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African Leaders Showing 'Clear Commitment' To Fighting Malaria

“The focused attention that malaria has received by African governments and international organizations has had a major impact, with the rates of mortality coming down dramatically in the continent,” and the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) has helped lead this campaign, an IPP Media editorial states. However, “[a]s long as malaria continues to be Africa’s leading killer, little progress can be recorded in other endeavors, because of its insidious effect,” the editorial writes, noting that two percent of Africa’s GDP is lost annually because of the disease.

With ALMA Scorecard, African Leaders Are Taking Responsibility In Malaria Fight

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is “spearheading the fight against malaria” in Africa, bringing together 40 heads of state and “offer[ing] a compelling example of what is possible through co-operation, leadership, commitment, and sound management of national and international funds,” Tanzania President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” With the launch of the “groundbreaking” ALMA scorecard for accountability and action last week, leaders are now able “to measure our own performance against a set of key malaria metrics including national policies, financial controls, delivery of prevention and treatment commodities, and, most importantly, lives saved,” Kikwete writes.

USAID, NGO Partners Testing Nutritional Impact Assessment Tool

USAID is working with non-governmental organization partners to test a “nutritional impact assessment tool” that “‘would be a way for organizations designing or reviewing agricultural programs to mitigate any risks or potential negative effects on nutrition — in other words a “do no harm” approach,’ said Michael Zeilinger, head of the nutrition division with USAID’s office of health, infectious disease and nutrition,” IRIN reports. “‘As we start to design major agriculture programs around value chains and increasing production (such as Feed the Future and Global Agriculture and Food Security Program), we should really remember that there are some practices in agriculture that may have potential negative effects on nutrition, and this is just to make sure that they’re thought through,’ Zeilinger told IRIN.”

GAVI To Purchase $1 Billion In Childhood Vaccines For Distribution In 37 Of The Poorest Nations

The Geneva-based GAVI Alliance, a fund backed by governments, the World Bank, the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday that it will purchase more than $1 billion in vaccines against rotavirus, pneumococcal and other diseases through deals made with GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. to immunize children in 37 of the poorest nations, Bloomberg reports. “Wealthy nations donated $4.3 billion to purchase the vaccines as part of a plan to immunize 250 million children by 2015,” the news service notes (Bennett, 9/27).

World Bank Pledges $1.88B To Address Drought In Horn Of Africa; Additional Funding Announced At U.N. Meeting, By U.S.

“The World Bank said on Saturday it was more than tripling funding to $1.88 billion for a worsening drought in Horn of Africa countries affecting more than 13 million people,” Reuters reports. “World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the financing would help fill a $1 billion funding gap needed to tackle drought and a food crisis engulfing parts of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Uganda,” the news agency writes, noting the bank initially had pledged $500 million in July. Zoellick said the majority of the funding was to go toward long-term solutions to drought relief, with $288 million reserved for humanitarian aid through June 2012, according to Reuters (9/25).

More Funding For Leishmaniasis Treatment Could Save More Lives In East African Outbreak

“East Africa’s worst outbreak in a decade of visceral leishmaniasis, the deadliest parasitic disease after malaria, could ease if donors paid more attention to the illness,” which infects approximately 500,000 people and kills up to 60,000 annually in 70 countries, the non-profit group “Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform, or LEAP, said in a statement from Nairobi” on Friday, Bloomberg reports.

African Leaders Malaria Alliance Launches Malaria Scorecard

“The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) has launched a scorecard to improve the fight against malaria on the African continent,” IRIN reports. “Updated quarterly, it provides information from each country on policies formulated, preventative measures initiated, money spent, lives saved and lost,” and “also tracks tracer indicators for maternal, newborn and child health,” the news service writes.

Nigeria Expected To Sign Agreement With UNESCO For International Biotech Center Targeting Food Security, Disease

The Nigerian government is expected to sign an agreement with UNESCO at the 36th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, which begins next month, for an international biotechnology center that will focus on strengthening food safety, tropical disease research and the conservation of bio-resources across Africa, SciDev.Net reports, adding that “UNESCO’s executive board approved the establishment of the center earlier this year.”

Report Warns Against Shifting Funding, Prevention Efforts Away From Countries Successful In Malaria Fight

A new analysis (.pdf) conducted by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, the Evidence to Policy Initiative at the University of California-San Francisco, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative “warns that if the countries that have produced impressive reductions in malaria cut or stop control activities, malaria will rapidly resurge and a decade of progress will have been in vain,” BMJ News reports.