Anna Kovacevich is a senior program assistant at GHTC who supports GHTC's communications and member engagement activities.
Research Roundup: Drug resistance threatens newborns, WHO funding reform, and global testing declines
In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.
More newborn babies with sepsis are dying because their infections are not responding to the usual antibiotics, according to the largest global study on the subject to date. The study, sponsored by the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), which enrolled 3,200 newborns diagnosed with sepsis in 11 countries, found that 11 percent of newborns died over the course of the study and that 15 percent were prescribed last-line antibiotics due to the high degree of resistance to standard recommended antibiotics in treatment units. Antibiotic resistance is now one of the major threats to newborn health globally, according to researchers, with virtually no studies underway to develop novel antibiotic treatments for babies with sepsis caused by multidrug-resistant infections. GARDP is now designing an interventional trial to identify better treatment regimens to combat rising resistance.
World Health Organization (WHO) member states reached a preliminary agreement this week to gradually increase mandatory fees, or “assessed contributions,” to cover 50 percent of the organization’s core budget needs. WHO currently relies heavily on voluntary contributions and private donors, which can leave its financing inflexible and unpredictable. The new funding reforms would be contingent upon certain conditions, such as increased transparency, with the funding linked to a member state review of WHO progress on promised internal reforms. The agreement will still need to be formally approved by governments at the World Health Assembly in May to take effect.
COVID-19 diagnostic testing has fallen by 70–90 percent around the world, making it increasingly difficult to monitor the pandemic’s evolution, treat patients, and track variants, according to FIND, a co-convener of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator diagnostics pillar. While reported cases and deaths are declining globally, changes in testing strategies and reductions in the number of tests being used globally means there is little confidence in actual case trends. The testing decline also undermines the ability to treat patients with new therapeutics—like Pfizer’s antiviral Paxlovid, which requires early diagnosis to get the most benefit—and has led to a decrease in the number of genomic sequences submitted to global databases, which helps track emerging variants.