“In recent months, many politicians and presidential hopefuls have called for budget reductions, and many have specifically targeted military spending for cutbacks,” Peter Hotez and James Kazura, past president and president, respectively, of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, write in this Atlantic opinion piece. “[P]rograms such as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) often find themselves low on the priority list despite their crucial role in saving the lives of our troops on the battlefield and here at home,” they write, adding, “Today, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still face formidable tropical disease threats. … For over 100 years, WRAIR has been the U.S. military’s premier institution for preventing these types of tropical infections.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
“Scientists and aid organizations gave the world plenty of time to prepare, but a late response by the world’s donor nations cost 50,000 to 100,000 lives during last year’s drought in the Horn of Africa region,” the Christian Science Monitor’s “Global News Blog” writes about a report (.pdf) released on Wednesday by Save the Children and Oxfam (Baldauf, 1/18). “The two agencies blame ‘a culture of risk aversion’ among donors and NGOs, which meant the specially-built early warning system, FEWSNET, worked but was ignored until it was too late,” GlobalPost’s “Africa Emerges” blog writes (McConnell, 1/18). “A food shortage had been predicted as early as August 2010, but most donors did not respond until famine was declared in parts of Somalia last July,” the Associated Press/New York Times notes (1/18).
This post in the Ministerial Leadership Initiative’s (MLI) “Leading Global Health” blog is “the second of a series of perspective pieces on country ownership from the ‘Advancing Country Ownership for Greater Results’ roundtable organized last week by” MLI. “The second of four pieces covers the perspective of Ethiopia Minister of Health Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,” the blog writes, noting, “Minister Tedros said for many years he has been pushing for more country ownership. His approach is consistent: One vision, one set of priorities, and one group — donors, partners and countries — working together” (Donnelly, 1/18).
“Kristalina Georgieva, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response, arrived in Niger on Wednesday to see at first hand the extent of food shortages” in the country and announced the European Union (E.U.) “is doubling its humanitarian aid to the Sahel to nearly â‚¬95 million ($122 million) in response to the slow onset emergency in the region, where an estimated 300,000 children are affected by malnutrition annually,” the Guardian reports. Niger, a “vast landlocked country with an estimated 14.7 million people, most of whom live along a narrow border of arable land on its southern border, is bracing itself for a sharp rise in food insecurity in the ‘lean period,’ when food from the last harvest runs out,” the newspaper notes.
This post in the Ministerial Leadership Initiative’s (MLI) “Leading Global Health” blog is “the first of a series of perspective pieces on country ownership from the ‘Advancing Country Ownership for Greater Results’ roundtable organized last week by” MLI. “The first of four pieces covers the comments of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah,” the blog writes, noting, “Shah opened MLI’s meeting by saying that the U.S. government was committed to country ownership, but that it needed to find ways to improve its support of country-led plans” (Donnelly, 1/17).
“After more than a century as a global scourge and hundreds of thousands lives lost, polio may now be on the verge of being the second human disease wiped off the face of the Earth,” Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, writes in his column for ForeignPolicy.com, “The Optimist,” and asks whether it is worth it to spend billions of dollars to wipe out the few remaining cases of the disease. Kenny discusses the cost-effectiveness of eradication efforts and writes, “In part because of the considerably greater complexity of the vaccination program, the cost of the polio eradication program is mounting.”
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at CGD, and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant at the center, respond to India’s marking of one-year since a case of polio was found in the country, writing, “While we applaud India for its commitment to reaching this milestone, let us not allow this recent success obscure the sorry state of vaccination in India.” They provide statistics regarding vaccination coverage in India and conclude, “We wonder whether India’s focus on polio may have come at the expense of other diseases,” and, “[w]hile India should be applauded for its contribution to global eradication, we urge India to consider the trade-offs in focusing on any one disease at the expense of another and, as much as possible, to try to piggy-back one effort to another effort” (1/14).
Mark Bowden, the U.N.’s official in Somalia, on Sunday said “tens of thousands of people will have died over the last year” in the country’s famine, adding that the rates of malnutrition are “amazingly high,” BBC News reports. “He said a quarter of a million Somalis were still suffering from the famine,” and he “said malnutrition rates have begun to drop but the crisis was likely to continue for the next six or seven months,” the news service notes (1/15).
The expected re-appointment of Margaret Chan as the WHO’s director-general “comes at a perilous moment for WHO,” a Lancet editorial states. Although “WHO is in crisis” and “[r]escue is needed,” the situation is not “a fair reflection of the director-general’s performance,” the editorial adds, noting several successes of her first term, including initiatives on women’s and children’s health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
A Congressional delegation traveling in Africa visited Arusha, Tanzania, on Wednesday “to see first-hand the impact of development projects” funded by the U.S., IPP Media reports, noting that the delegation included Senators Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.). The delegation met with farmers who have used drought- and disease-resistant maize varieties, as well as “visited Ngarenaro Health Centre in Arusha, which receives support from private and U.S. government organizations,” including USAID, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and PEPFAR, the news service writes. According to a press statement, “the delegation also visited Ghana and South Africa, and would meet with the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) officials in Stuttgart, Germany, following their trip to Africa,” IPP notes (1/14).