'Senseless' turf battles between health development and relief agencies

Health development agencies are contributing to the status quo of insufficient public health budgets in poor countries, argues Gorick Ooms, Executive Director of the Belgian section of the medical relief agency Médecins Sans Frontières.

In a provocative Essay in PLoS Medicine, Ooms argues that "development agencies want their interventions to be sustainable." In other words, the country that is receiving health development agency support (the "host country") must have sufficient funding generated from the country's own resources to support these interventions.

But public health budgets in the world's poorest countries, says Ooms, are inadequate and increasing these budgets requires stronger national and international financial commitments. If public health budgets were increased, the level of health care within the capacity of the host countries would be higher.

"Health development advocates assume that public health budgets will not be increased," says Ooms, "and base their sustainability estimations on this assumption. In doing so, they contribute to the status quo of insufficient public health budgets."

Medical relief organizations, on the other hand, are "not driven by health development approaches," he says, but by "a humanitarian impulse; there are overwhelming needs and there is an obligation to respond to those needs."

The "turf battles" between emergency medical relief agencies and health development agencies are senseless, says Ooms. "Health development advocates should not blame medical relief advocates for ignoring concerns about sustainability. The actions of medical relief agencies have nothing to do with ignorance; they are a deliberate choice. The status quo of insufficient public health budgets deserves only a firm rejection."

Citation: Ooms G (2006) Health development versus medical relief: The illusion versus the irrelevance of sustainability. PLoS Med 3(8): e345.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030345

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-08-ooms.pdf

LINK TO TRANSLATION OF THE ARTICLE INTO FRENCH: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-08-ooms-translation.pdf

Related image for press use: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-08-ooms.jpg

· Caption: A Rally to Demand Greater Access to HIV Medicines (Photo: Eric Miller)

CONTACT:
Gorik Ooms
Médecins Sans Frontières
General Direction
Rue Dupré 94
Brussels, 1090 Belgium
+32 474 989848
gorik@brussels.msf.org

What will it take to make a topical microbicide for blocking HIV-1 transmission?

A topical microbicide is a product (such as a cream or gel) that can be used vaginally or rectally by a woman or a man to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV-1 infection during sexual intercourse. An effective microbicide could make a significant contribution to reducing the global spread of HIV. But what will it take to make one? What types of inhibitory compounds could be developed as a practical product, and what obstacles must be faced?

Per Johan Klasse (Weill Medical College of Cornell University) and colleagues discuss some of the newer approaches to developing microbicides. "We believe," say the authors, that "a successful microbicide would have to fulfill four interrelated criteria: safety, acceptability, efficacy, and affordability."

Citation: Klasse PJ, Shattock RJ, Moore JP (2006) Which topical microbicides for blocking HIV-1 transmission will work in the real world? PLoS Med 3(9): e351.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030351

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-09-moore.pdf

CONTACT:
John Moore
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
1300 York Avenue, Box 62
New York, NY 10021 United States of America
+1 212 746-4462
+1 212 746-8340 (fax)
jpm2003@mail.med.cornell.edu

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