“Chagas disease — a parasitic infection transmitted through an insect commonly known as the ‘kissing bug’ — is one of the most common infections among pregnant women in the Western Hemisphere,” Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “It can be found all over Latin America, from Mexico and Central America to Paraguay and Argentina,” he writes, adding, “For expectant mothers, what makes Chagas disease especially harmful is that it can be passed to their unborn children, causing highly lethal congenital infections.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
UNICEF on Wednesday “warned that thousands of acutely malnourished children in Somalia are at risk of death because little money is available to help them,” VOA News writes, adding, “UNICEF said it has received only 12 percent of its $289 million emergency appeal for humanitarian operations this year.” “The famine declared in southern Somalia last year is over,” but “Somalia remains the world’s most complex humanitarian situation,” the news service writes, noting that UNICEF “reported that almost one-third of Somalis are unable to meet their essential food and non-food needs.”
At Least 1M Children At Risk Of Death In Sahel Drought Crisis; European Commission Donates Over $20M To UNICEF Appeal
“At least one million children are at risk of dying of malnutrition in the central-western part of Africaâ€™s Sahel region due to a drought crisis, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said [Wednesday], adding that more resources are urgently needed to help those in need,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “There are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea,” the news service writes, adding, “The nutrition crisis is affecting people throughout Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal.”
A Wall Street Journal editorial addresses reports published on April 14 in the Guardian alleging that the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID) funded a program in India that “has ‘forcibly sterilized Indian women and men’ — a practice India supposedly left behind in the 1970s,” the editorial states. “DfID issued a statement objecting to the Guardian’s report, saying that its funding was not meant to be going to ‘sterilization’ centers, only to helping ‘women access a mix of reversible methods of family planning,’ such as contraceptive pills, and to ‘improve the quality of services,'” the editorial writes, adding, “DfID says it has also offered technical support to help Indian authorities crack down on forced sterilization.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “A DfID official, who declined to be named, clarified to us that the national Indian program funded by British taxpayers does include voluntary sterilization, but that sterilization specifically is ‘not part of what we fund,'” and “[h]e added that DfID will end its support for the national Indian program next year and will focus family-planning aid only on state governments in India’s poorest regions” (5/1).
A post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog describes an event to launch a recent report from GHTC and Policy Cures on “data on U.S. investments over the past 10 years in global health research and development (R&D).” The event, co-hosted by Research!America, featured comments from panelists Javier Guzman, director of research at Policy Cures; Lee Hall, chief of the Parasitology and International Programs Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Heather Ignatius, senior manager for policy at the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development; and Eric Easom, program leader for neglected diseases at Anacor Pharmaceuticals, according to the blog (Lufkin, 5/1).
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “is cutting its workforce and tightening its focus on 20 countries hardest hit by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” Reuters reports. Gabriel Jaramillo, who took over as general manager of the fund in February, “said in a statement that the fund had completed a reorganization that would rebalance its workforce with 39 percent more people managing grants and 38 percent fewer in support roles,” the news service notes.
In the second part of a series of Slate articles highlighting issues being examined by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bjorn Lomborg, director of the center, examines the global burden of non-communicable diseases, which “receiv[e] the smallest amount of donor assistance of all health conditions, having lost ground since 1990 relative to infectious diseases,” he writes. “In a research paper released today on chronic disease, Prabhat Jha and a team of researchers argue that chronic diseases already pose a substantial economic burden, and this burden will evolve into a staggering one over the next two decades,” according to Lomborg.
“Each year, nearly 400,000 children are born with HIV globally, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is a particular challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, an area characterized by weak health systems,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in the State Department “DipNote” blog. “Last year PEPFAR and UNAIDS joined with other partners to launch the Global Plan, an initiative to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive,” Goosby writes and reflects on a two-day mission to Nigeria with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe last week. He concludes, “Preventing new HIV infections in children is a smart investment that saves lives, and the United States is proud to partner with Nigeria and other countries in this cause” (4/30).
The May issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on the establishment of an evidence base for e-health; a public health round-up; an article on the future of e-health technologies; a research paper on the use of e-health in low- and middle-income countries; and a systematic review on the factors that promote or inhibit the implementation of e-health systems (May 2012).
In this Atlantic opinion piece, Joshua Foust, an author and a fellow at the American Security Project, examines the use of a non-traditional aid model known as the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) in Pakistan, where “heavy rains and devastating flooding … displaced upwards of 20 million people” in July 2010. Though USAID “is very good at quickly mobilizing assistance,” including medical, shelter, food, and water aid, “to disaster-afflicted communities, it carries a lot of political baggage — so much so in places like Pakistan that the U.S might be better off in the long run by downsizing USAID’s direct activities there and working through alternative programs,” he writes. Therefore, “the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, a consortium of NGOs that work in Pakistan, … submitted an official request to the U.S. government to re-brand their aid” as a result of political tension, according to Foust, who notes the RSPN, founded by the Agha Khan Network in 1982, “reach[es] millions of the poorest homes across a vast swath of Pakistan.”