“Ten years after Europe was declared polio-free, the world stands tantalizingly close to eradicating the disease for good,” but “[t]he world’s chances of achieving this once unthinkable goal of ending polio are being jeopardized by a funding gap of $945 million,” Sir Liam Donaldson, chair of the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, writes in this EurActiv.com opinion piece. “This shortfall means vaccination campaigns for 2012 will face cancellations in 33 countries, leaving 94 million children under-immunized,” Donaldson notes, and continues, “This is not just unacceptable: it is also highly damaging and will make our efforts to eradicate polio more expensive and challenging in years to come.”
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Megan Averill and Tricia Petruney, senior technical officers with FHI 360’s Global Health, Population and Nutrition Group, and Ward Cates, president emeritus at FHI 360, discuss the “domino effect” of family planning. “We’ll begin with a simple and intuitive causal relationship: voluntary use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancies,” they write, and highlight a number of benefits they say stem from this relationship. They conclude, “Until now, too few people have been aware and too few leaders willing to acknowledge the essential role that family planning plays in achieving sustainable development. Rio+20 is our chance to tip this pivotal domino piece forward, and witness the measurable cascade of progress it evokes” (6/18).
“International health experts say the global campaign to eradicate polio has reached a critical stage, with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria the only countries where the crippling and potentially deadly virus is still prevalent,” VOA News reports. “Health officials in Pakistan say they are redoubling efforts to vaccinate every child against polio after 198 new cases were reported in the country last year, the largest number anywhere in the world,” the news service notes. It goes on to highlight several challenges to the efforts, including “an ongoing insurgency and the influx of millions of Pakistani and Afghan refugees” and public opposition to the vaccinations resulting from misperceptions and concerns about safety (Padden, 6/9).
Management Sciences For Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog on Friday published two posts examining the importance of good governance in health care. In the first post, Jonathan Quick, president and chief executive officer of MSH, writes, “Good governance in health care matters at all levels of the health system — from communities to health facilities to governments,” adding, “Effective management, inspiring leadership, and accountable governance are each vital for building strong health systems that achieve lasting local health impact” (6/22). In the second post, James Rice, project director of USAID’s Leadership, Management, & Governance (LMG) project, writes, “Policymakers and health sector leaders in low- and middle-income countries are recognizing the value of smart governance for significant and sustained gains in health status outcomes,” noting, “The new USAID [LMG] project, led by MSH with a consortium of partners, is actively engaged in building the capacity and competencies of those expected to accomplish smart governance” (6/22).
“As the international community engages in a last push to decrease child deaths annually from 12 million in 1990 to four million by 2015, world leaders [met] for the ‘Child Survival — Call to Action’ Summit in Washington, D.C., [earlier this month] to set an even more ambitious goal of ‘ending all preventable child deaths’ down to two million by 2035,” Kul Chandra Gautam, former deputy executive director of UNICEF, writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “This is a fitting moment for reflection and celebration of USAID’s 50th anniversary, and 30 years of historic contribution and leadership in what came to be known as a global Child Survival and Development Revolution (CSDR).”
In this post on RH Reality Check, Marianne Mollmann, senior policy adviser with Amnesty International, addresses an upcoming summit in London on family planning funding, which is being co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development and supported by USAID and UNFPA. She says that poverty and “women’s ability to exercise her human rights, including the rights to quality health care, non-discrimination in education and health, and economic empowerment through job creation and protections for equality in the workplace,” are important drivers of maternal health and need to be addressed by governments (6/21).
HIV drugs have not only “transformed a fatal disease into a chronic one,” but “[t]hey have also made HIV a big business,” this Economist editorial states. The editorial examines the market for HIV drugs, writing, “The market is as unusual as it is large, both buoyed by government support and worryingly dependent on it. The past decade has brought fancier medicine in rich countries and copious aid for poor ones. But the war is far from won.” The editorial writes, “In total, public and private investment has yielded more than two dozen HIV drugs,” adding, “Sales of antiretroviral drugs in America and the five biggest European markets reached $13.3 billion in 2011, according to Datamonitor, a research outfit.”
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, Cecilia Attias, former first lady of France and president and founder of the Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, responds to a recent paper, published by the World Bank, which discusses significant declines in infant and under-five mortality in Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa. She writes, “Africa’s swift economic growth has become a familiar story; but the fact that fewer children are dying than before — that people’s lives are getting better on the ground — is arguably more heartening than accounts of improvements in African industry or infrastructure or business (though the trends are probably connected).”
Aid Agencies Should Support Journalists To Increase Their Ability To Make A Difference In Developing Countries
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Prue Clarke, an Africa correspondent, media development specialist and the co-founder and executive director of New Narratives — Africans Reporting Africa, writes, “By not supporting journalists, aid agencies are severely limiting their access to the truth about what is happening in developing countries and, therefore, their ability to make a difference.” She continues, “In our efforts to promote our reporters’ work and fund our operations, we repeatedly meet fantastic aid groups that are driven to improve the lives of poor people in Africa, particularly women,” adding, “They fund every manner of effort to, for example, end violence against women, improve maternal health, increase the number of girls in education and prevent exploitation by foreign resources companies.”
More than 100 world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week for Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, to address ways to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. The following blog post, opinion piece, and press release address health aspects of the conference.