“Most African countries are lagging behind in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] and will not make as much progress in health, nutrition and sanitation as had hoped, U.N. officials said” on Thursday, the Associated Press/ABC News reports. “Education is one bright spot in the list of development targets. Many African countries are on track to having 90 percent of children in school, according to a July U.N. report,” the news service writes, adding, “But the continent is not on schedule to meet targets to eradicate hunger and poverty, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, said the report.”
“In a breakthrough for the fight against meningitis in poor countries, researchers say the WHO has ruled that a key vaccine can be transported or stored for up to four days without refrigeration,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Called MenAfriVac and made by the Indian company Serum Institute, the vaccine costs less than 50 cents a dose and, according to the latest research, can be conserved without any refrigeration, even an icepack, at temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for four days,” the news agency writes (11/15). “Epidemics of meningitis A occur every seven to 14 years in Africa’s ‘meningitis belt,’ a band of 26 countries stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia, and are particularly devastating to children and young adults,” Reuters notes.
“The African Union has launched a new website for its Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality in Africa (CARMMA),” which “aims to promote maternal and newborn survival, and provide evidence on progress to achieving health targets that have been set by African leaders,” according to the Maternal Health Task Force’s blog. In launching the site, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko said “we hope to bring together in one place evidence and information on maternal, newborn and child survival across the continent” and “to showcase the champions that are working to give African mothers and their babies a future,” according to the blog (Mitchell, 11/14).
AllAfrica correspondent Cindy Shiner recently interviewed Vanessa Kerry, CEO of the Global Health Service Corps, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene taking place in Atlanta this week. Next year, volunteer doctors and nurses will travel through the Service Corps to Tanzania, Malawi, and Uganda to work in partnership with the Peace Corps, according to AllAfrica. In the interview, Kerry said the program grew out of a desire on the part of physicians and other health care workers to help in resource-poor countries, as well as calls from those countries for more U.S. assistance in building health system capacity. Kerry discusses the focus of the program, how it works as a private partner with public programs, and how the first countries were chosen (11/13).
Mary Beth Hastings, vice president of the Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog that despite “the pervasive myth that no one wants female condoms,” “[d]emand is increasing because female condoms provide men and women with something they want: more options when it comes to protecting themselves.” USAID officials “were surprised to hear evidence of an unmet demand for female condoms,” Hastings says, adding, “[W]hen presented with evidence to the contrary, USAID started talking with different institutions about meeting the demand.” She continues, “To its credit, the U.S. government is a global leader on female condoms. But there is still room for improvement.”
Objections From India Bar Experts Calling For Global Treaty Against Fake Drug Trade From WHO Meeting
“A group of experts calling for a global treaty to stop the lethal trade in fake medicines has been barred from attending a World Health Organization meeting, highlighting deep divisions that are blocking progress on the subject,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 11/13). In an analysis published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Tuesday, Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa and colleagues from the World Federation of Public Health Associations, International Pharmaceutical Federation, and the International Council of Nurses “urge the World Health Organization to set up a framework akin to its one [on] tobacco control to safeguard the public,” BBC News writes. The experts “say while governments and drug companies alike deplore unsafe medicines, it is difficult to achieve agreement on action because discussions too often trespass into conflict-prone areas such as pharmaceutical pricing or intellectual property rights,” the news service writes, adding, “Although some countries prohibit fake medicines under national law, there is no global treaty which means organized criminals can continue to trade using haven countries where laws are lax or absent” (Roberts, 11/13).
“With donor money to fight HIV and AIDS falling, spending in sub-Saharan Africa must be targeted to get the best results,” Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, noting, “Sub-Saharan Africa has 10 percent of the world’s population but is home to 70 percent of those living with HIV and AIDS.” He continues, “The problem is neither beaten nor going away: new infections continue to outpace the number of people put on treatment,” and writes, “One of the biggest impediments to the fight is the incorrect perception in developed nations that the epidemic is beaten. Thanks to donor fatigue and tougher economic conditions, many donor countries have reduced their contributions significantly.”
“With $2.5 trillion in mineral reserves, South Africa has the largest mining sector in the world,” but “[t]he work can be devastatingly toxic for the body,” with “inhumane and untenable” working conditions, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “South Africa’s 500,000 mine workers have the highest recorded rate of [tuberculosis (TB)] among any demographic in the world,” he states, noting that cramped working and living conditions put them at an increased risk of the disease. Overall, “mine-associated TB gives rise to 760,000 new cases annually in Africa,” and “costs South Africa alone $886 million each year in health care costs and in impoverishment when family providers are too sick to work, or die,” according to a study conducted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tutu writes. Therefore, the 15 SADC nations this summer pledged to take “concrete steps” to fight the disease, he notes.
“Images of starving children, epitomized in news coverage from Ethiopia in the 1980s, have given Africa a reputation for famine that does an injustice to the continent’s potential,” Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and a member of the Africa Progress Panel, writes in a CNN opinion piece. “It’s true that a recent report by three U.N. agencies said nearly 239 million in Africa are hungry, a figure some 20 million higher than four years ago” and “recent crises in the Horn of Africa and Sahel certainly highlight the desperate uncertainties of food supply for millions — malnutrition still cuts deep scars into progress on health and education,” he states. “But the Africa Progress Panel and many others believe that Africa has the potential not only to feed itself, but also to become a major food supplier for the rest of the world,” he continues.
Recent Africa Braintrust 2012 Forum ‘Informative, Inspiring’ For Those Committed To Continent’s Advancement
“Recently I attended the Africa Braintrust 2012 forum entitled ‘Africa Rising: A Continent of Opportunity,’ hosted by U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) as part of their Annual Legislative Conference, in Washington, D.C.,” human rights activist Ivanley Noisette writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, noting the event “concentrated on reinforcing support for promising development-aid strategies, providing a networking venue for interested professionals, encouraging foreign investment, and promoting the leadership of the CBC in advocating fair and just U.S. policy toward the many countries of Africa.” Noisette provides highlights from various panels at the event, noting, “The second panel, ‘Health Investments for Africa’s Future,’ featured presentations about HIV/AIDS and malaria progress, food security, agricultural development, and high-impact health initiatives.”