Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe all have launched national campaigns urging men to undergo circumcision to help reduce their risk of contracting or transmitting HIV infection, but “all the countries are lagging far behind their targets,” Agence France-Presse reports in an article focusing on efforts in Botswana. A three-year-old campaign in Botswana, aimed at convincing 460,000 men to get circumcised, “has reached only seven percent of this figure,” the news agency notes, adding, “Now the government has enlisted the help of top musicians and launched a new series of advertisements touting ‘safe male circumcision’ as a lifeline.”
The following are summaries of several opinion pieces published in recognition of Mother’s Day, observed May 13.
As MDGs Set To Expire In 2015, U.N. Panel To Advise On Approaches To Development; African Progress Panel Calls For 'Big Push' On Continent
“The presidents of Indonesia and Liberia — Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — and the prime minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, are to co-chair a U.N. panel to advise on approaches to development after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015,” SciDev.Net reports. “Announcing the chairs to the U.N. General Assembly [on Wednesday], Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, also said he would appoint an assistant secretary-general for post-2015 development planning,” the news service writes, adding, “The panel will consider the mixed success of the eight MDGs, which were set in 2000 and provide targets for reducing poverty and promoting social development through such areas as education, reduction of HIV infection rates and infant mortality” (Irwin, 5/12).
International Community Should Unite To Ensure Adequate Family Planning Services For Women In West Africa, Globally
“For many years, in large parts of West Africa, the percentage of women who use contraception has stalled at less than 10 percent, leading many to declare that there is very little or no demand for family planning (FP) in the region. This couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Catharine McKaig, project director of family planning at the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), the USAID Bureau for Global Health’s flagship maternal, neonatal and child health program, writes in a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Among women — young and old, those who have had many children and those who have had few or none — there is a sea-change happening. These women are expressing their desire for family planning methods, and our approach towards integrating maternal and child health care services with FP is producing results,” she writes, concluding, “It is an optimal moment to unite as a community supporting women’s health worldwide to ensure adequate supply and minimal cost for family planning services to the hundreds of thousands of women in West Africa who are seeking care” (5/10).
Speaking at an economic forum in Madrid, Spain, “[t]he head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], Jose Graziano da Silva, warned Thursday of a major funding gap for activities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports. “He added that boosting food security entailed combining emergency action with support for family farming and smallholder production, as well as promoting long term development and reducing vulnerability to extreme events, like drought,” the news agency writes (5/10). According to the U.N. News Centre, Graziano da Silva also called for the involvement of “civil society, private enterprise, international agencies, and the governments of developing and developed countries” to help fight chronic hunger and malnutrition — which affects one of every seven people in the world — because it “is a challenge too great for FAO or any government to overcome alone” (5/10).
“Algeria will partner with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to build the first HIV/AIDS research center in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Nature Middle East reports. “The center, which should be operational by 2013, will be based in the city of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria” and “will bring together researchers from Africa, Europe and the United States working on treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” the magazine writes.
The Millennium Villages Project (MVP), established in Africa to determine what improvements can be made when programs addressing health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are implemented simultaneously, published its first results in the Lancet on Tuesday. The following opinion piece and editorial address the findings.
In this opinion piece in the Kansas City Star’s “As I See It,” Nancy Lindborg, USAID assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance and a guest speaker at this week’s International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City, discusses food aid and highlights USAID’s response to last year’s food crisis in the Horn of Africa. She writes, “None of this would have been possible without the hard work and generosity of the American public, and especially the farmers, manufacturers and shippers that I am honored to meet with again this week in Kansas City.”
Millennium Villages Project Research Yields Positive Results, But Some Researchers Question Methods Used
“Death rates among children under five at the [Millennium Villages Project (MVP)] — set up in Africa to demonstrate what is possible if health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are tackled simultaneously — have fallen by a third in three years compared with similar communities, according to the project’s first results,” published in the Lancet on Tuesday, the Guardian reports (Boseley, 5/8). The study “offers quantitative evidence of the success of the MVP model at nine Millennium Village sites in sub-Saharan Africa,” Nature News writes, adding, “Between 2006 and 2009, mortality in under-fives fell by an average of 22 percent, reaching a level roughly two-thirds of that in control villages not involved with the project, where child mortality seemed to rise.”
“New statistics show that the rate of child death across sub-Saharan Africa is not just in decline — but that decline has massively accelerated, just in the last few years,” Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in the center’s “Global Development: Views from the Center” blog, citing a paper released last week by Gabriel Demombynes and Karina Trommlerova in the Kenya office of the World Bank. Clemens provides “figures for some of the recent changes in rates of child death across the continent” and concludes, “This will be startling news for anyone who still thinks sub-Saharan Africa is mired in unending poverty and death” (5/4).