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“Doing Today’s Work Superbly Well — Treating Ebola with Current Tools”

A perspective piece in the NEJM by several Ebola healthcare providers that discusses common misconceptions such as a lack of material resources or development of novel therapies Read More

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Syria vaccine campaign suspended after fifteen deaths

September 18, 2014 A vaccine campaign in the rebel-held parts of northwestern Syria left 15

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Sierra Leone: Ebola hospital staff walk out due to lack of pay

September 16, 2014 Health workers walked out of an Ebola ward in a district hospital

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The limits of global health diplomacy: Taiwan¿s observer status at the world health assembly

In 2009, health authorities from Taiwan (under the name ?Chinese Taipei?) a formally attended the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization as observers, marking the country?s participation for the first time since 1972.


Country progress towards the millennium development goals: adjusting for socioeconomic factors…

Background: The Health Millennium Development Goals (4, 5, 6) impose the same ambitious 2015 targets on every country.


The development agency of the future

Does a stand-alone Department for International Development have a long-term future? What is the role of DFID in facilitating other British government departments and other UK organizations to assist developing countries? What is its role in influencing the policies of other Whitehall departments? These questions are being asked not by me but by the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee (terms of reference here).  The mere fact that they are raising these questions is interesting (and alarming to some people). But in all the evidence submitted to the inquiry, I haven’t yet found any that supports the idea of merging DFID back in to the Foreign Office.


Volunteers stepping up in response to Ebola outbreak

Doctors and nurses are finally volunteering to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa after


“Doing Today’s Work Superbly Well — Treating Ebola with Current Tools”

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A perspective piece in the NEJM by several Ebola healthcare providers that discusses common misconceptions such as a lack of material resources or development of novel therapies Read More


On the margins of aid orthodoxy: the Brazil-Mozambique collaboration to produce essential…

Background: On the back of its recent economic development and domestic success in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Brazil is helping the Government of Mozambique to set up a pharmaceutical factory as part of its South-South cooperation programme.


Why “beyond aid” matters

This blog post by Owen Barder and Theo Talbot first appeared on Views from the Center. The UK House of Commons International Development Committee is undertaking a very interesting inquiry which happens to be right up our street. It is examining what might come next in the UK’s approach to development, including the coherence of policies which affect development, and the impact of the UKs non-aid policies on developing countries and … the underlying government mechanisms needed to support any changes. We have submitted written evidence for the Committee to consider for this inquiry.


Climate Summit 2014 – live update from New York City

This week’s post comes from Dr Alessandro Demaio who is postdoctoral fellow in Global Health and NCDs at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant Professor at the Copenhagen School of Global Health. Groundbreaking pledges of funding from the French, 120+ heads of state attending, famous faces calling for greater action and less talk. It’s all happening this week in New York City, where I join the UN Climate Summit. Hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon today, it has been a ‘hit the ground running’ week leading up to this unprecedented event – with building expectation (some would say desperation) that this is where we might see major commitments from governments and an uprising of the public in favour of real climate action.


The Importance of Innovation in Global Health

Please see this piece that I enjoyed writing with my fellow Lancet Commissioner for the Global Health 2035 report, Gavin Yamey, regarding how critical it is to celebrate, support and encourage innovation as we work diligently to achieve the goals before us to achieve a grand convergence in global health.

Please see the article here: http://ic2030.org/2014/09/grand-convergence/

“A remarkable opportunity for global health transformation is now at our fingertips.If we make the right health investments—to scale up existing health interventions and delivery systems and to develop and deliver new tools—we could see a “grand convergence” in global health within our lifetimes. Within one generation, we could reduce the rates of infectious, maternal, and child deaths in nearly all low- and lower-middle-income countries down to the low levels seen today in richer countries like Turkey, Chile, and Costa Rica (Figure 1).One in ten children in poor countries dies before his or her fifth birthday; by 2035, we could reduce that rate down to one in fifty. We could prevent 10 million maternal, child, and adult deaths each year from 2035 onward. But this grand convergence cannot be achieved without innovation to discover tomorrow’s disease control tools.We had the privilege of serving as members of The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, chaired by Lawrence Summers and Dean Jamison. The commission published an ambitious yet feasible road map for achieving convergence, called Global Health 2035. The road map has three key components.The first is mobilizing financing. The “price tag” for low- and lower-middle-income countries to achieve convergence is an additional $70 billion per year from now to 2035. Fortunately, these countries are on course to add $10 trillion per year to their GDP over that time period. Public investment of less than 1% of this GDP growth could therefore fund the grand convergence. Some countries, of course, will still need external assistance to finance their health programs.The second is targeting this financing toward the most cost-effective health interventions. Early investment in scaling up modern methods of family planning, antiretroviral medication, and childhood vaccinations would have a particularly large and rapid payoff.The third is increasing funding for R&D. Our modeling found that even with aggressive scale-up of today’s tools to 90% coverage levels, convergence would not be achieved. Low-income countries would get only about two-thirds of the way. To close the gap, new technologies will be needed. Countries that adopt new tools experience an additional 2% per year decline in their child mortality rate over countries that do not—an “acceleration” that is crucial for reaching convergence.The most important way that the international community can support the grand convergence is by funding the discovery, development, and delivery of the next generation of medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and devices. International funding for R&D targeted at diseases that disproportionately affect poor countries should be doubled from current levels (US$3 billion per year) to $6 billion per year by 2020. Game-changing technologies that could help achieve convergence include a single-dose radical cure for vivax and falciparum malaria and highly efficacious malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV vaccines.
Figure 1. Estimated decline in child mortality rates from enhanced health-sector investments. The “convergence target” is 20 deaths per 1,000 live births, similar to the current child mortality rates in high-performing middle-income countries.The public health and economic benefits of achieving convergence would be profound. Every $1 invested from 2015 to 2035 would return $9 to $20, an extraordinary return on investment.We have at our fingertips one of the greatest opportunities available to improve human welfare. The question is: will we seize it?Photo: US Centers for Disease Control/James Gathany. Illustration: PATH.”**See full article on this web link: http://ic2030.org/2014/09/grand-convergence/


Syria vaccine campaign suspended after fifteen deaths

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September 18, 2014 A vaccine campaign in the rebel-held parts of northwestern Syria left 15


Sierra Leone: Ebola hospital staff walk out due to lack of pay

africa-map-wiki-Author-Hristov

September 16, 2014 Health workers walked out of an Ebola ward in a district hospital


Holding Institutions Accountable

Please see my OpEd that was published in today’s New Times:

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2014-09-15/180939/


World Health Organisation and UNICEF accountability – we are not yet there

By: DR AGNES BINAGWAHO
PUBLISHED: September 15, 2014

“I am very proud to serve for a country that has prioritized the health and wealth of its children. This is evidenced by activities, laws, policies, strategies and plans implemented by various sectors. This is normal because our people are our riches. And among them – the most precious are our children because they are our future and we always fight to improve their health and well-being.On a personal note, as a pediatrician, I am deeply motivated to improve the lives of children. Any effort to reduce unnecessary suffering and harm to a country’s future generation is laudable because – like so many Rwandans – I believe that the value of a country is how it treats the most vulnerable among its people. And our children are the most vulnerable of our citizens.This is why that I, along with so many others, was shocked to see news of a report that was released by the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) titled “Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Women and Children”, which included findings – that if true – would make Rwanda one of the most violent countries in the world vis-à-vis its treatment of children.When looking more closely at the story behind the implausible numbers, however, it was astonishing to see how many flaws existed in this report. Even the report authors made disclaimer after disclaimer about how limited their methods were. They reported projections of data – as opposed to real data – and failed to explain what informed these projections. Not surprisingly, their findings are so far from the truth.For instance, the Rwanda Demographic Health Survey – which is an internationally recognized data source to document the status of the health and well-being of our people and is done in partnership with those who published and promoted this report (WHO, UNICEF), shows a very different picture relative to the recent flawed report. Additionally, the real data on child homicides recorded by the Rwanda police suggests that the UNICEF report estimated a child homicide rate that was over 10 times as high as reality in Rwanda. (see table below)Observations on the data related to Rwanda profile:

Table: Observations on the data related to Rwanda profile.Flawed data – such as these – cannot simply be apologized for in a “technological appendix” or the “limitations” of a study (which never would make news headlines). Instead, they have real consequences. They can easily damage the reputation of development plans of a country. They can easily redirect time and policymaking efforts to “problems” that don’t actually exist.This report teaches us to reflect upon a few key things:First, efforts to hold international institutions accountable are blocked and they still allow themselves total impunity to publish defamatory reports without any consequences to themselves.Second, this puts into question the commitment of these institutions to human rights. One of the major principles of human rights is a participatory process. By extension – as countries are made up of human beings – the people of these countries should be given the right to participate or review the report. Reports – right or wrong – on country performance should never be disseminated without being shared with the country to inform them of the findings so that eventually, they can show evidence of the false allegations or use the information – if accurate – to generate positive change.In conclusion, I just want to recall the imihigo contract that we have just signed across sectors and level of responsibilities as a country to guarantee accountability of each leader at all levels. It is something that the UN may consider adopting to help guarantee better use of their organization’s influence and the other useful work that they undertake everyday in partnership with member states.The Author is the Rwanda Minister of Health.”Published in the New Times – 15 September 2014 – Link: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2014-09-15/180939/


Trade and investment liberalization and Asia¿s noncommunicable disease epidemic: a synthesis…

Background: Trade and investment liberalization (trade liberalization) can promote or harm health.


Alcohol: breaking up is hard to do.

There are many absurdities in society that we overlook or come to accept. For me, there are few though more absurd than our relationship with alcohol. Addictive, harmful, carcinogenic and associated with a raft of social, economic and health consequences – we continue to accept its role as a social lubricant, a mark of celebration, a sign of manhood and a reflection of sophistication. I have talked a lot about this before. The public health community has long worked to address this issue


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