To fight chronic “diseases in Mexico, the nation with the world’s highest rate of obese and overweight adults, a Reuters investigation found that WHO’s regional office has turned to the very companies whose sugary drinks and salty foods are linked to many of the maladies it’s trying to prevent,” the news service reports. “The office, the Pan American Health Organization, not only is relying on the food and beverage industry for advice on how to fight obesity,” but, “[f]or the first time in its 110-year history, it has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in money from the industry,” Reuters writes.
Programs, Funding & Financing
“Finding a safe, effective AIDS vaccine has, thus far, proved elusive even after some $8 billion invested from 2001-2011 into vaccine research and development,” PlusNews reports in an article examining ongoing HIV vaccine research efforts. “Scientists point to HIV’s Houdini-like ability to escape immune system attack, and less-than-strategic use of funds over the past decade, as reasons for the continued hunt,” the news service writes. PlusNews examines efforts “to seek more U.S. government funding for research that crossed over into more than one area of science. “Funding for cross-disciplinary research is still limited, said Ellen Weiss from the U.S. non-profit Biophysical Society,” the news service adds.
“A new project with the objective of eliminating hunger in West Africa has been launched by West African countries, Germany, and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),” BusinessDay reports (10/20). The three-year Hunger-Free Initiative for West Africa will “support the 15 ECOWAS members to increase commitment and collaboration among key decision makers of all sectors,” which “is expected to translate into increased budgets allocations to food and nutrition security as well as private investment to combat poverty, the [FAO] said in a news release,” the U.N. News Centre writes (10/18). “Germany is providing $2.4 million to fund the project, while FAO is expected to provide technical support,” the Devex “Development Newswire” reports, adding, “ECOWAS also committed financial support and pledged to ensure active participation from its members.” According to the news service, “The project’s focus on increasing political commitment in West Africa echoes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for strong political will and new technologies to eradicate hunger around the world” (Mungcal, 10/19).
Briefly recapping a history of foreign aid policy since 1920, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) write in a Politico opinion piece, “Credit for America’s global leadership role belongs to both major political parties and Americans of all stripes” who “have always been guided by the notion that all lives have equal value, regardless of where someone was born.” Because of the current economic recession, “[w]e understand that there might be temptation to cut back on U.S. humanitarian programs and investments abroad,” they write, continuing, “However, the cost of cutting back on such programs is not worth it,” as such cuts would amount to less than one percent of the federal budget, “affect too many peoples’ lives and damage American economic and national security interests at a time our world is more interconnected than ever.”
“If [Republican presidential nominee Gov.] Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States,” a New York Times editorial says. In the U.S., “they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services,” according to the editorial, which adds “they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly.”
“When President Barack Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney debate Monday in Boca Raton for the final time, on foreign policy issues, I hope they will give us a chance to compare their visions of our country’s role in global health,” John May, chief medical officer of Armor Correctional Health Services in Miami, writes in a Palm Beach Post opinion piece. “It is a topic they have yet to address and have only touched on in their party platforms, perhaps because they are reluctant to discuss spending money in other countries,” but “it is important for voters to understand that, at about one-fourth of one percent of the federal budget, global health spending has little impact on the deficit while it addresses tremendous challenges,” he continues.
The UNDP on Thursday released a report, titled “Sex Work and the Law,” which “examines 48 countries in Asia and the Pacific to assess laws, legal policies and law enforcement practices that affect the human rights of sex workers and impact on the effectiveness of HIV responses,” according to a UNDP press release. “Where sex work has been decriminalized, there is a greater chance for safer sex practices through occupational health and safety standards across the industry,” the press release states, noting, “The report describes countries that use punitive law enforcement practices, confiscate condoms as evidence of illegal conduct, require compulsory or coerced HIV testing, deny government services and certain rights to sex workers, and have compulsory detention centers”; “highlights current laws, policies and practices that are helpful to HIV responses”; and “highlights how significant advances in recognition of the rights of sex workers can occur even in contexts where the sex industry is illegal” (10/18).
The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) reports on HIV in the Kingdom of Swaziland, writing the country “now has the dubious distinction of having the world’s highest rate of both HIV and tuberculosis (TB).” The journal notes “[a]bout 26 percent of adults aged 15-49, or about 202,000 of all the citizens of Africa’s last absolute monarchy, are HIV-positive, according to the Swaziland government,” and asks, “Why are the 1.2 million people of this landlocked kingdom … in such dire straits?” CMAJ writes, “A host of underlying factors appear to be at the root of its woes: politics, history, culture, economics, poverty, gender inequity, and much more.”
“[T]he latest calculations show that U.S. ethanol policies have increased the food bills of poor food-importing countries by more than $9 billion (Â£5.6 billion) since 2006,” Olivier De Schutter, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. He asks, “But where to next? Should we disavow biofuels altogether?” He writes, “The new starting point should be to put food security first,” noting, “Globally, 25 percent of land is already degraded, and the remaining productive areas are subject to ever-greater competition from industrial and urban uses.”
“An HIV/AIDS report by advocacy organizations in Uganda indicates that new transmissions are on the rise amidst troubling trends of increasing prevalence and incidence,” Uganda’s New Vision reports. “The findings are contained in a report titled: ‘The Change We Need to End AIDS in Uganda,’ which describes a 10-point plan to halt the trend,” the newspaper notes. “Some of the 10 points include ending harmful policies that further marginalize vulnerable groups; endorsing and expanding safe medical circumcision; and tackling health challenges that hold back the response to AIDS,” according to the newspaper.