August 03, 2014

Research Roundup: Drug-resistant malaria, MDGs, World Breastfeeding Week, LHHS appropriations, and more

Senior Program Assistant

In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

The Senate Appropriations Labor and Health and Human Services (LHHS) Subcommittee released its fiscal year 2015 appropriations legislation, after a lengthy internal debate on domestic health concerns. The legislation is—for the most part—good news for funding levels and policy issues for several key global health research programs at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Since its discovery nearly 40 years ago, we have learned a lot about Ebola. Yet there are still no effective treatments or vaccines to protect people against this deadly disease. According to an article in Vox, this is not because of “a lack of human ingenuity or scientific capacity,” but rather due to a global innovation system that does not prioritize the health research needs of world’s poorest populations.

Drs. S. Patrick Kachur, MD, MPH, FACPM—chief of the Malaria Branch in the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria at CDC’s Center for Global Health—and Larry Slutsker, MD, MPH—director of the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria at CDC’s Center for Global Health— write in Breakthroughs about the emerging global security threat of anti-malaria drug resistance and CDC’s efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to this growing threat. They write: “…to sustain momentum and move toward elimination of malaria, new tools and technologies will be required.”

Despite progress made to prevent maternal and child deaths by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), still too many mothers and children are compromised or killed by preventable diseases. PATH President and CEO Steve Davis writes for Devex about the need to take advantage of the progress made thus far by the MDGs and accelerate innovation to meet the health needs of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries.

It’s World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and as breastfeeding has served as the primary method for a mother to feed her infant since the dawn of humanity, we wonder if this could be a way for a mother to administer life-saving medicines to her baby? According to a group of researchers in the United States and United Kingdom, the answer is yes.

Two recent promising developments in the fight against malaria were announced last week. Malaria is one of the leading killers of women and children in the world, and in sub-Saharan Africa particularly—where 90 percent of the more than 620,000 annual malaria deaths occur—new tools to fight the disease are desperately needed.