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FAO Holds Second Emergency Meeting On Famine; WHO Warns Of Cholera Spread; Turkish PM Visits Mogadishu

For the second time in one month, representatives of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held an emergency meeting on Thursday in Rome “to take stock of the humanitarian disaster” in the Horn of Africa, the Guardian reports (Tran, 8/18). The officials “called for a twin-pronged approach to tackle the food crisis, stressing immediate relief and the strengthening of the resilience of affected communities to enable them to cope with future shocks in the drought-prone region,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/18).

Japan To Fund Polio Vaccination Efforts In Pakistan

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing approximately $65 million to Pakistan’s government to provide polio vaccination campaigns in the country, “one of the most difficult fronts against the disease as global health organizations risk missing their goal of stopping polio globally the end of 2012,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “If Pakistan achieves certain goals with the money, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will repay the loan to Japan, according to officials briefed on the plan,” according to the newspaper (Guth, 8/18).

U.K., Islamic Countries Pledge Additional Funds For Famine Aid In Somalia

During a visit to the Somali capital of Mogadishu, U.K. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on Wednesday pledged an additional $41.5 million in aid to Somalia, to be distributed through UNICEF, BBC News reports. The funding will enable UNICEF “to provide supplementary rations for up to 192,000 people … supplies to vaccinate 800,000 children against measles … polio vaccines, vitamin A, and deworming supplies and equipment to help prevent malaria,” the news service writes (8/17). “Meanwhile, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries pledged $350 million in aid for Somalia at an emergency summit in Istanbul,” according to the Guardian.

World Must Invest Equally In Bird Flu Prevention And Response

The “reports during the past two weeks of two recent infections and another death” from H5N1 (avian) influenza “raised little concern except among public health officials,” Robert Gatter, co-director of the Center for Health Law Studies and professor of law at Saint Louis University, writes in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece, adding that “[t]he fact that bird flu in developing nations receives little public attention reveals that the world has become complacent about this threat.”

Global AIDS Funding In 2010 Down Nearly 10% From Previous Year, Kaiser/UNAIDS Report Says

“Spending on the global fight against AIDS fell significantly in 2010 for the first time since the U.S. and other governments began making major donations,” according to an annual funding analysis released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS, the Wall Street Journal reports. “All told, governments donated about $6.9 billion in 2010, down 9.7 percent from about $7.6 billion in the prior year, the report said,” the newspaper writes (McKay, 8/16).

India And International Aid Priorities

In this Center for Global Development Global Health Policy blog post, Amanda Glassman, director of Global Health Policy and research fellow at CGD, and Denizhan Duran, a CGD research assistant, examine the question of whether European and other aid agencies should continue to give aid to India, a country that…

U.S. 'Can Be Proud' Of Past, Future Investments To Improve Food Security

“Outside of immediate crisis relief,” such as the administration of measles vaccinations or oral rehydration therapy for children affected by diarrheal diseases, the U.S. government’s “past investments clearly are paying off” in the fight against drought and famine the Horn of Africa, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “U.S.-supported early-warning networks identified the famine threat a year ago,” the government is working with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. to lessen the risk of corruption and looting of food aid, and “the multi-year, multi-agency Feed the Future program [is] stimulat[ing] research into making plants more nutritious and crops more drought-resistant,” he notes.

Dutch Government To Release $143M In Frozen Qaddafi Funds To Buy Medicine For Libya

In response “to an urgent appeal from the WHO,” Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said on Monday that the country’s government is releasing $143 million “in frozen funds from Moammar Qaddafi’s regime and sending the money to the World Health Organization to buy medicine for the Libyan population,” according to Associated Press/Forbes. “Rosenthal said Monday he was able to free up the money only after [the] United Nations approved the plan, which will see medicines distributed to civilians in towns and cities held by both rebels and forces loyal to Qaddafi,” the AP writes (8/15).

Experts Fear Shrinking DOD Budget, Shifting AFRICOM Focus Could Threaten HIV Prevention Programs

A shrinking Department of Defense (DOD) budget and a shift in the focus of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to “more traditional military threats” to national security, such as “preventing terrorist safe havens on the continent,” could affect the department’s HIV prevention programs, Stars and Stripes reports. While officials say there currently is no intent to cut HIV prevention programming, “those initiatives will come under more scrutiny as AFRICOM operates in a tougher budget environment, according to command officials,” the news service writes.

As International Affairs Budget Faces Cuts, Development Community Must Fight For Aid

In the wake of the agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, and “[w]ith 20 percent cuts already on the table, the international affairs budget is in for a tough fight throughout the fall,” Richard Parker, director of communications for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, writes in a post on Devex’s “Obama’s Foreign Aid Reform” blog, stating, “It is more critical than ever for the development community to demonstrate how strategic and effective its programs are for U.S. national security, for our own economy, and as a demonstration of our leadership in the world.”