“U.N. refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that relief groups should increase aid to war-battered and drought-hit Somalis to reduce the exodus to neighboring countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Our objective is to create conditions for Somalis to be able to live in Somalia and for Somali refugees, when they have the opportunity, to go back home safely,’ Guterres added,” the news agency notes. “Tens of thousands of Somalis have in recent months fled to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya due to the drought, the Horn of Africa’s worst in decades,” AFP writes (8/30).
Programs, Funding & Financing
In the refugee camps in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, “health and human rights officials warn of another crisis: an explosion of tent babies,” the Miami Herald reports. “Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear,” primarily because of a lack of funding, the newspaper writes.
In this U.N. Dispatch blog post, Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of the blog, examines the costs of second-line antiretroviral treatments (ARVs), which “are several orders of magnitude more expensive than traditional, first-line ARV treatments” and are a “huge barrier to providing care” for resource-poor countries. He writes of “a huge gap in the way governments and donors have historically approached people living with HIV,” adding that “as more people access first-line treatment, there will be more opportunities for people to develop resistance to that first line. Donors and governments in the developing world simply can’t afford that kind of outlay.”
Russia “is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world,” journalist Natalia Antonova writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, in which she describes her experience with the Russian medical system after “unexpectedly” becoming pregnant shortly after receiving her visa to work in Moscow.
Though the Asia-Pacific region “has seen impressive gains” in the fight against HIV/AIDS “– including a 20 percent drop in new HIV infections since 2001 and a three-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy since 2006 — progress is threatened by an inadequate focus on key populations at higher risk of HIV infection and insufficient funding from both domestic and international sources,” according to a UNAIDS report (.pdf) released on Thursday at the 2011 International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Busan, South Korea, a UNAIDS press release states (8/26).
At a meeting of the African Union (A.U.) in Ethiopia on Thursday, “African governments … pledged $46 million for the crisis in the Horn of Africa amid warnings that the emergency stretches far beyond hunger to encompass health, security and livelihood,” the Guardian reports. The amount fell short of the $50 million asked for by the aid group Africans Act 4 Africa, the newspaper adds, noting that “the African Development Bank announced a $300 million donation for long-term development in the Horn of Africa” (Tran, 8/25). Reuters reports that money is “to be spent over a four-year period, not to be used to bridge a $1.4 billion shortfall aid groups say they need for the emergency” (Malone, 8/26).
“Conditions in Tripoli’s hospitals could become catastrophic without a rapid improvement in security in the Libyan capital, the emergency coordinator of aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) told Reuters on Wednesday.”
The African Union (A.U.) “held a rare fundraiser in Ethiopia Thursday in a bid to plug a $1.1 billion shortfall in aid for millions facing starvation in the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in decades,” Agence France-Presse reports. The A.U. has pledged $500,000 of an estimated $2.4 billion “required to assist the 12.4 million drought victims,” according to AFP (Vaughan, 8/25).
ABC Radio Australia’s “Connect Asia” features an interview with Christophe Benn, director of external relations for the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Benn said “it has become much more difficult to mobilize resources” since the 2008-09 economic downturn and “a great deal of mobilization, both of public and private donors” is needed to maintain ongoing projects that receive donations from the Global Fund (Cochrane, 8/23).
David Stuckler of the University of Cambridge, Sanjay Basu of the University of California, San Francisco, and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, write in a BMJ commentary that misconceptions and fallacies “have led to serious under-budgeting for non-communicable diseases” (NCDs). The authors question whether food companies, or lobbying groups and non-governmental organizations that are influenced by food corporations, should “be viewed as trusted partners and have a seat at the table during public health negotiations” leading up to the U.N. High-level Meeting on NCDs.