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World Bank Needs Better Leadership To Achieve Goals Of Reducing Poverty

With the proper leadership, the World Bank “can play a key role” in fighting “poverty, resource depletion and climate change,” therefore “[t]he global stakes are … very high this spring as the bank’s 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends in July,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to the U.N. secretary general on the Millennium Development Goals, writes in a Project Syndicate opinion piece. Achieving its goals to “reduce global poverty and ensure that global development is environmentally sound and socially inclusive … would not only improve the lives of billions of people, but would also forestall violent conflicts that are stoked by poverty, famine, and struggles over scarce resources,” Sachs says.

Despite Economic Downturn, Global Fund ‘Needs And Deserves’ International Support

In recognition of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s 10th anniversary, Sisonke Msimang, executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, recounts the Fund’s history and development in this Project Syndicate opinion piece, stating that the organization is “driven by the idea that people need not die of preventable and treatable diseases simply because they are poor.” She continues, “And yet today, despite the Global Fund’s effectiveness and its strong anti-corruption track record, donors have cited ‘bad governance’ as an excuse for withholding further committed resources. Others have blamed the global financial crisis. The irony of this has not been lost on activists, who deal with the drivers of AIDS, TB, and malaria — corruption and poverty — on a daily basis.”

Gates Calls For Greater Coordination Among U.N. Food Agencies, Announces Nearly $200M In Grants For Agricultural Development Projects

In a speech delivered at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome on Thursday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told IFAD, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the “approach being used today to fight against poverty and hunger is outdated and inefficient” and asked the agencies “to unite around a common global target for sustainable productivity growth to guide and measure their efforts,” a Gates Foundation press release states. “Gates also announced nearly $200 million in grants, bringing to more than $2 billion the foundation’s commitment to smallholder farmers since the agriculture program began in 2006,” according to the press release (2/23).

HIV To Be Covered Under Insurance In India Beginning In October

In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, Benoy Peter, senior manager for knowledge management at Project Connect in India, reports that the government of India will cover HIV care under insurance in the country beginning in October 2012. Peter recounts the advocacy efforts that went into convincing the Indian government to make the change and writes, “We are excited about the maiden policy change facilitated by PSI/India. Much deserved credit goes to [the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO)], USAID, our partners and a few activists who enlightened by our conference did their parallel lobbying” (2/22).

Researchers Begin Clinical Trial Of First Visceral Leishmaniasis Vaccine

“Researchers say they’ve developed the first vaccine for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) — a disease that affects 500,000 people each year and has been called the ‘parasitic version of HIV,'” although the diseases are unrelated, U.S. News reports. “The vaccine took researchers more than two decades to develop and entered Phase I trials in recent weeks, according to Steve Reed, founder of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), the vaccine’s developer,” the news service writes (Koebler, 2/22).

Global Fund Releases More Than $7M To South Africa Following Request From AIDS Organizations

“More than seven months overdue, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant will finally be released to key South African AIDS organizations that have been struggling to survive,” PlusNews writes, adding, “Some were on the verge of shutting down.” According to the news service, “The Global Fund released US$7,106,426.91 to the South African National Treasury on February 6, the same day seven of the grant’s sub-recipients delivered an open letter to Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, pleading for intervention.”

Blog Examines Gap Between Mental Health Disease Burden, Attention Given To Problem

This post in KPLU’s “Humanosphere” blog examines the “gap between the disease burden of mental illness and the amount of funding and attention devoted to solving the problem,” referencing a post published Friday in the Global Health Interest Forum’s “Blog of Scientists for Global Health,” written by Paul Southworth, a visiting scholar on malaria and vaccine science at the NIH. The blog provides a breakdown of the global burden of disease in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and notes, “As you can see from the pie chart, mental illness (aka ‘neuropsychiatric disorders’) is the biggest slice in the pie. Yet it is rarely even mentioned at global health meetings or confabs, says Southworth” (Paulson, 2/21).

Research!America Shares Findings About Global Health R&D In New Jersey

In this post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog, Mandy Goldberg, global health research and development (R&D) advocacy intern at Research!America, shares the organization’s findings about the state of New Jersey from an analysis conducted in target states to measure the health and economic impact of global health R&D in the U.S. “Despite ranking eleventh in population size, New Jersey ranks third in R&D investment among states, thanks mainly to robust private-sector investment,” she writes, adding, “R&D spending in New Jersey increased by 11.4 percent in 2010, and global R&D spending was up by $1.4 billion, according to a 2011 report by the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, implying even more future economic benefits for the state” (Halnon, 2/21).

USAID Funding Cookstove Initiative In Haiti

In an effort “to establish a sustainable local market and industry for clean cooking solutions in Haiti,” “USAID recently announced an award to Chemonics International to implement the three-year Improved Cooking Technology Project” to “establish a thriving local market — on both the supply and demand sides — as well as a sustainable industry for clean cooking solutions, including Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and more efficient biomass cookstoves,” according to a USAID press release. “USAID’s $7.2 million project in Haiti will support and develop viable for-profit businesses in the production and distribution of improved charcoal cookstoves and LPG stoves” and “reflects [the agency’s] support of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation,” the press release states (2/21).

KFF Webcast Assesses President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal, Potential Global Health Implications

The Kaiser Family Foundation held a live “In Focus” webcast on Tuesday “to assess President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal and potential implications for global health,” the foundation writes on its website. The webcast features a panel of global health policy experts, moderated by Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health & HIV policy at the foundation, “who analyze the Administration’s proposal and how it compares to current funding levels, what may happen as the budget winds its way through Congress, and the implications for the future of U.S. global health programs,” according to the website, which provides links to the panelists’ biographies (.pdf), the foundation’s Budget Tracker and a fact sheet on U.S. funding for the Global Health Initiative, among other resources (2/22). A post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog provides quotes from panelists Beth Tritter, managing director of the Glover Park Group; Larry Nowels, a consultant with the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign and the ONE Campaign; and Ambassador Mark Dybul, co-director of the Global Health Law Program at Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law (Aziz, 2/21). The Medill School of Journalism’s “Medill on the Hill” also covered the discussion (Morello, 2/21).