This morning Bill Gates released his third Annual Letter. Since 2009, Gates has written a publication which outlines the priorities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the coming year. A major focus for the Foundation in 2011 will be vaccines. In particular, Gates is urging the global health community to finish the decades long quest of eradicating polio.
In the same way that during my Microsoft career I talked about the magic of software, I now spend my time talking about the magic of vaccines. Vaccines have taken us to the threshold of eradicating polio. They are the most effective and cost-effective health tool ever invented. I like to say vaccines are a miracle. Just a few doses of vaccine can protect a child from debilitating and deadly diseases for a lifetime,” writes Gates in his 2011 Annual Letter.
The subject of vaccines is, of course, special to the Sabin Vaccine Institute for a few reasons. We advocate for the widespread use of vaccines because we believe in their power to prevent needless suffering and death. Sabin was also founded in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin who developed the oral polio vaccine. Dr. Sabin’s vaccine is credited with helping to eliminate polio from all but four nations in the world (Afghanistan, Nigeria, India and Pakistan).
Another special connection that we have to vaccines and disease eradication is through Sabin Executive Vice President Dr. Ciro de Quadros who contributed to the eradication of smallpox worldwide. Smallpox is the only disease to have been eradicated from humanity, but with Gates shining a spotlight on polio it’s not likely to remain the sole disease to have that honor for long.
Stay tuned to the webcast and the global fight to eradicate polio, they’re both certain to get people talking about health and the enormous opportunities for science to impact our lives. As Gates notes in his Annual Letter “investments in health lead to amazing victories.”
To kick off what will be a week chock-full of the latest research and data, as well as fruitful discussion and debate in the dynamic realm of tropical medicine, tonight’s opening plenary session featured Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, CDC, delivers remarks at opening plenary of ASTMH Annual Meeting. Photo Credit: ASTMH blog
The theme for today was definitely all about Women and Children.
This new Girl Effect video is the best way to start off this blog post:
I watched a live stream of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon from the UN Week Digital Media Lounge unveiling a $40 billion pledge from foundations, non-profits, governments and businesses that will go towards the MDG goals of improving the health of women and children.
Ten years have passed since the inception of the Millennium Develop Goals. Great progress has been made; in fact, the world as a whole is on track to reduce poverty in half by 2015, which is a tremendous achievement. However, in many areas there is still a long way to go. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently remarked “The MDGs are difficult and ambitious, but doable.”
With only five years left in the original timeline to achieve the MDGs, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening the world’s leaders in New York next week to review the progress made and to call for renewed attention and commitment. Melinda Gates along with other world health luminaries will be working together with TED to reflect on the MDGs after ten years, and to look forward to the next five. Communities around the world will gather at satellite events to watch this symposium and to discuss in their own communities the way forward.
Much like our video featured on the CBS Superscreen in Times Square, the UN Foundation has a number of PSAs that are going to be released on the Toshiba screen in Times Square as a lead up to the highly anticipated Millennium Development Summit next week. This week on End the Neglect, we’ll feature the PSAs that will be looped in Times Square in recognition of next week’s summit. Today’s PSA urges everyone to do their part in ending poverty and disease – take a look! Also, don’t forget to check out our CBS Superscreen video looping in Time Square, over to the right.
Vaccine diplomacy is the central argument in more than half a dozen articles in well-respected publications, including, including Science and Foreign Policy magazines. However, compared to other forms of diplomacy, there exists few clear examples of vaccine diplomacy. The classic and well cited example is the U.S. U.S.S.R. Cold War cooperation on an oral polio vaccine. While a great success, this type of health cooperation between belligerents might well be better defined as an outlier than a trend. If the United States is going to use vaccine diplomacy as a regular tool of foreign policy as advocated by its most predominant proponent, the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Dr. Peter J. Hotez, then it must actively explore new forms of it.
I’m in Washington, D.C. as part of a fellowship with the International Reporting Project. Next Saturday I head to Bolivia, where I’ll be reporting and writing on public health and a number of different topics.
One advantage of spending time in D.C.—in addition to meeting other IRP fellows and running past the White House— is the opportunity to meet with the world-class scientists and policy makers who work here. Yesterday I met with Dr. Peter Hotez, the president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, a non-profit organization that’s affiliated with George Washington University. The Sabin Institute—named after Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the polio vaccine— develops vaccines for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), a group of 13 diseases that affect poor people in the developing world. NTDs include diseases like guinea worm, Chagas disease, kala azar and lymphatic filariasis. Together they impact 1.4 billion people, most of whom live on under $1.25 a day. Read more: A Creative Model for Vaccine Development
According to the United Nations Population Fund Website:
This year World Population Day highlights the importance of data for development. The focus is on the 2010 round of the population and housing census, data analysis for development and UNFPA’s lead role in population and development.
Reliable data makes a difference, and the key is to collect, analyze and disseminate data in a way that drives good decision making. The numbers that emerge from data collection can illuminate important trends. What striking situation does research reveal in your country? What do the numbers tell you about progress toward meeting the MDGs? Are certain groups getting left behind?
We encourage you to watch this great video by USAID on why population data matters!
Nuclear weapon states which include Myanmar, Iran, North Korea, and Syria all suffer from an inordinate amount of poverty and high prevalence of neglected tropical disease (NTD). Treatment for NTDs is usurped by money spent on nuclear weaponry, which can not continue to go on. Dr. Peter Hotez, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, wrote an op-ed published by the Ottawa Citizen detailing the issue. Read more
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is a major advocacy and resource mobilization initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)--a group of disabling, disfiguring, and deadly diseases affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day.