Monday, June 13, 2011

How structural violence impacts maternal health

'“When unjust systems or structures prevent people from achieving good health, and from achieving good lives, this is structural violence in action,” says Donna Barry, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Partners In Health (PIH).

In an article entitled “Structural Violence: A Barrier to Achieving the MDGs for Women,” published recently in the Journal of Women’s Health (JWH), PIH Medical Director Joia Mukherjee, Barry, and several other co-authors argue that maternal mortality continues to plague poor women in poor communities because public health interventions have not addressed the impact of structural violence. Drawing on examples from PIH’s work in Haiti and Lesotho, the authors also clearly demonstrate how women’s lives can be saved and transformed by programs that combine quality health care with determined efforts to uproot structural violence and the social determinants of disease, especially poverty, sexism, and gender-based violence.

In the late 1980s, 99 percent of the half million maternal deaths occurring each year took place in poor countries. Nearly a quarter century later, 350,000 women still die every year from pregnancy-related causes, the vast majority in the poor world. In a 2010 report on maternal mortality, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found that complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for 15-19 year old women and adolescent girls in developing countries.'

Read the complete article from Partners In Health

Watch the PIH video below on maternal global health delivery

Watch live streaming video from global_health_equity at

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Target of 15 million people on HIV treatment by 2015 secured at AIDS summit

MSF: Funds and affordable drugs needed to turn target into treatment NEW YORK, 9 June 2011 – On the heels of new evidence that shows HIV treatment is also HIV prevention, governments meeting at a UN Summit on AIDS have taken a critical step by committing to reach 15 million people with HIV treatment by 2015 – but they must take immediate concrete action to make this treatment target a reality, the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) / Doctors Without Borders said today. “By agreeing to expand HIV treatment to 15 million people in four years, governments are committing to take the latest science that treatment is prevention and turn it into policies that save lives and can stop the virus,” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV/AIDS Policy Advisor for MSF’s Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. “The clock starts now – everyday, we need to get more people on treatment than the day before.”

Fresh scientific evidence shows that treatment is also a form of prevention, as it reduces the risk of transmission of HIV from one person to another by 96 percent. By ambitiously expanding treatment, according to new research by UNAIDS, twelve million infections and more than seven million deaths can be averted by 2020. It could also reduce by more than half the number of new infections by 2015. This will require an additional $6 billion top up each year until 2015. However, funding for AIDS declined in both 2009 and 2010, leaving the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the US-government’s PEPFAR and other programs short of resources.

“There are nine million people waiting for HIV treatment today,” said Dr Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Executive Director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “This whole AIDS Summit will have been a farce if we don’t see real plans to ramp up treatment so we can get ahead of the wave of new infections.”

Countries also need to ensure that the medicines needed to break the back of the epidemic remain affordable. This means not just supporting policies that drive down prices, but refraining from pushing policies that drive up prices by imposing ever tighter intellectual property protection. In particular, free trade agreements negotiated by the US, the EU and others with developing countries are creating further barriers to price-busting generic competition, and threaten access to affordable newer medicines.

“Without affordable medicines, access to treatment cannot become a reality,” said Michelle Childs, policy/advocacy director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “Over six million people are on treatment today, largely because generic production drove the price of the first generation of AIDS medicines down by 99% since 2000. This success can only be repeated with newer and more potent medicines if barriers to low-cost drug production are removed. But countries are making promises to treat AIDS in one meeting and working hard to keep prices out of reach behind closed doors in other meetings. This double-speak has to stop.” The final declaration ending the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS is expected to be formally endorsed by countries on 10 June. MSF currently provides antiretroviral treatment to 170,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in 19 countries and sources more than 80 percent of the antiretroviral medicines it uses in its projects from generic manufacturers in India.

Time to act: Save a million lives by 2015 - Prevent and treat tuberculosis among people living with HIV

'A new epidemiological model shows it is possible to sharply reduce AIDS deaths worldwide by preventing and treating tuberculosis (TB). At present one in four AIDS-related deaths is precipitated by TB; the vast majority of these could be averted, since TB is curable.

The model, which provides a clear blueprint for saving lives, was produced through a joint effort by the Stop TB Partnership, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Building on well-established methods for preventing and treating HIV-associated TB that are recommended by WHO and UNAIDS, the model shows that by scaling up these approaches worldwide a million lives could be saved by the end of 2015.

"There has been a surge in awareness about the deadly TB epidemic among people living with HIV, but insufficient action. Now new scientific work has shown that we can prevent a million deaths among people living with HIV by end 2015 by providing integrated HIV and TB care," said Dr Jorge Sampaio, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Stop TB and former President of Portugal. "I call on the world's leaders to take up this challenge. It is time to take bold action. Not to do so would be an outrage."'

To learn more, visit the Stop TB Partnership
Download the document
Download the fact sheet

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

HIV treatment is also HIV prevention

"This week in New York, heads of state and health ministers from the around the world will make decisions that will impact the lives of millions of people. At the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS beginning June 8, officials are expected to hammer out a blueprint for the next decade of the global response to the epidemic. The meeting takes place exactly 30 years since the discovery of HIV/AIDS and ten years after HIV/AIDS treatment started in developing countries..."

To learn more, visit:
Médecins Sans Frontières - Frontline Reports Podcast
Dignitas International - HIV/AIDS and Human Rights

Monday, June 6, 2011

PIH proposes Cholera vaccination campaign in Haiti

"As Haiti’s cholera epidemic enters its ninth month, the country’s rainy season has begun, further stressing and disrupting the country’s woefully inadequate water and sewage systems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Haiti’s Ministry of Health, increasing numbers of people are falling ill and dying from the illness.

Debate about the public health response to the crisis has also been underway, with some experts arguing that a vaccination campaign in Haiti would be neither feasible, nor cost-effective. But a coalition of medical and public health researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, led by PIH co-founder Paul Farmer, argue that a universal vaccination campaign is essential to ending the crisis in an article published in the May 31st issue of the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases."

Read more:

Cholera vaccination an essential strategy for Haiti

Meeting cholera's challenge to Haiti and the world: A joint statement on cholera prevention and care

Friday, June 3, 2011

Institute for Health and Social Justice

Partners In Health was founded in 1987 to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care, and has since become a global leader in the struggle for health and social justice. As PIH explains, "[our] conviction that health care is a human right stems from our service to vulnerable communities and their daily struggle with the grim realities of poverty. The Institute for Health and Social Justice (IHSJ) is the advocacy and policy arm of Partners In Health. The mission of the IHSJ is to analyze the impact of poverty and inequality on health, and to use these findings to educate and train students, academics, donors, policy makers, and lay people."

The IHSJ Reader offers a great summary of global health news and events, and can be accessed by clicking here. To learn more about the IHSJ, visit their website by clicking here.

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