“Spying is a messy business that necessarily involves deceit, and U.S. intelligence operatives need latitude to do their work. In this case, however, the planners and approvers of the CIA [vaccine] operation didn’t appropriately calculate the possible consequences of their actions on an agenda that is as important to the world as fighting al-Qaeda,” a Bloomberg editorial states.
In a post on the New York Times’ “On the Ground” blog, Rwanda Works Director Josh Ruxin writes about two cousins who are “fighting the international brain-drain trend that is dangerously affecting medicine in the developing world, and [have] committed themselves to building local medical capacity in their native country” by establishing a university and medical school, called the Kigali Medical University (KMU).
“When women are healthy and empowered, they can spark a ripple effect in their families, communities and nations that can lead to lower rates of poverty and stronger economic growth and productivity,” Tamara Kreinin, executive director of women and population at the United Nations Foundation, writes in a “RH Reality Check” blog post. “By voting to reduce funding for international reproductive health and family planning activities, eliminate funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), and reinstate the Global Gag Rule, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs threatens to turn back the clock on women’s health and has taken its disturbing war on women to a global stage,” she writes, referring to the House FY12 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (7/27).
“The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) produce a devastating level of chronic disability in sub-Saharan Africa, with some estimates suggesting that the NTD disease burden exceeds tuberculosis and is one-half that of malaria,” Julie Noblick and Richard Skolnick of George Washington University and Peter Hotez of the Sabin Vaccine Institute write in a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases editorial. With noted relationships between the prevalence of NTDs and HIV, the diseases “demand a public health response from the established global HIV/AIDS community, in parallel with efforts to scale up NTD control,” they argue.
“The incoming C.I.A. director, David Petraeus, ought to impose clear restrictions and prohibitions on medically oriented spy tactics so that the integrity and humanitarian purpose of U.S. health aid are affirmed and that current and future health aid operations will not be misused,” Jack Chow, a former U.S. global AIDS ambassador and assistant director-general of the WHO, writes in a New York Times opinion piece responding to reports that the U.S. used a vaccination campaign in Pakistan to help locate Osama bin Laden. Chow also recommends that Congress “investigate the Pakistan operation and determine whether agency leaders weighed broader policy sensitivities or the ethical implications of using a medical based tactic to gain intelligence.”
In her latest piece on the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, author and journalist Tina Rosenberg argues that the terms of Gilead’s recent agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool is “confirmation of a dangerous new trend: middle-income countries as a target market for drug makers.” “The new strategy is to treat people in Egypt, Paraguay, Turkmenistan or China â€“ middle-income countries, all â€“ as if they or their governments could pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year each for AIDS drugs. This low-volume high-profit strategy might make business sense. But in terms of the war against AIDS, it means surrender,” she writes.
The contentious nature of abortion in American politics is “distracting U.S. policymakers from what should be the real conversation in a country that leads the world in human reproductive technology: whether to allow parents to use a growing range of methods to select for characteristics like sex (or diseases that come on late in life and, perhaps one day, IQ) in their children. Because sex selection is not just a developing world problem â€“ it’s an American problem, too,” Mara Hvistendahl, a Beijing-based correspondent with Science magazine, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece.
In his latest Foreign Policy column, Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, argues that famine is a crime. Famines “don’t happen any more in any country where leaders show the slightest interest in the wellbeing of their citizenry. … In order to ensure widespread death by starvation, a governing authority must make a conscious decision: it must actively exercise the power to take food from producers who need it or deny food assistance to victims,” he writes.
“There are few ideas as powerful as the eradication of a human disease. But the euphoria around the world’s single success to date â€“ that of smallpox â€“ has led to ever more costly efforts to do the same for polio. World leaders need either to radically step up their commitment or have the courage to abandon the goal explicitly,” a Financial Times editorial states.
Andrew Mitchell, Britain’s international development secretary, and Kevin Rudd, Australia’s foreign minister, describe their countries’ responses to the drought and famine in East Africa in an Independent opinion piece. “The U.N. appeals are still underfunded by almost $1 billion. Britain and Australia urge the rest of the world to join them to work to prevent this humanitarian disaster turning into a catastrophe on a scale of the 1984 Ethiopian famine,” they write.