“Each year, nearly 400,000 children are born with HIV globally, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is a particular challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, an area characterized by weak health systems,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in the State Department “DipNote” blog. “Last year PEPFAR and UNAIDS joined with other partners to launch the Global Plan, an initiative to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive,” Goosby writes and reflects on a two-day mission to Nigeria with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe last week. He concludes, “Preventing new HIV infections in children is a smart investment that saves lives, and the United States is proud to partner with Nigeria and other countries in this cause” (4/30).
“Every child should have the opportunity to celebrate his or her fifth birthday,” but 7.6 million “kids die within the first five years of life,” a VOA editorial writes. “That is why [USAID] recently launched ‘Every Child Deserves A Fifth Birthday,’ an awareness-raising campaign leading up to the mid-June ‘Child Survival: Call to Action’ two-day conference,” the editorial states, adding, “This high-level forum, convened by the governments of the United States, India and Ethiopia, together with [UNICEF], will mobilize political, non-governmental and private actors to end preventable child deaths.”
In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, former U.S. Ambassador Jack Chow, who served as a special representative for HIV/AIDS under former Secretary of State Colin Powell and currently is a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Public Policy, examines the challenges of delivering humanitarian aid and how “[t]he technological versatility of airborne drones, the flying robots that are already transforming warfare, … has the potential to revolutionize how humanitarian aid is delivered worldwide.” He describes the work of several start-up companies looking to employ drones for such a purpose, saying “waves of aid drones might quickly deliver a peaceful ‘first strike’ capacity of food and medicines to disaster areas.”
“The policy changes in the [Senate's draft Farm Bill] represent improvements to U.S. food aid policy, but we think Congress could do more,” Kelley Hauser, a policy analyst with ONE, writes in this post on the Care2 blog. She describes a letter sent by ONE to U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), “asking them to buy emergency food aid closer to where it is needed — to save on shipping and food costs, as well as to speed up delivery” and “to require more efficiency when organizations sell U.S.-grown food in developing countries to fund development projects.” She concludes, “By increasing the impact of our food aid dollars and making monetization more efficient, we can save more lives and help more people break the cycle of malnutrition and poverty as part of ONE’s Thrive campaign” (Matsuoka, 4/27).
“A new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs applauds U.S. government agencies for food security leadership but calls on them to up the game in the face of rising global challenges and shrinking aid budgets,” Connie Veillette, director of the Center for Global Development’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, writes in the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog,” adding, “While it is a positive assessment, the report highlights some areas of concern that could affect U.S. leadership in future years” (4/27). John Glenn, policy director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, notes in the organization’s blog that Chicago Council “co-chairs Catherine Bertini and Dan Glickman called for the progress made to be institutionalized with Congressional authorization. Significant increases in food production, they suggested, will only be visible after a decade, which would require sustaining the commitments of the past three years for another seven years” (4/27).
“If we needed more evidence that the funding cuts at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria were going to be detrimental to people’s lives, a new study … makes it clear: Providing funding to fight malaria makes malaria go away,” Kolleen Bouchane, director of ACTION, a global partnership of health advocacy organizations, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “The authors write that as substantial new financial resources have become available to fight malaria since 2000, malaria has decreased considerably in many parts of the world,” she continues, adding, “But in the past, malaria has returned when malaria control programs have been weakened — and they’ve usually been weakened when resources dried up.”
In a Huffington Post Blog opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), describes watching the suffering of an infant with severe pneumonia and his parents while in Ghana on Thursday, writing that the experience was “a personal reminder as to why our work to prevent disease is so perilous, and why disease control so promising in Africa.” Noting that last year in Ghana, “approximately 50,000 young children — nearly seven out of every 100 — died before their fifth birthday,” Levine adds, “I also saw the promise of prevention in Ghana,” with the launch of an immunization campaign to provide both pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. With support from the GAVI Alliance, Ghana is the first country in Africa to introduce two new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea at the same time,” he notes.
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, discusses including contraception on the global health agenda. “I have learned a lot from following the reaction to the talk I gave at TEDxChange two weeks ago,” she writes, adding, “Because I’m so passionate about the issue, I’m excited to see so many people talking about it online. The more people talk, I think, the more they’ll realize how much agreement there is around the basic argument that birth control saves lives and helps families build a better future.” She concludes, “I believe in giving women the methods they want to use so they can do what’s best for themselves and their families. … I hope we can agree that there really is no controversy around this idea” (4/26).
Wednesday, April 25, marked World Malaria Day, which this year had the theme “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria.” The following opinion pieces address the fight against malaria.
“[T]he controversy over the research into the genetic modification of the H5N1 flu virus, finally approved for publication, should offer a reminder of the importance of debate” over dual-use technology, a Nature editorial states. “[D]ual-use basic research is a special case because its implications, for good and bad, are often viewed with the greatest clarity by only a small minority of people,” and often only “[t]he scientists involved (and they are increasingly specialists in very small fields) … can fully understand the risks posed by a line of research,” according to the editorial. “There are disadvantages to leaving it up to outsiders to initiate debate about risks, benefits and ethics,” the editorials states, noting three disadvantages, including the risk of misconceptions and a lack of knowledge about how to handle some research.