The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has published a special issue of its “Polio News” bulletin in recognition of World Polio Day on October 24. The issue includes several articles examining global eradication efforts and calls for readers to become a part of the day by joining “the world’s biggest commercial” or by downloading an action pack (October 2012).
Programs, Funding & Financing
In the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, notes that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the XIX International AIDS Conference in July that all women should be able to decide “when and whether to have children” and that PEPFAR, in a guidance [.pdf] released last week, said, “Voluntary family planning should be part of comprehensive quality care for persons living with HIV,” and referred to family planning as a human right. “Then, in bold type, they punctuated it with, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities,'” she writes. “They take it a step further with a caveat that before anyone decides they’d like their program to have anything to do with family planning, they had best consult relevant U.S. legal counsel first,” she adds. “To be fair, they do say that PEPFAR programs can just refer women to a different program that offers family planning,” but those programs are not always available, Sippel writes, adding, “So the suggestion is flawed from the start.”
Noting that the Global Health Initiative (GHI) leadership and the three core entities of GHI — USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR — announced the closure of the GHI office and an end to the initiative’s current phase on July 3, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog that “the three agencies will be responsible for ensuring that the GHI principles are implemented in the field to achieve global health goals.” She continues, “A focus on the GHI principles — especially principles of health sector integration, equal rights for women and girls, country ownership, and health systems strengthening — is indeed necessary to ensure U.S. global health programs are effective. The principles are the most important piece of GHI, and what has given global health advocates optimism since it was launched in 2009.”
“Last month, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened a group of global leaders, including [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair] Bill Gates and heads of state of polio-affected countries, to renew the commitment to eliminate polio,” William Keenan, executive director of the International Pediatric Association, and Robert Block, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, note in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “This show of solidarity reminds us that the fight is not finished,” they write, and continue, “Armed with effective vaccines, pediatricians, partner organizations and front-line workers around the globe have eliminated 99 percent of all new polio cases.” They state, “We can’t afford to lose sight of this remaining one percent of polio cases.”
The Kansas City Star examines HIV education and care in Egypt, where “the Ministry of Health says there are 2,700 cases, but the true number is estimated conservatively at more than four times that — and growing.” The newspaper writes that while “HIV education has become an international cause throughout Africa, where the rate of infection devastated many sub-Saharan nations but is being brought under control by concerted efforts on prevention and treatment,” similar efforts “are largely nonexistent in North Africa and the Middle East, and AIDS activists now worry that the rise of a conservative Islamic government in Egypt, where former longtime Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi became the country’s first democratically elected president over the summer, will make matters worse.”
“The U.N. is leading the AIDS education effort here, and there have been efforts by individuals to bring attention to the issue,” the Star notes, adding, “According to one survey, 57 percent of doctors here think that HIV can be transmitted through a mosquito bite, according to a footnote in a U.N. report,” and “[m]any patients, unaware of the symptoms or risks, learn only by chance that they’ve been infected, when a blood test required for a visa or a medical procedure comes back positive.” The newspaper writes, “Ehab Abdel Rahman, the director of the HIV program at the Ministry of Health, balks at the suggestion that Egypt isn’t doing enough. … The blame, he said, lies with patients who try to diagnose and medicate themselves.” But “Omnia Kamal, a Morsi adviser on women’s issues and a member of the committee that’s charged with drawing up the country’s new constitution, offers a different view. In a nation plagued with economic programs and a litany of social issues, AIDS is not a priority, she said” (Youssef/Ismail, 10/22).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement on Monday “announced an extra $58 million in aid for Horn of Africa countries,” Agence France-Presse/Times Live reports (10/23). “Clinton said the humanitarian situation in the region is fragile, with more than nine million people in need of assistance because of conflict, flooding, drought, and economic problems,” VOA News writes, noting, “The U.S. State Department says the United States has given $1.3 billion in emergency assistance since 2011 to affected people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti” (10/22). “The U.S. ‘is also fighting chronic food insecurity by helping vulnerable communities diversify and adapt their livelihoods, improve smallholder agricultural and other efforts so they can become more resilient,’ [Clinton] said,” according to AFP (10/23).
The non-profit Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), a consortium of General Mills, Cargill and DSM, on Thursday announced a new agreement with USAID that “will enable PFS to expand the reach of the technical and business expertise it provides to small and growing food processors in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to a PFS press release. Under the new agreement, which “builds on a public-private partnership between USAID, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and General Mills, formed in 2010,” Solutions to African Food Enterprises (SAFE), USAID and PFS “will deepen their collaboration to improve African food security by bringing expertise, knowledge and resources to the continent’s food processing sector,” the press release states (10/18).
“What should President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney talk about during [Monday’s] foreign policy debate? The force that can make or break a foreign policy: food,” author William Lambers, who partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme on the book “Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World,” writes in a Tennessean opinion piece. “There are 870 million people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” he notes, adding, “As former Army chief and Secretary of State George Marshall said, ‘Food is a vital factor in our foreign policy. And the attitude of Americans toward food can make or break our efforts to achieve peace and security throughout the world.'”
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.
“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.