“Every year, somewhere between $200 billion and $1 trillion are spent in ‘mandatory’ alms [zakat] and voluntary charity [sadaqa] across the Muslim world, Islamic financial analysts estimate,” IRIN reports, noting, “At the low end of the estimate, this is 15 times more than global humanitarian aid contributions in 2011.” The news service writes, “With aid from traditional Western donors decreasing in the wake of a global recession, and with about a quarter of the Muslim world living on less than $1.25 a day, this represents a huge pool of potential in the world of aid funding.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
“Impressed with India’s successful effort in polio eradication,” a nine-member Pakistani delegation on Thursday met India’s health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior officials of the Ministry to discuss the country’s polio eradication program, the Press Trust of India/Business Standard reports, noting that India achieved a polio-free status as of January (5/31). “‘The focus of our visit here was for us to learn firsthand from the government officials and partners exactly what it took for India to become polio free,’ leader of the Pakistan delegation, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, said,” the PTI/Times of India writes (5/31).
The following summaries of two opinion pieces and an editorial explore a recent paper published by the World Bank discussing significant declines in infant and under-five mortality in Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Wednesday “met Uttar Pradesh [UP] Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow,” India, where they “discussed health care programs in the state that Mr. Gates intends to take up through” the foundation, NDTV reports (Zanane, 5/30). The Gates Foundation will work with the state “on health and related developmental projects, particularly in the areas of maternal, neonatal, child health and telemedicine,” India Today writes (Srivastava, 5/30). According to NDTV, “A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed within two months between the UP government and the foundation, with the objective that the foundation shall provide technical, management and program design support in maternal, neonatal and child health, vaccination and other health- and agriculture-related programs” (5/30). “‘The foundation will also support the state in tackling health-related challenges by experimenting with new and innovative methods for effective behavioral changes, delivery of services and management of health systems,’ the UP CM said after meeting Gates,” the Daily Mail writes (Srivastava, 5/30).
The United Nations humanitarian office on Tuesday released its 2011 Annual Report of the Central Emergency Response Fund, which highlights the contributions of the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to humanitarian partners in 45 countries in 2011, the U.N. News Center reports. “Financed by voluntary contributions from Member States, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local governments, the private sector and individual donors, the CERF is a humanitarian fund established by the United Nations to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts, helping agencies to pre-position funding for humanitarian action,” the news service notes (5/29).
Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).
In a two-part series in his Slate blog “The Reckoning,” author Michael Moran examines the “silo” effect of Western aid to improve health in Africa, writing in the first part, “Charities know that raising money for exotic disease eradication in the West is a good deal easier than, say, funding upgrades to substandard cardiac facilities. Yet the later is the real win in the long run.” He references an article published recently in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Bollyky, which Moran summarizes by saying, “Bollyky argues coordinated action to confront communicable crises like HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis must be part of the world’s approach to global health. But by ignoring far greater, non-communicable problems, he says, we doom Africans to low life expectancies and fail to create the impetus for reform and behavioral changes that could be transformational” (5/28).
Officials At WHA Fail To Agree On Convention To Encourage R&D Into Health Issues In Developing Countries
Health officials attending last week’s World Health Assembly “failed to come to an agreement on a binding convention on stimulating research and development [R&D] focusing on the health problems of developing countries,” BMJ reports. The negotiations focused on an April report by the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on R&D, which included a recommendation “that all countries — developing and developed — should commit around 0.01 percent of their gross domestic product to research into and development of treatments for the health problems of developing countries,” the news service notes. However, “[t]he United States (despite the fact that it already meets this target), the European Union, and Japan blocked this recommendation, and instead member states agreed on the final day of the assembly that the report would be discussed at regional committee meetings in the next few months,” BMJ writes, noting that “WHO will hold a global meeting later in the year that will report back to WHO’s executive board meeting in January” and that “[n]ew proposals will be put on the agenda for next year’s assembly” (Gulland, 5/28).
Aid Agencies Warn April's Steep Increases In Grain Prices Will Affect Sahel Nations During Lean Season
“Unexpectedly sharp price rises in April for local cereals like millet, rice, and maize in parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad mean many vulnerable people in the drought-hit Sahel could find it even harder to get enough to eat,” IRIN reports. “Prices are expected to keep rising until the end of August — during the lean season — but the size of recent hikes has surprised food price analysts and humanitarian aid personnel,” the news service writes (5/25). In an article detailing the situation in Senegal, the Associated Press notes, “More than one million children under five in this wide, arid swath of Africa below the Sahara are now at risk of a food shortage so severe that it threatens their lives, UNICEF estimates” (Larson, 5/27).
“As the world’s worst outbreak of cholera continues to ravage Haiti, international donors have averted their gaze,” a Washington Post editorial writes. The editorial notes that a “pilot project to vaccinate Haitians against the disease … reached only one percent of the population, with no immediate prospect of expansion,” and “[o]f the 100 or so cholera treatment centers that sprang up around the country after the disease was detected 19 months ago, fewer than a third remain.” The solution to the epidemic is “equally well known and costly,” the editorial states, adding, “Haiti needs modern water and sanitation infrastructure, an undertaking that might cost $1 billion. But while donors tend to respond generously to emergencies, such as the earthquake that devastated Haiti in early 2010, they lose interest in long-term fixes of the sort that would deal decisively with cholera.”