“As the nations of the world attend the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week, the World Health Organization is in a budget crisis and continuing to struggle for relevancy among better-funded, more agile philanthropic foundations and disease-specific initiatives,” Thomas Bollyky, senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), writes in this CFR expert brief. “Survival for the institution is possible, but only if WHO reinvents itself as a twenty-first century international institution that can adapt to changing global health needs and thrive in austere times,” he writes (5/23).
“We need to revive the rights-based agenda and realign research priorities for women’s health,” journalist Priya Shetty writes in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. “The activists who fought to put human rights at the center of women’s sexual and reproductive health, at the landmark International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994, may have won the battle — but they are still fighting the war,” she continues and outlines the “radical set of resolutions” produced by the conference. However, she writes, “this rights-based approach to women’s health never quite came to fruition.”
“[E]vidence shows that family planning prevents the needless deaths of women worldwide,” which should “be cause to sustain or even increase U.S. investments in these programs,” Chloe Cooney, director of global advocacy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), writes in this RH Reality Check blog post. “Yet, once again, the House Appropriations Committee voted to let politics interfere with life-saving health care for women,” she continues, adding, “Last week, the House Appropriations Committee proposed to cut funding for international family planning programs and impose harmful restrictions on women’s access to essential health care.” Cooney notes that the Senate version of the bill “increases support for international family planning without attaching restrictions that would undercut these efforts.” She cites a recent U.N. report that “confirms that birth control and reproductive health services are essential to saving women’s lives,” and concludes, “The impact of the decisions made by this Congress will be felt in the lives of women and families around the world” (5/22).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, communications officer and blog editor Amie Newman reports on a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, released Monday, that examines Americans’ views on U.S. global health issues. Newman details a number of the survey’s findings, including that the poll found that “roughly half of Americans (52 percent) now say the news media spends too little time covering global health issues, up from 41 percent in 2010.” She writes, “It’s critical that our news media cover these issues in a way that touches people, and helps people to understand exactly what’s happening in the countries, cities, villages, towns, health centers and homes of people around the world.” She notes that both KFF President and CEO Drew Altman, in a column discussing the survey results, and Gates Foundation Director of Global Brand and Innovation Tom Scott, in a recent blog post, have stressed the importance of properly communicating successful aid stories and data (5/21).
Following controversy surrounding a study published in the Lancet earlier this month that examined the impact of the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) on child mortality, “both the authors of the paper and the journal itself have finally responded,” blogger Matt Collin writes in the Aid Thoughts blog and provides a link to the post in the World Bank’s “Development Impact” blog that began the debate. The blog notes that study author Paul Pronyk of the Earth Institute, in a letter (.pdf) to the Lancet, retracts the child mortality data in the study and accepts that mathematical errors highlighted in the “Development Impact” post were made (5/18). In the Roving Bandit blog, blogger Lee Crawfurd discusses the Lancet editors’ response (.pdf) and writes, “There are definitely lessons to be learned across [the medical and economic] disciplines both ways. It’s just an incredibly sad state of affairs that one of the lessons that journals of medicine, the discipline that gave us randomized controlled trials, needs to learn from economics, is a more careful attention to statistics and causality” (5/21). In a post in the Christian Science Monitor’s “Africa Monitor” blog, blogger Tom Murphy summarizes the controversy and writes, “The discussion is important, say the critics, because of the popularity and cost of the MVP” (5/23).
“This week in Geneva, health ministers from governments around the world will meet at the 65th World Health Assembly (WHA) for their annual meeting to discuss health issues that affect everyone everywhere,” Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Among the resolutions they will consider is one supporting the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a road map to ensure that by the end of this decade, every child, everywhere enjoys the full benefits of immunization,” he notes.
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.
“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.”
“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.
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.