This week, our editorial comes from emerging voices from Nigeria, Seye Abimbola and Remi Oyedeji.
Enjoy your reading,
David Hercot, Kristof Decoster, Josefien Van Olmen, Basile Keugoung & Wim Van Damme
Donors continue to hold back support from Global Fund
The Global Fund remains millions of dollars short of what it needs to operate as governments continue to withhold donations over in-country corruption allegations. Ann Danaiya Usher reports in the Lancet (http://bit.ly/pnv1Os)
Development and Aid
Chronicle of a famine foretold
“After the 1985 Ethiopian famine America’s aid agency set up a Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) to give warning of disasters. It has been forecasting a threat of famine in Somalia since November… FEWS Net may have predicted famine but nothing happened until television cameras showed up…Aid officers worry about being criticised by the public and their own bosses if they spend scarce resources before there is an outcry. The result is that donors often ignore their own early warnings. http://www.economist.com/node/21524864
The unfolding of the drama
At least now the press is fully covering the unfolding of the events, from the increasing number of refugees, problems with camps and effects on the local hosting populations.
Famine is spreading in Somalia, says UN:
Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp overwhelmed by Somalia drought refugees – video: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/aug/03/kenya-refugee-somalia-drought-video?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487
Somalia famine: Refugees move into Dadaab extension:
Inside Dadaab refugee settlement — in pictures:
Vaccines and Infectious Diseases
Vaccines are probably known as the biggest success of public health in history. However, things are changing. Larson and colleagues in the Lancet discuss some of the characteristics of the changing global environment that are contributing to increased public questioning of vaccines, and outline some of the specific determinants of public trust in “Addressing the vaccine confidence gap” (http://bit.ly/q3zizB).
Is immunisation child protection?
The Lancet ‘s Series ‘new decade of vaccines’ shows opportunities and challenges for development and implementation of vaccines in the coming decades. The Series emphasises advances in biomedical science, but the biggest hurdle to realisation of this potential could instead relate to failure of parental acceptance of safe and effective vaccination. Finn and Savulescu discuss this issue in their Lancet comment. (http://bit.ly/nH8maz)
Nigeria Parents Risk Jail for Skipping Polio Drops
Here is what the government in Nigeria tries to do to turn the tide…
Europe’s neglected infections of poverty
Tropical diseases are no longer just ‘tropical’ (if they have every been). This article in TMIH discusses the increase of tropical diseases in Europe and the links with migration and economic development. Turmoil and economic collapse following the war in the Balkans, the fall of Communism, and Europe’s recent recession have helped to promote their high prevalence and incidence rates of tropical diseases. Vulnerable populations include the Roma, orphans destined for international adoption, and some immigrant groups. Among the policy recommendations are increased efforts to determine the prevalence, incidence, and geographic distribution of Europe’s neglected infections, epidemiological studies to understand the ecology and mechanisms of disease transmission, and research and development for new control tools.
Research & Policy
In the Lancet,two articles focusing on technical aspects of research, yet illustrating the direct importance for political decision making.
Mathematical models in the evaluation of health programmes
Research and the techniques used are generally too complex to be grabbed easily by those making the decisions based on it. Yet, sometimes they better do so… The article of Garnett et al in the Lancet is such a very technical article, but it shows how different ways of modeling in research have impact on policy advice. http://bit.ly/ondca9
The future of Epidemiology
Bhopal and colleagues discuss the striking features of contemporary epidemiology: diversity, change, and global reach: from society to the molecule, responding to technical advances and changing patterns of disease. The challenges remain similar: translating epidemiology into evidence, practice, and ultimately better health; and strengthening epidemiology research capacity, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. http://bit.ly/obE7aC
An increasing in pilot studies and larger-scale initiatives using mobile phones and more advances electronic devices for health interventions.
We know of course, that internet access in Sub-Saharan Africa, a focus area of our newsletter, is still very problematic. Good and bad news, reported from the World Bank: “In fact, the broadband access gap between Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world is getting wider just as the gap in basic voice communications is getting smaller.” For those interested, they wrote a report ‘Broadband for Africa : developing backbone communications networks’, taking a comprehensive, analytical view of the policy challenge of backbone networks, starting with the economics and the technology.( http://bit.ly/nRebtH)
India To Use Mothers’ Mobile Phones To Track Child Immunizations
The Kaiser Daily reports that “India’s health minister announced Tuesday a new initiative underway to boost the country’s rate of immunizing newborns by collecting mobile phone numbers of all pregnant mothers to monitor their babies’ vaccinations” (India Real Time)
The effect of mobile phone text-message reminders on Kenyan health workers’ adherence to malaria treatment guidelines
Zurovac and colleagues publiced the results of an RCT in Kenya to test if sending text messages to providers would improve adherence to malaria treatment guidelines in the Lancet (http://bit.ly/qzZ2s4). A comment (http://bit.ly/qc2VTL) by Moonen from the Clinton Health Access Initiative welcomes the results and makes sharp observations about the potential implications of such interventions for the discussion of rapid diagnostic tests and the involvement of the informal sector.
Open source Electronic Medical Records System
Boyce discusses “Open MRS, an open source electronic medical record system platform, a record system designed to be “easy to use, adaptable, and based around the needs of clinicians on the ground” (http://bit.ly/qK55p5) . He recommends you to have a look (http://openmrs.org/).
New Partnership to Combat HIV and Maternal Mortality
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Marie Stopes International have announced a new partnership which will combine their collective strengths within the sexual and reproductive health arena (community action on AIDS and family planning) to combat AIDS and complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, the two main causes of death in women of reproductive age globally.
Retention in HIV Care between Testing and Treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa
Improving the outcomes of HIV/AIDS treatment programs in resource-limited settings requires successful linkage of patients testing positive for HIV to pre–antiretroviral therapy (ART) care and retention in pre-ART care until ART initiation. Studies of retention in pre-ART care report substantial loss of patients at every step, starting with patients who do not return for their initial CD4 count results and ending with those who do not initiate ART despite eligibility. Better health information systems that allow patients to be tracked between service delivery points are needed to properly evaluate pre-ART loss to care.
In Kenya, clinics struggle to keep patients not yet eligible for ART
Jairus Musau tested HIV-positive two years ago, but when he was told he would not immediately be given antiretrovirals, his parents insisted he visit a traditional healer in his eastern Kenya hometown of Kitui. “The doctor told me I would not be given ARVs since I still did not qualify for them… When I shared this with my parents, they told me I would live with somebody who would pray for me.”
China’s major health challenge: control of chronic diseases
The Lancet discusses a World Bank Report (http://bit.ly/oQPdha) about the challenge of NCD in China, in which the WB “urged China to step up efforts to tackle its rising tide of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), warning of not only the social but the economic consequences of inaction”. (http://bit.ly/r58JZY)
Public-Public Partnerships Can Provide Safe, Affordable Water To Poor Populations
A report released by Food and Water Watch, a NGO based in Washington, led to discussion of the role of public-private partnerships in ensuring safe drinkwater at UN level. According to the study, “[w]hile privatized water service has been shown to obstruct the human right to water, research shows that municipalities can deliver safe, affordable water to residents by pooling resources in public-public partnerships”