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GHC Reflects on its Own First 100 Days
In global health, we know benchmarks matter. They’re the difference between whether a child reaches his or her 5th birthday or dies of a vaccine-preventable illness. They signal how a health system would respond to the next pandemic or humanitarian crisis. What gets measured gets done, and saves lives. That’s why GHC has been paying attention these first 100 days of 2017. We looked at what we’ve done to serve our members, and opportunities to make the greatest impact. Thank you to all of the global health advocates who have joined us so far. Read more.

GHC Hosts Discussion on U.S. Leadership and Engagement at WHA
On April 25, GHC convened various stakeholders for a critical dialogue on the U.S. government’s priorities at the Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70). The one-hour webinar, which attracted over 60 participants from the non-profit, academia, international development, and government sectors, was the second in a series of WHA Policy Scrums organized by GHC in preparation for WHA70. We were honored to have special guest speakers with strong government backgrounds and experience at WHA participate in our webinar and share their insights on the best way for civil society to engage at WHA70. You can view brief notes or watch the full webinar recording that provide a recap of this important conversation. Please join us for our final WHA Policy Scrum and New Delegate Webinar on May 9. Registration details.

A New Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program in Africa
The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will participate in the WHO-coordinated pilot implementation of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. RTS,S was developed to protect young children from infection by Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the malaria parasites affecting humans. It is the first malaria vaccine candidate to be recommended for pilot implementation by WHO, and the first to receive a positive opinion from a stringent regulatory authority, the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program (MVIP) is being coordinated and led by WHO in close collaboration with Ministries of Health in the participating countries and a range of in-country and international partners. Learn more.

Call for Nongovernmental Organizations to apply for Consultative Status with the United Nations
The United Nations invites nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to apply for consultative status with its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) if they wish to be considered by the NGO Committee in 2018. NGOs that are accredited with ECOSOC can participate in a number of events including, but not limited to, regular sessions of ECOSOC, its functional commissions, and its other subsidiary bodies. Consultative relationships may be established with international, regional, sub-regional, and national non-governmental, non-profit public, or voluntary organizations. Those interested should submit their application and required documents by June 1. View the call for applications.

Global Resolve to End Neglected Tropical Diseases
The NTD Summit 2017, held between April 19 – 22, drew attention to the unprecedented progress and milestones that have been reached in efforts to control, eliminate, and eradicate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) over the last five years. For several decades, development of new drugs and vaccines to target the most debilitating NTDs, categorically described as diseases of poverty, stalled because there was simply no business incentive to do so. Since the signing of the London Declaration on NTDs in 2012, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, NGOs, and other partners have joined forces to bring treatment to millions of people afflicted by NTDs. NTDs kill, disable, disfigure, stigmatize, and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. Progress in NTD eradication has been touted as a remarkable display of how U.S. foreign assistance works to eliminate obstacles to development. Read more.

Registration is Now Open for the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference
Women in Global Health (WGH) is a movement of dynamic professionals around the world, of all genders and backgrounds, working within many different areas of global health looking to achieve gender equality in global health leadership. WGH believes that diverse, gender-balanced leadership is key for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), improving health and well-being, and are working to give all genders an equitable voice in the global health arena. WGH is pleased to partner with Stanford University’s Center for Innovation in Global Health to present the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference this October 12. Registration is now open for this inaugural event. The conference builds on the global movement to press for gender equity in global health leadership by celebrating great works of emerging and established women in the field and cultivating the next generation of women leaders. More details.

Home by Home: Liliane’s Tireless Fight Against Malaria

This guest post has been provided by GHC member Jhpiego. It originally appeared as a photo essay on Jhpiego’s medium blog. 

Photo credit is Jhpiego/Karen Kasmauski

Olivia Mboli, a single mom of five children, works on a palm oil plantation in west Cameroon, earning $32 to $42 per month.

“It’s difficult to meet my children’s needs,” she says, particularly when they get sick.

Three years ago, Olivia was pregnant with twins when a tree fell on her husband and killed him as he walked to work. Today, twins Norbert and Albert are just small enough to still be held, and Princess — Olivia’s only daughter — is 9 years old. Olivia also has two older sons. Keeping the five of them on a path to thrive and succeed is a constant struggle for Olivia. But community health worker Liliane Mbom is her strong ally, helping Olivia and her family to stay healthy and malaria-free.

In Cameroon, malaria accounts for 43 percent of deaths and more than half of illnesses of children under age 5. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable; malaria can have significant health consequences for both the expectant mother and her unborn child. Community health workers like Liliane serve as the first line of defense against malaria in so many areas of the country.

Liliane Mbom is a teacher by training, but when the chief officer at the local health center visited her village looking for help educating residents about malaria prevention and providing basic care, she was nominated by her peers.

“The people designated me. I initially refused…but they convinced me and I accepted,” Liliane says.

Liliane’s work — from community education to home visits — has a dramatic impact on families like Olivia’s.

“I book an appointment beforehand with the head of the family and I go to [the] house on the designated date. We discuss malaria prevention, what to do when a child or an adult has a fever, and we talk about the right way to use a mosquito net,” Liliane says, describing a typical home visit.

Through a Jhpiego-led initiative funded by ExxonMobil in April 2014, Liliane learned how to diagnose malaria using rapid diagnostic tests. She learned how to manage cases of uncomplicated malaria with common malaria medicines — artemisinin-based combination therapy — and when to refer severe cases to health facilities. Through educational talks and home visits, Liliane is raising public awareness of malaria.

She is a touchpoint for families on the best practices to prevent malaria and the first point of care for many palm oil workers.

For Olivia and her children, Liliane is a key component of a healthy, malaria-free life. This World Malaria Day, we celebrate Liliane and the thousands of community health workers like her who fight tirelessly for a malaria-free future!

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.

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.