV pills to products still in development like vaccines. Modeling studies show that a safe and effective microbicide like the dapivirine ring would have a significant impact on the epidemic while empowering women with tools they need to protect their sexual and reproductive health. And when women are healthier, so are their families and communities as a result.

The Fight against TB: The Forgotten Battle

This post was written by Nicole Cho, Global Health Council (GHC) Intern.

A nurse at the National Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital is checking out the medicine for a patient. Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tuberculosis (TB) is a worldwide public health problem. The incident of TB is much higher in developing countries such as Bangladesh. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 570000 people are currently suffering from TB disease in Bangladesh. Every year more than 300,000 people develop TB and 66,000 TB-related deaths occur in Bangladesh. Every day patients get admitted in TB Hospital (NIDCH) National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital in Dhaka and sometimes they have to wait a long time for a bed to become available. Across the country, every day, nearly 50 patients come to meet the doctors in this hospital. Drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) is increasingly spreading from person to person in places around the world, with some countries reporting up to 35% of new TB cases as multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB). Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) has now been reported in 100 countries, accounting for an estimated 9% of all MDR-TB cases. Globally, access to proper treatment is drastically low: only one person in five with MDR-TB receives treatment; the rest are left to die, increasing the risk to their families and communities and fuelling the epidemic.

Tuberculosis (TB), the bacterial infection that mainly infects the lungs and is believed to have caused more deaths than famines and wars combined, is often seen as an ailment of the past. This conception seems true because sanitariums for consumption are no longer in practice and drugs are now available to treat the infection; however, TB has not been eradicated and it may be worse than ever before.

Before medication for TB was discovered, it was commonplace practice to force patients into respiratory isolation, so the disease could be contained. This method was used because of stigma, the highly transmittable nature of the active illness, and the belief that fresh air would help cure the illness. However, after extensive research on the disease and the discovery of antibiotics for TB, the practice of quarantine was no longer necessary.

Antibiotics enabled afflicted patients to be cured by consuming oral agents to inhibit Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes infection. Sadly, this innovation and joyous victory against the disease was short lived because the illness resurged in the 1980s due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the development of resistance to treatment in certain strains of the bacteria. Resistance to antibiotics has become a dangerous public health threat because Mycobacterium tuberculosis is not only resistant to just one antibiotic, but to multiple, leading to Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB and Extensively Drug Resistant (XDR) TB. With a lack of funding and awareness, tuberculosis could become extremely difficult to treat and fatal.

According to the World Health Organization, TB is among the top 10 causes of death worldwide and causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS and Malaria. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one-third of the world’s population is afflicted with TB and this number is slowly increasing.

The prevalence and negative impact of TB are especially growing in communities that lack access to quality healthcare, and in highly susceptible groups, such as the immuno-compromised and those who live in poverty. How have we forgotten about something that afflicts a third of our population and is a leading cause of death?

With a growing number of life-threatening diseases and a lack of funding, advocates for TB research have to fight for resources and support. Unfortunately, donors and governments are reluctant to give aid to what they believe is an outdated and treatable illness, when there are diseases, like Zika or Ebola, to worry about. Furthermore, as TB does not afflict as many Americans as other diseases do, we tend to forget about all the other global citizens who are suffering from the infection. Moreover, since the bacteria tends to infect people in low-income countries, there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to research new prevention and treatment methods. So what happens if we continue with this trend and ignore tuberculosis?

 

Devoid of new attention or funds to the cause, many people will be negatively affected. Without new, fast acting treatment, tuberculosis could take longer to cure and treatment could fail. Medical expenses would rise, people would miss days of work, and quality of life would greatly decline. Sick people in low-income countries would have a harder time accessing effective combination drug therapies and others would become infected with MDR-TB. Local public health departments could go bankrupt, trying to treat and study XDR-TB cases. This calamity can be avoided if more attention is brought to this cause.

To increase support for this cause and win the battle, we must initiate discussion, disseminate knowledge, and reduce prejudice toward those with the disease. The burden for the fight for research and new technology cannot be solely placed on those who are afflicted by TB; rather, it requires a community effort, the global community, because TB is a threat to all, even those in the United States.

 

PATH’s Markets Matter Advocacy Guide

 

VIEW THE FINAL PAPER IN THE SERIES

One of global health’s biggest challenges—and opportunities—lies in strengthening the markets that make health products and services available to those that need them most. However, these markets can’t function properly without supportive policies, and policies require support from advocates and policymakers to be effective.

PATH’s new Markets Matter Advocacy Guide: How advocates can strengthen markets to improve access to essential health products makes understanding markets easy and provides the tools to advocate their value to policymakers and other key decision-makers successfully.

The latest addition to PATH’s Stronger Health Advocates Greater Health Impact series, contains an overview of market actors and identifies policies and advocacy entry points for civil society. It also provides examples of how advocates have engaged in market issues to bring about change with:

1) National medicine policies.
2) Health product regulation.
3) Policies affecting provision of health products by private pharmacies and drug shops.
4) Public-sector procurement policies.
5) Taxes and duties on essential health products.