Early warnings about rising malnutrition, drought and possible famine in the Horn of Africa “went unheeded” for the past year, but “[w]hat is the point of an early warning system if nobody is listening?” a Globe and Mail editorial asks.
In a post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah describes the U.S. response to the drought in the Horn of Africa, as well as his visit on Wednesday to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. “Since October 2010, the U.S. Government has provided $459 million in life-saving aid to…
The drought in the Horn of Africa “emphasizes the gap between our rapidly increasing ability to predict disasters, thanks largely to advances in science and technology, and our capacity to generate the political will to carry out effective mitigation strategies,” according to a SciDev.Net opinion piece by editor David Dickson.
In a Daily Caller opinion piece, Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, highlights a finding in a recent malaria report that the U.S. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “were responsible for 85% of the steep increase in malaria funding between 2007 and 2009.” But “[i]f 30 African heads of state were to give up their private jets, a fund of well over $500 million could be generated,” Tren writes.
Andrew Mitchell, Britain’s international development secretary, and Kevin Rudd, Australia’s foreign minister, describe their countries’ responses to the drought and famine in East Africa in an Independent opinion piece. “The U.N. appeals are still underfunded by almost $1 billion. Britain and Australia urge the rest of the world to join them to work to prevent this humanitarian disaster turning into a catastrophe on a scale of the 1984 Ethiopian famine,” they write.
Medicines Patent Pool Can Help Many But Has Potential Limitations For AIDS Drug Access In Middle-Income Countries
In a post on the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, author and journalist Tina Rosenberg writes about the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and describes how it can help purchase AIDS drugs for “vast numbers of people.” She also notes “its most serious potential weakness” â€“ that drug companies join because they hope that giving earlier drug access to more countries will reduce pressure for access in middle-income countries. Rosenberg highlights a recent agreement with Gilead Sciences, which “only covers very poor countries. It leaves out Egypt, China, Brazil, plus dozens of other developing countries. Current AIDS drug prices in these countries are six or seven times the price of drugs in sub-Saharan Africa. Without help from the patent pool, these countries have little hope of expanding antiretroviral coverage” (7/21).
“Chinese officials are fiercely attached to the one-child policy. They attribute to it almost every drop in fertility and every averted birth: some 400m more people, they claim, would have been born without it,” an Economist editorial states, adding, “This is patent nonsense. Chinese fertility was falling for decades before the one-child policy took effect in 1979.”
“Demography is like a supertanker; it takes decades to turn around. It will pose some of China’s biggest problems. The old leadership is wedded to the one-child policy, but the new leadership, which is due to take over next year, can think afresh. It should end this abomination as soon as it takes power,” the Economist writes (7/21).
“The incoming C.I.A. director, David Petraeus, ought to impose clear restrictions and prohibitions on medically oriented spy tactics so that the integrity and humanitarian purpose of U.S. health aid are affirmed and that current and future health aid operations will not be misused,” Jack Chow, a former U.S. global AIDS ambassador and assistant director-general of the WHO, writes in a New York Times opinion piece responding to reports that the U.S. used a vaccination campaign in Pakistan to help locate Osama bin Laden. Chow also recommends that Congress “investigate the Pakistan operation and determine whether agency leaders weighed broader policy sensitivities or the ethical implications of using a medical based tactic to gain intelligence.”
The contentious nature of abortion in American politics is “distracting U.S. policymakers from what should be the real conversation in a country that leads the world in human reproductive technology: whether to allow parents to use a growing range of methods to select for characteristics like sex (or diseases that come on late in life and, perhaps one day, IQ) in their children. Because sex selection is not just a developing world problem â€“ it’s an American problem, too,” Mara Hvistendahl, a Beijing-based correspondent with Science magazine, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece.
In her latest piece on the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, author and journalist Tina Rosenberg argues that the terms of Gilead’s recent agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool is “confirmation of a dangerous new trend: middle-income countries as a target market for drug makers.” “The new strategy is to treat people in Egypt, Paraguay, Turkmenistan or China â€“ middle-income countries, all â€“ as if they or their governments could pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year each for AIDS drugs. This low-volume high-profit strategy might make business sense. But in terms of the war against AIDS, it means surrender,” she writes.