“From World Food Day to Anti-Poverty Day, October is a busy month when it comes to calls to make the world a better place,” Astrid Zweynert, deputy editor of AlertNet, writes in the news service’s “Insight” blog. “No one knows the exact number of such days of international observance but there are hundreds each year,” she states, adding, “Many [of the] days have been declared by the United Nations or other international bodies, while others are set up by charities,” and “[t]here is always scope to set up more.” She highlights a list that shows more than 30 days of international observance in October and writes, “It made me wonder how impactful they actually are.”
“What should President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney talk about during [Monday's] foreign policy debate? The force that can make or break a foreign policy: food,” author William Lambers, who partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme on the book “Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World,” writes in a Tennessean opinion piece. “There are 870 million people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” he notes, adding, “As former Army chief and Secretary of State George Marshall said, ‘Food is a vital factor in our foreign policy. And the attitude of Americans toward food can make or break our efforts to achieve peace and security throughout the world.'”
Briefly recapping a history of foreign aid policy since 1920, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) write in a Politico opinion piece, “Credit for America’s global leadership role belongs to both major political parties and Americans of all stripes” who “have always been guided by the notion that all lives have equal value, regardless of where someone was born.” Because of the current economic recession, “[w]e understand that there might be temptation to cut back on U.S. humanitarian programs and investments abroad,” they write, continuing, “However, the cost of cutting back on such programs is not worth it,” as such cuts would amount to less than one percent of the federal budget, “affect too many peoples’ lives and damage American economic and national security interests at a time our world is more interconnected than ever.”
“If [Republican presidential nominee Gov.] Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States,” a New York Times editorial says. In the U.S., “they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services,” according to the editorial, which adds “they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly.”
“When President Barack Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney debate Monday in Boca Raton for the final time, on foreign policy issues, I hope they will give us a chance to compare their visions of our country’s role in global health,” John May, chief medical officer of Armor Correctional Health Services in Miami, writes in a Palm Beach Post opinion piece. “It is a topic they have yet to address and have only touched on in their party platforms, perhaps because they are reluctant to discuss spending money in other countries,” but “it is important for voters to understand that, at about one-fourth of one percent of the federal budget, global health spending has little impact on the deficit while it addresses tremendous challenges,” he continues.
“Not long ago, in Jinja, Uganda, along the grassy, damp banks of the Nile, I sat with six fellows from Global Health Corps, the organization that I helped to found in 2008,” Global Health Corps CEO and Co-founder Barbara Bush writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “[O]n this afternoon, we had come to the river as countless others have done for centuries to tell stories,” she writes, noting, “In African culture, storytelling is revered, and the storyteller is the one to impart not only lessons, but also inspiration.” Bush relays the stories of two fellows as well as her own and continues, “That day on the Nile, as the stories came full circle, I realized that each of us had taken a different path to arrive at the same destination: instead of becoming trapped by powerless situations, each of us had chosen to act, to do something about the injustices we had seen.”
Noting the release of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2012 this week, this Lancet editorial says the results show “good and bad news.” The editorial says, “The number of tuberculosis cases and deaths continues to fall … and overall, the world is on track to achieve the global target of a 50 percent reduction by 2015.” However, “with an estimated 8.7 million new cases (of which 13 percent represent co-infections with HIV) and 1.4 million deaths from tuberculosis in 2011,” the “global burden of tuberculosis remains huge,” the editorial states. The report also shows “alarming levels of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis,” the editorial notes.
“[T]he latest calculations show that U.S. ethanol policies have increased the food bills of poor food-importing countries by more than $9 billion (Â£5.6 billion) since 2006,” Olivier De Schutter, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. He asks, “But where to next? Should we disavow biofuels altogether?” He writes, “The new starting point should be to put food security first,” noting, “Globally, 25 percent of land is already degraded, and the remaining productive areas are subject to ever-greater competition from industrial and urban uses.”
India’s National Food Security Bill, “expected to be discussed in Parliament later this year, … holds out hope of addressing some of the nation’s most persistent and pervasive problems,” Ashwin Parulkar, a research scholar at the Centre for Equity Studies, writes in the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog. “Unfortunately, in my view, the draft in its current form will be a major let down,” he states and provides some background on the bill. “Lawmakers have drafted this legislation but it appears that the bill will do little to tackle the critical areas of India’s hunger crisis so widely acknowledged by this country’s own policymakers,” he writes.
In an opinion piece in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, David Olson, a global health communications consultant who worked as a communications adviser to the Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance in Kenya earlier this year, describes how “abortion rights [in the country] have been liberalized in certain cases in a Constitution approved in a public referendum two years ago.” He continues, “The new constitution says clearly that ‘the life of a person begins at conception’ and ‘abortion is not permitted unless…'” Olson writes, “And that innocuous ‘unless’ is what keeps the abortion issue alive in Kenya, almost two years after the constitutional referendum: ‘…unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.'”