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CGD in the News

December 20, 2018

Experts Call for Inclusion of Pregnant Women in Vaccine Research (VOA)

From the article:

Pregnant women have been systematically overlooked in the development and deployment of new vaccines, undermining their health and their communities’ safety, according to guidelines released this month by an international team of researchers, scientists and health care providers.

The report, developed by the Pregnancy Research Ethics for Vaccines, Epidemics and New Technologies (PREVENT) working group, identifies a cycle of exclusion that prevents pregnant women from accessing the benefits of vaccines.

“There’s a lot of reticence to include pregnant women in research,” said Carleigh Krubiner, the project director and a co-principal investigator for PREVENT.

And that’s led to a shortfall in data about how pregnant women respond to vaccines.

Krubiner, an associate faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, told VOA that researchers and health care providers tend to exclude pregnant women from trials, vaccinations and tracking because they lack evidence of the risks expectant mothers face.

“We continue to have this Catch-22 of not having enough evidence to feel like we can do the research. But if we don’t do the research, we don’t have the evidence,” Krubiner said.

December 12, 2018

Trump signed a good law this week. Yes, really. (Vox)

By Dylan Matthews
From the article:
PEPFAR is the federal government’s anti-HIV/AIDS foreign aid program, established by the Global AIDS Act of 2003 and renewed in 2008 and 2013. It is the single-largest global health initiative targeting a single disease in history. It currently provides support for antiretroviral treatment for 14.6 million people, both directly and through technical support to partner countries.
”PEPFAR has helped changed the equation on what was once — not too long ago — seen as an insurmountable plague,” the Center for Global Development’s Amanda Glassman and Jenny Ottenhoff write.
Read the full article here.
October 20, 2017

Puerto Rico Is Becoming A Textbook Example Of How Waterborne Disease Outbreaks Spread (Quartz)

From the article:

The disaster in Puerto Rico wrought by hurricane Maria is still unraveling one month after it hit.

Most of the island remains without electricity. A third of residents still don’t have running water, while those who do can’t count on what comes out of the faucet being clean. Meanwhile, pools and puddles of standing water due to recent heavy rains (link in Spanish) following Maria are primed to spread disease...

Jeremy Konyndyk, an expert in the global spread of disease at the Washington, DC-based Center for Global Development, described the situation as “textbook vulnerability to major waterborne disease outbreak” in a tweet thread, ending it with incredulity:

This all is the sort of hypothetical humanitarian scenario I teach about...never thought I'd see it on US soil. /end

— Jeremy Konyndyk (@JeremyKonyndyk) October 17, 2017

Read full article here.

October 18, 2017

The Unrelenting Crisis In Puerto Rico Is Forcing People To Drink Dirty Water (Vox)

From the article:

The water and electrical situations have compounded what’s being called a “slow-motion medical disaster.” Puerto Ricans now face a much higher risk of health problems related to a lack of access to electricity and clean water — from dehydration to leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread by drinking water contaminated with animal urine that’s already been breaking out.

Oh God. It is hard to overstate how dangerous this is. 1/

— Jeremy Konyndyk (@JeremyKonyndyk) October 17, 2017

The public health situation could quickly deteriorate even further, warned Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. Outbreaks of cholera, a deadly diarrheal disease caused by eating food or drinking water that’s been contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae, often emerge after people have been living without access to clean water. Puerto Rico doesn’t currently have cholera disease, but if it turns up, the island’s mixture of a collapsed public health infrastructure and patchy access to clean water could be a recipe for an outbreak.

“When you have a population that has been accustomed to being able to rely on clean potable water sources, and a new danger is introduced in the environment or their standard sources are no longer reliable, that creates a real risk,” Konyndyk told Vox.

Read full article here.

October 13, 2017

FT Health: World Bank Says ‘Go Big, Go Fast’ To Stub Out Tobacco (Financial Times)

From the article:

For most experts in public health, there is little doubt that higher excise taxes on tobacco would be a win-win, raising costs as a disincentive to smokers while generating additional income from those who continue to smoke.

Yet governments and international institutions have been ambivalent. They have often listened to advice — or succumbed to pressure — from corporations including the tobacco industry which has steered them away from more aggressive measures. As William Savedoff from the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington, argues, the International Monetary Fund has stalled and played down how best to use taxes to improve public health.
Now the World Bank goes further, suggesting policymakers “go big, go fast”, tax cigarettes based on quantity not price, and use “soft earmarks” that channel revenues to public health.
Ultimately governments decide on taxation. But international institutions presenting the evidence more vocally — offering technical advice and cajoling national policymakers as part of regular budget scrutiny — can only be positive.

Read full article here.

October 11, 2017

Q&A: The World Bank's Quiet Evolution on Tobacco Taxes (Devex)

From the article:

Tobacco taxes — when they are implemented with the express purpose of reducing the number of people who smoke — offer national governments an extremely effective policy tool for tackling negative health outcomes, William Savedoff, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development who will also be in Wednesday’s meeting, told Devex.

Savedoff has pressed the international financial institutions to take a more proactive stance on tobacco taxes for years, and he is happy to see that the World Bank now seems to be taking that advice to heart. Devex spoke to Savedoff ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, where the bank will present a new paper it has produced, which argues for countries to make better use of this “underutilized” policy tool.

Savedoff described his early sense of awe at seeing the “knock-your-head-with-a-hammer” obvious association between smoking and health risks, and then the potential effectiveness tobacco taxes could have on mitigating those risks — especially among countries’ poorest populations.

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation with Savedoff, edited for clarity and length.

Read full article here.

August 25, 2017

With Pneumococcal Vaccine Patent, Pfizer Wins on Many Counts (The Wire)

From the article:

Not only was Pfizer given a subsidy to ‘develop’ a drug that already existed, the profits they will make from the inefficient vaccine is much beyond what was originally stipulated.
Pfizer has been granted an Indian patent for its Prevenar 13 – a pneumococcal vaccine. The vaccine costs more than Rs 3,000 per dose and the three doses required to immunise a child cost more than Rs 10,000. The decision of the patent office bars other Indian companies from making a cheaper version of the vaccine. Although the vaccine is exorbitantly expensive, it has poor efficacy. Yet one is not surprised by the news of the patent, given the background story, nationally and internationally, of this vaccine. According to the petition by Prashant Bhushan in the Delhi high court, this vaccine has the distinction of being recommended even before it was manufactured, let alone tested, by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, which is meant to evaluate and recommend vaccines for introduction in the country...
Pharmaceutical companies in general are keen to make drugs for the rich countries that they can sell at great profit. They have little interest in making vaccines for diseases like malaria that affected poor countries because the countries that needed the vaccine cannot afford their profit margins. In 2005, the Center for Global Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation came up with an idea to incentivise drug manufacturers to manufacture vaccines for neglected diseases like malaria.

Read full article here.

August 18, 2017

US Budget Cuts Could Weaken Global Fight Against AIDS (The Borgen Project Blog)

From the article:

Though the proposed budget would uproot U.S. efforts in the global fight against AIDS, political analysts have predicted that Congress will fight to reduce these cuts. PEPFAR has bipartisan support and the Republican majority considers it a party accomplishment due to its enactment by President George W. Bush. The National Institutes of Health have also recently gained bipartisan support with both Republicans and Democrats supporting greater funding.

Although the Trump administration’s cuts will likely be reduced by Congress, advocates worry that the proposed cuts will keep these programs from operating at their current levels. “I have no doubt Congress will succeed in restoring some level of funding,” says Scott Morris, director of the U.S. Development Policy Initiative at the Center for Global Development. “But it strikes me as an insurmountable lift to get back to the level of funding these programs currently enjoy.”

Read full article here.

August 15, 2017

Investing in Education Essential in Developing Countries (Borgen Magazine)

From the article:

Children around the globe do not have access to basic education and the countries with the highest rates of out-of-school children are also among the poorest in the world. Education gives people the necessary skills they need to climb the ladder out of poverty and into prosperity. Investing in education is essential in developing countries, reducing poverty rates and producing significant developmental benefits...

Recent studies suggest that the effect education has on health is as great as the effect income has...According to the Center for Global Development, young people who complete primary school are less likely to contract HIV than those with little or no schooling.

Read full article here.

July 26, 2017

How Significant Were the Pledges at the London Family Planning Summit? (Devex)

From the article:

Advocates have welcomed the news that an estimated $5 billion was pledged to improve and expand reproductive health services in developing countries at the London Family Planning Summit earlier this month — double the figure cited in initial reports — but say it still falls far short of the sums needed, and that better monitoring systems are required to ensure the commitments materialize...

Rachel Silverman, assistant director of global health policy at the Washington, D.C.- based Center for Global Development, also applauded “notable” commitments from India, which committed to spend an additional $1 billion by 2020 and increase modern contraceptive usage from 53.1 percent  to 54.3 percent, and satisfy 74 percent of the demand by 2020.

“We see three countries making up the bulk of the $4 billion — that’s great for those countries but it skews the [perception of] overall momentum,” she said.

Read full article here.