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GHC NEWS FLASH: GLOBAL HEALTH ROUNDUP 4/17/2017

GHC at CUGH and GlobeMed
Early this month, GHC President and Executive Director Loyce Pace participated in two key events that engaged university-based stakeholders. At the GlobeMed Summit in Chicago, Loyce led a workshop on the power of storytelling for advocacy. GlobeMed students and alumni members offered insightful takeaways about online initiatives and developed mock campaigns for specific audiences and channels that incorporated potential calls to action. She spoke on a student-led panel the following weekend at the 2017 CUGH Conference about what we need most from the next generation of global health leaders. Now, more than ever, we must build our capacity across the community to respond to challenges faced by global health. GHC is ready to equip new advocates with the tools they need to be successful. To that end, GHC will host an advocacy session at the next CORE Group meeting and deliver an address at SwitchPoint in an effort to motivate and mobilize global health implementers worldwide. We hope to see you at these events!


Upcoming GHC Webinars
Global Financing Facility (GFF) Spring Webinar Series On April 21, GHC and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) will co-host a briefing in preparation for the GFF Investors Group April Meeting. The briefing will be held via webinar and in-person in Washington, DC. A key discussion item on the agenda is the integration of feedback received from the recent public consultation on the draft GFF Civil Society Engagement Strategy. View registration details.

World Health Assembly (WHA) Policy Scrums – The second WHA Policy Scrum will be held on April 25 via webinar and will focus on the U.S. government’s future engagement with WHO in preparation for the upcoming WHA. If you missed our first WHA Policy Scrum, you can catch-up on the main takeaways from the session or listen to the full recording. View registration details.


New Global Initiative Aims to Reduce Medication Errors
Unsafe medication practices and errors are a leading cause of injury and healthcare-associated harm around the world. WHO estimates the global cost associated with medication errors at $42 billion annually – almost 1% of total global health expenditure.  In response to this, WHO has launched the Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety to address weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors which result in severe harm to patients. The Challenge aims to make improvements in each stage of the medication use process: prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring, and use. It will focus on four major areas: patients and the public; health care professionals; medicines as products; and systems and practices of medication. Read more.


Call for Participation in Annual HIV/AIDS Resource Tracking Project
Funders Concerned about AIDS (FCAA) requests your participation in the annual HIV/AIDS resource tracking project. FCAA is currently compiling data on HIV/AIDS-related grants disbursed in calendar year 2016. The FCAA resource tracking project consists of three main tools: the annual report, Philanthropic Support to Address HIV/AIDS; the online funding map, which currently provides total funding and engaged philanthropic organizations per region, country, and U.S. state; and subsequent analysis in the form of blogs, infographics, presentations, and articles, which provide a deep dive on funding for a specific issue, population or geography. Submitted data will inform the three mentioned tools. If you would like to contribute, please review FCAA’s data privacy policy and submit a list of your HIV/AIDS-related grants, with grant descriptions, to Caterina Gironda by May 6.


Integrating Cervical Cancer Prevention with HIV Programs
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and GHC member Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon recently signed an agreement to collaborate on programming to prevent cervical cancer. This new alliance aims to increase access to cost-effective cervical cancer prevention and treatment services for HIV-positive women, who are up to five times more likely to develop cervical cancer. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon will work with countries to integrate cervical cancer programming into their HIV/AIDS grants from the Global Fund. The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has applauded this new funding channel. Read more.


Exploring Sound Integration of People-Centered Health Services
Last month, GHC member RTI International held a panel discussion exploring areas of action and measurement on integrated health service delivery. The discussion focused on how to further build the evidence base for the integration of health services and touched on topics, including people-centered approaches, governance, public-private collaboration, health information, and financing. In a recent medium blog, Christina Bisson, Senior Health Systems Strengthening Specialist at RTI International, highlights some of the top takeaways from the event. You can also listen to the full recording of the panel session and follow the online discussion for a complete event recap.

 

Cervical Cancer vs. Womankind: Game, Set, Match

A girl in Than Hoa, Vietnam, reads the leaflet provided to her before receiving the cervical cancer vaccine, as her mother anxiously awaits the procedure. © 2010 Amynah Janmohamed, Courtesy of Photoshare.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-altering experience that can be summed up in one word — fear. Irrespective of an individual’s geographic location, socioeconomic status, gender, education, religion, or ethnicity, cancer provokes this universal response.

Today cancer remains one of the most frightening diagnoses for a patient. This is primarily because even with all the advances in medicine and health care over the last century, when it comes to dealing with most cancers, successful management still seems to boil down to a great degree of luck. Luck that the cancer is identified in time; luck that the cancer is less aggressive than the treatment; luck that an individual even has access to treatment; and luck that one is in the right physical shape to see the fight to the finish.

Indeed luck carries a great deal of weight in beating most cancers, but this should not be the case with cervical cancer – a battle that should be over before it even begins. Cervical cancer is almost exclusively the consequence of long-term infection by two strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Modern medicine has provided a safe and effective vaccine that can be administered to adolescent girls and young women, offering them adequate protection before they ever come into contact with HPV. Yet despite this remarkable intervention, the World Health Organization (WHO) and several other sources report that cervical cancer is still the second most-common cancer among women in poor countries; and the fourth most-common cancer among women universally.

Robust screenings, effective treatments, and HPV vaccinations have contributed to cervical cancer rates dropping dramatically in many high-income countries over the past 30 years. Progress has been much slower in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which account for more than 90% of the mortality from cervical cancer that occurs today. This huge disparity is mostly  due to competing health demands in the developing world, such as: infectious diseases, WASH, and maternal and child health, which often take priority over cancer and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) during budget allocation.

Only 5% of global cancer resources are spent in LMICs; however, current trends make a compelling case for governments in poor countries to increase investments towards the overall management of NCDs. By 2030, NCDs, including cancer, are expected to overtake mortality from infectious diseases in developing countries.

As it stands, the majority of LMICs are ill-prepared and too poorly financed to cope with the heavy burden of cancer that is projected to double every five years due to dramatic changes in lifestyle, increasing urbanization, and aging populations. Poor countries already face severe challenges in managing the existing load of cancer patients today, including: a shortage of specialized health workers and inadequate healthcare infrastructure. This makes preventative measures for highly prevalent malignancies like cervical cancer all the more urgent.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 67 countries globally had introduced HPV vaccinations in their national immunization programs by October 2016. Coverage rates for most of Southeast Asia and Africa, where the highest prevalence exists, still remain very low. Periodic roll-outs of cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination campaigns have shown promising results in reaching more women, but it is imperative for governments to establish more routine and consistent access to services by integrating and enhancing HIV/AIDS and family planning programs to include cervical cancer prevention and management efforts.

Several of GHC’s member organizations are at the forefront of implementing sustainable programs for cervical cancer prevention and expansion of screening services. Jhpiego has done tremendous work in Côte  D’Ivoire and Botswana; reaching tens of thousands of women with its low-cost screen-and-treat approach. PATH’s HPV vaccination projects in India, Peru, Vietnam, and Uganda laid the groundwork for effective vaccine introduction and contributed to a decision made by the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) to subsidize the HPV vaccine for poor countries.

In 2013, GAVI made strong commitments to accelerate HPV vaccine uptake, with the aim of vaccinating over 30 million girls in more than 40 countries by 2020. Vaccinating this large portion of the population will strengthen the immunity of the entire population.

As we commemorate World Cancer Day on February 4, we celebrate the tremendous strides that have been made in tackling cancer globally while also recognizing the work ahead. With more political will, resource mobilization, task-shifting, and collaboration, we have a rare opportunity to take one battle to the finish line. Let’s end cervical cancer for all of womankind!

Business Loan Saves Woman From Cervical Cancer

Johnson & Johnson’s Joy Marini on a program that bundles microloans with health services

“I’ve survived cervical cancer. I am here today because of the impact Pro Mujer has had in my life.”

Reading that quote, you might not realize Pro Mujer is actually a women’s development organization that uses microfinance as one of many tools to connect women with small loans to start businesses and gain greater financial independence. But Edelma Altamirano, a Nicaraguan woman who first came to the organization seeking seed money for her own small business, ended up with a new investment in something much more important – her health.

How would a woman get a microloan and a health screening from the same organization? It may not be intuitive, but this life-saving combination is a pillar of the success of Pro Mujer, a Johnson & Johnson partner since 2009.

Edelma was hoping to make a better living and improve her family’s future by using her skills to start a small clothing business. She was invited to a communal bank meeting in her neighborhood. Communal banks are lending groups of 20-30 women who come together to receive loans as a group and serve as guarantors for one another. In addition to finding the financial advice she was looking for, Edelma was invited to participate in a cervical cancer screening that Pro Mujer arranged to coincide with the meeting. As a result of this screening, she learned that she was in the early stages of cancer and was able to immediately arrange critical follow-up treatment. For Edelma, that meant a biopsy and then surgery, which Pro Mujer helped her pay for. Today, Edelma runs a successful clothing business; and she’s financially self-sufficient, and most importantly, healthy.

For families with limited means, there is often no easy access point to the public health care system. There is just not enough money or time for women like Edelma to seek personal health care. So when an organization which is already reaching the poorest people in a community can make health screening services available for microloan clients, quality of life improves in unexpected ways.

One year ago this month, Johnson & Johnson joined the United Nations Secretary General to announce a commitment to meet the UN’s call to action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – particularly MDGs 4, 5 and 6, which address maternal and child health. The commitment includes, among other things, a concerted effort to provide access to skilled health workers so that women and children in hard-to-reach places can receive the care they need.

Improving health for the world’s poorest people is not something that happens only in a clinic or hospital. It also requires a thoughtful, integrated approach that leverages existing opportunities to reach women and their families, creating new opportunities to introduce critical health services and education. In Edelma’s case, the return on investment was more than financial. It was life-changing.

Joy Marini is director of Corporate Contributions for Johnson & Johnson. Photo courtesy of Pro Mujer.