Friday, August 26, 2011

Compulsory licensing of generic drugs remains in quagmires

From the Institute for Health and Social Justice (IHSJ) Reader:

"Nearly a decade after the Doha Declaration determined that countries facing public health emergencies have the right to import generic drugs from developed countries, there has only been one instance in which a drug was successfully delivered to a developing country. Though several countries have enacted compulsory licensing legislation, the complicated application process deters low- and middle-income countries from turning to the EU or Canada to access cheaper treatment. Meanwhile, India, which has long served as the “pharmacy to the developing world,” is being forced to comply with international trade law by halting the production of generics patented after 1995."

Visit the IHSJ, the advocacy arm of Partners In Health.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Action: Tell the UN to Focus on Poverty-Related Diseases

From Partners In Health: "In September 2011 the United Nations will hold a High-Level Meeting (HLM) on the prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Much of the attention leading up to the conference has been focused on preventing NCDs by addressing lifestyle factors including diet, tobacco use, etc.

At Partners In Health we are particularly concerned with NCDs which are highly prevalent among the world’s poorest billion but are more often caused by poverty-related factors including indoor cooking stoves, malnutrition, etc.

Please add your name to the statement below to highlight and request attention to these causes of NCDs. We will share the statement and total numbers of signatories with the official delegations attending the HLM from the countries where PIH works and request that they also focus on solutions to the poverty-related causes in the outcomes document and programs developing from the HLM."

Download the full statement here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DRC: Fighting A Cholera Epidemic

A cholera epidemic is sweeping down the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Originating in the distant centre of the vast central African country it has now reached the capital, Kinshasa, more than 1,000 miles southwest. People are sick and dying and desperate for help. Robin Meldrum went to the town of Mbandaka, where an MSF emergency team is responding to the crisis.

WHO Bulletin: Health inequalities in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated and disaster-prone countries in the world. Although absolute poverty has declined in the country in recent years, the gap between the rich and poor has further widened.

A new report in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights this widening gap, concluding that "progress towards achieving national and international health goals will only be accelerated by mainstreaming equity in health policies and programmes. In short, Bangladesh needs concerted, integrated and holistic efforts based on the fundamental principle of equity to bridge the gaps between the rich and the poor and usher in an era of more progressive, equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development."

To read more from the report, click here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

MSF rapidly scaling up in Somalia

"This week, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sent medical teams and four charter planes carrying 55 tonnes of medical equipment, medicines and therapeutic food to Mogadishu in response to the crisis in Somalia. In the past weeks, an estimated 100,000 people have fled from south and central Somalia to the capital to seek assistance. They are settling in numerous camps in and around Mogadishu, with little or no access to healthcare.

"MSF has started measles vaccination campaigns in dozens of makeshift camps where thousands of people have gathered after fleeing the exceptional drought and the violence in other parts of the country. Almost 3,000 children have been vaccinated so far. Around 1,000 children have been screened for malnutrition. More than half of them were indeed malnourished.

"MSF is extremely worried about the situation of the displaced. The situation is critical. MSF has begun reinforcing its operations in Mogadishu and is assessing areas around the capital in order to adequately respond to this crisis,” says Unni Karunakara, a doctor and MSF’s international president."

Read more: click here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Partners in Help: Assisting the Poor Over the Long-Term"

Summary: Paul Farmer reflects on aid, his theory of accompaniment, and Haiti after the earthquake. From Foreign Affairs, July 29th, 2011.

"In 1848, Rudolf Virchow, one of public health's heroes, contended that "medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing other than medicine writ large." It would please me greatly to think that Virchow's point has been taken. Although I'm a physician, these past two years have been an object lesson about the difficulties of scaling up and of moving from caring for individual patients to building health systems in settings of privation and disarray.

A few years ago, building health systems was precisely what I thought I knew most about. But the January 2010 earthquake that ended so many Haitian lives and destroyed so much of its infrastructure was a grim reminder that we still lack the ability to translate goodwill and resources into robust responses. Reflect, for a minute, on the limits and the potential of the activity that used to be called "charity" or "foreign aid" but that I prefer to call "accompaniment."

"Accompaniment" is an elastic term. It has a basic, everyday meaning. To accompany someone is to go somewhere with him or her, to break bread together, to be present on a journey with a beginning and an end. There's an element of mystery, of openness, of trust, in accompaniment. The companion, the accompagnateur, says: "I'll go with you and support you on your journey wherever it leads; I'll share your fate for a while. And by 'a while,' I don't mean a little while." Accompaniment is about sticking with a task until it's deemed completed, not by the accompagnateur but by the person being accompanied...."

To continue reading the complete article, click here.