Newly released “estimates of maternal mortality from the United Nations’ Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG) are good news — but not good enough,” Peter Byass, professor of global health at Umea University in Sweden and director of the Umea Centre for Global Health Research, writes in this post in the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog. He briefly discusses the pros and cons of using “estimates” for maternal mortality data, and he concludes, “There is a risk involved for every woman who gets pregnant. But the global community has the knowledge and resources to manage those risks and minimize adverse consequences. Why can’t we stop mothers dying?” (5/16).
The Huffington Post is running “a series of blogs by leading NGOs to call attention to a range of issues that should be raised at the G8 summit at Camp David in rural Maryland from May 18-19,” according to the news service. The following summarizes some of the posts published this week.
“Through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, women are being recognized as playing a major role in tackling global hunger,” guest blogger Seema Jalan, director of global development policy at Women Thrive Worldwide, writes in this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” She lists “seven things we at Women Thrive believe any program — whether from government, an NGO or private company — have to do to succeed by reaching women,” including ensuring property rights for women and providing women farmers with the tools and training they need (5/18).
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought” blog on Sunday published several commentaries addressing food security issues. Commentators include Roger Thurow, senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at the Council; Lisa Dreier, director of food security and development initiatives at the World Economic Forum USA; Gayle Smith, special assistant to the president and senior director at the National Security Council, and Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator; Danielle Nierenberg, co-project director of State of World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet for the Worldwatch Institute; Glynn Young, director of online strategy and communications for Monsanto Company; and Sam Dryden, director of the Agricultural Development initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (5/20).
The Hill’s “Congress Blog” on Friday published two opinion pieces addressing global food security, the G8 summit, and the New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security. The following are summaries of the pieces.
“As representatives of the World Health Organization Member States arrive in Geneva this week for the 65th World Health Assembly, I feel a cautious optimism about the future, and the future health of Africa,” Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the Aspen Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog. “With two female heads of state in Africa – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia and Joyce Banda in Malawi – women’s health and gender equality are no longer marginalized, they have become central to a nation’s potential for development and prosperity,” she continues, adding the two “share a vision and passionate resolve to improve the lives of women in Africa — and like me they are founding members of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health.”
Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and founder of Every Mother Counts, notes in this GlobalPost “Global Pulse” opinion piece that “99 percent of women who die during or after childbirth live in the developing world,” and women and girls ages 19 and younger are at a higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. But “[w]e know what many of the solutions are,” she says, including “access to health care, inexpensive drugs that stop post-partum hemorrhaging, a scale-up of community health workers, and reproductive health so that pregnancies can be spaced,” as well as education.
“About $40 billion in global foreign aid may be wasted each year — failing to reach the poor people of the world — due to inefficient, political and nationalistic obstacles set up by aid donors, top aid officials have admitted,” Ben Barber, who has written about the developing world since 1980, reports in this Kansas City Star commentary. “‘There are some estimates that we may be wasting 30 percent of the $130 billion in foreign aid each year’ spent by all donor nations, said Brian J. Atwood, former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)” and current head of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a group of aid donors based in Paris that is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Barber writes.
“Over a billion people, one in every six people living on this planet, suffer from one or more neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs,” a VOA editorial states, noting, “These usually treatable and preventable diseases include schistosomiasis; elephantiasis; trachoma; Chagas disease; river blindness; leprosy; kala-azar, dengue, black fever and other forms of leishmaniasis; and the three most common infections — the soil-transmitted parasites hookworm, roundworm and whipworm.”
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is facing an unprecedented crisis that threatens its position as the premier international health agency. To ensure its leading role, it must rethink its internal governance and revamp its financing mechanisms,” Tikki Pang, a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore and former director of research policy and cooperation at the WHO, and Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, write in this Nature Medicine opinion piece. They note that the WHO “was born in the bifurcated Cold War world in 1948, and every aspect of its charter, mission and organizational structure was molded by diplomatic tensions between NATO and the USSR,” but “with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the new emerging market superpowers, the WHO finds itself trying to straddle a global dynamic for which it was not designed.”