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Chronic Diseases - Posing a Greater Global Risk Than a Fiscal Crisis?

This is a joint post with Andrea Feigl.

Chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and the like) are the world’s leading cause of death, and greatest contributor to the global burden of disease. To some of us working in the health field, this is not news. To others, it comes as a surprise that chronic diseases kill more people in the developing world than HIV, malaria, and other infectious diseases combined (WHO).

Yet it was a surprise to us when the World Economic Forum described the global threat of chronic diseases to be more imminent and threatening than – yes, indeed – a global fiscal crisis.

The IMF and the Swine Flu? WHO's on First!

This is a joint post with David Goldsbrough.

As the possibility of a one trillion dollar supplement in IMF funding comes closer to fruition in the midst of alerts about the possibility of a new pandemic of influenza, some of us at CGD have been asked about the possibility of connections between IMF adjustment programs and health. Some of the questions are a bit loopy, like: Did the IMF cause the current flu epidemic? And even weirder: should the IMF prevent future flu epidemics?

In the Halls of CGD, on the WHO…

A joint posting by members of the CGD health team (April Harding, Mead Over, Rachel Nugent, Andrea Feigl, and Danielle Kuczynski)

Scene 1.

Thursday was a typical morning at CGD: birds chirping, sun shining, the health team arrives at their computers and sits down with a hot cup of coffee to tackle the challenges of the day- only to find that April Harding has circulated an article by Anne Applebaum (AA), on why the World Health Organization (WHO) should focus on infectious diseases, which April called “A really nice piece on why we should care about (and fix) the WHO”.

Email frenzy ensues.

Lighting Up the IP Debate

Victoria Hale, head of OneWorld Health, an innovative non-profit pharmaceutical firm, reckons that compulsory licensing could prove "the last blow" that pushes the drug industry away from looking for cures for diseases of the poor world, which are already woefully neglected...

Bruce Lehman, a lawyer who worked on the TRIPS [sic] accord in the Clinton administration, thinks it is cynical for middle-income countries "to avoid paying their fair share of drug-discovery costs."

Flu Vaccine Woes

Once again, volatile demand for flu vaccine is giving everyone a headache. A mere two years ago supply fell badly short of demand, turning US seniors into "immunization tourists" to Canada, and putting President Bush on the defensive during the 2004 campaign. This year, demand is way off, and suppliers can barely give the vaccine away; they face the prospect of wasting valuable doses because the vaccine is developed specifically for this year's strain.

Beating Drug Resistance: Chloroquine Proven to Have Regained Effectiveness Against Malaria

In the midst of all the recent political developments in global health, there's an exciting surprise on the scientific front: a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that chloroquine cured 99% of malaria cases in a study of 105 children in Malawi, over 12 years after it was withdrawn due to treatment failure rates of over 50% (as reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and elsewhere).