Discussing the meeting of G20 leaders taking place this week in Los Cabos, Mexico, the Financial Times states, “Food security, long only a concern for aid advocates and farming ministers, is now hotly debated among G20 leaders.” Though food prices have stabilized recently, they are much higher than in the past, causing widespread food insecurity and leading to about one billion chronically hungry people worldwide, the newspaper notes. The “initial reaction” of the G20, and the G8, was to supply emergency food aid, “[b]ut as the era of high food prices appears to be here to stay, the focus of the G20 is slowly shifting from fighting the emergency to addressing the long-term problem,” the Financial Times writes.
Private Sector Involvement
“Agriculture faces dual challenges: becoming more sustainable on a dwindling resource base while having to feed an increasing number of people,” Paul Polman, CEO of consumer goods company Unilever, and David Servitje, CEO of baking company Group Bimbo, who serve as co-chairs of the G20’s B-20 Food Security Task Force, write in a Washington Post opinion piece, adding, “To provide food and nutrition security in the coming decades will require a major and sustained effort by all stakeholders, including business.” They continue, “The good news is that food security is firmly on the political agenda of the Group of Eight, the Group of 20 and at this week’s U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). And business has been invited to contribute.”
The two-day Child Survival Call to Action, “a conference hosted by the government in collaboration with Ethiopia, India and UNICEF to recognize and promote efforts to curtail child mortality,” began in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports, noting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Ben Affleck, founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, “were two of more than 80 governmental, civil society and business leaders slated to speak at the conference Thursday and Friday.” During her speech, Clinton said improving child health “cannot be just a job for governments,” and she “announced that more than 60 faith-based organizations from 40 countries were joining the fight to end preventable childhood deaths through promotion of breastfeeding, vaccines and health care for children,” the news service writes (6/14).
Blog Responds To 'Policy Review' Article Calling For Structural, Philosophical Shift In Global Health
In this globalhealthpolicy.net blog post, Andrew Harmer, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, responds to an article published last week in “Policy Review,” a publication of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, by Mark Dybul, co-director of the Global Health Law Program and the inaugural global health fellow at the George W. Bush Institute; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. He responds directly to several points made in the article, which discusses the need for “a structural and philosophical shift” in the global health field, and concludes, “The authors say they are presenting ‘a radical vision.’ â€¦ All I can see are further retrenchment of paternalistic development principles, the same global health financiers financing global health (albeit now with more control over what and how that money is spent), and a greater role for the private sector in global governance” (6/14).
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on Wednesday spoke with GlobalPost’s John Donnelly about the Child Survival Call to Action, a two-day high-level meeting convened by the governments of Ethiopia, India, and the U.S., in collaboration with UNICEF, according to a post in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog (Donnelly, 6/13). “The Call to Action challenges the world to reduce child mortality to 20 or fewer child deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035,” a UNICEF press release notes, adding, “Reaching this historic target will save an additional 45 million children’s lives by 2035, bringing the world closer to the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths” (6/14).
Politico examines the implications of the Senate’s draft farm bill on the maritime industry, noting the industry “makes much of its money on foreign-aid shipments, courtesy of the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development,” and writing, “The Senate’s farm bill extends [Food for Peace, the largest international food-aid program] for the next five years but pulls $40 million a year from shipments to go toward cash grants and the purchase of food in local markets.” The news service adds, “The success of the industry lies in the continued authorization of these programs with the farm bill looming before the Senate this week.”
U.S., Norway Announce New Public-Private Initiative To Improve Maternal Health In Developing Countries
Speaking at a health conference in Norway on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. would provide $75 million toward a new public-private effort, dubbed “Saving Mothers, Giving Life,” which aims “to improve the health of mothers and their babies in developing countries,” Agence France-Presse reports (Mannion, 6/2). “At the same conference, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr said Norway would devote up to about $80 million to the effort, whose partners include drug maker Merck & Co. and nonprofit Every Mother Counts,” Reuters writes (Mohammed, 6/1). “Starting in Uganda and Zambia, [the initiative] is focusing on helping mothers during labor, delivery, and during the first 24 hours after a birth, when two of every three maternal deaths occur and 45 percent of newborn deaths occur,” VOA News reports (Stearns, 6/1).
On World No Tobacco Day, WHO Calls On National Leaders To Stand Together Against Tobacco Industry 'Attacks'
“On World No Tobacco Day (31 May), WHO is calling on national leaders to be extra vigilant against the increasingly aggressive attacks by the industry which undermine policies that protect people from the harms of tobacco,” a WHO press release reports, noting that nearly six million people die of tobacco-related illnesses each year and tobacco is a leading preventable cause of illness and death worldwide. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “In recent years, multinational tobacco companies have been shamelessly fuelling a series of legal actions against governments that have been at the forefront of the war against tobacco. … We must now stand together with these governments that have had the courage to do the right thing to protect their citizens,” according to the press release. “More countries are moving to fully meet their obligations under the 2003 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC),” the press release adds (5/30). PANA/Afrique en ligne reports that WHO has released a technical resource paper based on 2008 guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC “to help guide countries on ways to combat tobacco industry interference” (5/30).
Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).
Officials At WHA Fail To Agree On Convention To Encourage R&D Into Health Issues In Developing Countries
Health officials attending last week’s World Health Assembly “failed to come to an agreement on a binding convention on stimulating research and development [R&D] focusing on the health problems of developing countries,” BMJ reports. The negotiations focused on an April report by the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on R&D, which included a recommendation “that all countries — developing and developed — should commit around 0.01 percent of their gross domestic product to research into and development of treatments for the health problems of developing countries,” the news service notes. However, “[t]he United States (despite the fact that it already meets this target), the European Union, and Japan blocked this recommendation, and instead member states agreed on the final day of the assembly that the report would be discussed at regional committee meetings in the next few months,” BMJ writes, noting that “WHO will hold a global meeting later in the year that will report back to WHO’s executive board meeting in January” and that “[n]ew proposals will be put on the agenda for next year’s assembly” (Gulland, 5/28).