Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for the ‘Malaria’ Category

R&D Funding for Global Health Diseases

1. HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria Account for 80% of Disease Funding in Developing Countries, Report Says
2. More funds needed for lesser known tropical diseases, Link

The above two headlines on global health funding flows and allocation caught my attention. The original study was published in PLoS Medicine. The article has some great figures (some of which I have reproduced below). A few things immediately stick out – the amount concentrated on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria is astounding. Second the US is providing 70% of the funding and on the surface one could argue that other countries really could be pitching in more. On that note, the Gates Foundation by itself is out funding the European Commission almost 4 to 1 – if that isn’t embarrassing I don’t know what is. Finally, the US Department of Defense is high on the list (surpassing USAID). Interesting stuff:

“HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria initiatives accounted for about 80% of the $2.5 billion that was spent on research and drug development for developing countries in 2007… However, pneumonia and diarrheal illness, which are two major causes of mortality in developing countries, received less than 6% of funding.”
gh_fundingflows

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Original Sources:

  • PLoS Medicine – Neglected Disease Research and Development: How Much Are We Really Spending? Link
  • WHO Top 10 Causes of Death, Link
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Google Flu Trends for developing countries?

A few days back Aman wrote a post about Google Flu Trends.  Thought I’d add a few thoughts here after reading the draft manuscript that the Google-CDC team posted in advance of its publication in Nature.

By the way, here’s what Nature says:  Because of the immediate public-health implications of this paper, Nature supports the Google and the CDC decision to release this information to the public in advance of a formal publication date for the research. The paper has been subjected to the usual rigor of peer review and is accepted in principle. Nature feels the public-health consideration here makes it appropriate to relax our embargo rule

Ginsberg J, Mohebbi MH, Patel RS, Brammer L, Smolinski MS, Brilliant L. Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data. Draft manuscript for Nature. Retrieved 14 Nov 2008.

Assuming that few folks will read the manuscript or the article, here’s some highlights.  I should say I appreciated that the article was clearly written.  If you need more context, check out Google Flu Trends How does this work?

  • Targets health-seeking behavior of Internet users, particularly Google users [not sure those are different anymore], in the United States for ILI (influenza-like illness)
  • Compared to previous work attempting to link online activity to disease prevalence, benefits from volume: hundreds of billions of searches over 5 years
  • Key result – reduced reporting lag to one day compared to CDC’s surveillance system of 1-2 weeks
  • Spatial resolution based on IP address goes to nearest big city [for example my current IP maps to Oakland, California right now], but the system is right now only looking to the level of states – this is more detailed CDC’s reporting, which is based on 9 U.S. regions
  • CDC data was used for model-building (linear logistic regression) as well as comparison [for stats nerds – the comparison was made with held-out data]
  • Not all states publish ILI data, but they were still able to achieve a correlation of 0.85 in Utah without training the model on that state’s data
  • There have attempted to look at disease outbreaks of enterics and arboviruses, but without success.
  • For those familiar with GPHIN and Healthmap, two other online , the major difference is in the data being examined – Flu Trends looks at search terms while the other systems rely on news sources, website, official alerts, and the such
  • There is a possibility that this will not model a flu pandemic well since the search behavior used for modeling is based on non-pandemic variety of flu 
  • The modeling effort was immense – “450 million different models to test each of the candidate queries”

So what does this mean for developing world applications?

Here’s what the authors say: “Though it may be possible for this approach to be applied to any country with a large population of web search users, we cannot currently provide accurate estimates for large parts of the developing world. Even within the developed world, small countries and less common languages may be challenging to accurately survey.”

The key is whether there are detectable changes in search in response to disease outbreaks.  This is dependent on Internet volume, health-seeking search behavior, and language.  And if there is no baseline data, like with CDC surveillance data, then what is the best strategy for model-building?  How valid will models be from one country to another?  That probably depends on the countries.  Is it perhaps possible to have a less refined output, something like a multi-level warning system for decision makers to followup with on-the-ground resources?  Or should we be focusing on news+ like GPHIN and Healthmap?

Another thought is that we could mine SMS traffic for detecting disease outbreaks.  The problem becomes more complicated, since we’re now looking at data that is much more complex than search queries.  And there is often segmentation due to the presence of multiple phone providers in one area.  Even if the data were anonymized, this raises huge privacy concerns.   Still it could be a way to tap in to areas with low Internet penetration and to provide detection based on very real-time data.

Beijing Olympic Cause Marketing & Global Health Ads

We previously mentioned the malaria ad sponsored by ExxonMobil during the Olympics. I have seen this several times now during coverage and said in the original post:

“with regard to ExxonMobil’s commercial on Malaria during prime time, when over 1 Billion people were watching, this might have been the largest audience ever for a global health ad.”

I realized after I said this that I probably made a major miscalculation. The NBC channel broadcast I have been watching is only produced for an American audience. The top estimates I have seen for viewership at a given time hit 66 million people. So while Exxon may have had their ad broadcast across countries and major national networks, it is likely that somewhere between tens and hundreds of millions of people saw their commercial – which is still an impressive number. Thanks to Responsible China I found the youtube version of this ad, which is below. In addition I have also seen GE’s portable re-designed low cost EKG machine advertised several times as well. Despite what you may think about these companies it is better than nothing to see MNC’s promoting social causes. We blogged about the EKG machine previously and the commercial is the first one below, followed by the malaria ad. For another check, definitely check out ResponsibleChina.

Written by Aman

August 23, 2008 at 7:23 am

Mosquirix – Promising New Vaccine for Global Health?

More than 12 years (let that time horizon sink in) after the first indications of success,  there will be a large scale trial for a new malaria vaccine. The potential global health implications of this are obvious, read the full news article, it has some good tidbits in it:

“With the exception of Mosquirix, there’s no possibility of one coming on the market within five or six years…It took eight more years of development and testing before scientists were ready to conduct a large-scale trial of the vaccine. London-based Glaxo and its partners will begin a $100 million study of Mosquirix later this year, vaccinating 16,000 children in seven African countries. If the results are positive, the drug could be on the market as soon as 2011, making it the first vaccine against the deadly disease. “

Full article at Bloomberg (here).  Hat tip to  Families USA.

Written by Aman

July 16, 2008 at 9:20 pm

One Net One Pill One Life

These were the words of Forest Whitaker (academy award winner for his leading role in The Last King of Scotland) on tonight’s inspired 2nd annual two and half hour Idol Gives Back show which raised funds for six causes. Forest was the ambassador for Malaria No More, and definitely gave an emotional appeal for people to call in and donate money.

Earlier today I was lucky enough to be on a conference call with the medical director (Steven Phillips) for ExxonMobil’s foundation which is a major supporter and funder of the malaria component of tonight’s American Idol show. Phillips traveled to Angola twice this year, once with American Idol contestants and winners and the second time with Forest Whitaker to get them involved in combating malaria. I was joined on the call by Bill Brieger, professor at Hopkins and an expert in malaria, definitely check out his blog – Malaria Matters. Rob Katz of NextBillion and the Acumen Fund fame was the other “blogger” on the call.

According to Phillips, ExxonMobil teamed up with American Idol because they are the most watched TV show with over 30 million viewers and because their first experimental show last year was a huge hit. Exxon is reaching out to of course let their work be known and also because he feels that “one of major issues with malaria is that it (malaria) had historically been among one of most neglected diseases.” Their funding breakdown is: 25% for advocacy, 10% for R&D (e.g partnerships with MVI, MMV, others), and 65% for disease control (goes to African NGOs or iNGOs).

The Idol show had a blockbuster lineup, some of the celebs included: Bono, Alicia Keys, Heart, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams (who was beyond awful), Gloria Estefan, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and many others. One of the highlights was Gordon Brown, prime minister of the UK, making an appearance to announce the equivalent of $200 million in funding for bednets. The three presidential candidates were also supposed to make an appearance, but perhaps this got cut. For a great recap of the show check out Kristin’s post.

Last year the show raised $76 million, it will be interesting to see what happens after tonight. Despite various criticisms and those much more cynical than I, credit has to be given to all the corporate sponsors for reaching out… I’ll post more on this if I get a chance this weekend.

Written by Aman

April 9, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Back in the Saddle – Happy New Year Link Drop

After a holiday hiatus I should be back to blogging much more frequently. I did some desk clearing from emails that had gathered over the past month and naturally many of them were year end Top 10 lists. I thought it would be appropriate to capture some of these below. In addition to starting off with a couple of miscellaneous links, I included a section on business and global health. Once again I do this because I strongly believe it is important to understand the impact the business community/private sector is having on the issues we care about. In my opinion folks in the public health world are almost completely incognizant of what is happening with respect to this (and to be fair the opposite is also true). Enjoy the links below, I probably will have some more desk clearing to do as the week goes on. In particular the first link under the business and global health section below on Melinda Gates is quite interesting if you care to know more about her.

Miscellaneous
Global Health Photo Contest, link
The Global Health Council’s Photography Contest is dedicated to drawing attention to health issues that have a global impact. Deadline is Feb 15, 2008.

What can $611 Billion buy? Try this – feeding the world’s poor for 7 years. Link
via Good Magazine.

Top 10 Lists
*Top 20 Global Health Priorities, link
In one of the world’s largest public-health collaborations, 155 experts from 50 countries have a plan to tackle the world’s deadliest diseases. The result is a list, published in the journal Nature, of the top 20 research and policy priorities in chronic non-communicable diseases – which account for 60% of all deaths worldwide. It’s “a road-map” for action, says lead researcher Abdallah Daar at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health in Toronto.

*A Year of Worldchanging Ideas, link
Exec editor Alex Steffen of Worldchanging has compiled their best of list in several categories. The full list is below, I have selected a few that I liked: “Over the last year we ran more than 2,000 stories, including a number of pieces that I think are pretty much the best stuff we’ve ever done… here is my list of the top Worldchanging posts of 2007. It’s very subjective, though many of these stories have also been among our most popular (judged by visits) and provocative (judged by media coverage and blog links) posts.

  • Tools for Understanding Poverty, link
  • The Open Architecture Network and the Future of Design, link
  • Transforming Philanthropy, link

*10 Highly Consequential Implications of Climate Change, link
A new report called The Age of Consequences, forecasts climate change in the coming century. It makes for fascinating if frightening reading. See table for impact on global health. via.

*Top 7 Social Entrepreneurship Blogs via Riches for Good
Finding and funding sustainable, scalable solutions to end global poverty

*Top 10 Wins For Women’s Health in 2007, link
Women’s health was a priority concern in 2007, as global donors, international agencies, and influential private foundations realized that investing in women’s health is investing in the world (hat tip – Pump Handle).

*The Independent announces its top 6 social entrepreneurs, link
Last year, The Independent – in collaboration with The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Boston Consulting Group – began a quest to find the UK’s most successful social entrepreneurs. (hat tip)

*10 Videos to change how you view the world (all TED videos), link

*10 top global health issues according to WHO, link (via)

*10 Universities With the Best Free Online Courses, link (via)

Business and Development/Global Health

*Who is Melinda Gates?, link
Interesting read: “Years before Melinda French met and married Bill Gates, she had a love affair – with an Apple computer…Of all the tricks that life can play, it’s hard to imagine any stranger than what befell Melinda French. Today she is married to the richest man in America – and giving billions of dollars away…”

*Global pharma firms take a tropical dose, link
Multinationals focus on diseases in developing countries as they lose protection by patents at home. The big multinational drug makers are increasingly focusing their research on diseases that no longer afflict their home countries. As many as nine companies are developing medicine for tuberculosis, which claims two million lives every year. At least seven are focusing on malaria, another killer.

*IFC betting 1 Billion on Africa’s private sector to improve health, link
The IFC plans to set up an equity investment fund, ultimately worth up to $500m, including money from other donors, to invest in small and medium-sized enterprises in the health-care industry. It also wants to create a $400m-500m debt vehicle that will fund local banks that lend to such entrepreneurs. See also – http://www.ifc.org/HealthinAfrica

*On Malaria: Charity vs. Capitalism in Africa, link
Africa’s best hope to fight malaria is the wide distribution of mosquito-repelling bed nets. But who best serves that need: the public sector or private interests?

*2 Young Hedge-Fund Veterans Stir Up the World of Philanthropy, link
As hedge-fund analysts, Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld made six-figure incomes deciding which companies to invest in. Now they are doing the same thing with charities…Their efforts are shaking up the field of philanthropy.

*Oprah effect brings microlending to Main Street, link
Kiva hit the publicity jackpot in September when Oprah Winfrey featured the organization on her daytime television program, attracting a tidal wave of interest from Middle America. Demand was so high the day the episode aired, every loan on the site was fulfilled.

*Heinz Pledges to Provide Free Micronutrient Assistance to 10 Million Children by 2010, link
The H. J. Heinz Company is working to develop solutions to reduce global malnutrition, a commitment underscored in the Company’s 2007 CSR report. The report lays out the Company’s plans to provide free micronutrient assistance to 10 million children at risk of iron-deficiency anemia by 2010.

Global Business Coalition Awards

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More on the business and global health front, in case you missed it: NEW YORK, June 13, 2007 — Eight leading businesses received awards recognizing their outstanding contributions in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria… GBC honors six companies that conceived and executed effective HIV/AIDS workplace, community, core competency, national action, testing and counseling, and advocacy and leadership programs, as well as two companies with superlative TB and malaria programs.  Full story; Video and full coverage on the businessfightsaids.org website.

Winners:
Chevron (workplace)
Coca-Cola China Beverages Ltd., (community)
Standard Chartered PLC (core competency)
Abbott and Abbott Fund (national action)
Eskom Holdings Ltd. (testing and counseling)
HBO (advocacy & leadership)
Eli Lilly (tuberculosis award)
Marathon Oil Corporation (malaria award)

Written by Aman

July 7, 2007 at 8:32 pm