Since typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines last month, some predictable patterns of disaster news coverage have begun to emerge – including evidence of a sometimes contentious relationship between the press and aid organizations. This week on PLOS TGH, Columbia University’s Chris Tedeschi explores.
Controversy has surrounded the latest publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of mental health disorders, in part because of concerns that the guideline pathologizes many behaviors that some people might consider normal, theoretically increasing the opportunity to prescribe pharmaceuticals for non-pathological behavior. But beyond the field of psychiatry, there are increasing concerns that “medicalization” may be doing more harm than good for patients (especially where tests and therapies have marginal benefit but potentially great risks), and may be influenced by profit motives and desires to define disease so expansively as to intrude on normal living to a stifling degree. A recent comprehensive study of medical panels’ decisions about expanding disease definitions shed some light on this debate, and revealed some concerning findings… In 2009, the Institute of Medicine published a landmark report entitled “Conflict of interest in medical research, education, and practice”. In the report, the IOM found “widespread relationships with industry have created significant risks that individual and institutional financial interests may unduly influence professionals’ judgments” in medicine. Subsequent recommendations from the IOM revealed that a major area of concern was the writing of medical guidelines that physicians around the country (and, indeed, around the world) typically use to decide when to screen patients for diseases, how to define a disease, and when and how to treat such diseases.
This guest rant of mine appeared in the OECD’s Development Cooperation Report 2013, published last week. The report, subtitled ‘Ending Poverty‘, is worth a skim – it’s a good survey of current debates on poverty and aid, with contributions from piles of wonks, followed by a donor-by-donor aid overview. A necessary starting point in any
By Daniele Dionisio The ominous prospects on health bound up with TPP negotiations are alarming at a time when trade agreements and governments’ choices, largely by the US and the European Union, are turning IP agendas into policies which protect monopolistic interests at the expense of unbiased access to care and lifesaving treatments in resource-limited settings. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, talks began in March 2010, promoted by the United States (US) to deepening free trade in the Pacific realm. Shrouded in unprecedented level of secrecy, the talks aim to address global trade issues including piracy and counterfeiting, while raising standards by taking into account the implications for the multilateral trade system and the different economic levels and needs of participating countries. These currently include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, US and Vietnam. A plan for medicines, known as Trade Enhancing Access to Medicines, or TEAM, was introduced by US negotiators at the eighth round of TPP talks in Chicago on September 9-15, 2011. While the US administration did not disclose the plan’s contents, a US white paper released on September 12 outlined its aims to accelerate access to medicines, get rid of tariffs on medicines and medical devices, and step up legal certainty for manufacturers of generic medicines.
The polio outbreak in Syria “has grown to 17 confirmed cases, the WHO said last week” and declared a polio emergency in the country, NPR’s “Shots” blog and “All Things Considered” reports. “The Syrian government has pledged to immunize all Syrian children under age five. But wartime politics is getting in the way. And the…More
Dear Colleagues, Plenty of news this week, with the WHO financing dialogue (2nd event in Geneva); the release of a number of working papers by ‘The UNAIDS and Lancet Commission: Defeating AIDS — Advancing global health’; some brief coverage of events (like the European development days in Brussels and ITM’s annual colloquium in Bangalore); the December issue of the Lancet Global Health; the usual Global Fund update, even more important with the Global Fund Replenishment coming up; World Aids day is also approaching, … so HIV will again feature quite prominently in this newsletter. In Cape Town, the 2013 Emerging Voices face to face programme started, preparing for the ICASA conference. We will join them next week (which also implies that next week’s newsletter will probably be much shorter, hurray!). On 25 November, the International day of ending violence against women was celebrated.
Asmat Malik The rise of Malala Yousafzai from Gul Makai (her penname for BBC blogs) to becoming the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize is nothing short of a fairytale. Her story of personal sufferings, sacrifices and bravery has attracted immense admiration and support not only within Pakistan but also from the global community. However, after publication of her book’ ‘I Am Malala’ she has lost the support of a considerable and influential segment of society in Pakistan. A heated debate has started portraying her as becoming a puppet of so called ‘Western forces’. Her antagonists in Pakistan, a mix of anti-West and pro-Taliban schools of thought, strongly believe that she has been highjacked by the West: instead of being ‘Our Malala – the Pakistani Malala’ they reckon she has become ‘Their Malala – the Western Malala’ with implicit but clear objectives of insulting and tarnishing the image of teachings of Islam and practices and values of Islamic culture.
Dear Colleagues, This week our colleague An Appelmans wrote the introduction to this newsletter. She will soon leave ITM, on Friday 13th apparently. After a rather drastic ‘Facebook status’ update last year, when she played the lead role in ‘One Wedding and Four Kids’, An is now looking for greener pastures. She will be missed in Antwerp, as a friend and as a very committed colleague. Below you find her ‘farewell message to global health’.
Dear Colleagues, This week the world’s eyes are on the Philippines. From what we hear, Emerging Voices from the country are very much involved in the relief efforts. We wish them and their compatriots all the best. One of the key questions, of course, is whether this will turn out to be a wake-up call to the world, for example at COP 19 in Warsaw. It probably won’t.
I get a lot of random invitations along the lines of ‘come and be a token esteemed NGO rep at our next gabfest’, and accept a few of the more promising ones. So this week I ended up at a conversation on ‘Africa’s Reformers’ hosted by the Africa Governance Initiative and the FT’s This is
Back in May I participated in a discussion on if and how International Civil Society Organizations (ICSOs) are adapting to changes around them. Here’s my summary of the conversations: Can International Civil Society Organizations be nimble? A final report from the meeting is ready (download Riding the Wave: A proposal for Boards and CEOs on how to prepare their organizations for disruptive change) and here’s a video summary: I’m curious what other folks think about this topic and the analysis and recommendations in the report.