Blog

Health worker at Divine Grace Medical Center, Philippines. Photo credit: MSH

OPINION: The pandemic may be interfering with our fight against drug-resistant bacteria. Luckily, the same tactics can beat back both scourges.

 

As health-care systems around the world fight to contain Covid-19, they may be inadvertently opening the door wider to another killer that is just as dangerous.

I’m talking about the spread of pathogens that are resistant to treatment, such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The death toll from Covid is staggering, but so is that from antibiotic resistance: Nasty superbugs such as Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, currently kill some 700,000 people globally each year — that’s twice the number of Americans who died of Covid last year. Left unchecked, antibiotic resistance may kill up to 10 million more people yearly and cumulatively cost patients and health systems up to $100 trillion by the year 2050.

Madagascar reported its first cases of COVID-19 in March 2020. It was not long before the outbreak spread throughout multiple regions, including some of the country’s most remote communities. The Government of Madagascar quickly mobilized response activities to minimize the outbreak’s spread and impact on the population, including coordinating activities with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) ACCESS program, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), and other partners and stakeholders.

{Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

Originally published in The Hill 

By Marian W. Wentworth and Wade Warren 

On Dec. 14, the United States crossed a grisly milestone of 300,000 lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic. That same week, we saw the first glimmer of light in this long, dark tunnel of a year as frontline health care workers began to receive an effective vaccine. 

{Photo credit: Misa Rahantason/MSH} Photo credit: Misa Rahantason/MSH

Originally published on LinkedIn by MSH President and CEO, Marian W. Wentworth

Mothers pick up medicines from a hospital pharmacy in Kenya. Photo Credit: Mark Tuschman

Read the blog on the MTaPS website

As we mark Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day this month, countries continue to battle the spread of COVID-19. The lack of effective treatments and testing capabilities at the onset of the pandemic was a stark reminder that access to safe and affordable medical products is key to achieving healthy outcomes. With more therapeutics and diagnostics becoming available, the preparedness of pharmaceutical systems to get medical products and services to people is particularly worrisome in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Chronic shortages of medicines, low quality, and high cost add to the burden of patients and health systems in LMICs, where up to 60% of health spending is on medicines, mostly from out-of-pocket payments. Poorer households spend up to 9.5% of their income on medicines at the point of care, making them vulnerable to poverty.

A health worker takes a blood sample from an XDR-TB patient at Kitgum Hospital in northern Uganda. Photo credit: Diana Tumuhairwe/MSH

Originally published by Global Health NOW

As the COVID-19 scourge intensifies, it may be weakening our battle against tuberculosis—but pooling resources could boost the fight against both diseases.

While human and financial TB resources have been diverted to fight the pandemic, new TB case notifications have dropped by up to 75% in some countries, according to a Global Fund report published in September. In addition, TB service disruptions could lead to an additional 1.4 million deaths through 2025.

MSH, as a partner to the government of Nigeria and sub-recipient to Catholic Relief Services, supports the Global Fund Malaria grant in building Nigeria’s capacity to implement malaria control activities, strengthen the quality of care for malaria, and improve the use of health data across 13 states.

{Pharmacist Mary Yeesuf dispenses medicine to a patient in Minna, Nigeria. Photo Credit: Gwenn Dubourthournieu}Pharmacist Mary Yeesuf dispenses medicine to a patient in Minna, Nigeria. Photo Credit: Gwenn Dubourthournieu

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for long-term investments in regulatory systems to secure faster access to medical products. During a recent Livestream hosted by MSH and Deloitte, Professor Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), emphasized the role regulatory agencies play in ensuring pharmaceutical system impact now and beyond the pandemic. One such breakthrough─local manufacturing─requires agencies shore up regulatory capacities and address challenges now. Prof. Adeyeye discusses how her agency supports the local manufacturing of medicines and prepares for the roll-out of vaccines against COVID-19.

{Doctors visit patients in Rabia Balkhi hospital, Kabul Afghanistan. Photo Credit: Afghan Eyes/Jawad Jalali}Doctors visit patients in Rabia Balkhi hospital, Kabul Afghanistan. Photo Credit: Afghan Eyes/Jawad Jalali

COVID-19 will impact the prevention and treatment of many diseases, and there are particularly grim possibilities for tuberculosis (TB), which could set back our progress toward its elimination. Fortunately, our emphasis on strengthening local health systems is helping to build resilience against this kind of shock. We reached out to MSH technical experts leading three new global and national TB programs to learn what’s on their minds as their teams begin implementation under a COVID-19 reality. They all agree: COVID-19 reminds us why we cannot become complacent, and when it comes to the global fight to eliminate TB, it is no longer business as usual. Read what Ersin TopcuogluDaniel Gemechu, and Ehsanullah Darwish had to say about how we can fundamentally improve the way countries fight TB.

photo credit: Warren Zelman

Globally, more than 230,000 children died of TB in 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children under the age of 14 accounted for 12% of the people who developed TB in that year. In any given year, millions of children are infected with TB, which affects especially the most vulnerable, such as those who are malnourished. This tragedy is made worse because TB tends to be difficult to diagnose in children, and they are more likely to develop serious forms of TB. Many cases of childhood TB are missed, and access to services has been further compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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