GlobalPost reports on Cuba’s medical outreach to Africa, writing, “A generation ago, Fidel Castro sent Cuban soldiers to intervene in African civil conflicts and fight the Cold War against U.S. proxies. Now, Cuba’s doctors are fanning out across the continent as the island expands its role in administering medical services to some of the world’s most ailing countries.” The news service continues, “Some 5,500 Cubans are already working in 35 of Africa’s 54 countries, Cuban Foreign Ministry official Marcos Rodriguez told reporters this week at a press conference in Havana,” noting, “Of those, 3,000 are health professionals, and 2,000 are doctors, he said.”
“The United States announced Thursday it would hike its humanitarian aid to Syria, adding another $12 million to provide food, water, medicine and other necessities for battered and displaced people” affected by violence in the Syrian conflict, the Los Angeles Times blog “World Now” reports. “The increase approved by the Obama administration brings American humanitarian assistance in Syria to more than $76 million, including $27.5 million to the World Food Programme [WFP], roughly $18 million for the United Nations refugee agency and the rest split among other U.N. funds and non-profit groups,” the blog writes (Alpert, 8/2).
“Surrounded by Sudan, Chad and Congo where more high-profile crises are taking place, [the Central African Republic's (CAR)] dire and desperate health situation — in which few people have access to health care and many die of easily treatable diseases — has received little attention and even less assistance,” writes Unni Karunakara, international president of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), in an article on MSF’s webpage. “The international community — donor countries, United Nations and other multilateral agencies, humanitarian and development agencies — needs to be more effectively involved in the setting of health priorities and supporting the delivery of health care in CAR,” Karunakara writes, adding, “If this situation was occurring anywhere else in the world, you would surely have mobilized by now” (8/17).
On the first stop of a 10-day tour of Africa, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped at the Phillipe Maguilen Senghor Health Center in Dakar, Senegal, where Awa Marie Coll-Seck, the country’s minister of health, “explained to Secretary Clinton how these operational centers dramatically improve maternal and child health,” according to a post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” Coll-Seck “also noted that USAID-supported distribution of insecticide impregnated mosquito nets across the country had drastically reduced the incidence of malaria,” according to the blog, which adds that Clinton “was pleased to hear that the United States is playing a key role in helping meet one of its biggest challenges: decentralizing services so they are available at the village level throughout the country.” In an address several hours later, “Clinton invoked the Senghor center … saying she was highly impressed by the integrated nature of the facility” and that “[i]t was a successful model she hoped could be duplicated throughout Senegal and the entire West African region” (Taylor, 8/1).
Delegates from humanitarian aid groups from the Arab and Muslim world at a conference in Cairo on Sunday urged international aid agencies to utilize Syrian civil society and private sector groups to deliver medical and food aid inside the country, where anti-government protests have displaced hundreds of thousands and pushed many below the poverty line, IRIN reports. “Access was among the main points of discussion at the meeting, hosted by the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and The Humanitarian Forum, which called for better coordination in the delivery of aid both inside Syria and to refugees in neighboring countries, especially in the area of access to health care,” the news service writes.
A report (.pdf) published on Wednesday by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) — titled “U.S. Global Health Policy in Palestinian Hands?” and written by J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS, and Haim Malka, senior fellow and deputy director of the CSIS Middle East Program — examines the relationship between Palestine’s bid for statehood and potential membership in U.N. bodies — including the WHO — and U.S. global health policy, according to the report summary. CSIS writes on its website, “Under current U.S. laws, such a decision by the Palestinians would trigger an automatic disruption to the United States’ assessed and voluntary contributions to WHO, with no waiver provisions” (3/7).
The White House nominee for president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, on Tuesday begins a seven-country “listening tour” in order “to promote his candidacy with stops in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the Treasury Department announced Monday,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Crutsinger, 3/26). According to Reuters, “The Treasury Department said Kim will visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as well as Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, New Delhi, Brasilia and Mexico City between March 27 and April 9 to meet heads of state, finance ministers and others to talk about priorities for the World Bank.”
On Friday, March 23, President Obama nominated Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and president of Dartmouth College, to be the next president of the World Bank. The following is a summary of several opinion pieces, blog posts, and an editorial published in response to his nomination.
As their economies grow, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — known collectively as BRICS — “are injecting new resources, innovation and momentum into efforts to improve health in the world’s poorest countries, according to a report [.pdf] by Global Health Strategies initiatives [GHSi]” released on Monday, Business Live reports (Roberts, 3/26). “The report was released in New Delhi, India, where the BRICS Summit, including a heads of government meeting, will be held from 28-29 March,” a GHSi press release (.pdf) states.
NGOs Welcome Announcement Of U.S., North Korean Nuclear Arms Agreement That Could Bring Food Aid To Nation
“The State Department’s announcement that North Korea would halt nuclear activities in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of U.S. food aid was welcomed by aid groups that have long struggled to raise money to feed hungry people under an unpopular regime,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog reports. Marcus Prior, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Asia said the group is “encouraged” by the development but it “remain[s] concerned about the level of nutrition, especially for children in poorer areas,” according to the blog. More than 90 percent of U.S. food aid has been delivered through the WFP since 1996, with the remainder channeled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a 2011 Congressional Research Service report (.pdf) says, the blog notes.