Opinions: Eliminating TB; HIV Prevention Trial; Reducing Stillbirths; Foreign Aid, Global Stability; Safe Injection Sites
Now Is The Time For International Community To Rid World Of TB
In a U.S. News & World Report opinion piece, African Health Ministers Aaron Motsoaledi of South Africa, Mphu Ramatlapeng of Lesotho, and Benedict Xaba of Swaziland call upon the international community to join with them in the fight to rid the world of tuberculosis (TB). "That goal might seem overambitious or unrealistic. [But i]t's not," they write. "Cheap, effective treatments for TB already exist."
The health ministers describe the toll of TB in their respective countries and their efforts to control the spread of the disease, which they note is "intimately related to [the U.S.' ] fight to eliminate TB" on U.S. soil. "Early detection and uninterrupted treatment are key to control and management of TB. With development partner support and community involvement, we can interrupt transmission of the disease," they write. "With the new diagnostic technology now available, we have a genuine shot at eliminating this scourge from the face of the earth," they conclude (4/19).
Researchers Should Not Give Up Search For HIV Prevention Pill
A San Francisco Chronicle editorial summarizes several questions that remain following the recent announcement that an oral HIV drug was no more effective at reducing the risk of HIV infection in women than the placebo: "Why did the drug do well with men but not women? Did the women take the drug faithfully as required? Or is Truvada, which combines two drugs that tamp down AIDS symptoms, another blind alley in the search for a rock-solid preventative?"
Although women today "have more options than ever before" for HIV treatment, "[t]he flip side to this success story is that drug companies feel less compelled to produce new drugs if existing ones are doing the job. The magic-bullet drug, now that Truvada's fallen short, needs the full attention of researchers. It's no time to give up," the editorial concludes (4/19).
Strengthening Health Initiatives For Women, Children Can Help Reduce Stillbirths
In a Huffington Post opinion piece, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reflects on the recent Lancet series that found 2.6 million stillbirths occur worldwide annually, with close to half taking place during labor. Although the series highlights the scope of the issue, it also suggests "we can make a great deal of progress with existing solutions. We can effectively address stillbirths simply by strengthening our maternal, newborn and child health efforts the solutions for both turn out to be remarkably similar," Gates writes, adding, "When we focus on health initiatives that benefit both mothers and newborns, we prevent millions of stillbirths as well" (4/18).
Investments In Foreign Aid Promote Global Stability
In a Seattle Times opinion piece, Washington state Reps. Jim McDermott (D) and Adam Smith (D), and Bill Clapp, founder of Global Washington and Seattle International Foundation, say the FY12 budget resolution would "toss foreign assistance on the chopping block." "Foreign aid is far from wasteful spending: Dollars spent abroad help maintain America's economic and political leadership, as well as support our vital national-security interests," the authors write, adding, "These programs have amplified benefits for global stability through contributions to poverty alleviation, health and disease prevention, and infrastructure-building worldwide."
McDermott, Smith and Clapp describe how reductions to foreign aid would impact HIV/AIDS and TB programs, as well as humanitarian relief efforts, before concluding, "Our budget challenges are immense, but ultimately, we cannot reduce foreign aid without considering the greater cost in global poverty and instability such cuts would produce, now and for future generations" (4/17).
Safe Injection Site Should Not Be Used As 'A Political Football'
"A health-care facility that saves lives and prevents the transmission of deadly diseases should be hailed as an innovative advancement in medical care not a political football to be punted around by the government of the day," Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and former president of the International AIDS Society, writes in a Globe and Mail opinion piece that describes the findings of a recent Lancet study showing how an authorized facility for injecting illegal drugs helped to reduce overdose deaths in Vancouver. Despite such benefits, Montaner describes the opposition to the site by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of the federal Conservative party.
"Supervised injection sites are not a panacea for all the issues associated with injection drug use," but "[t]hey should be considered a critical piece of a comprehensive strategy to deal with addiction and its related ills," Montaner continues. "Rather than challenging the legitimacy of a life-saving health-care facility that prevents the transmission of deadly diseases, we should be implementing supervised injection sites across [Canada]. People shouldn't have to pay with their lives for misguided policies based on the moral convictions of a comparative few" (4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.