Equal global healthcare for the benefit of all

Dear colleagues and supporters,

Hope you are all well and coping with the considerable challenges we are all facing.

While our problems are very real and significant, as always, it’s important not to lose sight of the greater picture. Here are some recent snippets from media to ponder.

“This is precisely what experts have been predicting was going to happen — that the extraordinary inequities and gaps between low income countries and high income countries creates this massive vulnerability and it is going to continue to generate these dangerous variants,” said J. Stephen Morrison, a global health expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “That point is glaringly obvious and it is painful.”

When people with H.I.V. are prescribed an effective antiretroviral and take it consistently, their bodies almost completely suppress the virus. But if people with H.I.V. aren’t diagnosed, haven’t been prescribed treatment, or don’t, or can’t, take their medicines consistently each day, H.I.V. weakens their immune systems. And then, if they catch the coronavirus, it can take weeks or months before the new virus is cleared from their bodies. When the coronavirus lives that long in their systems, it has the chance to mutate and mutate and mutate again. And, if they pass the mutated virus on, a new variant is in circulation.”

“We have reasons to believe that some of the variants that are emerging in South Africa could potentially be associated directly with H.I.V.,” said Tulio de Oliveira, the principal investigator of the national genetic monitoring network.

Researchers at KRISP have shown that this has happened at least twice. Last year, they traced a virus sample to a 36-year-old woman with H.I.V. who was on an ineffective treatment regimen and who was not being helped to find drugs that she could tolerate. She took 216 days to clear the coronavirus from her system; in that time inside her body, the viruses acquired 32 different mutations.

25 million people live with HIV across sub-Saharan Africa, of whom 17 million are virally suppressed with treatment.

Referring to the “human infrastructure,” Dr. Sheela Shenoi, an infectious disease specialist at Yale University, said  “….any health care delivery system is going to be dependent on the numbers and types of skilled individuals to deliver services. Even if there is vaccine supply, if you don’t have the people to deliver that supply, it is not going to succeed.”

“If the pandemic slows in most parts of the world, it may limit opportunities for the virus to emerge in a radically different form. And that’s an argument for helping other nations immunize their populations rather than boosting our own” Dr. Hensley said.

It seems pretty clear that even if only from a self- interested point of view, bolstering the health infrastructure in Africa is essential. This is what we have always been all about at Twice The Doctor.

Regards to all and stay safe and well,

Rob Baume

On behalf of the Directors of Twice the Doctor Foundation