“Between 1970 and 2010, most emerging countries achieved impressive gains in contraceptive coverage,” but, “[b]y contrast, many sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries … have started their contraceptive revolution very late and progress to date has been minimal,” John May, a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Jean-Pierre Guengant, researcher emeritus at the Research Institute for Development (IRD) in Marseille, France, write in CGD’s “Global Health Policy” blog. “The widespread belief in SSA that ‘development was the best contraceptive’ has been the major reason why countries did not launch organized family planning programs,” they write, adding, “By and large, the lack of progress in contraceptive coverage has precluded significant decreases in fertility in the region” (10/11).
“The global maternal mortality has dropped dramatically during the last decade,” but “too many women continue to die from pregnancy-related causes,” Sharon Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, writes in the BMJ Group Blogs. “In part, this is because unsafe abortion — one of the leading preventable causes of maternal death — is a public health crisis that is going largely ignored,” she continues, adding, “It is time for a public health approach to prevent unsafe abortion and the harm it causes individuals, families and society as a whole” (10/11).
“Worldwide, evidence-based interventions are being implemented in an effort to drive down child mortality and there are some signs that they are working,” a Lancet editorial states. “However, few countries are on course to meet the targets set by Millennium Development Goal 4,” the editorial notes. “Most maternal and child health programs do not reach the world’s poorest families; it is believed that efforts to do so cannot be successful, cost effective, and equitable,” it continues, adding, “Yet if interventions could reach these families, overall nutrition and health would improve and the lives of millions of children could be saved.”
“Pregnancy and childbirth is still the leading cause of death for teenage girls in the poorest corners of the world, and despite all the progress in reducing maternal mortality by 47 percent, we have yet to save these young, vulnerable lives,” Sarah Brown, founding chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “One of the biggest issues to resolve is child marriage; this is rightly front and center of the first International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, 2012,” she continues, adding, “That is why the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood has joined the campaign against child marriage and is calling on its supporters to take the lead with one of their recommended actions.”
“As the importance of [America's] foreign assistance has grown, so has the number of mechanisms to dispense it,” Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, write in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. The authors note that “more than 24 different agencies play some role in our development and assistance efforts,” including USAID, PEPFAR, and the Department of Defense. They continue, “Policymakers have for some time recognized that we need to bring better strategic guidance and coordination to this system,” adding, “In particular, we need a better way to monitor and evaluate these programs to make sure they are working well and fulfilling their policy goals.”
Some countries in Africa “still rely on dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) for [malaria] vector control,” therefore “[i]t is … problematic that the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), without the consent of member states, and violating its own treaties, exerts relentless pressure to ban DDT globally,” Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, and Richard Nchabi Kamwi, Nambia’s minister of health and social services, write in a BMJ opinion piece. Nineteen countries reserve the right to use DDT under the 2000 Stockholm Convention, which “made an exception for DDT in disease vector control,” and the WHO endorses DDT, “arguing that a premature shift to less effective or more costly alternatives will have a negative impact on disease burden,” the authors state.
“Our global food security challenges are daunting: food price spikes and increasing food prices look set to continue unabated, around one billion are suffering from chronic hunger, and we must feed a growing population in the face of a wide range of adverse factors, including climate change,” but “I believe there is reason for optimism,” Sir Gordon Conway, professor of international development and agricultural impact at Imperial College London, writes in the Huffington Post U.K. “Impact” blog. “Yes we can feed the world, but only if we accept that agricultural development is the best route to achieving sustainable economic growth in developing countries, and achieve an agriculture that is highly productive, stable, resilient and equitable,” he continues, adding, “I believe there are four interconnected routes to achieving a food secure world: innovation, markets, people and political leadership.”
In a BMJ Group Blogs post, Caroline Robinson, global health advocacy manager for Results U.K., discusses the prevalence and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB in Europe and provides the example of Romania. She writes, “[E]vidence brought to light in a new report [.pdf] released recently outlining the effect funding shortages will have on HIV and TB, including drug-resistant TB, in the European region suggests that Romania does not have the institutional capacity to ensure its citizens have the basic right to health. The country relies on grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which look set to end in 2013.” She continues, “[Global Fund] Board members should ensure that middle-income countries with epidemics among key populations can access critical Global Fund contributions and the E.U. and its member states must continue to provide the resources the fund requires to meet demand. Unless such support is given, countries like Romania will continue to fall further down the league tables in terms of treatment for this curable disease” (10/10).
“Among causes of child malnutrition in India are not just poverty or inadequate access to food but also a lack of nutritional knowledge among families,” Nisha Malhotra, an instructor of economics at the University of British Columbia, writes in a Live Mint opinion piece. “Impressive growth and rising prosperity in the past three decades have not alleviated child malnutrition in the country,” she writes, noting, “An alarming 43 percent of children under age three in India are stunted, 48 percent are underweight, and 17 percent are ‘wasted.'” She continues, “In my research, I have emphasized and verified the importance of poor feeding practices in infancy to explain chronic child malnutrition in India,” adding, “Poverty is, of course, a contributor to poor feeding practices, but it is neither the sole reason for the situation nor the most significant reason.”
“Achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the prevalence of hunger in the world by 2015 is still within reach, but a strong, sustained acceleration of efforts is needed,” U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva writes in a Reuters opinion piece. He notes a new report from the Rome food agencies shows the “global number of chronically hungry people has declined by 130 million since 1990, falling from a little over one billion people to 868 million — 852 million of them in developing countries.”