Public health

Expert Voices

New Global Fund commitments resist pressures on public health backing

Emmanel Macron and Mahamadou Issoufou shake hands in front of flags and a Global Fund sign
Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou and French President Emmanuel Macron the Global Fund conference on Oct. 9, 2019. Photo: Olivier Chassignole/AFP via Getty Images

A record $14 billion in commitments made last week to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria could help the multilateral health partnership save up to 16 million lives while halving mortality rates from the illnesses it targets.

Why it matters: Very few countries are on track to reach the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal targets for HIV, TB and malaria. The new commitments mark a 15% increase from the previous replenishment three years ago and reflect greater prioritization of preventable disease.

Expert Voices

Synthetic opioid crisis still growing, often among unwitting users

a labeled plastic bag of fentanyl powder
A bag of fentanyl seized by law enforcement. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Although opioid prescriptions in the U.S. have fallen, opioid overdose deaths — 47,000 in 2018 — remain at historic levels. The continued spread of fentanyl and other illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids suggest the problem could still get worse.

The big picture: Inexpensive and widely available on the internet, fentanyl is attractive to dealers who make counterfeit prescription pills or mix it into heroin. Fentanyl, however, is extremely potent, leading more users to fatally overdose.