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News analysis

Global campaign for the health MDGs

On 26 September 2022 Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway, announced plans for a radical transformation of international development funding, with a ‘Global Campaign for the Health MDGs’. Developing countries will prepare their own national plans to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 to reduce child and maternal mortality, and combat AIDS and other diseases, while donors will relate their support to the countries’ plans; and support will depend on measured results. The Campaign could be extended to the whole of health, and even development, and become each country’s truly Global Business Plan. We talk to the plan’s principal architect, Tore Godal. (November 07)

Global campaign for the health MDGs - Five programmes with the same goal

Five programmes with the same goal

Five programmes closely linked to the principles of the Global Campaign for the Health MDGs are already underway or shortly to be launched:

Global campaign for the health MDGs - Implementation of the Campaign

The implementation phase for first-wave countries will be well underway by early 2008, with clear plans in place and agreed arrangements – embodied in country-level compacts – for co-ordinating the activities of the various partners.

Health in Myanmar: a contrast

Two very different views of health status and care in troubled Myanmar can be found on the websites listed below, which we’ve reduced to ‘tinyurl’ form for easy typing and access. First comes the upbeat Myanmar Ministry of Health’s own 2006 report, available in English at the WHO representative’s office in Rangoon.

Measuring up diabetes

Global figures and studies argue that diabetes is a growing problem for the developing world, and that it needs to be tackled urgently or expensive complications will follow. But what about the local story? New studies in Africa, China and the rest of the world will soon show the real national costs of diabetes. And researchers in Kenya are revealing prevalence rates higher than HIV/AIDS - even in rural areas where diets are 'healthy'.

Motherhood in Uganda

Pregnancy and giving birth in Uganda are fraught with mortal risks. (May 07)

Violence, giving birth on a banana leaf with a traditional birth attendant, lack of contraception, abortion with a coat hanger, understaffed and under equipped health services, a demand to pay for medical gloves and plastic sheeting, lack of blood supplies, disorganization - mothers have it hard, but Uganda still hopes to cut maternal mortality by a third, despite failures of some aid partners to support its programmes.

Reaching out to policy-makers

The growing East African health organization REACH is making efforts to link research with policy-making.

Communication between researchers, policy-makers and the people could improve in East Africa, if REACH has its way. Circumcision to reduce HIV transmission and maternal mortality are to be tackled first. But growth since its inception in the Tanzanian Essential Health Interventions Project has been slow, and budgets remain more dreams than reality.

(May 07)

Simple ACTs for malaria for 50 US cents

Treating malaria with ACTs was getting expensive – and complicated. Now the problems may be solved, with a new, cheap co-formulation, and a version for children. And the development model that DNDi has adopted could be used for other diseases – like TB. (May 07)

SUMMARY: With chloroquine no longer recommended, Africa desperately needed cheap, simple artemisinin combination therapies. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, DNDi, provided them as its first product. They will suit most - but not all - African countries. Director Bernard Pécoul tells RealHealthNews the story, and describes DNDi's style and approach to cooperation with other public and private bodies.

Some TB tests only 1% effective

Simple dipstick tests for infectious diseases are multiplying rapidly. But how good are they? Field trials are few, and results disappointing. Countries should press for more research and proper regulation. (May 07)

Drug distribution? Trust the people

When remote communities are in charge of distribution, malaria treatment, bednet coverage and TB detection rates double, and vitamin A coverage increases - even though the distributors are unpaid - says a multicountry study.

SUMMARY: Drug delivery techniques long used for river blindness now appear to work for other diseases as well - and in combination. For simple interventions desired by the community, integrated Community-Directed Intervention (CDI) looks like a winner.

A human right to health research?

While "fact-finding", the first WHO global research strategy meeting stirs complex and competing interests

SUMMARY:The first UN-sponsored intergovernmental meeting to put research for public health for the poorest of the poor ahead of intellectual property rights met in Geneva this month - and assembled the beginnings of a complicated work plan and global health research strategy. They had difficulties deciding what financing mechanisms to include, but a strategy document and a list of tasks have been referred to the world's capitals for consultation.

(December 06)

US$200 million will get diarrhoea and pneumomia research products into action

It's one thing to do the research - and another to get the product delivered. GAVI is now doing the trick for rotavirus and streptococcus pneumoniae vaccines 10-15 years ahead of past practice, saving an extra four million lives

SUMMARY:The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), which works to deliver safe and effective vaccines to the poorest, has earmarked US$ 200 million to tackle two preventable diseases that kill an estimated 1.5 million children every year: it will deliver vaccines against rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoeal disease, and pneumococcus, a major cause of pneumonia, meningitis and blood poisoning.

(December 06)

Circumcision halves HIV transmission: so what policy should we implement?

An uncompleted trial was so successful for its male participants that continuance was unethical. But what happens next?

SUMMARY:A large study in Kenya and Uganda has shown that male circumcision halves the rate of male acquisition of HIV, confirming last year's results from South Africa. Results for the effect of male circumcision on transmission on transmission to women are still awaited, but not expected to be so large. The great challenge in a country like Kenya is whether and how this result, and the expected figures for women, could be translated into an effective health policy.

(December 06)

EAGLES flies in to link Europe and researchers in developing countries

An enthusiastic new group of successful scientists met in Alexandria last month to begin bridging the gap between developing country researchers and those in richer countries, especially in Europe – where a USS$63 billion seven-year research fund is about to be carved up. Diabetes was their test case.

(May 06)

African health ministers lay claim to research

“Health research is a must” – Minister Eyitayo Lambo, Nigeria. “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come” – Minister Courage Quashigah, Ghana.

SUMMARY:Africa is taking the lead in an intercontinental effort to create a new, indigenous agenda for health research, relevant to policy-making and action – and to apply the results of proven science

(May 06)

“Astronomical” new product costs demand public-private collaboration – says Pharma

Public sector collaboration, experimental medicine and no intellectual property for “science” - these are the future for pharmaceutical R&D.

SUMMARY: It’s not only WHO that is hearing calls for a new “framework” for the research and development of pharmaceuticals. Despite great scientific prospects, the pharmaceutical industry is in trouble.

(May 06)

Home based management of malaria – artemisinin studies needed

Mothers can cure malarial feveres, but research funding problems are slowing application.

SUMMARY: Training, communication and provision of antimalarials at the community level cut malaria mortality by 40% in trials in the late 1990s. In Uganda, the scheme has been extended to most major child health issues, using public and private partners, and stimulated the creation of a country-wide network of multi-purpose “community drug distributors”. So why isn’t it widespread? In the case of malaria, we await a major study on the community distribution of artemisinin combinations. But the principles the approach pioneered could be applied universally. >by Robert Walgate, Editor, RealHealthNews

(May 06)

Companies and communities ready to help African health systems

World Economic Forum identifies radical solutions for healthcare capacity in sub-Saharan Africa.

SUMMARY: According to a World Economic Forum workshop in Gabarone – part of a Global Health Initiative that will report to the influential African Summit in Capetown in June - there is help for African health systems at both ends of the track. The corporate sector is offering help in the management of health systems and in quality control; and research in remote rural areas and slum communities has shown ordinary people also willing and able to assist.

(May 06)

New HIV infections in young women fall by half in East Zimbabwe

Change in sexual behaviour is the cause, and was in turn induced by education, claim researchers.

Did information, education and communication on HIV transmission and risk – or the death of relatives and friends – cause a significant change in sexual behaviour, and a dramatic fall in new HIV infections, in Eastern Zimbabwe?

by Prakash Khanal (March 06)

Seven ways to heaven

From local African research to Indian pharma’s aim at a “five-billion” – person market, to radical R&D proposals to the World Health Assembly: what’s happening to world health research?

(March 06)

Fast computerized vaccine might protect against any pandemic flu

Revolutionary method promises human pandemic vaccine “within a month or two” of virus sequencing.

H5N1 bird flu now in Nigeria will kill chickens, and even some people, but it is not pandemic human flu. Nevertheless a pandemic may emerge anytime, anywhere – from a related virus created by its recombination with ordinary human influenza. Response needs to be fast, and now a new genetic method is claimed to be able to create a vaccine within two months of sequencing.

by Prakash Khanal (March 06)

Could statins stop bird flu deaths?

Urgent research is needed to test a cheap and widely available potential remedy for bird and pandemic flu. With H5N1 viral resistance developing to Tamiflu, the antiviral agent being stockpiled in the hope of saving lives in an influenza pandemic, urgent new approaches are needed. Statins could be the answer – but they need immediate animal and human research.

By Robert Walgate (December 05)

Quake victims need NATO for a “ Berlin airlift” says UN

Without more aid and helicopters, half-a-million could die from disease and exposure in snows due soon.

Enormous airlifts of supplies in, and wounded and sick out, plus tetanus toxoid, disinfectants, basic hospital equipment and data registries are essential immediately or donors will have to “look in the mirror and ask why” .

(20 Oct 05)

Chasms in information in Pakistan earthquake

Health information is not reaching those most in need. With the earthquake creating massive problems from injury and increasing disease, people need good health information – but what’s known is not reaching those in need.

(14 Oct 05)

Immunization rates stagnating in Europe

WHO launches initiative to combat increasing complacency about immunizing children.

A new systematic review has shown the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to be safe, after public anxiety triggered a slump in MMR vaccination in Europe – which led to thousands of cases of mumps in the UK, and rising deaths from measles in Ireland. The fears fed increasing complacency about vaccination generally, which the WHO European region hopes to reverse.

(18 Oct 05)