The world's first vaccine against a strain of enterovirus has now been developed by Chinese researchers. The enterovirus that can cause hand, foot and mouth disease, especially in small children can also lead to deadly infections of the brain and spinal cord membranes.

On 20 May 2013, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) launched the ‘Do You Mind?’ campaign to focus attention and to prompt action on MNDs. The campaign launch takes place at the start of the 66 th World Health Assembly, where health ministers meet to consider a global mental health action plan.

The world has made dramatic progress in improving health in the poorest countries and narrowing the gaps between countries with the best and worst health status in the past two decades, according to the World Health Statistics 2013. The WHO annual statistics report highlights how efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have reduced health gaps between the most-advantaged and least-advantaged countries.

“GlaxoSmithKline [GSK] is giving Save the Children $23 million and entering into a five-year partnership with the charity to try to save the lives of one million children,” the Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek reports. GSK “said the partnership would set a new standard for how companies and charities could work together,” according to BBC News.

One billion people worldwide suffer from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), affecting primarily poor people in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.  These diseases kill or disable millions of people every year.  The research based-pharmaceutical industry is one of many international stakeholders working to improve global health and reduce the burden of NTDs. 

On April 11, the pharmaceutical company Sanofi will launch the large-scale production of a partially synthetic version of artemisinin, a chemical critical to making today's front-line antimalaria drug, based on Keasling's discovery. The drug is the first triumph of the nascent field of synthetic biology and will be, Keasling hopes, a lifesaver for the hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who each year contract malaria and more than 650,000, most of them children, who die of the disease.

On May 7, 2013 at 9am EST (3pm CET), Global Health Progress will host a live Q&A focused on neglected tropical diseases with Eduardo Pisani, Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA). We encourage those interested to submit questions in advance (send a message to @GlobalHealth using #NTDsQA or comment on the FaceBook post).

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced today a partnership on NCD prevention. The two-year partnership involves support from both organizations to design a behavioral change-based toolkit that promotes healthy lifestyle choices at national and community levels. Through its volunteer network and community-based expertise, the IFRC will make the toolkit available to approximately 3 million people worldwide.

Pregnancy-related deaths remain an acute problem in many places, despite overall global declines in rates of maternal mortality. Every day, nearly 800 women die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth, and 99 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) is a public-private partnership designed to reduce maternal mortality by up to 50 percent in selected districts in Zambia and Uganda this year. SMGL builds on U.S. investments through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Peace Corps, and the Department of Defense. The other SMGL partners include the governments of Norway, Zambia, and Uganda, the Merck for Mothers program, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Every Mother Counts.

About 18 million people have river blindness worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, but more than 99% of cases of this disease are found in Africa. It goes by the technical name "onchocerciasis," and it spreads through small black flies that breed in fast-flowing, highly oxygenated waters. When an infected fly bites a person, it drops worm larvae in the skin, which can then grow and reproduce in the body.
There is no vaccine for river blindness, but there is a drug, called ivermectin that paralyzes and kills the offspring of adult worms, according to the Mayo Clinic. It may also slow the reproduction of adult female worms, so there are fewer of them in the skin, blood and eyes. The pharmaceutical company Merck has been donating the treatment, under the brand name Mectizan, since 1985.