Tag Archives: Obama

Celebrating freedom, dignity and the end of neglected tropical diseases


This weekend, President Obama made a historic visit to Myanmar, becoming the first US President to visit the country. In his address, the President celebrated the country’s shift towards democracy, and the efforts of its inspirational leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. He noted, “Here, through so many difficult years, is where she displayed such unbreakable courage and determination. It’s here where she showed that human freedom and dignity cannot be denied.”

President Obama’s visit also gives us an opportunity to celebrate the commitment and achievements of Myanmar in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs also threaten human freedom and dignity by causing disabilities, disfigurement and stigmatization.  These devastating diseases limit people’s abilities to take care of their families, contribute to their communities and build their country. Continue reading

Modest Increases Proposed for U.S. Global Health Program Funding

Yesterday, the Obama administration released its budget request for fiscal year 2012. The Administration is proposing a 2% increase towards the Global Health Initiative (GHI), raising their U.S. investment to $9.8 billion. However, despite these increases, John Cohen of ScienceMag posts about the injurious nature of the proposed cuts by the House of Representatives.

“The continuing resolution reductions introduced by the chair of the appropriations committee, Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY), would cut $783.5 million from the main component of GHI, the Global Health and Child Survival effort, which supports treatment and prevention programs for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), family planning, and nutrition efforts. The continuing resolution would take away another $300 million in contributions to the Global Fund.”

Deep cuts in funding will have a pernicious impact on NTD research and resource mobilization. The FY2010 budget appropriated only $65 million for NTDs. While Obama’s proposed FY11 budget promised to raise that amount to $155 million, the proposed FY12 budget would drop that amount to $100 million. Peter Hotez , President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, specializes in vaccine development for NTDs. Dr.Hotez expresses that “[NTD control is] such a good buy for public health,” emphasizing that increasing GHI funds would further the United State’s efforts to expand NTD control and elimination programs past the dozen countries the U.S now helps.

The proposed House cuts will be extremely harmful to the well-being of global health. Millions of people would die from preventable diseases due to lack of treatment and access to drugs. According to Helene Gayle, head of CARE USA, “such drastic cuts in GHI funding will contribute to pushing more people around the world in poverty this year, with Africa expected to be the hardest hit.”

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Strengthening the Strategy: A Call for Integrated Efforts with HIV/AIDS in NTD Control & Elimination Initiatives

By:  Emma Apatu, MPH & Rebecca Miller, MPH

Over the past few years, policy changes in global health have shed new light on Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs).  Formerly classified as “other communicable diseases”, NTDs have progressively experienced increased visibility on a global scale, which has in turn led to new and improved strategies—such as disease program integration [1].  Recent funding streams have provided much needed financial support to address the burden of these ”hidden” diseases found in impoverished and rural populations throughout the world.  Although the amount of attention and resources allocated toward NTD programs has improved dramatically over the last five years, there is currently a paucity of sustainable long-term funding mechanisms.  Given the financial focus on HIV/AIDS as one of the “big three” diseases targeted by the Millennium Development Goals and the overlap of NTDs in areas with high HIV/AIDS prevalences, policy makers should work to broaden the scope of historically established HIV/AIDS policies to include NTD control and elimination efforts.

Over one billion people worldwide are affected by NTDs and millions more are at imminent risk for infection [1, 2]. Responsible for an annual loss of 57 million disability adjusted life years [3], NTDs claim over 530,000 lives each year [4] and often inflict severe, permanent and stigmatizing physical debilitation in survivors [5].Over time, NTDs can also cause decreased cognitive output and productivity, which has profound economic implications in countries that are endemic for one or more NTDs [1].

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Reading List 10/5/2010

Lots going on today in the world of global health and NTDs! Today we’re reading about the current progress in the elimination of guinea worm within the last year, interesting commentary on President Obama’s recent remarks at the UN Summit, the establishment of the Joint Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health to go beyond UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), despite high numbers in global immunization many are still unreached, and a new research endeavor to help fight lymphatic filariasis and West Nile Virus.

Global Eradication of Dracunculiasis, 2009-2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Restructuring USAID: time to match rhetoric with deeds, The Lancet
National and global responsibilities for health, Gostin, L., Heywood, M., Ooms, G., Grover, A., Røttingen, J., & Chenguang, W. World Health Organization
Global immunizations hit record but miss millions, David Morgan, Reuters