We’re reading about gaps between funding and reality . . . and more

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Research and public health funding must reflect reality – Dr. Wlliam Powderly, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which produces this blog, founding chair of the HIV Medicine Association, and director of the Institute for Public Health at Washington University, has followed advances in HIV care and the translation of clinical advances to public health and public policy throughout his career. Here he highlights long-standing IDSA advocacy priorities as he makes a case against the cuts to public health and biomedical research funding proposed by the Trump administration. Enumerating challenges that include growing rates of treatment-resistant infections and disease outbreaks with pandemic potential, he notes that if the cuts proposed by the White House were enacted, “Standing still is not an option in infectious disease responses, and so we would fall behind.”

Only six nations have evaluated readiness for global pandemicNew York Times global health writer Donald McNeil adds another reason this is a bad time to diminish pubic health resources. Pulling from the World Bank report on pandemic preparedness released in June, he notes the economic stakes. While the U.S. is one of only six countries that have evaluated their capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to a disease outbreak of pandemic proportions, the cost of such an outbreak would hit the U.S. harder than others. And, he notes, the annual number of disease outbreaks worldwide has more than tripled since 1980.

Dr. Raj Panjabi goes the last mile in Liberia – We first encountered Dr. Panjabi at a Senate health briefing in the spring of 2016, when he told lawmakers “We must demand a health worker for everyone, everywhere.”  In the wake of the worst months of the West Africa Ebola outbreak, he was talking to members of a Senate subcommittee about how lack of trained health workers and long distances between health facilities had allowed the virus to spread unnoticed from December 2013 to March 2014. Here he discusses that, and another reason his organization is involved in ongoing work with the Liberian government to build supported networks of community health workers: “Why should anyone die from diseases that others don’t?”

Shkreli is convicted of fraud. Can pharma finally slam the door on him? – The annoying aspect of would-be pharma baron Martin Shkreli’s comeuppance, some have noted, is that he faces prison time not for his role in the 5000 percent price hike of a drug needed by vulnerable patients that include pregnant women and people living with HIV, but for unrelated shady business dealings. Neither Shkreli’s fraud conviction or the costly toll to health and health services of the ruthless profiteering surrounding his company’s decision to raise the price of toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim are likely to lead to changes to the bigger issues Shkreli’s business practices highlight, including whether treatment makes it into the hands of people who need it. And with Shkreli’s own defense resting on his status as an outlier and outsider, pharmaceutical companies with less highly publicized, but also indefensible profit margins can look forward to continued freedom to do so, this article notes.

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