Friday Reading List

Parliamentarians Prioritize Global Health Innovation in the European Parliament

 

The following is a guest blog post from Andrea Corazza, European Advocacy Officer, Global Health Advocates*

Through its policies, legislation and bilateral/regional trade agreements, the European Union (EU) has a major impact on global health both in terms of research and development (R&D) of new and improved medicines for Poverty-Related and Neglected Diseases[1] (PRNDs) and their accessibility to populations in developing countries.

To ensure that EU policies deliver a coherent, comprehensive and pro-active response to address these issues, Global Health Advocates and the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign created the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases together with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) back in 2009.

This Working Group provides a platform to ensure that global health issues remain high on the EU agenda and to advocate for the adoption of EU policies that stimulate innovation for urgently-needed health tools and improve access to existing medicines, diagnostics and vaccines. The working group regularly organises high-level events, meetings and occasionally field visits for MEPs, EU institutions’ staff and parliamentarians from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to show, among others, the impact of R&D gaps on the health of populations in developing countries and foster the understanding of decision-makers on these issues.

Following recent elections at the European Parliament in May 2014, the Working Group, which gathers about 300 members from a broad range of stakeholders, is renewing its membership to bring additional energy and commitment to its work and activities. Former members have testified about the importance of the Group and are inviting new MEPs to join  via this short and inspiring video:

Both Horizon 2020, the EU €70 billion Research and Innovation Programme, and the continuation of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), a partnership between the European Commission and several European and African countries, present great opportunities to increase the EU’s contribution towards research and innovation for PRNDs in the coming years. By raising the profile of these issues, contributing to annual budget negotiations and using their power of scrutiny over EU policies, members of the Working Group will play a crucial role in ensuring that EU institutions are engaged in the fight against PRNDs both politically and financially.

To join the Working Group or for further information, please send an email to ep-accessgroup@msf.org

*Global Health Advocates is a non-governmental organisation based in Paris and Brussels that advocates for policy change at the highest political level and mobilizes resources to tackle major health threats and build sustainable health systems.


[1] As intended here, PRNDs include the three big diseases of poverty (HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria) and the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases recognized by the World Health Organization.

Nigeria Champions Integrated Approach to NTDs at the World Health Assembly

 

Photo credit: U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers

By Helen Hamilton, on behalf of the UK Coalition against NTDs

The first six months of 2014 have already seen a number of milestones reached for the international neglected tropical disease (NTD) community, including the successful NTD-focused side event at the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May and the celebration of progress made on eliminating river blindness by the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control  at the World Bank. A running theme throughout the discussions at these events has been the importance of taking an integrated approach to eliminating a number of NTDs by the end of the decade.

But what does “an integrated approach” mean in practice? It may mean integration of disease specific interventions into broader public health systems, across different groups of diseases or integration across sectors. Integration is not just another buzzword, but a real approach to effectively controlling this group of diseases. Both evidence and common sense tell us that we cannot expect to achieve and sustain our NTD control and elimination goals unless we also tackle the underlying causes — namely the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH) and  health care access — and do so in a joined-up way.

One example where integration is yielding results is in Nigeria. As a country with one of the heaviest burdens of NTDs globally, and one which has successfully launched its “NTD masterplan” (a multi-year national plan to control and eliminate several NTDs under the London Declaration), it offers a wealth of valuable insights. The WHA side event in May, which was hosted by the Nigerian government and supported by the UK Coalition against NTDs, south-south sharing of learning was central to the discussion.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwa, and the Director of Public Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, highlighted what they see as the foundation of success in combating these diseases: building stronger health systems, equipped to deliver and sustain effective control programmes alongside interventions grounded in a public health approach. To this end, Dr. Okoeguale highlighted that Nigeria is working to embed NTD care within primary health care structures to bring together preventive and curative care. She called on the NTD and WASH sectors to work together across departments responsible for Environment, Water, Education, Housing and Media.

This is certainly an approach supported through the Nigerian NTD elimination programme led by Sightsavers, where both local government and global donors such as the UK government aid agency, DFID, have committed funds to control several NTDs. The success of this programme rides on all parties collaborating under a united goal and sharing knowledge and resources. The programme is designed to support the strengthening of the Nigerian health system alongside delivering targeted interventions to eliminate NTDs.

UKCNTD WHA attendees (3)

Creidt: Yael Vellemen, Wateraid

During the WHA event, this approach was supported by both the World Health Organization and international donors, including representatives from DFID and USAID, who emphasised the investments being made into WASH programmes in NTD endemic countries. Dr. Wendy Harrison, Chair of the UK Coalition against NTDs reiterated the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration to meet the WHO 2020 roadmap goals and the need to embed and standardise monitoring of the impact of NTD programmes on health systems.

All parties at the event were in clear agreement that cross-sectoral integration is vital and that without access to safe effective WASH and health services, NTD elimination will not be possible. However, whether or not this happens will depend on the level of political will, leadership and resources dedicated to achieving our goals in a sustainable way. As the recent announcement of £39m by the British Government to help support the elimination of trachoma in highly endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa reminds us, NTDs have never been as well supported or as prominent on the global health agenda. However there still remains a global $200 million per year funding gap that needs to be addressed if we are to meet the ambitious goals of control and elimination as laid out in the 2012 London Declaration.

We need to make sure that we leverage these global commitments and this momentum to achieve our goals in a way that builds systems to provide safe and effective WASH and health services, and delivers on our commitment to control and eliminate these diseases in a sustainable way.

Download “The Power of Integration: A report from the WHA 2014”.

The UK Coalition against Neglected Tropical Diseases is a collaborative effort by UK organisation that are actively engaged in NTD research and implementation and in advocating for effective and sustainable NTD control programmes.

Find out more about them at www.ntd-coalition.org and follow them on Twitter @UK_NTD. This post also appears on the UK Coalition against NTDs blog.

Global Network Releases a New Report on NTD Control and Elimination

 

Today, the Global Network released a new report entitled “Ending Neglected Tropical Diseases: Opportunities to Support the Control and Elimination of NTDs.” This report offers an analysis of the progress made, challenges remaining and new opportunities in the global effort to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020. This report stems from discussions at the Development Agency Roundtable, which was held in Berlin, Germany last year and hosted together by the Global Network, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Bank Group.

With forward sections from our four NTD Special Envoys, incredible NTD success stories from Burundi, India, and Mexico, and recognition of the importance of addressing from leaders of global development organizations, the report is a powerful new advocacy tool to raise attention to NTDs. The report calls for national governments and other partners worldwide to:

  • Recognize the impact of NTDs as a key underlying constraint to global economic growth, poverty and inequality reduction, educational achievement and nutrition.
  • Institutionalize NTD control and elimination efforts in foreign policy, development and poverty reduction agendas.
  • Invest in and prioritize nationally-led integrated NTD plans by providing political support, reliable long-term financing and technical assistance.
  • Promote the fight against NTDs in international and regional forums and support the inclusion of NTD-specific goals and targets in the post-2015 development agenda.

We hope you enjoy the report, and feel free to share it with friends and colleagues.

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