The Global Fund falls short of target pledges; NCDs go up and up

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The barometer for global health funding, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, fell short of hitting its $18 billion goal as two significant donors, Italy and UK, are yet to pledge anything. Even with their donations though, achieving the target is doubtful, with the total pledges  tallying only to $14.25 billion.

Sadly the progress against malaria, HIV and tuberculosis during the first two decades of the 21st century has worsened. Teams of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) who work in countries needing these funds estimated that $130 billion is required for 2024-26 to tackle these diseases. MSF is asking donor countries to increase their pledges.

NCDs are no more a public health emergency in slow motion. Every two seconds, a person under 70 dies from an NCD worldwide, and it's the cause of 86% of deaths in LMICs. In India alone, 66% of deaths were attributed to NCDs. And if you want more information, the WHO has developed a new website, collating NCD data from 194 member countries.

GAVI is preparing for the next pandemic. After overcommitting and underperforming on equitable vaccine distribution, GAVI is setting up funds for the next pandemic. But, again, the funds are not with the organization; it's just hoping that the US and European donor countries will stick to their commitment in time of need.

Actor Matt Damon's announced a $1 billion plan to help people in Africa, Asia and Latin America access water and sanitation at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference. The charity group plans to raise $50 million in donations to create a $1 billion portfolio and got a headstart with Amazon offering $10 million to the Water and Climate Fund.
(US News, Amazon)

The rich get richer, while the poor are getting poorer in India. 55 million Indians face poverty due to high health expenditures or OOPE annually. The global average OOPE is 18.1%, while India remains at 48.21%, with state-wise disparity persisting like Uttar Pradesh which is 71.3%. Increasing public spending to 2.5-3% will bring OOPE to 30% of total health spending, and funding poorer states can bridge the disparity gap.
(Down To Earth)

Lupin gets US FDA approval to market Diclofenac Sodium Topical Solution, a generic equivalent of Pennsaid's arthritic knee pain medication. The product will be manufactured at Lupin's facility in Pithampur, India. Last week, Lupin also got a nod from the Canadian health authority for Rymti, a biosimilar to Enbrel for arthritis.

Five Indian states, including Punjab, are implementing a short 3RH TB regime as a preventive treatment for children living with a TB patient in the same household. The free treatment will be offered to children under 15 years, and the course is three months long.
(The Tribune)

Stempeutics' single-shot knee therapy product, StemOne, gets approved by the Indian regulatory board, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), for an Indian launch. The product will be marketed by Alkem Labs and available for patients diagnosed with grade 2 or 3 knee osteoarthritis.

The deluge of Pakistan has affected an estimated 16 million children and left 3.4 million needing immediate life support. While we continue to blame climate change, what's urgently needed is an increase in international aid. If you can, please do help.

A six-month-old baby lost its life in the high-risk polio area of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province by contracting the virus in August. So what's causing the rise in polio cases in these districts? Attacks on the vaccination teams by the militants, claiming polio drops cause infertility.
(AP Direct)

Bangladesh will stop administering the first dose of the Covid vaccine after October 3. No, it's not because Covid is over but because the vaccines are expiring and there is not enough demand to source new doses. So, if you are eligible, please get vaccinated during the mass vaccination campaign from September 28 to October 3.
(The Financial Express)

By 2040, Japan will have the highest senior population and a shortfall of nearly one million medical and welfare staff. So while the government increases the enrollment limit in medical colleges to tackle the shortage, what could benefit the elderly is telemedicine and nursing care robots and more medical responsibility for the nursing staff.
(Japan Times)

There seem to be significant movements in Bangladesh's health sector. First, HPL invested $400 million for API manufacturing units, and now Aster DM Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare providers in GCC and India, forays into Bangladesh in partnership with GD Assist to set up 25 pharmaceutical stores.

The Taliban health department partners with the WHO and UNICEF, initiating a four-day polio-vaccination campaign hoping to reach 9.9 million children under five in 34 provinces. While the country's reported polio count is two for 2022, the virus remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
(Global Times)

Bangladesh's Healthcare Pharmaceuticals is investing $400 million to set up three new API and formulations manufacturing factories. The unit will come on a 10-acre land offered by the government.
(The Daily Star)

China, the world's most populous country for now, is facing two problems, growing retirees and a shrinking tax pool. First, the birth rate fell to the lowest level in seven years, even after the government relaxed the one-child policy. As a result, the country will have 400 million elderly residents by 2035, affecting the world's second-largest economy.
(Newsday Express)

Not one or two, the Malaysian health ministry is proposing six health initiatives budgeted at RM3.4 billion for 2023. The initiatives include upgrading building infrastructure, replacing obsolete medical equipment, digitizing healthcare services and incentivizing medical personnel. Now let's hope the 2023 health budget is actually implemented in 2023.

Amidst drug shortage and cancelled surgeries, Sri Lankan Airlines offers free tickets to children needing overseas medical care, with one parent or guardian along under the Sri Lankan Cares initiative, the CSR arm of the airline. A letter from medical authorities is required for these tickets.
(Economy Next)

Egypt is leading from the front to eliminate Hepatitis C not only in Egypt but also in Africa. At least one million African patients from South Sudan, Chad and Eritrea with the disease were treatedunder the 100 Million Healthy Lives initiative, in line with the UN goal of eradicating hepatitis C by 2030.
(Sada El Balad)

In one of the Gulf's biggest healthcare deals, Abu Dhabi's IHC buys a 15% stake in Burjeel Holdings, which is planning a potential IPO this year. While IHC is looking at diversifying in the healthcare sector locally and regionally, Burjeel, which currently operates in the UAE and Oman, is looking to expand into Saudi Arabia.
(Khaleej Times)

The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) is significant in asset size and very active. After executing 10 projects in 2021 worth EGP 25.5 billion, it's now studying 44 projects worth EGP 140 billion over the next five years, focusing on the health and pharmaceutical industries, among others.
(Ahram Online)

Nigeria's health workers hope to not face another global health emergency in the next five years. Firstly, because they have no funding. And then, they don't have access to critical equipment. It's time for healthcare experts, policymakers, and innovators to join forces to strengthen healthcare in LMICs.

Ghana has declared Marburg virus-free after more than 7 weeks of no reports of new cases, making the total case count three, including two deaths. The country came under the virus attack in July and followed the framework of surveillance, testing, tracing and clinical care to achieve this feat.

Sudan is now polio-free after reporting an outbreak two years back, thanks to a robust plan, including two high-quality vaccination campaigns backed by the WHO and UNICEF and dedicated health staff.

However, there is no time to rest since its neighbour Uganda declared an Ebola virus outbreak with one death and seven confirmed cases. So Sudan is back on a high-alert mode with other neighbouring countries.

On the other hand, Malawi declares its worst cholera outbreak is sporadically spreading across the nation even before the monsoons start, worrying health experts. But kudos to the country for eliminating Trachoma, a leading cause of blindness.
(WHO Caj News)

Africa is struggling to fight drug-resistant pathogens like the rest of the world. Still, unlike other countries, only 5 out of the 15 WHO-designated antibiotic-resistant (AMR) pathogens are tested;unfortunately, all five demonstrated high resistance. 1.3 million deaths globally were attributed to AMR infections, of which Africa holds the highest mortality rate, highlighting irrational use of antibiotics and limited access to some and desperate need for policy implementation.
(Africa CDC)

South Sudan's health ministry launches a pharmaceutical regulatory framework in collaboration with the WHO. The Pharmaceutical Policy and Strategy will offer governance, regulation and programming strategies that have been missing since 2006.

Nigeria has requested the WHO and USA for monkeypox vaccines. In the meantime, Nigeria is doing what it knows best, managing the virus by treating the patient's symptoms. But the country urgently needs Tecovirimat (TPOXX), the only monkeypox medication to treat its high-risk groups.
(The Guardian)

80% of 40,000 Nigerian children diagnosed with cancer die, while in developed countries, the childhood cancer cure rate is 85%. This stark difference is a grim reminder of poor detection and treatment and low index of suspicion by clinicians and parents suspecting cancer.
(This Day)

Rest of the world
If you think the US is safe for childbirth, let us burst that bubble. The MMR or maternal mortality shows how safe a country is for childbirth, and the US is faring poorly. While Norway and Italy reported 2 deaths per 100,000 live births, the US registered 19 maternal deaths, on par with the poorest European country, Moldova.
(The Hill)

Mo₹€ Mon€¥
Novo Nordisk Foundation invests $200 million into developing a full-scale quantum computer that will be used to imagine new medicines into being. As an add-on benefit, the quantum computer will also be able to provide insights into climate change and the green transition.
(Novo Nordisk Foundation)

A multi-institutional consortium, PROPHECY receives $6.3 million in federal funding from Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to study 'the immune responses of the vulnerable population, including children and high-risk people, to vaccinations and Covid and how best to protect this population from the severity of Covid.
(Monash University)

R & D
Women with gestational diabetes and obesity, when pregnant, need to be more careful as it could double their child's chances of contracting ADHD. Studies show that almost 47% of women have both symptoms at their first doctor's appointment. However, women with both conditions whose weight gain was in the normal range need not worry about ADHD.
(Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism)

A five-year, $126 million grant from the NIH will help a multi-institution team of researchers seek the brain's secrets over a lifetime. The new Center for Multiomic Human Brain Cell Atlas will aim to comprehend molecular features of the brain's billions of cells to understand diseases like Alzheimer's. We wish them luck.
(US San Diego)

Dementia care and diagnosis may be universal, but India's mental health and neurosciences centre, NIMHANS, suggests policymakers use non-pharmacological interventions based on one's socio-cultural setting as an alternate approach. So play those bhajans or hymns, play traditional games and follow culturally relevant activities with family to stimulate cognition.
(The Hindu)

A similar oral rotavirus vaccination protects 98% of Finnish children and only 46% of kids in Bangladesh. Reason? An infant's gut microbiota affects vaccine efficacy. Microbes like Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides that promote immunity and vaccine responsiveness can be disrupted by factors like formula feed, cesarean delivery, antibiotic usage and environmental conditions. So it's no surprise that vaccine efficacy is poor in low-income countries that fare inadequately on these factors.
(The Lancet Microbe)

If the news of an old drug being repositioned is not exciting enough, here are a few things to make you sit up. First, the drug is an anti-cancer drug that saves 1,00,000 lives of breast cancer patients globally every year and costs a little over $1. The drug in question is the humble anaesthetic Lidocaine which can reduce breast cancer recurrence by 30%.

A new study highlights a direct link between Facebook use and a "worsening" in reports of anxiety and depression among college students. In fact, during Facebook's earlier existence, college students with a Facebook account were 7% more likely to suffer from depression and 20% more likely to suffer from anxiety.
(American Economic Review)

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