“If we are to succeed in alleviating poverty and providing the necessary framework for sustainable development on our planet, there is no more pressing need than ensuring the supply of affordable food for our people,” Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” He continues, “There are two keys to tackling this problem, enhancing production — particularly in Africa — and ensuring that trade in food flows unhindered from the lands of the plenty to the lands of the few. Without immediate action in these two areas, there is a risk that hunger will become even more widespread, with many million more lives at stake” (11/21).
The vision of an “AIDS-free generation” presented in a speech earlier this month by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “is under threat in Congress,” as “[t]he House and the Senate are discussing significant cuts to the 2012 Obama administration request for global health funding,” Jeanie Yoon, a physician with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece. Yoon describes an MSF program in Zambia working to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), saying such programs “provide an opportunity for mothers be tested for HIV (as well as other dangerous conditions for pregnant women) and to take the steps needed for them and their babies to live healthy lives; as well as for communities to gain productive members instead of incurring yet more losses.”
In this CNN opinion piece, Jenna Davis — a faculty member in Stanford University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, where her research and teaching focuses on water, sanitation and health, and a former member of the U.N. Millennium Task Force for Water and Sanitation — reports on what she calls a “global sanitation crisis,” writing, “More than 40 percent of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet. These 2.6 billion people, most living in low- and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, face the daily challenge of finding a bush, train track or empty lot where they can urinate and defecate in relative privacy.”
Disregarding advances “that have the potential to significantly reduce the death toll from HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and other insidious killers, … both the House and the Senate are pushing significant cuts to the 2012 Obama request for global health funding,” Matthew Spitzer, president of the U.S. section of Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres, writes in an opinion piece on the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “This debate is about much more than economy; it is about the vulnerable, about people sick, even dying, right now in the poorest corners of the earth,” and if proposed cuts to global health spending are enacted, “millions of patients and families who rely on U.S.-funded health programs [will] face a stark future,” he writes.
While the recent report from a High-Level Independent Review Panel of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “and the corresponding decisions of the Board, mark an important step towards the necessary improvements the Global Fund must make to fulfill its vital mandate in the coming decade and beyond,” “the report does not provide direction or solutions on certain critical issues that will define the further success and impact of the Global Fund,” Richard Feachem, founding executive director of the Global Fund, writes in a Lancet commentary.
Aid Targeting High Mortality Diseases ‘Lays The Groundwork’ For Improving Primary Health Care Services
“In recent years, initiatives such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria have helped rein in some of the biggest scourges,” Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. “Scaling up PEPFAR, alongside other health initiatives, would bring a high return,” because “as we deepen the response to specific diseases such as AIDS or TB, we can broaden access to primary health services,” which “lays the groundwork for addressing health problems of all kinds,” he continues.
In response to Michael Gerson’s November 11 column in which he said the end of AIDS is possible because of combination prevention and treatment innovations, David Bryden, the Stop TB advocacy officer at RESULTS, writes in a Washington Post letter to the editor, “Another benefit of [HIV] treatment is that it sharply reduces deaths from tuberculosis [TB], which is the primary killer of people living with HIV/AIDS.” He says that “to fully succeed in Africa, where TB and HIV/AIDS are often two sides of the same coin, we have to quickly identify people who have TB or who are vulnerable to it and get them the services they need,” which also means developing an accurate quick test for the disease.
Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention and a founding member of the Global Health Technologies Coalition, writing in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” welcomes Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s November 8 announcement of “an additional $60 million for implementation of a combination of prevention strategies in four sub-Saharan African countries and evaluation of their impact,” adding that “this funding can only be viewed as a down payment on the work that needs to be done.” He says the Obama administration and the governments of other countries “need to add specific commitments, milestones, and strategies to the vision,” as well as “commit to the long haul.”
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, responds to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at the NIH last week in which she called for an “AIDS-free generation,” writing, “As Secretary Clinton pointed out, we’ve never before had as many tools to get ahead of the disease as we do now,” such as male circumcision and treatment as prevention, “[b]ut one of the cornerstones of her strategy to create an AIDS-free generation is a tool we’ve actually had in our arsenal for a long time: the ability to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.”
“Washington is in an era of budget-cutting, so we frequently hear calls to shrink or eliminate U.S. foreign-assistance programs,” which is why “several religious groups … are highlighting how these programs reduce global poverty and hunger, saving millions of lives,” Richard Stearns, president of World Vision USA, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. However, he says “evangelical Christians [are] largely absent from this religious coalition” and notes that “a Pew survey earlier this year found that 56 percent of evangelicals think ‘aid to the world’s poor’ should be the first thing cut from the federal budget.”