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Showing posts with label Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Sindh government rolls out typhoid conjugate vaccine


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The children in the Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi, one of the areas worst-hit by the typhoid outbreak in Sindh, are receiving their first dose of the typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV), the latest vaccine to be included in Pakistan’s routine immunization programme. 

The staff from Aga Khan University (AKU), working in partnership with the Sindh government, will inoculate over 100,000 infants and children between the ages of six months and 15 years by administering the vaccine at public and private sector schools and hospitals based in one of the city’s most densely populated towns. 

“This is the first step in a mass immunization campaign for Sindh. The vaccine is the most effective way to curb new cases and to protect children from a disease which is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to treat,” Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sindh Health minister, remarked. 

Pakistan is the first country among low-income nations eligible for funding from GAVI, a global, public-private partnership committed to increasing access to immunization to include TCV in its nationwide schedule of vaccines against 11 preventable diseases. 

The decision is in line with the country’s commitment to end outbreaks of water-borne and communicable diseases in its efforts to meet goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“Deaths and complications from typhoid were rare over the past 15 years but the ongoing outbreak has put an unprecedented number of children at risk,” Farah Qamar, an associate professor in paediatrics and child health at AKU, stated. 

“Efforts are underway to address the root cause of the outbreak failings in our water and sanitation system but in the meantime this vaccine represents the best way to save lives,” she added. 

Researchers from the AKU will analyze the data from the Lyari drive to understand factors determining the acceptability and efficacy of the vaccine which, in turn, will enable its successful rollout across the country from October 2019. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that over 5,000 cases of XDR typhoid have been reported in the province to date. 

The scale of the outbreak led the Sindh government and private sector partners, such as the AKU and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, collaborating to launch an emergency vaccination drive in Hyderabad in January 2018. 

The faculty and staff at the AKU microbiology laboratory first detected the typhoid outbreak in blood culture tests from Hyderabad in October 2016. They collaborated with epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists from the University’s department of paediatrics to bring the matter to the attention of local government, the WHO, the US National Institutes of Health, the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the UK-based Wellcome Sanger Institute. 

Since then, the university’s researchers and its partners have collaborated on a number of studies to understand the genetic make-up of the typhoid strain, to ascertain risk factors for its geographic spread and to assess the safety and efficacy of TCV in an emergency outbreak situation. 

Data and policy implications stemming from these studies were shared with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan and the federal government’s National Technical Advisory Group. 

This led to a successful application for funding from GAVI and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation resulting in the permanent inclusion of TCV in the country’s nationwide immunization programme, a win-win situation for stopping the spread of a preventable disease.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bill Gates appreciates Rotary Pakistan’s efforts for polio eradication

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, while announcing a commitment of up to $450 million to support the eradication of polio, has appreciated the role of Pakistan’s Rotary Polio Plus Committee, headed by Aziz Memon.
Speaking to an audience of nearly 40,000 Rotary members attending the humanitarian organization’s annual convention in Atlanta, Gates recognized the good work being done in Pakistan by the Rotary Polio Plus Committee as he made a special mention of the Resource Centre developed in Nowshera. 

Besides exchanging views with the Chair of Pakistan’s Rotary Polio Plus Committee, Aziz Memon, Gates also had a one-to-one meeting with Senator Ayesha Raza, the focal person for the Prime Minister of Pakistan. 

Meanwhile Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation renewed their longstanding support for ending polio, a paralyzing, life-altering scourge on the verge of becoming the second human disease ever to be eliminated. Rotary committed to raise $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Gates Foundation. 

This expanded agreement will translate into $450 million for polio eradication activities, including immunization and surveillance over the next three years. This critical funding helps ensure countries around the world remain polio-free and that polio is ended in the remaining three endemic countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.


“In 2016, fewer children were paralyzed by polio than ever before, thanks to the dedication of Rotary members and our partners. The paralysis of even one child by a preventable disease is unacceptable, and I'm proud to see our members redoubling their commitment to ensure we reach every single child with the polio vaccine,” John Germ, President, Rotary International, observed. 

In a partnership spanning a decade, Rotary and the Gates Foundation, along with the other Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, have led the effort to end polio worldwide. 

This funding extension reaffirms a commitment established at the 2013 Rotary Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, when the Gates Foundation pledged to match Rotary contributions two-to-one, up to $35 million per year through 2018. Rotary, including matching funds from the Gates Foundation, has donated more than $1.6 billion to polio eradication. 

“The vision of eradicating polio began with Rotary, and its support of that effort has been unwavering for more than 35 years. Rotary’s commitment to raise $150 million over the next three years to end polio forever is a testament to the compassion, generosity, and kindness of more than a million Rotarians around the world,” Gates stated. 

The announcement came on the heels of the news that world governments and other donors have pledged to contribute US$1.2 billion total to the GPEI for polio eradication efforts. The government funding, also announce at the Rotary Convention, will substantially help to close the US$1.5 billion funding gap, allowing partners to immunize 450 million children every year and support rigorous disease surveillance in both endemic and at-risk polio-free countries. 

While the government funding announced made considerable headway in the fight to end polio, continued support from donors remains vital to achieve a polio-free world. The global eradication of polio has been Rotary’s top priority since 1985. 

Through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year at the start of the initiative to just 37 cases in 2016. 

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Umeed-e-Nau launches maternal child health project in 14 districts


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University and key government officials marked the launch of a major new project aimed at improving maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in Pakistan. 

Funded by a US$25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Umeed-e-Nau (new hope) is a five-year project that will see AKU work with public sector programmes and primary care providers such as Lady Health Workers and Community Health Midwives to deliver proven interventions and improve the quality of care at health facilities in 14 mainly rural districts in Balochistan, Southern Punjab and Sindh, as well as urban slums in Karachi. 

The districts include Badin, Dadu, Hyderabad, Matiari, Karachi, Jafferabad, Jamshoro, Lasbela, Mirpur Khas, Muzaffargarh, Nasirabad, Qambar Shahdadkot, Rahim Yar Khan, Sanghar and Thatta. 

The project also includes a ground breaking effort to provide health education through schools for adolescent girls in Pakistan. 

“Federal and provincial governments, public and private institutions, civil society and every one of us have to team up to meet the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, Founding Director of the Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, remarked. 

“Projects like Umeed-e-Nau can help Pakistan achieve Goal 3 for health, which also requires additional investments in improving nutrition, keeping children in schools and addressing environmental health and gender equity,” he added. 

The project will operate through a new research centre, the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, which will be established through a generous gift of Rs 2 billion from the Hashoo Foundation. Muhammad Ayub Shaikh, Secretary, Ministry of National Health Sciences, Regulations and Coordination, Government of Pakistan, expressed their commitment to join hands with AKU and accelerate progress. 

“Umeed-e-Nau will test a variety of approaches in an effort to develop insights and evidence that can influence policy across the country and beyond its borders. We believe that the project will reduce stillbirths and new born deaths by 20 per cent, as well as deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea by 30 per cent through these strategies,” Professor Bhutta reckoned. 

On the occasion, a message from Dr Christopher Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was delivered: 

“We are proud to support Pakistan’s efforts to improve the quality and reach of health services to reduce preventable deaths and make progress toward the country’s 2030 development goals.” 

The AKU President Firoz Rasul thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its partnership and support to improve maternal and child health in Pakistan. 

“As part of its activities to support the Sustainable Development Goals, AKU has pledged to invest more than US$85 million over the next decade in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which is designed to help achieve Goal 3 of SDGs,” President Rasul said. 

The ceremony was also attended by AKU donors, members of the Hashoo Foundation, and Dr Muhammad Usman Chachar, Secretary of Health, Government of Sindh.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Gates Foundation awards US$ 25m to AKU


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University (AKU) will work to prevent deaths of mothers and children in Pakistan under a five-year, US$ 25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, testing a variety of approaches in an effort to develop insights and evidence that can influence policy across the country and beyond its borders.
An estimated 440,000 mothers and children under the age of five died in Pakistan in 2015, more than in all but two other countries. 

Because the risks mothers and children face in rural areas are especially high, AKU researchers will focus on 14 mainly rural districts in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan as well as urban slums in Karachi. 

In Balochistan, for example, the rate at which women die from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth is more than four times higher than in urban areas of Pakistan, and in some areas fewer than one in six women give birth with a health worker present. 

Among mothers and children in Pakistan, most deaths are due to preventable or treatable causes, and thus could be avoided. Among children under five, for example, more than 30 per cent of deaths are the result of pneumonia or diarrhoea. Under the grant, entitled Umeed-e-Nau (A New Hope), the university will partner with public and private sector organizations to introduce at least six large-scale projects in representative settings. 

“Breaking the cycle of poverty starts with investing in the health of vulnerable individuals at every stage of life, particularly young women, newborns and children,” Dr Christopher Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, remarked.
“We are proud to support Pakistan’s efforts to improve the quality and reach of health services to reduce preventable deaths and make progress toward the country’s 2030 development goals,” he added. 

The projects will work with public sector programs and primary care providers such as Lady Health Workers and Community Health Midwives to deliver proven interventions and seek to improve the quality of care at health facilities. 

They will also empower adolescent girls through health and nutrition education to be delivered in schools and in communities, as adolescent girls have been largely ignored in public policy and health systems. Ultimately, researchers hope to reduce stillbirths and newborn deaths by 20 percent, and deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea by 30 percent through these strategies.

 “Globally, nearly 6 million children under age five died in 2015, while 300,000 women lost their lives due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth,” Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, Founding Director of the AKU Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Toronto, stated. 

“Because most of these deaths are due to illnesses or conditions that we know how to treat, they could be avoided. But the question remains: in countries like Pakistan with limited resources, what are the best ways to make sure people actually receive the health care or health knowledge they need? That’s what our Centre of Excellence focuses on and this grant will allow us to expand our work in both scale and depth,” he explained. 

Maternal and child health has long been one of AKU’s highest priorities, and the University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, has emerged as one of the developing world’s leading sources of research in the field. 

It has contributed to a number of influential Lancet Global Health Series and to the Countdown to 2015 effort, and its work helped to inform the new United Nations’ Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. 

Its research on community-based solutions to health challenges in rural Pakistan, often involving the government’s Lady Health Workers programme, has been groundbreaking and influential. Umeed-e-Nau builds on the Centre’s achievements over many years, and represents something of a culmination of its work to date. 

“This grant reflects the impact and value of the work that AKU undertakes to develop solutions to critical health problems facing women and children, especially those living in poverty and in rural areas," the AKU President, Firoz Rasul, observed.

"We are very grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the partnership and support to improve maternal and child health in Pakistan. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Foundation to assist the most vulnerable in our society,” he reckoned.

As part of its activities to support the Sustainable Development Goals, the University has pledged to invest more than US$ 85 million over the next decade in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which is designed to help achieve Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, requiring countries to ensure good health and well-being for people of all ages.