“Nigeria is one of only three countries — along with Afghanistan and Pakistan — that remains blighted by polio,” Aliko Dangote, founder and CEO of the Dangote Group and chair of the Dangote Foundation, writes in a Project Syndicate opinion piece. He notes Nigeria is “one of Africa’s most developed countries,” “the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Africa,” home to “thriving Nigerian businesses,” and “will soon surpass South Africa to become Africaâ€™s largest economy.” However, “Nigerians cannot hope to lead Africa, economically or otherwise, while neglecting to eliminate preventable diseases like polio,” he writes.
“Those following the two-year-old saga of the United Nations and cholera in Haiti were startled by” the U.N.’s announcement last week of a $2.2 billion initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, freelance journalist Jonathan Katz and Tom Murphy, editor of the development blog “A View From the Cave,” write in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Since [the crisis began in October 2010], scores of epidemiologists — including those appointed by the U.N. itself — have unearthed overwhelming evidence supporting the hypothesis that [U.N. peacekeepers] carried the disease and introduced it to Haiti through negligent sanitation,” they continue, adding, “In response, U.N. officials have ignored, dismissed, or mischaracterized it all.”
In a Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, Tom Murphy, founder of the development blog “A View From The Cave,” examines Rwanda’s efforts to reduce cancer incidence by implementing screening programs for breast and cervical cancers and vaccinating girls and young women for human papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer. Discussing the new programs, Minister of Health Agnes Bingawaho said, “We are a government that is evidence-based and result-oriented. … We always go for a policy first — the science in front of everything. We develop a strategy plan, followed by an implementation plan and then fundraise,” according to Murphy. He discusses Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s push for accountability within the government, the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution recognizing non-communicable diseases as a global problem, and efforts by Merck and the GAVI Alliance to vaccinate more girls against HPV (12/18).
In a post on the PATH blog, Rachel Wilson, senior director for policy and advocacy at PATH, examines the consequences of budget negotiations and “what enacting billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts could mean for people living in poverty around the world.” She continues, “According to a report from the Office of Management and Budget reported on the Kaiser Family Foundation website, if the automatic cuts take effect, global health funding through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department would decrease by $670 million, or 8.2 percent from 2012 levels.” Wilson writes, “These kinds of cuts would have very real consequences,” and she cites estimates from amfAR and the Guttmacher Institute about how cuts would affect access to HIV/AIDS, malaria, childhood disease, and reproductive health prevention and treatment. She concludes, “The United States has contributed to incredible gains in global health. Any retreat from our leadership would set us back in ways that are unimaginable” (12/17).
Neil Boothby, U.S. government special adviser and senior coordinator to the USAID administrator on children in adversity, writes in a USAID “IMPACTblog” post that the international community has scientific evidence and empirical data “that sho[w] investments made early in the lives of children yield greater returns than at any other point in the life cycle.” Noting the June launch of the Child Survival Call to Action, Boothby writes, “As an important follow on to this global effort, this week the first-ever U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity (.pdf) will be released.” He continues, “With significant investments in international development, the technical expertise and research capabilities embedded within key agencies, and diplomatic outreach, the U.S. government is well positioned to lead and mobilize around this sensible and strategic global agenda for children in adversity — children who face poverty, live on the streets or in institutions, are exploited for their labor or sex, recruited into armed groups, affected by HIV/AIDS, or separated from their families as a result of conflict or disaster” (12/17).
“Even with the knowledge and medicines to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to children, there are still babies being born with HIV [in the U.S.] and around the world,” Jake Glaser, Janice McCall, and Cristina Pena — all persons living with HIV who contracted the virus through mother-to-child transmission and who work as ambassadors for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation — write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “Without early treatment, half of those children will die by their second birthday. Their journeys will end far too soon,” they continue, adding, “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Writing in DevelopmentEducation.ie, Jamie Hitchen of the Human Rights Centre Uganda explores a proposal in Uganda to create “a fund specifically designated to assist projects for HIV and AIDS prevention and protection” that would “generate cash through levies on bank transactions and interest, air tickets, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes, as well as taxes on goods and services traded within Uganda.” He notes, “The revenue generated is expected to be spent on condom distribution, reducing cases of sexually transmitted infections and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.” However, “reactions from ordinary Ugandans have not been particularly favorable,” he writes, adding, “It’s not been so much about the idea of a HIV and AIDS tax being proposed that is drawing dissent, but it is more revealing of the absence of faith held in the government not to pocket the funds.”
“The World Bank Group welcomes the publication of the new Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD),” published in the Lancet on Thursday, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim writes in a Lancet opinion piece, adding, “The GBD gives us a data-rich framework for comparing the importance of different diseases, injuries, and risk factors in causing premature death and disability within and across populations.” He continues, “Specifically, the GBD has sharpened thinking on issues as diverse as the measurement of comorbidities; the role of culture in mediating the experience of disease; the meaning of disability; and the impact of poverty on health.”
In the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, highlights a report released by the organization last week, titled “Voices from Urban Africa: The Impact of Urban Growth on Children.” The stories of families, government and community leaders “reveal that the ‘urban advantages’ of better health care, education and opportunities to make a good living — often associated with city life — are in reality an urban myth,” she writes, adding, “With greater study and understanding of urban challenges — and ultimately rethinking strategies and increasing investment — the development community, including donors and policymakers, can help Africa respond more effectively to the needs of vulnerable children.” She continues, “Whether addressing children’s protection, health, education or future livelihoods, it is clear that programs must not stand alone” (12/11).
“Optimism and momentum has been building around the real possibility that an AIDS-free generation is imminent. … Yet, the most recent estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence and of AIDS-related mortality released by UNAIDS, together with data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the Lancet, make it clear that AIDS is not over,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Mark Dybul, incoming executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, write in a Lancet opinion piece. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and UNAIDS data “highlight a persistent, significant, and egregious burden of avoidable death,” the authors write, noting global statistics and recent success in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and incidence rates worldwide.