In this AlertNet opinion piece, Simon Bush, director of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) at Sightsavers, an international NGO helping people with visual impairments in developing countries, examines efforts to rid Africa of onchocerciasis — a blinding NTD. “In 1947 when Sightsavers’ founder, Sir John Wilson, coined the phrase river blindness to describe the almost unpronounceable disease, … there was little choice for those living in areas where what we now call a neglected tropical disease was endemic,” he writes, adding, “Today, although the World Health Organization estimates that 120 million people are at risk of river blindness, there is hope.”
Gates Calls For Greater Coordination Among U.N. Food Agencies, Announces Nearly $200M In Grants For Agricultural Development Projects
In a speech delivered at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome on Thursday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told IFAD, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the “approach being used today to fight against poverty and hunger is outdated and inefficient” and asked the agencies “to unite around a common global target for sustainable productivity growth to guide and measure their efforts,” a Gates Foundation press release states. “Gates also announced nearly $200 million in grants, bringing to more than $2 billion the foundation’s commitment to smallholder farmers since the agriculture program began in 2006,” according to the press release (2/23).
Mobile phones are improving access to health care in the developing world, according to the series “The Future of mHealth” by Mobiledia, a Forbes contributor. “People in developing nations depend on mobile phones to access health services and prevent disease, as mobile technology creates a platform for improving health care in remote, underserved areas,” the news service writes. The article highlights public health programs in Haiti and Kenya that utilize mobile technology and notes, “Mobile banking is on the rise in the developing world, presenting another opportunity for mobile health to grow.”
Crop Failures, Returning Migrants, Weather Patterns Threatening To Worsen Malnutrition In Africa’s Sahel, Horn Regions
“Sahel states are bracing for a long, potentially deadly hungry season, many weakened by the return of people from Libya who are unemployed, armed and creating fresh strife in already-vulnerable countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Crops have failed across a massive swathe of eight countries after late and erratic rains in 2011, and aid agencies have raised the alarm of a food crisis bigger than that which left millions hungry in 2010,” according to the news agency (Blandy, 2/11). In an article examining hunger among children in Mauritania, Inter Press Service writes that “other countries in the Sahel … are affected as well: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal,” adding, “Twelve million people will soon suffer severe food insecurity and hunger in this region, aid agencies warn” (Palitza, 2/10).
Proposed Intellectual Property Agreement Between E.U., India Could Affect Generic Drug Exports, Advocacy Groups Say
The Independent examines how “[t]he cheap supply of antiretroviral drugs to people with AIDS across the world could be choked by an ‘intellectual property’ deal … being negotiated [on Friday] at the 12th E.U.-India summit in New Delhi between the President of the European Commission, JosÃ© Manuel Barroso, and the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.”
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Felix Lam, a malaria research analyst, examine the discrepancies between the WHO’s estimated number of malaria deaths worldwide and the data recently released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). They ask, “Given the 1.2 billion dollars by donors to malaria in 2010, is it unreasonable to demand to know with more certainty, how many people are dying from malaria?” and go on to describe how each group analyzed data to get to their conclusions (2/9).
“[T]oday, with the national debt approaching $14.7 trillion, Americans rightly demand fiscal responsibility. Yet efforts in Congress to cut billions from the president’s proposed budget for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are short-sighted,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He adds that “all of our foreign aid programs and foreign policy initiatives — from sending diplomats to Afghanistan to helping reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa — cost less than one-tenth of our annual military expenditures” and “comprises a mere 1.5 percent” of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request.
Republican Presidential Candidate Santorum Could Be Beneficial To Global Health Programs If Elected President
In the Republican campaign for the presidential nomination, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), “the most religiously conservative candidate, surprisingly, is the most fervent advocate for U.S. global health diplomacy,” Jack Chow, former U.S. ambassador on global HIV/AIDS and former assistant director-general of WHO on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Santorum has staked out global health as one of his preferred instruments of asserting American power abroad” and “seems determined to lay the groundwork for a global health agenda that is not only far more extensive than his competitors’, but would surpass both [George W.] Bush and Barack Obama in advancing U.S. interests abroad through fighting disease,” Chow writes.
Asia-Pacific Accounts For Second Highest Burden Of Malaria Outside Of Africa, RBM Partnership Report Says
At a meeting of leading malaria scientists, political leaders, and health experts in Sydney on Friday, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership released a new report (.pdf) showing that more than two billion people in the Asia-Pacific region are at risk of the disease, Agence France-Presse reports. “There were some 34 million cases of malaria outside Africa in 2010, claiming the lives of an estimated 46,000 people,” the news agency notes, adding, “The Asia-Pacific, which includes 20 malaria-endemic countries, accounted for 88 percent, or 30 million, of these cases and 91 percent, or 42,000, of the deaths” (Parry, 11/2).
Emmanuel Njeuhmeli, senior biomedical prevention adviser in the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog” that the first International Men’s Day on November 19 was an opportunity to “recognize and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of men in East and Southern Africa who are stepping up for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) to protect their own health and that of their families.” He continues, “We also recognize the political, traditional and community leaders who are leading the charge in their countries and local communities.” According to Njeuhmeli, who describes some VMMC programs of USAID and PEPFAR, “USAID and UNAIDS have estimated that VMMC has the potential to avert more than 3.4 million new HIV infections in 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and save an estimated $16.5 billion in care and treatment over the next 15 years, freeing up resources for other crucial HIV interventions” (11/27).