“The top United Nations relief official said [.pdf] today that humanitarian efforts to alleviate the devastating food crisis affecting Mali have begun to yield results, but warned that much still remains to be done and the situation could worsen without continued donor support,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/30). Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos “on Thursday called for more resources in Mali to save children from severe malnutrition,” Agence France-Presse reports. The widespread food crisis in the Sahel region is compounded in Mali by a militant insurgency in the north of the country, according to the news agency. “The food crisis, which follows a drought in 2011, has affected 4.6 million people in Mali alone,” and “[a]lmost 150,000 children across Mali have been treated for acute malnutrition … this year,” the news agency writes (8/30).
Programs, Funding & Financing
BBC News reports on malnutrition in India, “an enduring problem Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a ‘national shame.'” “[D]espite supposedly spending billions of rupees on poverty and food-relief programs — and during a period of sustained economic growth — the government has made only a dent in the problem,” the news service writes. “It is estimated that one in four of the world’s malnourished children is in India, more even than in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to BBC, which adds, “India has been arguing over what to do about hunger and the poverty that underpins it for years — while its farms produce ever more food.”
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at the center, and Denizhan Duran, a research assistant at the center, examine several recent studies evaluating the use of cash transfers as a strategy against HIV/AIDS. They state that “a new generation of cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa is reducing new infections and HIV-related risky behavior — and documenting the gains — while also providing consumption, nutrition, education, and mental health benefits to the orphans and vulnerable children who are the primary targets of some programs.” Glassman and Duran conclude, “With the new batch of evaluation results on cash transfers, there may be more reasons to invest in these kinds of programs, particularly the at-scale national programs targeted to the poor” (8/8).
UNICEF Official Calls For Increased Investment In Child Mortality To Achieve MDGs; New U.N. Estimates Due Next Month
Mickey Chopra, chief health officer at UNICEF, has called for increased investment in reducing child mortality, the Guardian reports, writing Chopra “said investment now would lead to massive strides in meeting the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] of reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters (MDG4) and the deaths of children under five by two-thirds (MDG5), both by 2015.” The newspaper adds, “Since 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost half and the deaths of young children have fallen from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010,” but “many countries — especially in Africa and south Asia — are not making progress” (Tran, 8/28) “Given current trends, the child mortality goal set out by U.N. officials won’t be reached until 2038,” according to U.N. researchers, LiveScience notes.
“The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved 45 new two-year grants, from 37 countries, totaling $419.2 million, to fund essential prevention, treatment, and care services provided to the people affected by the three diseases,” according to a Global Fund press release. “Another 11 proposals worth a total of $91.2 million were sent back for revision, and are subject to a further independent technical review before they can be approved,” the press release adds, noting the grant approvals are part of the Transitional Funding Mechanism and “will bridge the financing of essential interventions until the next opportunity to apply for grants” (8/28). According to the U.N. News Centre, the Global Fund “has approved funding of $22.9 billion for more than 1,000 programs in 151 countries, and helped programs provide AIDS treatment for 3.6 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 9.3 million people, and 270 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria” (8/28).
As the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — invest more in innovations in health technologies and other areas, “many are looking to these countries to correct the global health research and development (R&D) imbalance that leaves the poor without needed products such as an improved tuberculosis (TB) vaccine or tests to help diagnose patients in remote rural settings,” David de Ferranti, president of Results for Development Institute (R4D), writes in the Huffington Post Blog. Writing that “India, which has already played such an important role in manufacturing affordable antiretroviral drugs, vaccines, and other essential health commodities for developing countries,” de Ferranti asks whether India “is … ready to play a leading role in health R&D?”
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Monday said the country’s central government and regional governments would provide $1.03 million to a fund aimed at reducing child malnutrition, Andean Air Mail & Peruvian Times reports. “Humala said the government aims to lower the [child malnutrition] rate to 10 percent by 2016, from 23 percent in 2010,” according to the news service (8/28). “These funds, he said, will be used for the comprehensive care of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, the provision of vaccines, social programs, among others,” Bernama/NNN/Andina write. According to the news services, “The announcement was made during the signing of the National Commitment to the Coordinated Fight Against Child Malnutrition, which Humala described as a ‘concrete measure which must bring together all regional governments.'” He said, “What we want to do is eradicate malnutrition. As a government, we are going to fight as hard as we can to eradicate it,” the news services report (8/29).
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Monday published Issue 193 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue features an article announcing the Global Fund’s Transitional Funding Mechanism (TFM) decisions; an article reporting the results of the TFM decisions by country; and an article about a new report from the Global Fund Board on challenges in grant implementation, among others (8/27).
“According to analysis led by Kanika Bahl and Pooja Shaw of Results for Development’s (R4D’s) Market Dynamics team, improved global incentives and information on cost-effectiveness could save the fight against malaria up to $630 million over the next five years and encourage manufacturers to produce better-performing nets,” Bahl, a managing director for R4D, and Shaw, a program officer in the Market Dynamics Practice at R4D, write in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Using their central position in global [long-lasting insecticide-treated net (LLIN)] markets, donor institutions can introduce policy incentives to focus on cost-effectiveness and rationalize specifications so that suppliers can take advantage of economies of scale in production,” they continue, adding, “To implement these policies, global guidance on the performance of various nets is urgently needed, and this is where organizations such as the WHO can provide direction” (8/27).
In this post in the U.S. Department of State’s “Dipnote” blog, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, reflects on the Global Hunger Event that took place at the conclusion of the Olympic Games in London. “The event brought civil society and private sector partners together with leaders from across the globe — and even a few Olympic heroes including incomparable Mo Farah — to commit to championing for change against global hunger,” she notes, adding, “What I realized at the Global Hunger Event was that the momentum we’ve all created — through Feed the Future, the New Alliance, and this event — is real.” She asks, “If we all continue to champion these efforts, and work alongside our colleagues, partners, and heroes to fight hunger, what will our legacy be?” (8/20).