In this Al Jazeera opinion piece, Stan Cox, a senior scientist at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, reports on a proposed Food Security Act in India and examines whether the measure could help solve the country’s food insecurity. He writes, “So-called public food distribution systems (PDS) have operated for years in dozens of countries around the globe,” and notes, “India’s PDS has been selling subsidized food through ‘fair price shops’ on a national basis since the 1970s.” He continues, “The Food Security Act would increase the amount of grain going through the system by more than 75 percent. That would raise the total to 66 million tons, or more than one third of India’s entire grain production.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged $750 million on behalf of the foundation to the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Associated Press reports. Gates said the donation, which comes on top of $650 million contributed by the foundation to the fund over the last decade, “is meant to encourage other potential donors,” the AP notes (Heilprin/Jordans, 1/26). According to the Financial Times, the Global Fund “will receive the money within five years, but with the option to draw on the total amount immediately to cover temporary shortfalls in cash from its other donors, most of whom are industrialized nations’ official development agencies” (Jack, 1/26).
“Eighty-six percent of HIV-positive people in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] have no access to antiretrovirals, medical charity Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday,” calling the “conditions of access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS … catastrophic,” Agence France-Presse reports (1/25). Approximately 15,000 people living with HIV in the DRC “likely will die waiting for lifesaving drugs in the next three years,” the organization, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said, the Associated Press reports. A statement from the organization “called for Congo’s government to meet its commitment to provide free treatment to people living with HIV and AIDS, and for donors to immediately mobilize resources ‘to ensure that patients waiting for ARV treatment are not condemned to die,'” according to the AP. Of an estimated 350,000 people in need of antiretroviral treatment, only 44,000 are receiving therapy, the AP notes (Mwanamilongo, 1/25).
“Are we watching the rebirth of the troubled Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, perhaps in a new, more U.S.-flavored guise?” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley asks in her “Global Health Blog.” She writes, “The Fund has been in the mire now for some time after revelations that some of its grants fell into corrupt hands, short of money and unable to agree new grants to developing countries badly in need of disease-fighting programs,” adding, “But the dramatic events of the past few days suggest the Global Fund’s fortunes might be on the turn as it hits its tenth anniversary.”
“This week marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — the world’s most powerful tool for improving health — at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland,” Natasha Bilimoria, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in this post in the AlertNet “Insight” blog. During an announcement at the WEF on Wednesday that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate an additional $750 million to the Global Fund, Bill Gates said, “By supporting the Global Fund, we can help to change the fortunes of the poorest countries in the world,” Bilimoria says, writing, “He’s right. … In total, the Global Fund is responsible for saving the lives of roughly 4,400 people every day.”
In this post on the Council on Foreign Relation’s “The Internationalist” blog, Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow and director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, addresses what he calls myths about foreign aid amid this year’s primary season, writing, “GOP presidential candidates regularly bash it, echoing ‘Mr. Republican’ Robert Taft — who dismissed overseas assistance more than six decades ago as ‘pouring money down a rat hole.'” Patrick cites a number of polls measuring U.S. citizens’ attitudes toward foreign aid spending, writing, “[P]ublic opposition to providing foreign aid is one of the hoariest misconceptions in U.S. foreign policy. In fact, U.S. citizens support foreign aid, particularly when it is targeted to alleviating poverty and humanitarian suffering.” He quotes a number of GOP presidential candidates with relation to foreign aid spending and notes, “Indeed, among the remaining GOP candidates, only former Senator Rick Santorum has rejected ‘zeroing out’ foreign aid, describing it as a form of ‘pandering'” (1/25).
“The global economic downturn and the euro-zone crisis may stand in the way of efforts to reduce poverty and disease around the world,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Wednesday in a talk at the London School of Economics sponsored by the Global Poverty Project, Bloomberg reports. Gates noted that “‘incredible progress’ had been made toward reducing poverty and disease,” and said, “There are many things going on in terms of the euro-zone crisis, budget cutbacks, that would make it easy to turn inward and actually reduce the financing that has led to so much progress,” according to the news service.
Gates Urges Governments, Wealthy Donors Not To Cut Aid To Poor Countries; Annual Letter Sets Foundation’s Priorities
In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “told European lawmakers in Brussels not to cut aid to poor countries despite the economic and budgetary problems facing” European Union (E.U.) countries, Agence France-Presse reports. Gates “praised the [E.U.] whose support in health and development he said has been greater than that of the United States,” AFP notes (1/24). On Wednesday, Gates “will be at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where he plans to exhort wealthy donors — especially governments — to keep funding a range of crucial projects in the developing world, from tuberculosis drugs and antimalaria bed nets to maternal care and vaccines,” the Wall Street Journal writes. Gates “plans to make his case by showcasing ideas, backed by his foundation, that have helped cost-effectively tackle problems in global health,” according to the newspaper (Naik, 1/25).
During a briefing on Tuesday, U.S. officials said famine conditions in Somalia have improved, but more than 13 million people in the Horn of Africa remain in need of emergency food, shelter or other aid, the Associated Press reports. “David Robinson, acting assistant secretary for population, refugees and migration, told reporters Tuesday the flow of refugees out of Somalia into neighboring countries has diminished, but thousands are still trying to get out and new camps are opening in Ethiopia and Kenya,” the news agency writes (Birch, 1/24). Bruce Wharton, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy for the Bureau of African Affairs, noted the U.S. has provided about $870 million in humanitarian aid to the region, with about $205 million going specifically to Somalia, according to the briefing transcript (1/24).
“As the World Economic Forum kicks off this week in Davos, Switzerland, the importance of global health — and the health of the globe — is getting special attention,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International (PSI), writes in this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “The world’s still massive bottom of the economic pyramid — some 2-3 billion people — represents a potential $5 trillion in purchasing power,” but without access to “quality health care and services, … their global economic impact suffers. Imagine if by simple investments in health, we turned these struggling individuals and families into healthy, active consumers and producers.”