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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.

 

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We cannot afford to leave women out

This guest post was written by Catharine Taylor, Vice President, Health Programs Group, Management Sciences for Health.

Photo: Women in Malawi are increasingly engaging in sustainable ways to grow household income and end poverty. Credit: Feed the Children / Amos Gumulira

The evidence is clear: to achieve progress in the world, now is the time to prioritize and invest in women and girls. As key drivers of sustainable development, when women are empowered to fully participate in society, everyone benefits. We know, for instance, that women spend more of their income on their families than men do – prioritizing healthcare, nutrition, and education, setting up families and communities for more prosperous futures. We also know that when women are empowered to care for themselves and their children’s health from pregnancy through childhood and adolescence, families and communities grow stronger and more productive.

As I prepare to join the Commission on the Status of Women next week, where the focus will be on women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, I am reminded of a visit to Malawi last month. For many years, women in the country’s remote villages had no access to health care during pregnancy and childbirth, which meant no information on how to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for themselves and their baby, and no care if and when complications arose, almost certainly resulting in death. But now, more than 90 percent of all women in Malawi go to a health care facility to deliver their children, up from only 53 percent in 2000. The investments in midwifery education and an expanding system to make healthcare free for the poorest have greatly contributed to better quality of care and improved health outcomes. Women’s participation in Village Savings and Loans associations, agribusiness groups, and livestock activities has increased markedly in the past few years, securing women‘s access to household income and greater engagement in non-traditional roles.

The power of investing in women is paying off.

Today, there’s a new generation of young Malawian women who are finding that family planning tools are helping them take charge of their futures. And there are more and more women confronting barriers to education and adding their voice in the workforce or in political spheres. By focusing on women and children, the country has also made incredible progress in addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic, reducing the number of new HIV infections per year by more than half in just over ten years.

Under the new sustainable development agenda, countries and development actors from across the spectrum have an opportunity to work together to help communities ensure that women and girls have access to a comprehensive range of services promoting their right to health. On International Women’s Day, we at Management Sciences for Health mark the achievements of women and call for continued recognition that investments in global development programs yield a return that improves our security, prosperity, and advances the values of our nation. By helping women drive development to advance their health and well-being and that of their families, their communities, and societies, we will build lasting change that benefits all.


Catharine Taylor is the Vice President of the Health Programs Group at Management Sciences for Health – a leading organization dedicated to building stronger health systems for greater health impact. Catharine is an internationally recognized expert in maternal, newborn, and child health policies and programs, a champion for women’s health and rights, and an advocate for universal, equitable access to high-quality care. Follow Catharine on twitter @CTaylor_MSHVeep.

 

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Global health is good business — Trump should get in the prosperity

This guest post was written by Chris Collins, President and CEO of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. It originally appeared on The Hill website.

From Getty Images

From Getty Images

As President-elect Trump considers submitting a fiscal year 2018 budget request to Congress, scores of government funding issues will be intensely debated. America’s investment in global health is one area that should stand outside the political fray.

There are few issues that have won such consistent bipartisan support or, at a fraction of 1 percent of the federal budget, have produced such concrete economic, security and humanitarian gains for the country and the world.

 Global health programming has expanded significantly over the last two decades, with the U.S. playing a leadership role. As Vice President-elect Pence said during the 2008 reauthorization of the U.S. global AIDS program: “The United States has a moral obligation to lead the world in confronting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.”

The impact of these investments has been startling. Since 1990, the number of annual child deaths has been cut by more than one half. More than 18.2 million people are now receiving life-saving AIDS treatment. The malaria death rate among children under age 5 is down 69 percent since 2000. Efforts to diagnose and treat tuberculosis (TB), a disease that has plagued humanity for centuries, have saved millions of lives in the same period.

This is an impressive track record, but the job is far from done. In fact, continued and increased investment in global health provides an important opportunity to build on bipartisan support, end major epidemics, and realize enormous humanitarian and economic benefits. There are four points to consider as the new President and Congress begin their work.

First, it is important to maintain the bipartisan support for global health established over eight Congresses and two presidential administrations.

Republican and Democratic policymakers agree that, together, investments in public-private partnerships like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and bilateral programs like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) are among our greatest foreign policy successes.

These programs reinforce each other’s work across the globe, achieving steadily increasing transparency and financial efficiency, scaling up effective programs and complementing each other’s efforts to ensure that U.S. resources are deployed for maximum impact.

Second, while the primary goal of global health programs is to save lives, investing in ending epidemics has considerable economic return on investment.

Malaria-free countries have five times greater economic growth than countries with malaria. Every dollar spent on TB generates $30 through improved health and increased productivity.

Just maintaining the current U.S. commitment to the Global Fund alone could support at least $96.7 billion in economic gains. U.S. investment in the Global Fund leverages resources — requiring a two-thirds match from other donors, and incentivizing countries receiving grants to increase ownership of their disease programs over time.

When people are healthy, they have more capacity to purchase American goods and services.

The 20 million people whose lives have been saved through Global Fund-supported programs live mainly in developing countries which are increasingly critical to the U.S. economy. U.S. exports to developing countries have grown by more than 400 percent over the last 20 years. Today, they total more than $600 billion annually and are greater than U.S. exports to China, Europe and Japan combined.

Third, we have been reminded repeatedly by outbreaks such as Zika and Ebola that disease knows no borders. Containment, prevention and evidence-based treatment of epidemics are national security matters that we cannot afford to underestimate or underfund. U.S. investments in disease programs support strengthened health infrastructure to help prevent future deadly threats from spreading.

Finally, investing in global health is an essential part of U.S. diplomacy and national security.

A 2015 Bipartisan Policy Center case study found that American efforts to support global health also have key secondary effects on state stability, public opinion of the U.S., and socio-economic development.

By helping to build more stable and capable partners, global health efforts in turn boost U.S. national security objectives. But our efforts against deadly epidemics remain underfunded. U.S. investment in global health represents just 0.25 percent of the federal budget, and has remained flat for four years.

Amid the many controversies today, global health investment stands alone. It saves the lives of millions of men, women and children every year, and is also one of the best strategic investments we can make in American security and prosperity.

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A year in review: The top stories in global health innovation that shaped 2016

This guest post was written by Kat Kelley, Senior Program Assistant at Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), and originally appeared on GHTC’s website.

A health worker's hand holds up a cartridge of the SD BIOLINE Onchocerciasis IgG4 rapid test pre-production prototype, for diagnosing onchocerciasis (river blindness), showing a negative result.

2016 was a year that ushered in significant shifts in the global health landscape. We witnessed the waning of the Ebola epidemic and the waxing of the Zika outbreak; important leadership changes among the biggest institutional players in global health; and the development and introduction of new innovations that could turn the tide against leading infectious disease killers.

GHC Member, Global Health Technologies Coalition reflects on the top stories in global health innovation that made news in 2016. Here are seven of those top moments:

1. Scientists mobilize against Zika

Once considered an obscure virus responsible for a mild illness, Zika took the world by storm in 2016. As the virus gained a foothold in more than 60 countries, its association with devastating birth defects and neurological conditions was firmly established. Prior to Zika’s emergence in the Americas, only 25 research papers had been published on the virus. As the epidemic grew, scientists around the world joined the fight against Zika, often sharing their data and research in real time to speed progress. Thanks to the efforts of these researchers, over the past year our scientific understanding of Zika has grown exponentially, and we have advanced a robust pipeline of new tools to prevent, detect, and treat Zika. Today, there are more than 35 Zika vaccine candidates under development; 13 Zika diagnostics have been authorized for use by the US Food and Drug Administration; and researchers are screening novel compounds and evaluating existing drugs to advance treatments for the disease.

2. The world commits to the fight against antimicrobial resistance

2016 marked the year the world finally got serious about tackling antimicrobial resistance. On the heels of several major analyses examining the potentially devastating health and economic impact of antimicrobial resistance, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly convened global leaders for a high-level summit on antimicrobial resistance—the fourth time such a meeting has been held on a health-related topic during the UN’s 71-year history. At the close of the summit, UN member states unanimously endorsed and adopted a political declaration committing to developing action plans and policies; mobilizing resources; and supporting public awareness, surveillance, and R&D efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance. It is our hope that 2017 will mark the year political commitment translates to concrete action to advance the development of new antibiotics.

3. New strategies deployed to stymie mosquito-borne diseases

Mosquito-borne diseases remain an age-old scourge, but 2016 saw the advancement of several novel strategies to combat these tiny foes.

Efforts to combat mosquito-borne diseases with the transmission blocking–bacteria Wolbachia took an important leap forward this year. Past studies have shown that when the Wolbachia bacteria is introduced to Aedes aegypti mosquitos—which carry viruses like Zika and yellow fever—it prevents the viruses from replicating and blocks further transmission. Because the bacteria can be passed from one generation of mosquitoes to the next, the bacteria offers hope for eliminating a virus’s presence within a local mosquito population. After several years of conducting small-scale tests of this method, the Eliminate Dengue Program announced in 2016 it would begin conducting two large-scale trials in South America to determine whether this approach is effective in halting the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in large urban settings.

This year the biotech company Oxitec also advanced efforts to test the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce mosquito populations and disease transmission. The company has engineered mosquitoes that mate with A. aegyptimosquitoes, producing offspring that are unable to mature to adulthood. Early last year, Oxitec introduced the mosquitoes into the Brazilian city of Piracicaba, resulting in an 82 percent decrease in the population of A. aegypti mosquitoes in just nine months. Now, Oxitec has expanded the trial to a larger geographical area and is also initiating trials in the Florida Keys and the Cayman Islands.

4. World’s first kid-friendly TB medicine launches

Children who receive tuberculosis (TB) medicines require a different dose than adults, yet until this year, there were no TB medicines designed specifically for children, so parents were forced to split or crush adult pills in an attempt to administer the right dose to their child. This year, that all changed with the launch of the world’s first kid-friendly TB medication. Developed by TB Alliance, the medicine is designed with the unique needs of children in mind: It is fruit-flavored, dissolvable in water, easy to administer, and appropriately-dosed. Already, more than 30 countries have adopted the new medicines, and enough orders have been placed to treat half of childhood TB cases worldwide.

5. Unique HIV prevention option for women reaches important development milestone

Women may soon have a powerful new tool at their disposal to prevent HIV infection. Earlier this year, the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) announced the results of two large phase 3 clinical trials demonstrating that a monthly vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral drug dapivirine can help protect women from HIV. While initial results indicated that the dapivirine ring reduced HIV risk by approximately 30 percent, further analysis revealed that the ring reduced infection rates by 75 percent in women who used the ring consistently. Now, IPM is seeking regulatory approval for the dapivirine ring and is conducting open-label studies, enabling trial participants to continue using the ring as IPM collects additional data. The dapivirine ring is the only long-acting, female-initiated HIV prevention tool to have proven successful in phase 3 clinical trials. Young women in sub-Saharan Africa are more than twice as likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts, and thus female-centered prevention tools are needed stem the epidemic.

6. Roll out begins of world’s first malaria vaccine candidate

After decades of development and testing, the world’s first malaria vaccine candidate will soon be introduced in several communities in sub-Saharan Africa. The vaccine—RTS,S—was developed by PATH and GlaxoSmithKline and received a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency last year following completion of phase 3 clinical trials. In November, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it would pilot and evaluate the vaccine in real-life settings, thanks to funding from The Global Fund; UNITAID; and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Pending results of these pilot tests, WHO will determine whether to deploy the vaccine on a wider scale.

7. New global health technologies advance through the pipeline

Over the past year, several other promising new health innovations have moved through the development pipeline and one step closer to reaching the hands of patients:

  • Two important health tools—a novel, affordable oral cholera vaccine developed by the International Vaccine Institute, and the Woman’s Condom developed by PATH and partners—received WHO prequalification this year, paving the way for their procurement by UN agencies and other international procurement organizations.
  • Two new rapid diagnostic tests for the neglected tropical diseases onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis were launched this year. Developed by PATH, these tests provide results in just 30 minutes and can be stored at a wide range of temperatures.
  • Development has begun for an affordable therapy for hepatitis C. In 2013, the world’s first cures for hepatitis C hit the US market, however, treatment remains out of reach for many patients due to the high price tag. This year, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative announced it would begin testing an alternative therapy in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, with a guarantee from the manufacturer that, if successful, the entire regimen will be sold for no more than US$294.

As 2017 begins, it is time for the global health community to redouble our efforts to make sure this vital progress in global health innovation continues to ensure that people around the world will have access to lifesaving and life-improving health technologies.

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