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Global Health Vaccines: Shaping Policy to Accelerate R&D (ASTMH/GHC Lecture in Philadelphia, PA)

Featuring the 4th Annual Beth Waters Memorial Lecture
Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Time: 12:30-5pm
Location: Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
1201 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA
Franklin Hall 11 & 12

At Global Health Vaccines: Shaping Policy to Accelerate R&D, public and private stakeholders will examine current barriers to vaccine research and development, especially those that disproportionately affect vaccines for use in developing countries. Discussions will focus on regulatory issues, innovative financing and incentives, and partnerships. The event will serve as an opportunity for stakeholders to collaboratively identify common obstacles and propose unified solutions to stimulate vaccine R&D for global health vaccines.

Dr. Peter Hotez, President, ASTMH and Founding Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, will begin the summit by delivering the 4th Annual Beth Waters Memorial Lecture. This will be followed by an interactive panel discussion and breakout groups that will develop policy recommendations surrounding vaccine R&D issues. The recommendations will then be presented to all attendees for discussion.

This event is open to all ASTMH Annual Meeting registrants and Global Health Council members. Please register using the link below.

Lunch will be provided at 12:30pm and the Beth Waters Memorial Lecture will begin promptly at 1:00pm.
To register, click here: http://my.globalhealth.org/ebusiness/events/default.aspx?pid=573

Global Health News Last Week

Note: There will be no news round-up next week, as the IH section will be conducting its usual array of activities during APHA’s Annual Meeting.  Please tune in for updates on section sessions and activites at the conference.  Meanwhile, you can get your global health news fix from the DAWNS digest, Humanosphere, or the Healthy Dose.

October 16 was World Food Day.
October 17 was International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • Scientists are warning officials negotiating a global treaty on mercury that banning the deadly chemical completely would be dangerous for public health because of the chemical’s use in vaccines. 
  • The Washington Post runs an editorial critical of the GOP presidential candidates’ hostility toward foreign aid.
  • An influential panel of MPs warned that changes in UK aid policies may make overseas aid more prone to corruption and misuse.
  • Attendees at the Asia Pacific Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights have called on countries in the region to introduce comprehensive sexuality education in schools.
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a report which finds that global HIV/AIDS funding dropped by 10% in 2010.

PROGRAMS

  • HP Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with USAID to collaborate in the fight against global poverty through initiatives directed at issues such as public health.
  • GAVI CEO Seth Berkley pens an op-ed in Huffington Post on the economic value of childhood vaccines.
  • The Pan African Parliament has passed a resolution that urges African nations to prioritize maternal, newborn and child health programs.
  • USAID is initiating research to find out whether developing world families will adopt a new cooking technology and adapt their cooking methods to save their health.
  • At an event in Washington, the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council called for increased accessed to contraception worldwide. 
  • Microfinance initiatives to fund development could benefit from reinvigorating their aims and taking on new, integrated approaches, according to experts at the 2011 International Forum on the Social and Solidarity Economy in Montreal.

RESEARCH

  • A new study, by researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Gilead Sciences Inc. and universities in Belgium and Italy, suggests that a microbicide gel, which was originally developed to fight AIDS in Africa, could lower the incidence of herpes in many women.
  • RTS,S a malaria vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, is showing great of promise in the early stages of its huge clinical trial.  The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Council Member and Science Director at the PATH Malaria Control Program, Rick Steketee, explores the impact of the new RTS,S clinical trial results and what this breakthrough means for science and neglected tropical disease research. On the other hand, Sarah Boseley wonders where the money will come from once the vaccine has passed its trials, and Karen Grepin is not as excited about the new GSK malaria trial results as many others.
  • Adults who have fallen behind on mortgage payments exhibited higher rates of depression and are skipping meals and medications because they cannot pay the bills, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found.
  • Teenage drivers have fewer crashes after they’ve been driving for a while, but new research in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that a few months behind the wheel do not improve their driving skills much.
  • A recent study finds that the best way to fight TB in patients with HIV is to treat as early as possible.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • The famine in Somalia isn’t getting much public attention, but not because things are improving. Aid workers predict things will get worse before they get better. Much-needed rain is coming, but the rainfall could deepen the crisis for the four million people there who need help.
  • Numerous UN agencies are ready to be deployed if Southeast Asian nations ravaged by flooding request for assistance.
  • A report by Roll Back Malaria Partnership released at the start of the Gates Foundation’s Global Malaria Forum says that the world is making positive steps towards eradicating malaria. Specifically, 29 countries are on track to stop malaria within a decade.
  • Environmental hazards sicken or kill millions of people — soot or smog in the air, for example, or pollutants in drinking water. But the most dangerous stuff happens where the food is made — in peoples’ kitchens.
  • World Health Organization officials say the rapid and extensive globalization of food production has increased the incidence of food contamination worldwide.
  • Speculators in the agricultural commodities markets are forcing grocery prices to rise too quickly and erratically, according to some top economists marking World Food Day Sunday.
  • Climate change poses an immediate and serious threat to global health and stability, as floods and droughts destroy people’s homes and food supplies and increase mass migration, experts warn.
  • A survey of 87 countries showed more than half the countries reported more or much more awareness of mental illnesses in the past three years. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of new money behind that awareness.

The News We All Wish Were a Conspiracy Theory

I would bet my next paycheck that there is not a global health blogger out there who has not expressed his or her outrage at the recent revelation that the CIA used a hepatitis vaccination campaign in Abbottabad as a front for an operation to obtain a blood sample from bin Laden’s children, in order to verify that he was, in fact, hiding out there.  If this sounds like something out of the movie Conspiracy Theory to you, you are not alone – alas, it is unfortunately, tragically true, and could be potentially disastrous.

Anyone who knows anything about the importance of, and difficulty in implementing, vaccination campaigns understands what an atrocious idea this was and what a mess it could leave behind. Vaccine advocates have spent many years and millions of dollars debunking myths and misinformation, informing people of the benefits of vaccines, and working to gain the trust of political and religious leaders and their communities.  You would think it would be obvious that no one is going to let anybody stick a needle in their kid’s arm unless they have good reason to believe it will help and not harm them – and all it takes is one bad PR move to earn the distrust of parents.  Hell, look at the damage one study did to childhood vaccinations in the U.S. and the UK.  Even after the Wakefield study was proven flawed, dozens of other studies disproved it, and the doctor himself was shown guilty of misconduct, many parents still believe vaccines may cause autism (my mother included). Apparently, the CIA did not bother to check with anyone on the collateral damage they might have caused – or, if they did, they simply did not care.

Brett Keller sums it up beautifully:

This is absolutely terrible, and not just because the kids originally involved might not have gotten the second round of vaccine (which is bad) or because it will make the work of legitimate public health officials in Pakistan even harder (which is very bad). Vaccines are amazing innovations that save millions of lives, and they are so widely respected that combatants have gone to extraordinary lengths to allow vaccination campaigns to proceed in the midst of war. For instance, UNICEF has brokered ceasefires in Afghanistan and Pakistan for polio vaccine campaigns which are essential since those are two of the four countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted.

He also has a great round-up at the bottom of his post of the other blogs that have covered it.

The greatest irony of all may be that the scheme did not even work – sources suggest that the doctor who spearheaded the project did not get what he was after.  Regardless of the project’s “success,” it is a slap in the face to public health professionals who have devoted their careers to promoting vaccination as a way to protect children (and adults) from the world’s most devastating diseases.