Archive for the National Security category

The Vaccine Veteran: Albert Sabin

November 11th, 2010

By: Jennifer Segal

Today is Veteran’s Day!  A day to honor U.S .veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Sabin Archive U Cincinnati

The Sabin Vaccine Institute was founded in honor of Dr. Albert Sabin, a renowned scientist and a great American veteran. Dr. Sabin was in the midst of his polio research in Ohio, when he joined the U.S. Army Epidemiological Board’s Virus Committee and accepted assignments all over the world at the start of World War II. During his time serving abroad, he developed vaccines for encephalitis (sleeping sickness), sand-fly fever, and dengue fever. Read more: The Vaccine Veteran: Albert Sabin

International Day of Nonviolence and NTDs!

October 2nd, 2010

By: Jennifer Segal

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

That famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi really helps define what today isThe International Day of Nonviolence (IDN) celebrated each year on October 2nd in memory of Mahatma Gandhi. IDN was established to help educate and spread awareness of nonviolence in order to promote a global environment of peace, tolerance and understanding.  Unfortunately, there is a strong connection between violence and poverty; we often see a trend of high rates of violence in areas with low income and little to no access to health care.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) summary report on world health and non- violence published in 2002, discusses the implications and priority of violence and its impact on global health. In 1979, the U.S. Surgeon General produced the first of several reports linking violence and health.In the report, the U.S. Surgeon General states that “the consequences of violent behavior could not be ignored in the effort to improve the nation’s health and made tackling the roots of violence a top priority for the health community.” The same goes for other nations too; if we want to make nonviolence a priority, we need to tackle one of its effecting contributors, and that is global health. Solutions to promoting nonviolence are based in education and awareness much like the recommendations for controlling and eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Read more: International Day of Nonviolence and NTDs!

The 2010 G8/G20 Summits: Looking Forward

June 25th, 2010

By: Genevieve Luippold

Today, Friday, June 25, 2010 the historic G8 and G20 summit meetings begin in Huntsville, Canada.  The G8, held from June 25-26, brings together eight heads of states from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States to discuss and address critical global challenges in areas such as international development, food security and global health.  Leaders from the G20, a summit with a narrower focus on global trade and economics, will immediately follow the G8 in Toronto June 26-27.  Global health is to be a major part of this year’s agenda.

One recent development in the global health sector is the new maternal and child health initiative, for more than $1 billion dollars, unveiled  by Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.  This initiative aims to improve the health and livelihood of women and children (MCH) in the world’s poorest regions.   The G8’s Muskoka Report, released earlier this week, provides insight into the progress of the Gleneagle Commitments made by G8 members in 2005 to increase global Organizational Development Assistance (ODA) significantly.  These ODA committmetns  were set to rise to $130 billion by 2010. Of this increase, $25 billion would go to Africa alone.  G8 expenditures in the last five years include assistance to the African Action Plan, billions of dollars in debt cancellation from G8 countries, improvement of market access for goods from Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and as well as major health sector contributions including the formation and support of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Yet, as the G8 and G20 leaders meet to discuss solutions to pressing global concerns, 1.4 billion of the world’s poorest, most marginalized people remain in the devastating impacts of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This group of seven disabling, disfiguring and deadly diseases impair physical and cognitive development, cause adverse pregnancy outcomes and limit adult workforce productivity.  As a result, the affected communities remain anchored into poverty by these endemic parasitic infections.

The Global Network, a major initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, is a partnership dedicated to eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).  The Global Network applauds the G8 in their inclusion of NTD, control, and elimination as a major channel of global development, yet reminds G8 leaders that there is still much work to be done. 

The Global Network is calling on members of the G8 to:

  • Fulfill promises made at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles to increase ODA by $130 by 2010
  • Recommit to statement made in 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy that no poor country with a credible plan for reducing infectious disease and newborn, child and maternal mortality should fail to achieve its objectives because of a lack of donor resources.
  • Ensure that accountability is an integral and permanent component of both the G8 and G20 process
  • Continue to raise the profile of NTDs around the world
  • End the neglect of neglected tropical diseases

Rescuing the Bottom Billion Through Control of the Neglected Tropical Diseases

May 18th, 2010

Reprinted with permission from: The Population Reference Bureau

*Listen to an audio interview with Dr. Hotez

By: Kata Fustos

(May 2010) With Millennium Development Goal 6, the international community pledged to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases throughout the world. Worldwide, 1.4 billion people are infected with one or more of these less-known other diseases. They come from the poorest of the poor who live on $1.25 or less per day, mostly on farms and in urban slums of the developing world. While these diseases have serious adverse effects on communities and exacerbate poverty, there are limited resources available for their research and treatment. Peter Hotez, distinguished research professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine at The George Washington University, and president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, discussed neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and their impact on developing countries at a recent PRB policy seminar. In what way do these diseases affect poor countries and what are some of the possible options for their control and elimination?

The most common NTDs affect hundreds of millions of individuals and are the most prevalent infections among the poorest 1 billion people. Some of these neglected diseases include ascariasis (roundworm), which affects 807 million people; trichuriasis (whipworm) with 604 million infections; and hookworm with about 576 million people infected worldwide. The NTDs have serious consequences in the developing world. They promote and reinforce poverty and can be a source of stigma because people with NTDs have a decreased capacity to work. Therefore, controlling or eliminating these diseases is crucial to poverty eradication. According to one estimate, the economy in India alone loses almost $1 billion annually as a result of reduced agricultural productivity caused by the side effects of chronic and disabling diseases. In addition to hurting the labor force and productivity, some of the diseases can impair intellectual and physical development in children and cause serious adverse pregnancy outcomes. Up to one-third of pregnant women are infected with hookworm in sub-Saharan Africa, which can lead to severe anemia and increase the chances of maternal and perinatal child mortality. Despite the large number of affected people and the severe side effects of NTDs, it is difficult to capture the attention of policymakers. We do not have a good elevator speech for NTDs. Policymakers like numbers and we do not have good numbers yet, said Hotez.

The prevalence of NTDs in the Muslim world, as well as in nuclear states, has strong geopolitical and foreign policy implications for the United States. Forty percent of the tropical disease burden falls on countries that are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. In addition, 25 percent to 30 percent of hookworm, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis (eye worm) infections occur in India, China, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, and Syria—countries either in possession of nuclear weapons or desiring nuclear capabilities. The same countries also represent 50 percent of leprosy and trachoma cases worldwide. The Obama administration has put considerable emphasis on showing goodwill toward these countries, taking advantage of the opportunity for vaccine diplomacy. According to Hotez, an ambitious vaccine development and distribution program focused on tropical infectious diseases prevalent in these regions might foster a spirit of cooperation and demonstrate compassion on the part of the United States.

 Global Disease Research and Development Investment, 2008

Disease Amount (US$) Percent
HIV/AIDS 1,215,841,708 39.3
Malaria 565,985,827 18.3
Tuberculosis 467,538,635 15.1
Kinetoplastids 145,676,517 4.7
Diarrhoeal diseases 138,159,527 4.5
Dengue 132,470,770 4.3
Bacterial pneumonia & meningitis 96,071,934 3.1
Helminth infections (worms and flukes) 69,518,274 2.2
Salmonella infections 41,079,293 1.3
Leprosy 10,073,184 0.3
Rheumatic fever 2,268,099 0.1
Trachoma 2,225,330 0.1
Buruli ulcer 2,140,303 0.1
Platform technologies 16,569,978 0.5
Core funding of a multidisease R&D organization 110,403,054 3.6
Unspecified disease 78,179,894 2.5
Total 3,094,202,327 100

 Source: The George Institute for International Health, Neglected Disease Research & Development: New Times, New Trends (December 2009), accessed at, on May 10, 2010.

NTDs did not appear on the public agenda until 2005 and they command a small portion of the global investment in research and development (R&D). Funding is highly concentrated on specific diseases; in 2008, about 73 percent of global R&D expenditures went to support HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis research. The $2.2 billion invested in the big three sharply contrasts with the $840 million spent on the other major NTDs (see table). There is reason for optimism, however. Several countries have seen successes with mass drug administration, where drugs are given to an entire population in high-infection areas, regardless of peoples disease status. Great reductions in cost come from eliminating the expense of diagnosis and treating everyone as if they were infected. Various governments have applied this method successfully—Zanzibar and the South Pacific radically reduced the prevalence of lymphatic filariasis in the early 2000s, and Egypt successfully fought schistosomiasis (bilharzia or snail fever) during the 1990s.

Hotez highlighted another cost-effective and viable option for treatment, the Rapid Impact Package, which includes a combination of drugs and targets seven major NTDs, including hookworm, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis (river blindness). Together with delivery and equipment costs, training of personnel, and monitoring and evaluation expenses, these drugs cost 50 cents for one person for a whole year, making this one of the best buys in public health.

 Kata Fustos is an intern in the Communications department at the Population Reference Bureau.

Money Spent on Nuclear Weapons could Eliminate NTDs at a Fraction of the Cost, says Editorial

April 28th, 2010

Currently there are eight acknowledged nuclear power states (America, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, and North Korea) with more, (Israel, Iran, and Syria), believed to have nuclear programs. But what if those powers took some of the immense amounts of money they put into their nuclear programs and instead used it for treating NTDs? That question is the basis of a new editorial in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease by Dr. Peter Hotez.

Dr. Hotez estimates that, since the Manhattan Project, “the 11 nuclear weapons states together have invested at least 10 trillion dollars on weapons production and maintenance” while “the costs for both neglected disease control and R and D comes close to a billion dollars, or roughly less than 1/10,000th of the estimated 10 trillion dollars committed for nuclear weapons.” All of these nations, with the possible exception of Great Britain have a significant NTD burden.

Investments in nuclear weaponry are carried out under the auspice of deterring war and thus promoting peace, says Hotez, but these and additional benefits can be achieved through neglected disease funding. Increased investments in neglected disease research could control or eliminate neglected infections, support achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, stabilize and build nations, and reduce civil strife and international tensions.

To read the full text of the editorial, click here.

Big Announcement by Bill Gates and Tim Geithner

April 22nd, 2010

Were watching this announcement live here

Bill Gates and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are announcing the launch of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program– “a new fund to help the world’s poorest farmers grow more food and earn more than they do now so they can lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.”

Read their piece in the Wall Street Journal here

We will repost the recorded video when it becomes available!

Reading List 4/1/2010

April 1st, 2010

Happy April everybody! Today weve got a bunch of NTD related news, including some ongoing advocacy work and a possible breakthrough against African sleeping sickness (no foolin).

Scientists open way for new sleeping sickness drug, Kate Kelland, Reuters Members of Congress Urge Spending Boost for Neglected Diseases, Joe DeCapua, Voice of America HEALTH: Seeking Funds to Fight Neglected Diseases, Fabiana Frayssinet, IPS Vaccines, The Modern Olive Branch?, Josh Witten, Scientific Blogging Killer diseases of Africa’s poor, Pamela Olet, Daily Nation Blindness Prevention Initiative, AmeriCares, Reuters AlertNet

Global Pulse 2010: Day 2

March 30th, 2010

(Note: to read any of the Global Pulse discussions, you need to register here first.)

 Today marks the second day of Global Pulse, the ongoing online collaborative event focused on global issues. In the last day, we’ve seen the global health discussion include some very interesting conversations, such as if the expansion of information technology and basic health capability are competitive or cooperative goals, what the role of communities is in health systems, and about the reasons for the uneven distribution of public health education opportunities. Perhaps the two most interesting threads are the welcome thread created by Amie Batson, USAID Director of the Global Health Initiative, which has turned into a sort of open discussion on global health, and a thread with many proposed answers taken from the Human Resources and Health document recently published by USAID.

 We’re also seeing a discussion of NTDs and NTD issues begin to emerge. In global health, the importance of NTD control was brought up, while in the separate “Fostering Science, Technology, and Innovation” discussion, the topic of promoting innovation in the face of a limited market was discussed.

Here were some great NTD related questions posed on one thread that wed like to post here as well and are open for discussion:

  1. What have been your experiences with the delivery of a package(s) of services or commodities through community-level platforms? What lessons have you learned about effective integrated programming? How much can we build onto a single platform and continue to see efficiency gains?
  2. How can we best utilize and motivate community-level health workers and volunteers as we extend the health system to reach rural populations?
  3. What changes to the targeting / approaches to water and sanitation would strengthen the impact on NTD control, in both the short and long term? What else can the NTD control community do to strengthen the sustainability of its control efforts?  

With 28 hours left in the event, we’ll see if these conversations continue to develop. Check back in tomorrow for further discussion of Global Pulse.

US Government kicks off Global Pulse 2010 Day: 1

March 29th, 2010

As a communications associate for a nonprofit organization, I believe that one of the most important things an international aid agency can do is open the lines for effective two-way communication so that individuals like me can educate myself and ask questions about the worlds most pressing issues as well as get some clarity on what exactly the US government is doing to alleviate them. So, Im happy to see that USAID, in partnership with the Departments of State, Education, Commerce, and Health and Human Services, has kicked off Global Pulse 2010.

 Global Pulse is a three day online collaborative event that allows individuals for around the world to make comments, share opinions, and add ideas about important issues in the global community.

 According to the website:

 Global Pulse 2010 will provide an opportunity to voice opinions, share ideas, and create innovative solutions to social issues facing the global community within the fields of science and technology, entrepreneurship, and human development. This is a unique opportunity to influence a global conversation that will build partnerships across borders, strengthen understanding among cultures, and unite the human race in an effort to create innovative solutions to the most pressing social issues of our time.

 Even though the event is less than a day old, we’re already seeing some very active and interesting global health discussions on topics such as prioritizing health needs, bioinformatics, and how mobile phones can be used for health services. Participants from over 130 countries have been logging in all day and most of the posts in the global health arena have settled into one of three developing themes: increasing access to health care, utilizing technology to improve health, and figuring out how to distribute health care effectively.

 There have been posts by global health luminaries as John Monahan, Counselor to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Amie Batson, leader of USAIDs work with the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative, and Ami Tsui, a Director with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Click here to read about other featured guests.

 By time the event ends on the 31st, this should be a valuable source of information and ideas moving forward in global health. If you want to find out more, go to the Global Pulse 2010 portal page or check back here for more info on how the conversation is developing.

Peace through Vaccine Diplomacy

March 11th, 2010

Later this month President Obama is leaving on a trip to Indonesia, marking a major diplomatic trip to the most populous Muslim nation in the world. In order to improve US relations with the Muslim world there are many diplomatic tools available. One of those, according to a new editorial in Science Magazine by Dr. Peter Hotez, is vaccine diplomacy.

Vaccine diplomacy is forging tighter bonds between nations by uniting against a common foe: disease. Citing the little known collaboration between American and Russian scientists, including Dr. Albert B. Sabin, during the Cold War that resulted in the creation of the oral polio vaccine, Hotez states that similar scientific collaborations between the United States and Islamic nations—where up to one-half of the world’s neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) occur—could lead to great scientific and societal achievements.

The longer term benefit of this vaccine diplomacy would come from eliminating the burden of disease. Muslim nations worldwide suffer greatly from the burden of NTDs, perpetuating poverty and creating instability, internally and internationally. By helping to enrich and stabilize Muslim nations, vaccine diplomacy could go a long way to helping America improve its international standing.

Access the full Science editorial here or listen to the podcast interview with Dr. Hotez here.

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    • The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is a major advocacy and resource mobilization initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)--a group of disabling, disfiguring, and deadly diseases affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day.
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