In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Joe Cerrell, director of the foundation’s Europe office, examines “the international conversation about aid to developing countries,” noting, “This week the 27 European heads of government will decide whether or not to protect the â‚¬51 billion [$66.1 billion] development aid budget from cuts over the next seven years, as part of the overall European Union (E.U.) budget for the next seven years.” Development aid is effective and can help grow recipient countries’ economies, he says, concluding, “As the economic situation continues to be felt throughout the world, we can’t forget that millions of lives hang in the balance. Maintaining our commitment and increasing the quality of aid towards programs that we know work is simply the right thing to do” (11/21).
The Feed the Future blog features an interview with Roger Thurow, senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a ONE Campaign fellow. Thurow says, “Securing the global food system is also one of the biggest — if not the biggest — challenge facing us in the coming decades. … And it is important to not just focus on increasing production, but to put nutrition — growing a cornucopia of more nutritious food — at the center of our efforts as well.” He discusses Feed the Future and says two “important aspects” of the program are “an emphasis on long-term agricultural development (rather than solely focusing on short-term emergency food aid relief) and a focus on the smallholder farmers of the developing world” (11/20).
“This week delegates from about 100 member countries of the World Health Organization are meeting in Buenos Aires with the aim of strengthening defenses against substandard and fraudulent medicines,” Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa and Roger Bate, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, write in a New York Times opinion piece. “The meeting is extremely important, but to make progress a number of hurdles will have to be overcome,” they say, noting a paper recently published in the BMJ outlines such challenges. “In Buenos Aires, the delegates first need to agree which medicines are good and which are bad,” the authors say, adding, “[C]ountries need to agree that protecting intellectual property and public health are two different things.” Unless countries define the “difference between honest drug companies that sell accidentally substandard medicines, and organized criminals who sell a deliberately falsified … drug,” then “criminals will continue to slip through loopholes and honest companies, pharmacists and doctors will find themselves prosecuted unjustly,” they write.
The “grand experiment” of the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) — a pilot program that aims to get artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) into rural areas of several African nations — “seems likely to end, its successes underrated and potential improvements not yet explored,” a Nature editorial says. In October, “an independent evaluation found that it had performed remarkably well on the main benchmarks of success, increasing the number of outlets stocking ACTs and lowering prices,” but last week “the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria decided to end the AMFm as a stand-alone program, by integrating it into the fund’s core system for awarding malaria-control grants to countries,” the editorial notes, adding, “This integration probably spells the end for AMFm, because there will be no new money for the program after the end of next year.”
A “key problem” in reaching the goal of polio elimination “may well be that organizers of the global anti-polio initiative, and of other global health programs, are not listening to the people they want to help — or to each other,” Thomas Abraham, an associate professor in the Journalism and Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. “As a result, in many communities targeted by [polio immunization] programs, people perceive a gulf between global programs like polio eradication and more immediate local health needs,” he continues, adding, “It is cold comfort to save a child from polio if the child later succumbs to malaria or diarrhea from dirty drinking water.”
“Across the world, one in three women risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet,” Ann Jenkin, Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, Member of Parliament Annette Brooke, and Glenys Kinnock, Baronness Kinnock of Holyhead, write in the Huffington Post U.K.’s “Lifestyle” blog. “Facing each day without access to this basic necessity is not just an inconvenience; it impacts on all aspects of life, and it is women and girls who suffer the most,” they continue.
“‘Getting to Zero’ has been the slogan for World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) since 2011 and will remain so through until 2015, coinciding with the Millennium Development Goal target of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, and Adeeba Kamarulzaman, director of the Center of Excellence for Research in AIDS and dean of the Faculty of Medicine at University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, write in a New York Times opinion piece. “This offers a starting point for some more sanguine reflection on how, amid generalized talk of zeros, targets and goals, we can so easily lose sight of the extraordinary barriers that prevent them being reached in the first place,” they continue.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and community-led total sanitation (CLTS) programs are coming under increased academic scrutiny, Darren Saywell, the WASH/CLTS technical director at Plan International USA and vice-chair to the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) initiative, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, adding, “I personally see this trend as positive. It’s long overdue; and in its absence the WASH sector has lost ground to competing interests which have understood that the way to a donor or politician’s heart and head is through compelling evidence, simply told.” He outlines several steps international non-governmental organizations can take to improve data and cooperation to reach their output goals (11/19).
November 17 marked the second annual World Prematurity Day, sponsored by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog published two posts discussing premature birth.
The focus of the Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: Translating the London Declaration into Action conference, which took place November 16-18 in Washington, D.C., was “how we can work together to put the right systems in place and implement the change needed” to control or eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020, Simon Bush, director of NTDs at Sightsavers, writes in the Huffington Post U.K.’s “Impact” blog. Sponsored by the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the conference brought together pharmaceutical company executives, non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives, academics, government officials, and representatives of the World Bank, WHO and other groups, Bush says.