CGD Policy Blogs
At its latest meeting, the GAVI Alliance board committed $200 million to support the introduction of new vaccines against rotavirus and pneumococcal disease in developing countries; the Washington Post subsequently ran an editorial in support of the decision.
We were fortunate to attend a World AIDS Day event in Nairobi this morning sponsored by the National AIDS Control Council, the Kenyan government's HIV/AIDS coordinating body. It was a celebration of sorts - dancing and singing, balloons and banners. Speakers, including the Minister of Health and Vice President, noted that Kenya has seen a recent drop in its prevalence rate, albeit a small one. They attributed part of this achievement to a strong partnership with civil society. And indeed, there was a strong civil society presence at the event. Community-based organizations from all over Kenya had booths displaying their work and the representatives of these groups spoke knowledgeably about programs in prevention, treatment and care.
Even though the TRIPS agreement and the subsequent Doha declaration contain public health safeguards that allow developing countries to produce or import generic medicines, the reality is that few countries have had the political will and technical support to use those safeguards. That's why it's especially encouraging that earlier this week, Thailand's government announced it would issue a compulsory license for the antiretroviral drug Efavirenz, currently patented there by Merck.
Here's an idea that's easy to like: Set up a warehouse in Johannesburg stocked with AIDS drugs that can be shipped on an emergency basis to virtually any country in Africa when treatment program runs out of supplies.
The just-published issue of Biosecurity and Bioterrorism carries an essay by Ruth Levine, "A Cure for the Asian Flu," arguing that the international public health community may have a few things to learn from macroeconomists who work on financial crises. Odd as the parallel might seem, there's something to it.
This month's Public Health Classic in the Bulletin of the WHO: The first community trial of water fluoridation (.pdf), started in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan (with commentary by Michael Lennon). For more on how the fluoridation approach took off in Latin America and the Caribbean, see Millions Saved.
The Global Health Initiative of the World Economic Forum reports that malaria has a devastating impact on businesses and economic growth (full report here as pdf).
The study was conducted by David Bloom and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health. It summarizes the existing literature on the economic effects of malaria, which is of variable quality. What is new is the survey of 8,000 business leaders in 100 countries.