Sometimes “[w]hen the international aid community descends on a vulnerable place … good intentions make a bad situation even worse,” a Boston Globe editorial states, adding that is “what happened two years ago, when United Nations peacekeepers arrived in Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake, bringing the deadly disease cholera with them.” According to a panel of U.N. experts, poor sanitation in the peacekeepers’ camp likely caused the outbreak, which has killed 7,000 people and sickened 500,000, the editorial notes. “So far, the United Nations has declined to apologize for its role, or even admit it — perhaps because it is facing a deluge of expensive legal claims brought by the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti on behalf of the victim’s families,” the editorial states, noting that after a year, the “U.N. says it is still studying the claims.”
Access to Health Services
In a post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan and Heather Lanthorn from the CGD examine the controversy surrounding the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), writing, “No doubt, the debate on the AMFm has devolved into bickering and accusations from many sides. But the overstated rhetoric obscures genuine differences of opinion on how best to move forward with an evidence-based decision-making process, and what counts as ‘evidence’ sufficient to approve, modify, or scrap the program.” They continue, “Evidence needs to be at the core of these discussions. Ultimately, all malaria advocates share the same goal: to reduce the burden of malaria and the burden it places on human and economic development” (11/8).
USAID Announces Awards To 7 Universities To Help Innovate, Design Low-Cost Solutions To Health, Poverty, Conflict
“In a further move to bolster the role of science and technology in foreign aid, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) [on Thursday] announced major awards at seven universities in the United States and abroad to support ‘development labs’ that will design innovative, low-cost approaches to improving health and reducing poverty and conflicts,” ScienceInsider reports. The new program, called the Higher Education Solutions Network, is set to provide up to $130 million over five years, with the universities expected to provide at least a 60 percent match, according to the news service, which notes, “Each of the seven institutions will receive grants of up to $5 million a year for projects aimed at developing useful technologies” (Stokstad, 11/8).
“As the northern Indian state of Rajasthan rolls out an ambitious universal health care plan, the discontent of the state’s doctors stands in stark contrast to the joys of the 68 million people who will benefit from the scheme,” Inter Press Service reports. “Just a little over a year ago, the state government began supplying free generic drugs to its massive population, effectively stripping doctors of the ability to prescribe more expensive branded medicine,” IPS writes. The news service notes, “Some 350 essential generic drugs are now being distributed free of cost,” and, “[a]ccording to news reports, over 200,000 people are currently taking advantage of the program.”
Medical Aid Group Reports Syrian Troops Seizing Foreign Aid; WFP Warns Of Increasing Food Needs Among Refugees
“A medical aid group said on Wednesday Syrian troops are seizing foreign aid and reselling it or channeling it towards government loyalists, putting millions of lives at risk,” Reuters reports (11/7). “Almost all international aid sent to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is being confiscated by the regime and never reaches civilians in need, [Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organisations (UOSSM),] an umbrella relief group for the war-ravaged country, said,” Lebanon’s Daily Star reports. “However, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), which both work closely with the Syrian Red Crescent, denied their aid was being seized,” the newspaper adds (Larson, 11/7).
Writing in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Dereje Bisrat, monitoring and evaluation adviser for the Supply Chain Management System (SCMS), discusses the PEPFAR-funded program, which is administered by USAID and “works with Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA), nine regional health bureaus, and more than 1,717 health facilities to improve access to HIV/AIDS treatment” in the country. She tells the story of Neima Mohammed, an Ethiopian refugee who, after living in Djibouti for 10 years, returned to her home country to seek treatment through the program, writing, “This story might have ended with Neima’s fateful decline in health. Fortunately, thanks to friends back home, Neima learned Ethiopia was embarking on efforts to provide free antiretroviral treatment to thousands of people living with the disease” (11/6).
“An epidemic of dengue fever in India is fostering a growing sense of alarm even as government officials here have publicly refused to acknowledge the scope of a problem that experts say is threatening hundreds of millions of people, not just in India but around the world,” the New York Times reports. Dengue is endemic in half of the world’s countries and continuing to spread, experts say, according to the newspaper. In India’s capital, New Delhi, “where areas of standing water contribute to the epidemic’s growth, hospitals are overrun and feverish patients are sharing beds and languishing in hallways,” the newspaper writes. With officials citing 30,002 cases of dengue in India through October, “a 59 percent jump from the 18,860 recorded for all of 2011,” several experts say the true number of infections in the country is in the tens of millions, the New York Times notes.
Wall Street Journal Examines Program In Pakistan Looking To Provide Health Insurance For Poor Urban Residents
The Wall Street Journal examines how “some local social entrepreneurs are coming up with new ideas to provide the poor with access to better medical services” in Pakistan, where the health care system is “split between low-cost government-funded hospitals offering basic services and expensive private-sector medical institutions … [b]ut the majority of the country’s 190 million people have little access to health care.” The newspaper describes how one program, called Naya Jeevan — “a non-profit micro-insurance program for the urban poor” that “offers an insurance program at subsidized rates under a national group health-insurance model” — operates to help ensure affordable medical care for the poor and how it has come “under scrutiny from the country’s insurance regulator” (Bahree, 11/6).
“Nigeria’s worst flooding in at least half a century has killed 363 people since the start of July and displaced 2.1 million people,” according to the country’s National Emergency Management Agency, Reuters reports. Between July 1 and October 31, 7.7 million people were affected by the flooding and 18,282 people were injured, the agency said, the news service notes (11/5). In makeshift camps without “water, sanitation or medical care, authorities fear outbreaks of disease could make things worse,” VOA News reports. In addition, “emergency officials say with tens of thousands of hectares of farmland destroyed, they fear food shortages in the coming months,” according to the news agency. In October, “[t]he Nigerian government … allocated $112 million to help families that have been displaced in 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states since the flooding began in July,” VOA writes (Murdock, 10/30).
Ongoing ethnic tension and sectarian violence in areas of western Myanmar are preventing Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) from delivering medical care in the region, the group said on Monday, the New York Times reports. The group “reported that many of its local staff members were afraid to work at refugee camps and medical centers in Rakhine State, where people wounded in clashes need treatment for wounds from guns, knives, arrows and other weapons,” the newspaper writes. “Aid workers have reported severe malnutrition among children and widespread malaria,” according to the New York Times (Fuller, 11/5). “[S]ince the outbreak of violence in June, MSF is operating at a fraction of its capacity due to access limitations largely stemming from threats and intimidation,” the organization said in a press release, adding, “Tens of thousands of long-term residents, previously receiving medical care, have gone without care for months.” In the press release, MSF “calls for unhindered access and for tolerance of the provision of medical care to all those who need it” in the region (11/5).