In the last month, many members of the Health Campaign Effectiveness Coalition’s Leadership Team have been featured in news articles, journals, and podcasts around the world. Here are a few of the highlights.
Dr. Marcos A. Espinal
On May 20th, the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health announced the formation of a new task force to identify the root cause of disease spread and prevent future pandemics. Dr. Espinal is one of six members announced.
The task force’s purpose will be to “identify the most effective ways to prevent new infectious diseases like COVID-19 before they start,” said the announcement. “In doing so, the group hopes to elevate the overlooked link between planetary and public health – the spillover of pathogens from animals into people.”
On April 29th, The BMJ published a piece co-written by Dr. Gupta that delves into the extreme inequities that the pandemic has surfaced.
“For COVID-19 vaccination, the contrast between high-income and low-income countries is stark,” states the article. “On average in high-income countries, almost one in four people have received a COVID-19 vaccine. In low-income countries, it is one in more than 500. Less than 2% of the world’s vaccines have been administered in Africa.”
On May 10th, Vaccines Today published an interview with Gavi Deputy CEO Anuradha Gupta. In the piece, Dr. Gupta reflects on a challenging 12 months but says the world has a “unique opportunity” to tackle all vaccine-preventable diseases.
‘We are witnessing breath-taking innovations, both global and local, and unparalleled collaboration,’ Gupta said.
Dr. Kashef Ijaz
On May 24th, The Saporta Report published a piece by Dr. Ijaz on the ongoing ancillary benefits that health programs bring to communities, health systems, and infrastructure.
“On top of the immediate benefits that accompany better health – more productivity, less poverty, better education, stronger communities, greater stability – an ongoing health-conscious mind-set and lasting infrastructure exponentially multiply the value of every dollar and every hour put into these programs,” said Dr. Ijaz. “There can be no better return on investment.”
On May 3rd, Dr. Ijaz discussed the “parallel pandemic” of mental health in a blog post for The Carter Center.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated or increased mental illnesses and severely disrupted provision of mental health services, according to the World Health Organization,” said Dr. Ijaz. “It has revealed a treatment gap in mental health across low- and middle-income countries, and it threatens to widen this gap.”
Dr. Hamid Jafari
On May 20th, Dr. Jafari spoke to the Rotary International of Great Britain and Ireland about the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
“There is so much misinformation around vaccination on social media and around the world,” said Dr. Jafari. “There are communities in Pakistan and Afghanistan that are mistrustful of the program because they’re displaced, they’re conflict-affected, and on top of that, they’re also facing the barrage of misinformation.”
Dr. Kate O’Brien
On May 10th, WHO held a press conference about the ongoing status of COVID-19 worldwide. Dr. O’Brien spoke about the situation in the Seychelles and potential vaccine failures.
“It is a more complicated situation than the top-line messages. As was noted, the vaccines are highly efficacious against severe cases and deaths. Most of the cases which have occurred are mild cases,” said Dr. O’Brien. “However, what is also important is that a substantial fraction, over 80% of the population, has been vaccinated but as we know, the vaccines after a single dose, the Sinopharm vaccine really requires two doses and some of the cases that are being reported are occurring either soon after a single dose or soon after a second dose or between the first and second doses.”
On May 7th, Dr. O’Brien was quoted in the Medical Xpress urging governments not to give COVID-19 vaccines to children until the elderly and at-risk worldwide have received the vaccine.
“The priority really needs to be getting vaccine to all countries in the world for the highest priority groups before we start advancing to groups that have much lower risk of disease,” said Dr. O’Brien.
Dr. Maria Rebollo Polo
On May 12th, Dr. Rebollo Polo joined the BBC podcast Health Check to discuss the importance of mapping NTDs like trachoma. She joins the conversation at the 9:25 mark.
“We knew that neglected tropical diseases were very frequent in Africa and that there were millions of people affected, but unfortunately, more than half of the continent was not marked,” Dr. Rebollo Polo said. “That means we didn’t know exactly where these deficits were.”
Dr. Faisal Shuaib
On May 26th, Dr. Shuaib was quoted in The Guardian about future shipments of COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria.
“This global shortage in vaccine supply impacts the clarity over Nigeria’s next shipment. The agency has information that it may get the next consignment of vaccines by end of July or August. This has not been officially confirmed,” said Dr. Shuaib. “When we are able to, we will provide an update regarding timelines and details of the next shipment. At present, we do not have that information available due to the wider context we are in. Most people here know by now that the global community is facing great challenges regarding vaccine supply.”
Pulse Nigeria also reported on his statements, including a discussion of increased vaccine coverage and vaccine production capacity.
“Johnson & Johnson also announced it has signed a deal to provide 200 million doses of its vaccine to COVAX,” he explained. “Additionally, the United States announced it will donate 20 million vaccine doses by the end of June to the COVAX scheme.”