Healthy Dose November 2, 2011

Concerns Over Medical Supplies in Thailand

The government of Thailand says that the country can deal with immediate medical needs, but given the time it could take for the flood waters to recede there is doubt about whether the health system can withstand this kind of stress over the long term.  IRIN reports:

it's like walking in river.“Hospitals are panicking now, though they are not necessarily running out of supplies,” Pongpan Wongmanee, deputy secretary-general of the government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told IRIN, adding that most hospital stocks could last for at least a month.

Official predictions for how long it will take to drain waterlogged areas vary from 10 days to weeks.

Though flooding has disrupted the production of 393 registered medicines in more than 10 factories in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, there is no report of drug shortages yet, according to the Health Ministry on 31 October.

But some hospital officials are concerned their supplies will dwindle quickly as operations at these pharmaceutical plants are suspended, and demand for scarce medicines is expected to increase.

“At this point, the biggest limitation is medication. There are lots of volunteers and nurses, but very little medication,” said Pranya Sakiyalak, assistant dean of public relations at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. The hospital is sending a mobile medical team daily to one of the most hard-hit provinces 70km north of the capital, Ayutthaya.

Most urgently needed are aspirin, antibiotics and saline solution as patients in flood-affected areas report common minor illness and injuries, he added.

Delivery of medicines is difficult as some main roads are inaccessible, forcing operators to use indirect routes for transportation, said Pongpan from the FDA.

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Four New Studies on Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies

Four articles in the Malaria Journal have been published recently that discuss artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Through ACTwatch, PSI works with partners to “provide and promote evidence and recommendations for policy makers on methods to increase availability and decrease the consumer price of quality assured artemisinin-based combination therapies through the private sector.”

The first study, The ACTwatch project: methods to describe anti-malarial markets in seven countries, describes the design of ACTwatch.

ACTwatch is a unique multi-country research project that threads together anti-malarial supply and consumer behaviour to provide an evidence base to policy makers that can help determine where interventions may positively impact access to and use of quality-assured ACT and RDTs. Because of its ability to detect change over time, it is well suited to monitor the effects of policy or intervention developments in a country.

For the next three papers, we will include the titles followed by the respective study’s conclusions. Click on the title to read the ungated study.

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The Top Ten Countries Most Committed to International Development

The Center for Global Development has produced its annual Commitment to Development Index.  Measuring the performance of 22 countries’ policies, the index pulls together data to rank the countries based on aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology.  Each category is given a score and then are combined to determine who is the most committed to international development.

So, which countries are “the most” committed to international development? It seems the Scandavians take top honors.


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Healthy Dose November 1, 2011

Uganda Falling Short to Meet Male Circumcision Demand:

Uganda’s health system is unable to handle the growing number of men who want to access circumcision. IRIN reports:

Ugandan men have been seeking medical male circumcision in droves since the government launched a national policy in 2010, but the health system is not equipped to handle the caseload, slowing down the potential HIV prevention benefits of the campaign.

“Communities have shown a lot of interest in male circumcision, but we are not meeting the demand; our target is 80 percent of uncircumcised men but we have only met about 5 percent of that,” said Zainab Akol, manager of the Ministry of Health’s AIDS Control Programme.

“We have insufficient human resources, infrastructure, kits and of course money,” she added.

Just 56 percent of the country’s health worker positions are filled, and many are not trained in male circumcision.


According to a recent report by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) on the scale-up of male circumcision delivery in eastern and southern Africa, just 9,052 circumcisions were carried out in Uganda in 2010, against more than four million men who would need to be circumcised for the country to reach its 80 percent target.

WHO estimates that if Uganda achieved the 80 percent target within five years, the country could potentially avert close to 340,000 new HIV infections.

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