As President-elect Biden recommits to the WHO and the international community, the incoming administration should invest more in the global fight for better health

While the new U.S. administration is much-anticipated for many reasons, those of us in global health are eagerly waiting to see whether the new U.S. will not merely rejoin the global community but ring in a new era of global health leadership.

In that vein, and as advocates for greater spending on the highest-burden diseases, we also have some ideas and hopes. What might the world expect from a renewed global outlook from the U.S. administration…

1. HFI landed its first major funder: The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

HFI received $3.16M in funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to help us mobilize financing and build partnerships to address the global burden of chronic disease. Helmsley’s grant has allowed us to grow our capacity and strengthen our ability to broker investments to close the financing gap for chronic diseases. Using this funding, we have expanded our team and expertise, built our economic model, and begun designing blended finance vehicles for various NCDs. 2020’s accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

2. In response to the ongoing pandemic, we developed a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy and analytic framework

Our 3-pronged…

Financing shortfalls and COVID-19 highlight need to rethink the path to UHC

As the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world, it has all too often exposed pre-existing shortcomings in our health systems. As HFI has noted, these shortcomings include inadequate care for many chronic conditions, including mental health disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many other common noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). But today, on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, the global health community will be highlighting how the pandemic has increased the urgency of the work yet to be done to ensure every person has access to affordable and effective healthcare services.

Both cause untold harm, but neither is being adequately addressed

Photo by Henk Mul on Unsplash

A recent study on air pollution and COVID-19 outcomes in the U.S. found that very slight increases in exposure to pollutants — just one microgram per cubic meter (the standard unit for air pollution) in particulate matter in the air (fine inhalable particles) — are associated with an 11% higher mortality rate from the virus. This finding, while shocking in the context of the ongoing pandemic, is consistent with years of robust data on the correlations between air pollution and various lung diseases.

For decades, researchers have found substantial evidence that air pollution levels increase the risk of noncommunicable diseases…

The heightened threat of COVID-19 for diabetics makes this year’s World Diabetes Day more important than ever.

By Thomas Roades and Erin Gregor

This year’s World Diabetes Day comes at a time when people living with diabetes are under threat more than ever before. Diabetics are at especially high risk for COVID-19, a risk that is exacerbated even further by difficulties accessing care and maintaining their health and wellbeing during the pandemic. As with so many other diseases, COVID-19 has exposed the massive burden of disease caused by diabetes, and tragic inequities and shortfalls in how we care for diabetic patients.

Public health officials have consistently cited diabetes as one of the top comorbidities that can make…

A new wave of technology offers promising innovations for diabetes patients in the age of COVID-19

By Thomas Roades, Erin Gregor, Jenna Patterson, and Andrea Feigl

Diabetes, one of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs), has been on the rise around the world for years. In 1980, just over 100 million people were living with diabetes, but by 2014, the number of diagnosed cases had skyrocketed to 422 million. And these are just documented cases — research suggests that as many as 45% of all global diabetes cases go undiagnosed. Diabetes is particularly difficult to treat because controlling the disease requires constant vigilance and monitoring both by patients with diabetes and their doctors. …

How NCDs have exacerbated the pandemic and how we can respond

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the global burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) into sharp focus, as those living with NCDs are far more likely to die from this novel coronavirus. It is also disrupting care for numerous chronic conditions, which could lead to countless additional fatalities. Accordingly, plans for pandemic recovery must place a clear emphasis on addressing and reducing the existing burden of NCDs. Fortunately, blended finance mechanisms offer a promising path forward to deliver these results, particularly in developing regions where traditional private investments are less feasible.

This is the first in a series of four blogs from HFI being published about how blended finance could close the funding gap for non-communicable diseases in Cambodia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Each blog will coincide with the publication of a longer Country Blended Finance Readiness Report and a webinar where members of HFI will present the key findings of the reports.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), or chronic diseases, are long-lasting and often slow progressing diseases caused by a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral factors. These diseases are not spread from person to person, yet account for over half of the global disease burden. More appalling — one-third of adults lives with multiple chronic conditions. A diverse group of conditions, NCDs include diseases ranging from diabetes to mental health disorders to autoimmune disorders. The four most common NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, and cancer.

NCDs are the greatest source of preventable and treatable illness, disability, and mortality worldwide. NCDs…

Major Moment for Mental Health Care: COVID-19 Highlights This Global Challenge

Written by Michael TS Lindenmayer and Thomas Roades of HFI and Garen Staglin of One Mind

Content Warning: This article includes discussion of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and suicide.

Mental Health Moment

The world thrives when we acknowledge, understand, and invest in mental health. Precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health field has been cast out of the shadows into the forefront of global debate. There is a critical window of opportunity to advocate and act.

COVID-19 has transformed this into a mental health moment. Mental health is front and center on people’s minds. Depression and anxiety…

During the first United States presidential debate, President Donald Trump claimed he’s made insulin so cheap, “it’s like water.” Unless people are buying the most expensive water in the world…that just isn’t true.

In 2016, insulin cost diabetic patients an average of over $5,000 a year. Without insurance, a vial of insulin could cost anywhere between $25 to $300 a vial. Even with insurance, people with diabetes still could pay upwards of $100 a month and insulin prices continue to increase. From 2001 to 2017, Eli Lilly’s insulin, Humalong, increased from $35 to $275. As insulin prices increase, patients must decide between paying for food or medication. Because there are so many types of insulin on the market, it is hard to give one average price. …

Health Finance Institute

Heart of a non-profit. Engine of an investment bank. We use economic data to facilitate investments to prevent diseases.

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