“Relief groups are stepping up their appeals for aid to tackle the worsening food crisis in West Africa, where more than 18 million people face hunger,” the Guardian reports. “Relief agencies have been sounding the alarm for months about the effects of drought on the Sahel — a region stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The situation has been made worse by the knock-on effect of the Libyan uprising that has destabilized Mali” (Tran, 6/12). UNICEF “forecasts that, over the course of 2012, at least 1.1 million children would need to be treated and 5,200 specialist treatment centers will need to be established to cope with the crisis,” the U.N. News Centre notes (6/11).
Programs, Funding & Financing
“Millions of North Koreans suffer chronic food shortages and dire health care …, and there are no immediate signs of reforms to spur economic growth, the United Nations says” in a report released Thursday, Agence France-Presse reports (6/12). “The U.N. described serious humanitarian conditions in North Korea in its report, saying 16 million people continue to suffer from chronic food insecurity, high malnutrition rates, and deep-rooted economic problems,” VOA News writes, adding that the U.N. “is calling for the international community to put aside political differences and boost funding to help address what it says are the dire humanitarian needs of North Koreans” (6/12).
“Scientists on Sunday said they had found a key piece in the puzzle as to why a tiny minority of individuals infected with HIV have a natural ability to fight off the deadly AIDS virus,” Agence France-Presse reports. “In a study they said holds promise for an HIV vaccine, researchers from four countries reported the secret lies not in the number of infection-killing cells a person has, but in how well they work,” AFP writes. “Only about one person in 300 has the ability to control the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) without drugs” the news service notes (6/10).
The Guardian reports on a “major summit” to be held in London on July 11, which “aims to provide access to family planning to 120 million women at an estimated cost of $4 billion.” According to the newspaper, the summit “is being organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government’s department for international development (DFID),” and “[b]etween 20 and 25 countries are scheduled to attend, including the U.S., India, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.”
“Two years after some $22 million in donor funds were pumped into malaria control along the Cambodia-Thailand border to fight off suspected resistance to treatment, health workers say the battle is not over,” IRIN reports, adding, “The government reported 103,000 malaria infections and 151 deaths nationwide in 2010. A year later, 85,000 reported infections led to 93 deaths — a 38-percent decline in mortality.” “‘If you take your foot off the â€¦ [accelerator] we can lose everything we have done in the past two to three years,’ Steven Bjorge, anti-malaria team leader in Cambodia for the [WHO], told IRIN in February 2012,” the news service writes.
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin discusses a family planning summit to be held in London next month, writing the UNFPA “is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.” He writes, “More than 200 million women, largely in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can’t access them,” and continues, “Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths.” The summit, co-hosted by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “will be launched to meet this unfilled need for modern family planning in developing countries by tackling the estimated $3.6 billion (Â£2.3 billion) annual shortfall in investment (.pdf),” he adds.
“Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, has inherited an unenviable to-do list from former president Bingu wa Mutharika, and AIDS activists are hoping that bolstering the donor-dependent AIDS response will be one of her most urgent priorities,” PlusNews reports. “An estimated 10 percent of the adult population is HIV-positive, with about 70,000 Malawians newly infected with HIV every year,” the news service writes, adding, “Yet the country is almost entirely dependent on external funding for its AIDS programs, and ambitious plans to scale up treatment have been derailed after the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria rejected a succession of funding proposals.”
Aid Agencies Should Support Journalists To Increase Their Ability To Make A Difference In Developing Countries
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Prue Clarke, an Africa correspondent, media development specialist and the co-founder and executive director of New Narratives — Africans Reporting Africa, writes, “By not supporting journalists, aid agencies are severely limiting their access to the truth about what is happening in developing countries and, therefore, their ability to make a difference.” She continues, “In our efforts to promote our reporters’ work and fund our operations, we repeatedly meet fantastic aid groups that are driven to improve the lives of poor people in Africa, particularly women,” adding, “They fund every manner of effort to, for example, end violence against women, improve maternal health, increase the number of girls in education and prevent exploitation by foreign resources companies.”
UNAIDS Executive Director Calls On African Leaders To Reduce 'Triple Dependency' On External Sources Of HIV Drugs, Commodities, Technologies
“Delivering a speech at [Wednesday’s] opening session of the 16th Conference of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe congratulated leaders across the region for their personal commitment to the HIV response, specifically with regard to upholding human rights and protecting human capital,” UNAIDS reports in an article on its website. “Addressing eight Heads of State and other high-level participants in Lome, Togo, he called on African leaders to reduce their ‘triple dependency’ on external sources for HIV drugs, commodities, and technologies,” the agency writes, adding, “To ensure the health and security of their populations, African leaders should focus greater attention and resources on the local production of medicines, said the UNAIDS executive director” (6/6).
More Affordable Bednets, Increased Transparency In Market Will Save $22M, UNICEF Executive Director Says
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said Wednesday “that a more transparent and competitive market will lead to savings of more than $20 million over the next 12 months through a price reduction of 20 percent for bednets that protect people from malaria,” a UNICEF press release reports, noting, “The price of an insecticide-treated, long-lasting bednet has dropped to under $3” (6/6). “‘Never before have bednets been as accessible and affordable for children and families in developing countries,’ said the Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen, Shanelle Hall, adding that the price reduction is the result of a long-term strategy to create a healthy global market for bednets,” the U.N. News Centre writes (6/6).