Neil Boothby, U.S. government special adviser and senior coordinator to the USAID administrator on children in adversity, writes in a USAID “IMPACTblog” post that the international community has scientific evidence and empirical data “that sho[w] investments made early in the lives of children yield greater returns than at any other point in the life cycle.” Noting the June launch of the Child Survival Call to Action, Boothby writes, “As an important follow on to this global effort, this week the first-ever U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity (.pdf) will be released.” He continues, “With significant investments in international development, the technical expertise and research capabilities embedded within key agencies, and diplomatic outreach, the U.S. government is well positioned to lead and mobilize around this sensible and strategic global agenda for children in adversity — children who face poverty, live on the streets or in institutions, are exploited for their labor or sex, recruited into armed groups, affected by HIV/AIDS, or separated from their families as a result of conflict or disaster” (12/17).
“Even with the knowledge and medicines to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to children, there are still babies being born with HIV [in the U.S.] and around the world,” Jake Glaser, Janice McCall, and Cristina Pena — all persons living with HIV who contracted the virus through mother-to-child transmission and who work as ambassadors for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation — write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “Without early treatment, half of those children will die by their second birthday. Their journeys will end far too soon,” they continue, adding, “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Writing in DevelopmentEducation.ie, Jamie Hitchen of the Human Rights Centre Uganda explores a proposal in Uganda to create “a fund specifically designated to assist projects for HIV and AIDS prevention and protection” that would “generate cash through levies on bank transactions and interest, air tickets, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes, as well as taxes on goods and services traded within Uganda.” He notes, “The revenue generated is expected to be spent on condom distribution, reducing cases of sexually transmitted infections and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.” However, “reactions from ordinary Ugandans have not been particularly favorable,” he writes, adding, “It’s not been so much about the idea of a HIV and AIDS tax being proposed that is drawing dissent, but it is more revealing of the absence of faith held in the government not to pocket the funds.”
“The World Bank Group welcomes the publication of the new Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD),” published in the Lancet on Thursday, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim writes in a Lancet opinion piece, adding, “The GBD gives us a data-rich framework for comparing the importance of different diseases, injuries, and risk factors in causing premature death and disability within and across populations.” He continues, “Specifically, the GBD has sharpened thinking on issues as diverse as the measurement of comorbidities; the role of culture in mediating the experience of disease; the meaning of disability; and the impact of poverty on health.”
In the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, highlights a report released by the organization last week, titled “Voices from Urban Africa: The Impact of Urban Growth on Children.” The stories of families, government and community leaders “reveal that the ‘urban advantages’ of better health care, education and opportunities to make a good living — often associated with city life — are in reality an urban myth,” she writes, adding, “With greater study and understanding of urban challenges — and ultimately rethinking strategies and increasing investment — the development community, including donors and policymakers, can help Africa respond more effectively to the needs of vulnerable children.” She continues, “Whether addressing children’s protection, health, education or future livelihoods, it is clear that programs must not stand alone” (12/11).
“Optimism and momentum has been building around the real possibility that an AIDS-free generation is imminent. … Yet, the most recent estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence and of AIDS-related mortality released by UNAIDS, together with data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the Lancet, make it clear that AIDS is not over,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Mark Dybul, incoming executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, write in a Lancet opinion piece. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and UNAIDS data “highlight a persistent, significant, and egregious burden of avoidable death,” the authors write, noting global statistics and recent success in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and incidence rates worldwide.
Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in a Guardian opinion piece, “In order to support investment in agriculture, governments have … come to rely on private sector investment and development aid — and increasingly a partnership of the two,” and he notes “[t]he New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, proposed by [U.S. President] Barack Obama and the U.S. Agency for International Development and launched in May 2012, will draw more than $3 billion of private sector investment into food security plans in Africa.” He continues, “One potential danger of development aid, and particularly of private-led projects, is that the goals of poverty reduction and rural development can be relegated below the goal of raising food production.”
“On Dec. 14, the Lancet together with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation [IHME] will release their study on global burden of disease, injuries and risk factors in 2010,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International, writes in a Devex opinion piece, adding, “These ‘gold standard’ data will quantify the world’s health problems by examining statistics for 291 diseases and injuries and 67 different risk factors for 21 regions across three time periods — 1990, 2005 and 2010.” Hofmann says, “The new health burden data are reference points for the units of currency that help us measure our impact, such as on the years of protection against unintended pregnancy, episodes of disease prevented, deaths averted, and years of healthy life saved, among many others.” He adds, “As global health implementers, it is important that these metrics inform our work, define our impact and demonstrate our value to donors, and more importantly, to those we serve.”
“What does it take to get to zero? While reflecting on the theme of this past World AIDS Day (Getting to zero, Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, Zero deaths), I asked myself this question,” Lisa MacDonald, project manager at HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, writes in a Huffington Post Canada opinion piece. “The truth is that it takes a combined effort across multiple sectors, using multiple strategies and targeting multiple audiences,” she states. However, “one issue that cuts across all sectors is that of gender inequity and its role in shaping sexual relations and in determining life choices,” she continues.
On the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) blog, Ashley Chandler, deputy policy director at the USGLC, discusses USAID’s new guidance on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis, writing that the policy “is about using existing development dollars more effectively in disaster prone regions, so that less humanitarian assistance is needed in the future.” She asks, “But what’s the ultimate goal?” and continues, “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says success will be measured by whether USAID is able ‘to put ourselves out of business’ by reducing the number, volume, and length of time of the ‘infusions of humanitarian assistance needed in the future.'” Chandler concludes, “As America strives to get our own fiscal house in order, the fact of the matter is that we’re also nearing a critical mass for relief and development funding. Meaning, ‘doing more of the same,’ to quote Administrator Shah, is no longer an option. Nor should it be” (12/12).