WHO and Red Cross urge action from world leaders on pandemic preparedness

The secretary-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Gro Harlem Brundtland, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, are urging world leaders to avert the next pandemic. Today, no country's authorities have fully funded or implemented International Health Regulations, the foremost international health security agreement that all countries have signed.

The authors of the opinion piece state that the world is unprepared if a fast-moving airborne pandemic should occur. The world's leaders are not doing enough to make vaccines, diagnostics, and medications available at the necessary scale. Should a pandemic break out, there are not efficient funds to avert serious social harm.

The two authors urge state leaders to think further into the future and increase funding at the local, national, and international levels needed to strengthen health systems, improve our response capacity in crises, and counteract outbreaks.

Op-ed – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway Global health Global health R&D

Canada's IDRC helps sponsor the World Veterinary Vaccine Congress

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) will join 600 veterinary vaccine experts and specialists in Barcelona from October 28- 31, 2019 for the World Veterinary Vaccine Congress where the latest developments in veterinary vaccine research and development will be discussed.  IDRC is a sponsor of the World Veterinary Vaccine Congress.

IDRC will specifically be involved in sessions at the conference that highlight how their Livestock Health program is focused on improving the health of livestock and protecting small farmers. IDRC-funded research on the African Swine Fever vaccine will be presented and IDRC's Senior Program Specialist, Musa Mulongo and IDRC's Program Leader of the Livestock Health program,  Kevin Tiessen, will show how IDRC delivers innovations to low-income beneficiaries through building strategic and appropriate public and private sector partnerships. 

Press release - IDRC

USAID pandemic identification program is latest budget-cut casualty

A United States Agency for International Development (USAID) program called 'Predict', which was researching animal viruses that evolve into human pandemics, is quietly being shut down.

The program, established in the aftermath of the H5N1 bird flu, has cost about US$207 million since 2005.  Experts whose organizations received funding from Predict called the program's shut-down a major loss, describing Predict's work as a crucial approach to identify and proactively address pandemics, rather than waiting for their emergence and scrambling to respond. They say ending this program increases global vulnerability to diseases such as Ebola or MERS, and as-yet-undiscovered zoonotic viruses that can originate from unexpected places in the animal world and devestate human populations.

Predict had collected 14,000 biological samples over its ten years active, and identified 1,000 new viruses, including a hitherto unseen strain of Ebola. The initiative had also trained approximately 5,000 people in Asian and African states, and founded or supported 60 laboratories for medcial research in low-income nations.

News article - The New York Times

UK development minister pays tribute to polio campaigners

The UK secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, marked World Polio Day by thanking fundraisers, campaigners, and polio survivors for their advocacy in the fight against polio. He commended members of the world-wide Rotary Club who have contributed almost US$2 billion to the fight against polio, including more than US$40 million from UK members. Through its development assistance budget, the UK government has helped to immunize more than 45 million children around the world against the debilitating disease. 

The number of people contracting polio has fallen by 99.9% since 1988 and only three countries in the world have not been declared polio-free. Eradicating polio entirely will, however, require sustained funding to immunize children.

Press release - UK government

Trials begin for new scabies medication developed by Australian nonprofit pharmaceutical

The Melbourne-based pharmaceutical company, Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH), is planning clinical trials to assess moxidectin as a new treatment for scabies. The scabies parasite disproportionately affects indigenous Australian communities, as well as poorer populations and tropical areas around the world.

MDGH focuses on developing treatments for neglected tropical diseases. The company has already developed the drug moxidectin as the first new treatment in 30 years for onchocerciasis, sometimes referred to as river blindness. In 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration awarded the company a priority voucher for moxidectin and approved the drug for the treatment of onchocerciasis.

News article - Australian of the Year

At legislative period's midpoint, civil society organizations criticize German development policy as insufficient and incremental

Civil society organization ONE and VENRO, the foremost network of German NGOs, gave their assessments of the German government's development policy efforts as the current legislation period reaches its midpoint. Both organizations gave mixed reviews and criticized Germany for failing to spend the target 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on development.

ONE praised Germany's health expenditures, which have increased by 18%. Generous contributions to the Global Fund to Prevent AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria were seen as a good sign for the upcoming replenishment cycle of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. ONE sharply criticized Germany's spending on educational projects, however; Germany is only planning to allocate €37 million (US$42 million) to the Global Partnership for Education, while civil society has called for a contribution of €100 million (US$112 million), in keeping with the size and strength of its economy.

VENRO criticized the government as too slow and conservative in its policies on a host of issues including climate protections, gender equality, labor rights, and refugee rights. Overall VENRO urged the government to maintain a clear focus on poverty alleviation in low-income countries and demanded more engagement in and funding for initiatives that seek to ameliorate the above policy concerns.

Press release – ONE (in German)

Press release - VENRO (in German)

G20 health ministers adopt Okayama declaration on global health

The G20 Health Ministers officially adopted the Okayama Declaration on global health at a meeting in Okayama City on October 19- 20, 2019. 

The declaration is focused on achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, coordinated responses to global population aging, and the management of health risks including antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The meeting included heated discussion on how to extend healthy life expectancy, including early preventative measures. In addition, partner countries committed to work together to support the use of digital technology, and establish measures against AMR. 

News Release – Jiji Press (in Japanese)

Press release - Okayama Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers

Canadian-developed Ebola vaccine on track for WHO approval

The European Medicines Agency has recommended a conditional marketing authorization for the rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, originally developed in Canada. This authorization is an important step towards the European Commission's decision on licensing and the World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification of the vaccine. Licensed doses are expected to be available mid-2020. 

Key funders of the randomized control trial conducted by the government of Guinea and WHO in 2015 included the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada's International Development Research Centre and Global Affairs Canada. Noway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Wellcome Trust, the UK government and Médecins Sans Frontières also helped to fund the studies’ volunteers, researchers, and health workers in Guinea.

News article - The World Health Organization 

EU’s health research partnership with Africa publishes 2018 annual report showing increased funding for poverty related diseases

The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the EU’s mechanism for funding research into new or improved medical interventions for poverty-related infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, published its 2018 annual report.

The report shows how the EDCTP2, the program which started in 2014, has doubled compared to EDCTP1 to reach a total of €447.15 million in grant funding provided so far. By the end of 2018, EDCTP2 has supported 230 African and 139 European institutions, with 192 proposals selected for funding and 148 of those projects already started. In comparison, EDCTP2 has supported 82 large-scale clinical trials totalling €395.83 million in funding.  
The European Commission is currently conducting a public consultation until November 6, 2019, on EDCTP2’s proposed successor program, the EU-Africa Global Health Partnership.
Annual report 2018 - EDCTP 

EU Global health R&D

UK development minister commits to centering women and girls in development assistance initiatives

In a recent Huffington Post op-ed, the UK secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, committed to putting the transformation of girls' and women's lives at the center of all UK development assistance.

In acknowledgment of International Day of the Girl, Sharma emphasized the ways in which the UK is working to ensure girls get access to and remain involved in education systems, and that women and girls also have access to family planning methods and good healthcare. Sharma also noted that the UK has increased its support to the fight against curable diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS, given that AIDS remains the leading cause of death in women of reproductive age globally.

Op-ed - Huffington Post