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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.


World AIDS Day 2014: UNAIDS Shifts Its Emphasis toward Reducing New Infections

On World AIDS Day in 2003, WHO and UNAIDS launched a campaign called the “3 by 5 initiative,” with the objective to “treat three million people with HIV by 2005.” At that time, AIDS treatment was still prohibitively expensive for poor countries, where only a few thousand people had access to treatment. Thanks to President Bush’s creation of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program that same year, the number of people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) began to rise dramatically. While the total number of people on ART reached only one million in 2005, the objective to reach three million people was attained in 2007, and the numbers have continued to climb. The numbers have now surpassed 11 million in low- and middle-income countries and 13 million worldwide. (See bottom trend line in figure 1.)

Finding a Cure for Ebola

The priority for policymakers concerned about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa should be to respond to the existing outbreak, treat the victims, and contain its spread. But the longer term lesson is that we need to be willing to spend more on global health.

What’s New in Tobacco Control?

Saturday was World No Tobacco Day which prompted me to ask: “What’s new?” After looking at the press releases, I decided that the most significant thing that happened last year was that another 30 million young people have started smoking around the world. Of these, 25 million are in low- and middle-income countries and about 12 million of them will die prematurely from disease linked to tobacco – 10% of them because of second-hand smoke. This epidemic is not caused by a virus or spread by mosquitoes. It is intentionally planned and profited from by large tobacco companies – for-profit multinationals as well as state-owned monopolies.

Using “Value of Information” Concepts to Prioritize the Data Revolution

I recently proposed that any assessment of a country’s statistical capacity be structured around the functions of government, such as those offered by the UN statistical office here.  When this list is fully expanded, it includes all of the data that advanced countries like the US or Japan use to manage government and inform citizens.  Most developing countries will fall below such an ambitious standard.  So how should investments in improved statistical capacity be prioritized?