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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).

National Program In Botswana Focuses On Increasing Male Circumcision Rate

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.”

'Silo' Effect Of Western Health Aid To Africa Damaging Continent's Future

In a two-part series in his Slate blog “The Reckoning,” author Michael Moran examines the “silo” effect of Western aid to improve health in Africa, writing in the first part, “Charities know that raising money for exotic disease eradication in the West is a good deal easier than, say, funding upgrades to substandard cardiac facilities. Yet the later is the real win in the long run.” He references an article published recently in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Bollyky, which Moran summarizes by saying, “Bollyky argues coordinated action to confront communicable crises like HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis must be part of the world’s approach to global health. But by ignoring far greater, non-communicable problems, he says, we doom Africans to low life expectancies and fail to create the impetus for reform and behavioral changes that could be transformational” (5/28).

Al Jazeera Business Program Examines Fight Against Malaria

Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).

Aid Agencies Warn April's Steep Increases In Grain Prices Will Affect Sahel Nations During Lean Season

“Unexpectedly sharp price rises in April for local cereals like millet, rice, and maize in parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad mean many vulnerable people in the drought-hit Sahel could find it even harder to get enough to eat,” IRIN reports. “Prices are expected to keep rising until the end of August — during the lean season — but the size of recent hikes has surprised food price analysts and humanitarian aid personnel,” the news service writes (5/25). In an article detailing the situation in Senegal, the Associated Press notes, “More than one million children under five in this wide, arid swath of Africa below the Sahara are now at risk of a food shortage so severe that it threatens their lives, UNICEF estimates” (Larson, 5/27).

U.N. Official Calls For More Leadership, Funding, Comprehensive Plan To Address Potential Humanitarian Crisis In Sahel

U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos on Thursday “called for strong leadership and a comprehensive response plan, as well as donor support, for the food crisis in West Africa’s drought-prone Sahel region, warning that hunger could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe,” the U.N. News Centre reports (5/24). Amos “met with President Macky Sall in Senegal and Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso on a four-day trip to west Africa to examine the impact of the food crisis,” Agence France-Presse writes. “We can do more to avoid the crisis from becoming a catastrophe in the region but to save more lives we need strong leadership … and continued generosity from the regional and humanitarian community,” she said, the news agency notes (5/24). The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which Amos heads, said that in addition to food aid, “priorities for those in need of assistance include health care and water and sanitation services,” according to the U.N. News Centre (5/24).

World Health Assembly Elects Margaret Chan For 2nd Term As WHO Director-General

“The World Health Assembly [on Wednesday] appointed Dr. Margaret Chan for a second five-year term as Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO),” a WHO press release reports (5/23). This will be the second consecutive term for Chan, who was first elected in November 2006 and “was the sole candidate nominated ahead of Wednesday’s election,” Agence France-Presse notes. According to the news service, “the WHO said [Chan] received the backing of 88 percent of members who voted” (5/23).

Ministers Meet To Discuss Global Plan To Eliminate New HIV Infections Among Children

UNAIDS and PEPFAR recently brought together the ministers of health and representatives of the 22 countries with the most new HIV cases among children to discuss progress on the Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive agreed to at the 2011 U.N. High-Level Meeting on AIDS, according to a UNAIDS press release. Though “great strides have been made in reducing HIV infections among women of reproductive age and expanding access to antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women living with HIV, … progress is not being scaled up as quickly on meeting the family planning needs of women living with HIV, preventing maternal mortality and ensuring that all children living with HIV have access to antiretroviral therapy,” according to UNAIDS. “The meeting was the first annual face-to-face gathering of representatives from the 22 focus countries since the launch of the Global Plan,” the press release notes (5/23).

Opinion Piece, Editorial Address Results From Millennium Villages Project

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.

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