A new WHO study of the burden of tuberculosis has found that most of the world's largest and fastest-growing epidemics of TB, in Africa, are increasingly attributable to the effects of HIV. The researchers, based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, use mathematical models to compile and assess information from published studies and a network of experts to estimate that 9% of the estimated 8.3 million new cases of TB in the year 2000 would not have happened, but for HIV.
Equity in Health
The theme for this conference was: “Strengthening of Health Systems for Equity and Development in Africa”, with emphasis on the Africa Health Strategy 2007-2015. Africa has made significant strides in certain areas of social and economic development but has the potential to achieve even more if it can overcome the large burden of disease which continues to be a barrier to faster development. This has prompted the African Union Ministers of Health to harmonise all existing health strategies by drawing this Africa Health Strategy which Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other regional entities and Member States can use to enrich their strategies, depending on their peculiar challenges. The Strategy neither competes with nor negates other health strategies but seeks to complement other specific and detailed strategies by adding value from the unique perspective of the African Union. It provides a strategic direction to Africa’s efforts in creating better health for all.
Efforts to improve and speed up access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS are gaining new momentum, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said today. A total of 58 countries have now expressed interest in gaining access to lower-price drugs – including treatments for opportunistic infections and antiretroviral therapy – in the context of the public-private partnership started in May 2000 by five United Nations agencies and five private sector companies.
The World Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body for WHO. It generally meets in Geneva in May each year, and is attended by delegations from all 192 member states. The main function of the World Health Assembly is to determine the policies of the Organization. This year, issues discussed included: strengthening pandemic-influenza preparedness and response; infant/child nutrition; HIV/AIDS; polio eradication; sickle-cell anaemia; smallpox eradication and the destruction of variola virus stocks; prevention of avoidable blindness; international trade and health; tobacco control; and intellectual property rights.
The 61st World Health Assembly, which comprised of a record 2704 participants from 190 nations, set WHO on a course to tackle longstanding, new and looming threats to global public health. Among its achievements, the Health Assembly provided a platform for removing barriers and using innovative methods to encourage research, development and access to medicines for the common diseases of the developing world.
The conditions in which people live and work - the social determinants of health - help enhance or erode their health. At the direction of Health Assembly in 2005, the Commission on Social Determinants of Health has been examining these factors. The chair of the commission, Professor Sir Michael Marmot briefed delegates on the key recommendations of the commission's work. He said the commission's final report will pose recommendations under three action areas: the conditions of daily life; the structural drivers of those conditions; and the monitoring and training needed to measure progress. Concrete examples of implementing a social determinants approach to health were given from Brazil, Finland, India and Sri Lanka, as well as the International Organization of Migration. A common theme throughout the briefing was the need for more participation and representation from all stakeholder groups in these debates.
The 8th meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum (APF) took place from 22-23 May 2007 in Berlin, just two weeks before the G8 Heiligendamm summit. Participants included Personal Representatives for the G8-Africa Process coming from G8 and OECD countries and from African member states of the NEPAD steering committee. Participants discussed four key areas affecting Africa: investment, gender, climate change, and peace and security. Through the intensive dialogue between the G8 Africa Personal Representatives and the African partners in preparing the APF, this year’s APF developed substantive recommendations for the G8 summit as well as for the AU summit, thus following up the joint work on the G8 Africa Action Plan adopted in Kananaskis in 2002.
Some activists have begun encouraging African nations to stop paying debt payments and instead spend the money on health, education and social programs, such as anti-AIDS efforts, the Boston Globe reports. Although development specialists have suggested that the debt of sub-Saharan African nations be forgiven, others doubt that such a move will happen and have suggested a "more provocative" solution for the nations. Both Poland and Bolivia in the 1980s stopped paying their debts and later had their debts cancelled because they used the money to fund "social causes," according to the Globe.
Hopes, experiences, optimism, evidence, critique, challenge and expectation- we present in this section reports from those at the World Social Forum held in Nairobi in January 2007. We welcome opinion pieces, reports on sessions relating to health issues, position papers or comments on the WSF and would like to hear your experiences and impressions of the sessions that had relevance to health. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will include inputs in our next newsletter.
The authors of this study estimated deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), years lived with disability (YLD) and years of life lost (YLL) attributable to the independent effects of 67 risk factors and clusters of risk factors for 21 regions in 1990 and 2010. They included estimates from published and unpublished literature, and data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Worldwide, the contribution of different risk factors to disease burden appears to have changed substantially, with a shift away from risks for communicable diseases in children towards those for non-communicable diseases in adults. These changes are related to the ageing population, decreased mortality among children younger than five years, changes in cause-of-death composition, and changes in risk factor exposures. New evidence has led to changes in the magnitude of key risks including unimproved water and sanitation, vitamin A and zinc deficiencies, and ambient particulate matter pollution. The extent to which the epidemiological shift has occurred and what the leading risks currently are varies greatly across regions. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, the leading risks are still those associated with poverty and those that affect children.