Burma, also known as Myanmar, “seems to be making the difficult and fragile transition from military dictatorship to fledgling democracy,” but the country has “some of the worst health indicators in the world,” a Lancet editorial states. “[T]he military retains a strong presence in regions of ethnic tension, and health and human rights abuses are certain to continue without adequate monitoring,” it continues.
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).
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 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).
“It’s easy to get the impression that [recent controversy over research into mutated versions of the H5N1 flu virus] has created a clear split between a scientific community that wants the research to proceed and the results to be published and a biosecurity community that doesn’t,” biological-weapons expert Tim Trevan writes in this Nature opinion piece. But “[a]s a member of this biosecurity community for more than 30 years — I was special adviser to the chairman of the United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq and covered chemical and biological disarmament with the U.K. Foreign Office in both London and Geneva, Switzerland — I believe this to be a false dichotomy,” he states.
With the disease burden of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria expected to make up less than 15 percent of the total disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 2030, and non-communicable diseases to account for nearly 40 percent of the total in the region, “[a] revision of the approach to research and health care in SSA is therefore urgently needed, but international donors and health communities have generally been slow to respond to the changing environment,” Ole Olesen and M. Iqbal Parker of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in South Africa write in a commentary in Tropical Medicine & International Health. “Private and public funding for health research in Africa remains therefore disproportionately focused on the three major infectious diseases, whereas only smaller amounts have been allocated to confront other diseases,” they write and provide examples.
Representatives meeting at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Tuesday “announced that they have reached an agreement [.pdf] on the outcome document,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agreed outcome document spells out action points such as the need to establish sustainable development goals and mobilize financing for sustainable development, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption and production,” according to the news service (6/19). The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” notes that “paragraph 145 reads: ‘We emphasize the need for the provision of universal access to reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health and the integration of reproductive health, in national strategies and programs’” (Ford, 6/20). The following summarizes an opinion piece and blog post addressing the outcome document.
“As the London family planning summit looms closer, the debate begins over how much money is needed, what it should pay for and whether the fundamentally important issues of women’s reproductive rights will be addressed,” Sarah Boseley, health editor of the Guardian, writes in her “Global Health Blog.” Highlighting a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, which “assesses the scale of the unmet need for contraception,” she writes, “This report puts numbers and dollars into the frame ahead of the summit where the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], [Department for International Development (DfID)], and others will be hoping big fat money pledges will be made, in the same way that the vaccines summit in London attracted massive donations — more money was raised than was hoped for.”
“In mid-June, representatives of 80 governments, the private sector, NGOs, civil society and faith-based organizations met to launch the Child Survival Call to Action: a sustained, global effort to lower child mortality rates, especially in high-risk countries,” a VOA editorial reports. The editorial quotes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said at the launch, “We need to agree on a new way forward, a new global roadmap for reducing child mortality,” and goes on to examine how the international community can move forward toward this goal.