MSH in the Media: COVID-19 and Health Security
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine to 7.8 billion global citizens calls for a combination of meaningful partnerships and innovative supply chain technology
The Hill: COVID-19 doesn't care about New York or New Delhi
Marian W. Wentworth and Wade Warren, January 3, 2021
It is both a moral imperative—and in the strategic interest of wealthier countries—to aid in the pursuit of vaccinating 7.8 billion global citizens. Our global health security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. Yet even in fully industrialized nations with robust health infrastructure, the logistics of the world’s largest-ever vaccination campaign are daunting.
Because of how interconnected the world is today, the economic impacts of COVID-19 have been more severe than in past pandemics. Modern economies depend on global travel, global trade and global supply chains. To combat economic instability and severe global health insecurity, we must look to an ideal combination of meaningful partnerships and innovative supply chain technology to deliver COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
This ideal combination isn’t an entirely new concept. Through decades of work in delivering treatments for malaria and HIV or in making family planning accessible to populations far from industrial centers, we have learned how to hone complex supply chains and work closely with governments, civil society, the private sector and health care workers on locally led solutions.
From these experiences, we know more about what a 21st century solution to the supply chain looks like. Take, for example, the idea of the Control Tower, which is a set of tools and techniques that enable experts to proactively manage their end-to-end supply chains through increased visibility and predictive insights. Some experts estimate that as much as 20 percent of vaccines are lost due to cold chain issues or irregularities, but a modern, effective Control Tower can monitor temperature irregularities in real time and guide interventions before the product is lost.
Even as we battle COVID-19, we must increase malaria surveillance and monitoring for signs of new drug-resistant mutations
Scientific American: A New Strain of Drug-Resistant Malaria Has Sprung Up in Africa. Here’s how we fight back
Tom Hall, Senior Technical Advisor for Malaria, January 2, 2021
More than 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa, and there is a threat that could set progress back again. Researchers in Rwanda have identified a new strain of drug-resistant malaria. We must strengthen surveillance and monitoring for signs of new mutations, even as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to basic tactics like increasing people’s access to insecticide-treated mosquito nets, countries can take a few actions to help make a difference, including ensuring that providers and patients use meds effectively; taking action to maximize the longevity of ACTs; developing next-generation treatments; expanding lab testing capacity; and developing a cross-border action plan with neighboring countries. Southeast Asia has already seen this mutation as of 2013 and is holding it at bay with careful use of drugs that work where they are most needed. We can outsmart this. We must bring our collective human ingenuity and determination to ensure that the continent bearing the world’s greatest burden of malaria stays one step ahead of the emerging threat of this dangerous mutant parasite.
Pooling resources could boost the fight against both COVID-19 and Tuberculosis
Global Health NOW: A 2-Front Battle: COVID-19 Must Reinvigorate the Fight Against TB
Dr. Ersin Topcuoglu, Director of the Health Systems for Tuberculosis Project, December 11, 2020
As the COVID-19 scourge intensifies, it may be weakening our battle against tuberculosis—but pooling resources could boost the fight against both diseases, writes Ersin Topcuoglu, director of the Health Systems for Tuberculosis Project at Management Sciences for Health, in an GHN exclusive commentary.
It wouldn’t be the first time a public health crisis has catalyzed progress: For example, the first global effort to contain infectious disease—the International Sanitary Conferences that began in 1851—sought to address cholera.
World leaders have committed to treating 40 million people for TB by 2022 and to providing preventive treatment for 30 million more.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll has passed 1.5 million people. The scourge of both diseases demands informed, inclusive, and empowered public health leadership, writes Topcuoglu, laying out several steps to addressing TB and COVID-19 in tandem.
Countries Need Informed Decision-making through Health Technology Assessment to Allocate Resources during the Pandemic
Think Global Health: Who Gets What and Why?
Hector Castro, MSH Technical Director, September 23, 2020
Half of all medical equipment in Bangladesh’s public health facilities—hospital beds, ventilators, nebulizers, refrigerators, and vehicles—goes unused. Meanwhile, in Uganda, ultrasound machines are overused for a small number of patients, while many in need go without...Why such painful gaps and discrepancies? In an opinion piece for Think Global Health—an initiative from the Council on Foreign Relations—MSH’s Global Lead of Infectious Diseases, Health Financing, Technologies, Data, and Impact, Dr. Hector Castro, discusses the need for health technology assessment to set priorities and allocate precious resources. “As we struggle to contain the current pandemic, our health-care needs will only increase. Short of a global windfall, countries must avoid waste and make do with available resources. Even a lower-income country can make impressive gains, helping its people live longer, healthier lives. Applying health technology assessment smartly to inform their own policies can make a little go a long way.”
For Faster Medical Product Access in Low- and Middle-income Countries, Make Long-term Investments in Regulatory Systems
Think Global Health: A Wake-Up Call Both Brutal and Urgent
Tamara Hafner, MSH Principal Technical Advisor, and Javier Guzman, MSH Technical Director, July 27, 2020
“The pandemic is a brutal and urgent wake-up call that low- and middle-income countries need more effective, efficient regulatory systems.” In an opinion piece for Think Global Health—an initiative from the Council on Foreign Relations—Tamara Hafner and Javier Guzman, both of the MSH-led, USAID MTaPS program, discuss the need for long-term investments in pharmaceutical regulatory systems for faster access to medical products. “As we struggle to meet emergency needs during the pandemic, we have a window of opportunity to overhaul the way we handle the regulation of medical products.”
Behavior Change Is Key to Fighting COVID-19 but Getting the Government to Finance Such Activities Is Not Easy
DEVEX: Inequality and Corruption: Why Peru is Losing Its COVID-19 Battle
Edgar Medina Figueroa, MSH-Peru Executive Director, July 1, 2020
Peru mobilized quickly to fight COVID-19, but the country still finds itself with one of the highest death rates in the region. Public health experts, including MSH-Peru Executive Director Edgar Medina Figueroa, explain where and how the pandemic response has fallen short.
What If An Early Warning of the Next Pandemic Was Not in the Jungle, But in Your Living Room?
The Hill: Can Veterinarians Save Us from the Next Pandemic?
Ashley Arabasadi, MSH Senior External Affairs Officer, May 29, 2020
Three-quarters of all emerging diseases are zoonotic, and a pandemic threat anywhere is a threat everywhere. In an opinion article for The Hill, MSH’s Senior External Affairs Officer, Ashley Arabasadi, and Dr. Tracey McNamara, a veterinary pathologist and “discoverer” of the West Nile Virus discuss the need to invest in animal disease surveillance to prevent the next pandemic.
How Tiny Madagascar’s Experience Stopping an Outbreak of the Plague in 2017 Can Provide Other Countries with Valuable Lessons on Contact Tracing
Voice of America: How Contact Tracers Could Help Control COVID-19
John Yanulis, Madagascar Project Director, May 15, 2020
As countries look to contact tracing to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19, in an interview with Voice of America, Madagascar Project Director John Yanulis discusses how MSH supported the country's efforts to stem a major outbreak of the plague in 2017 by working with community health volunteers to perform contact tracing, prophylactic treatment administration, and testing referrals. "They're the eyes and ears of the health system," explains Yanulis.
Free Webinar Training For Health Care Workers in the Philippines Helps Prevent Health Workers From Getting Infected and Reduces Further Spread of COVID-19
ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC): TV interview with Dr. Hasibul Haque, Country Program Director, USAID’s Medicines Technologies and Pharmaceutical Services (MTaPS) project
In a live interview on ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), May 12, 2020, Country Program Director Dr. Hasibul Haque of USAID’s Medicines Technologies and Pharmaceutical Services (MTaPS) project, led by MSH, answers questions about MTaPS training courses, their target, reach, key messages, and effectiveness, as well as perspectives and challenges of the health care workers around COVID-19 infection prevention and personal protective equipment.
What Specific Actions the Nigeria Government Can Take to Strengthen Its Health Infrastructure to Fight Pandemics Like COVID-19, Blueprint
Blueprint: COVID-19 Has Exposed Lapses in Nigeria’s Health Sector
Dr. Kingsley Ochei, MSH Infectious Disease Specialist, May 7, 2020
Nigeria is currently dealing with its largest Lassa fever outbreak, while at the same time addressing COVID-19. In an interview, Dr. Kingsley Ochei, a lab and infectious disease specialist at MSH, discusses what Nigeria must do to improve its health system to fight priority diseases such as Lassa fever, HIV, COVID-19, and malaria. Over the years, little attention has been paid to the health sector and the decay in the public health facilities. “The COVID-19 pandemic exposes this lapse for the government to address,” says Ochei. “Yet, the pandemic has also shown that we have capable medical personnel… who can rise to the occasion any day to address the issues around health security.”
COVID-19 Vaccine: Does the Benefit Outweigh the Risk for Participants?, Medical Ethics Advisor
Medical Ethics Advisor: The COVID-19 Vaccine: Usual Ethical Questions in Unusual Times
Marian W. Wentworth, MSH President and CEO, May 1, 2020
Marian W. Wentworth, MSH President and CEO, discusses the ethical implications of fast-tracking human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine. The underlying ethical principles are the same as with vaccine development in general. “What’s changing now is external circumstances and the lack of normative data to answer ethical questions,” Wentworth notes.
No, Vaccines Are Not Cash Cows for the Pharmaceutical Industry, The Washington Post
The Washington Post: Five Myths about Vaccines
Marian W. Wentworth, MSH President and CEO, May 1, 2020
As a long-time observer of vaccine development, Marian W. Wentworth’s recent interview in The Guardian is quoted in a commentary on a vaccine against novel coronavirus.
A Picture Is Emerging of the Kind Of Society Needed to Withstand the Future Outbreaks Scientists Say Are Inevitable, The Guardian
The Guardian: 10 Key Lessons for the Future to Be Learned from Fighting Covid-19
Ashley Arabasadi, MSH Health Security Policy Advisor, May 1, 2020
Months into this epidemic, even basic information about the coronavirus is still unclear. How infectious is it? How deadly? Yet the basic principles for containing a disease, developed and refined with reference to hundreds of previous epidemics, have held true for COVID-19.
Global Health Programs: Detecting Disease Outbreaks Locally And Preventing Them from Spreading Globally, The Hill
The Hill: Investments in Global Health Programs Pay Off in Pandemic Response
Marian W. Wentworth, MSH President and CEO, April 19, 2020
Global health programs, mainly implemented by international NGOs, have been working on pandemic preparedness and prevention behind the scenes for years. The current crisis demands that we dig deep to fund our current response, both domestic and internationally. While the current scenario is novel to many of us, NGOs are a reliable tool at many governments’ disposal and one upon which many lives depend.
The Greatest Challenge Is What Comes after We Have a COVID-19 Vaccine: Navigating the Broad Spectrum of Sociopolitical and Economic Barriers to Immunization, Truthout
Truthout: A COVID-19 Vaccine Will Not Be Enough — We Need a Plan to Distribute It
Marian W. Wentworth, MSH President and CEO, April 16, 2020
Distrust and spread of misinformation around vaccines, and a possible short supply, unable to meet the demands of the population, are some of the issues that have long haunted global immunization efforts and will need to be taken into consideration once (or if) a COVID-19 vaccine comes to market. According to MSH President and CEO, Marian W. Wentworth, the “first-come, first served” model will likely be the case for a COVID-19 vaccine. “No matter how fast we scale up,” says Wentworth, “it’s going to be true on day one, the total number of doses available is less than the need.”
Breaking the Cycle of Panic and Ensuring Countries Have the Resources to Stop Outbreaks at the Source, in a Recent Canadian Radio Interview
Jerry Agar Show: Predicting the Pandemic
Ashley Arabasadi, MSH Health Security Policy Advisor, April 14, 2020
"We have an opportunity now to really look ahead and put these pandemic preparedness plans in place, to make effective legislation...to strengthen health systems, not only internally [in the US] but globally, that can help make everybody safer," says MSH Health Security Policy Advisor Ashley Arabasadi in an interview with Canadian radio host, Jerry Agar, about breaking the cycle of panic and neglect countries face when it comes to health emergencies and the need ensure that governments in low- and middle-income countries have the resources and capacity to handle outbreaks and stop them more quickly at the source. "This is what we [at MSH] do and this is where the best investment in funds can go - is strengthening the health system."
While the Official 12- To 18-month Timeframe Still Stands, Experimental COVID-19 Inoculations for High-risk Groups Could Be Rolled Out Much Earlier, The Guardian
The Guardian: Coronavirus Vaccine: When Will We Have One?
Marian W. Wentworth, MSH President and CEO, April 12, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing change at almost every step in the vaccine development process. What kind of timeline for an effective vaccine can we hope to expect? MSH President and CEO, Marian W. Wentworth, a long-time observer of vaccine development, shares her insight with The Guardian.
Pathogens See No Borders: The Importance of Evidence-based Information and Meaningful Investments in Preparedness, 45 North
#interview">45 North: Interview with Ashley Arabasadi: Journalists play an important role in sharing reliable information from public health experts
Ashley Arabasadi, MSH Health Security Policy Advisor, April 9, 2020
Romania's 45 North, a nonprofit news organization, interviewed MSH Health Security Policy Advisor, Ashley Arabasadi, about the role journalists and NGOs play in preventing and/or fighting epidemics, the use of surveillance as a tool for controlling and preventing disease, and why"investing in preparedness makes financial sense too, as experts have known that the cost of prevention is a fraction of what an epidemic can cost to the global economy."
Health Security Experts Are Always Thinking about Preventing the Worst Case Scenario – A Pandemic. When It Happens, It’s Almost Like You Are Watching in Slow Motion, The Irish Times
The Irish Times: Coronavirus: ‘you may have heard of a game called Plague Inc’
Ashley Arabasadi, MSH Health Security Policy Advisor, March 29, 2020
In a Q&A with The Irish Times, MSH’s Ashley Arabasadi, shares her perspective working in health security during a global pandemic: “Seeing that [pandemic] simulation actually play out in real life has been terrifying, but really interesting in terms of the amount of preparedness we have, versus what we need in reality.”
The Link Between the World’s Top Infectious Killer and Covid-19’s Lethal Invasion, Global Health NOW
Global Health NOW: We Need to Move Faster to Introduce New TB Drugs
Andre Zagorski, MSH Senior Principal Technical Advisor, March 24, 2020
MSH’s Andre Zagorski, on the fight against TB, the world’s top infectious killer, in an Op-ed for Global Health NOW: “The COVID-19 response can draw on challenges and lessons from TB programs that emphasize investments in research and rapid uptake of new diagnostic, prevention, and treatment tools for universal health coverage.”