From funding for polio to developing an HIV vaccine, 2017 was a big year for global health.
Health isn’t just about a person’s physical well-being.
Healthy people are able to live fuller, happier lives, which in turn can enable them to seek educational and economic opportunities. Public health initiatives play a critical role in empowering people to climb out of extreme poverty.
Lat year, the world witnessed some amazing progress on those public health initiatives, including achieving global health targets. But it also experienced some setbacks in the same realm. In some cases, diseases were eliminated and vaccines were created, and in others, funding was decreased and vital resources stalled.
Here are the most important health moments to note as 2017 drew its curtains and the world looks to advance what 2018 brings and its march already!
1. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) Launched
On Jan. 19, a new international alliance was formed during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Its goal is to reduce the global response time against epidemics.
CEPI was essentially set up to develop new and improved vaccines so as to better prepare the world for future epidemics.
As it officially launched, Germany, Japan, and Norway, along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, invested $460 million.
CEPI is only about half funded right now, which is why Global Citizens are asking governments to step up and commit to bridge the nearly $500 million funding gap.
2. Trump Reinstated the Global Gag Rule
On Jan. 21, the day after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, millions of women rallied together to march in solidarity around the world. Two days later, on Jan. 23, President Trump reinstated a more harmful version of the Mexico City Policy, which is also known as the Global Gag Rule.
The Global Gag Rule prohibits international NGOs that receive US funding from providing or sharing information about abortion, essentially cutting off vital resources to NGOs that provide services like maternal and child health care, HIV testing and counseling, sex education, and contraceptive services.
3. The #SheDecides Movement Launched
The Global Gag Rule left a funding gap of $600 million and put millions of lives at risk. From this, came the launch of the SheDecides movement .
Initiated by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and International Development, Lilianne Ploumen, SheDecides is a global movement that is trying to raise funds to make up for the funding gap created by this US policy.
The Netherlands set up the fund days after Trump announced the Global Gag Rule.
4. African Countries Pledged to Immunize Everyone
On Jan. 31, the Addis Declaration on Immunization was endorsed by the African Union Heads of State. In doing so, Heads of State in Africa pledged to ensure that everyone in Africa could receive the full benefits of immunization, regardless of who they are or where they live.
The declaration urges countries to increase political and financial investments in their immunization programs. It includes 10 commitments, including increasing vaccine-related funding and improving universal access to vaccines.
5. A New Malaria Vaccine Was Created
On April 24, the day before World Malaria Day, WHO announced that it would begin piloting a malaria vaccine in Africa in early 2018. The vaccine (RTS,S) is the first malaria vaccine to have successfully completed its third phase of clinical trials and to have received a positive scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency.
6. The UK Eliminated Measles for The First Time
In September, WHO announced that the UK had managed to eliminate measles for the first time, which means that no new native cases of the disease had been recorded in the UK for three years.
The elimination of measles in the UK was stalled by a claim in the ’90s that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism, which resulted in a dip in vaccination rates.
But now, 33 countries across Europe have eliminated the disease, according to WHO.
7. The Clinton Health Access Initiative Announced a Landmark Pricing Agreement for a New HIV Medicine on the Global Citizen Stage
This agreement was announced by the Clinton Health Access Initiative on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, DFID, Unitaid, and UNAIDS in September.
The agreement will ensure 30 million people living with HIV in the most-impacted countries will have access to one of the best treatments. It is also estimated that it will save these countries at least $1.3 billion over the next six years.
8. Johnson & Johnson Started Testing An HIV Vaccine
In collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health and others, Johnson & Johnson has begun the first efficacy trial of an investigational mosaic HIV-1 preventive vaccine — which could lead to a global HIV vaccine.
The trial, called Imbokodo, will study the effectiveness of the vaccine produced by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a part of Johnson & Johnson.
9. 2017 Saw The Lowest Cases of Polio Transmission Ever
As of Dec. 6 , there were only 16 reported cases of the wild poliovirus, down from 37 in 2016, and an estimated 350,000 in 1988.