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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

IRIN Examines FAO's New Methodology For Calculating Food Insecurity

IRIN reports on how the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “us[ed] a new set of indicators in its annual report, ‘State of Food Insecurity in the World,’ prepared jointly with the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.” According to the news service, “The report revises the number of hungry down to 870 million people, saying the number used after the 2007-2008 food price spike — one billion — was inaccurate because of a lack of updated country data and faulty methodology.” While the new methodology takes into account factors such as food distribution and undernourishment, the report authors acknowledge limitations in the new data because it is based on national surveys, which “are not readily available or of uncertain quality,” according to IRIN. “Still, the new methodology does not capture the short-term effects of food price surges or other economic shocks,” the news service writes, adding, “FAO says it is working to develop a wider set of indicators to capture a better sense of the quality of food people have access to as well as other dimensions of food security” (10/11).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

WHO Calls For End To Stigma On World Mental Health Day

“Wednesday (October 10th) is World Mental Health Day,” VOA News reports, noting, “The World Health Organization is using the occasion to call for an end to stigma against those who suffer from depression and other mental disorders” (DeCapua, 10/9). Depression affects 350 million people worldwide, with nearly five percent of the world’s population suffering from depression annually, according to Medical Daily (Tucker, 10/9). More than three-quarters of people living with mental health disorders reside in developing countries, BBC News notes, adding, “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), eight in every 10 of those living in developing nations receive no treatment at all” (Roberts, 10/10). The WHO “warns stigma is a huge problem that prevents many people from seeking help,” VOA writes (10/9).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

UNICEF, Syrian Government Agree To Expand Humanitarian Operations To Conflict Areas

UNICEF and the Syrian government have agreed to expand humanitarian efforts in the country, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and up to one million people displaced since the beginning of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad 18 months ago, Reuters reports. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake “said the agency’s agreement with Syria will allow it to go beyond its Damascus operations to reach Syrians in conflict areas” and the agency “aims to vaccinate within a couple of months one million vulnerable children against diseases such as measles, he added,” the news service notes. “The deal will expand UNICEF’s partnership with more than 40 Syrian civil groups and the Syrian Red Crescent, he said,” Reuters adds (Al-Khalidi, 10/8). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “on Tuesday urged President Bashar al-Assad’s government to institute a unilateral ceasefire, and further stressed the need for other nations to halt arms deliveries to both Syrian forces and the opposition,” according to VOA’s “Breaking News” blog (10/9).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Somali Militant Group Bans U.K. Aid Organization; Oxfam Warns Malnutrition In Somalia At 'Alarming' Level

“Militant Islamist rebels in Somalia on Monday announced a ban against another aid group working in a region of Somalia hit hard by hunger,” the Associated Press reports (Straziuso, 10/8). “Al-Shabab says the U.K.-based Islamic Relief was covertly working on behalf of other aid groups already banned, including the U.N. World Food Programme,” according to BBC News, which notes, “Islamic Relief says it has yet to be officially informed of the decision.” The news service adds, “Some 1.3 million people in need of food, clean water, and health care may be put at risk, the group says” (10/8).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Number, Proportion Of World's Hungry Drop But Remain Too High, U.N. Report Says

The U.N. “revised down the number of the world’s hungry on Tuesday to just under 870 million but slammed the figure as ‘unacceptable’ and warned that the fight against hunger was slowing down,” Agence France-Presse reports. The report, launched by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) along with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), “said the number of hungry was down from one billion 20 years ago,” according to AFP (Milasin, 10/9). “That is better news than we have had in the past, but it still means that one person in every eight goes hungry. That is unacceptable, especially when we live in a world of plenty,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, Reuters notes. The new figures are based on revised calculation methods and new data, according to the news service (Hornby, 10/9).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

U.N. Rapporteurs Call For Creation Of Global Fund As Social Safety Net For Vulnerable Populations

Two U.N. experts have called for the creation of a “global fund to promote the creation of social safety nets for the most vulnerable people in poor countries,” the Guardian reports. Based on estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur for food, and Magdalena Sepulveda, the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the creation of a $60 billion fund — with $20 billion funded by rich countries — “would have two functions: to help the 48 least developed countries (LDCs) put in place a ‘social protection floor'; and to serve as a reinsurance provider to step in if a state’s social protection system was overwhelmed by an unexpected event such as extreme drought or flooding,” the newspaper writes.

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

'Bold Goals' Needed To Spur Political Action In Fight Against Hunger

“Achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the prevalence of hunger in the world by 2015 is still within reach, but a strong, sustained acceleration of efforts is needed,” U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva writes in a Reuters opinion piece. He notes a new report from the Rome food agencies shows the “global number of chronically hungry people has declined by 130 million since 1990, falling from a little over one billion people to 868 million — 852 million of them in developing countries.”

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Polio Vaccination Campaign In Darfur Shows Immunizations Possible In 'Emergency And Conflict Settings'

In an Inter Press Service opinion piece, Siddharth Chatterjee, chief diplomat and head of strategic partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Sam Agbo, an independent public health adviser in the U.K., write about the unstable situation in Darfur, Sudan, in 2004, and how “UNICEF and WHO in Sudan along with important NGO partners started planning with local authorities on how best to immunize all children in Darfur.” They outline the major challenges, including staff safety, and discuss how multi-agency teams were able to vaccinate 10,000 children in two immunization rounds. Chatterjee and Agbo add, “The polio immunization campaign was the driver for a wider process of improving and ramping up assistance to communities and this made the campaign attractive to mothers to bring their children to the immunization hubs that were established.”

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Examining The Role Of Global Health In Advancing Corporate, Political Agendas

On Friday at the University of Washington, “historian Anne-Emanuelle Birn will present the Stephen Stewart Gloyd endowed lecture, ‘Philanthrocapitalism, Cooption and the Politics of Global Health Agenda-Setting,'” KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog reports. According to the blog, Birn will explain why she “think[s] of global health as a means to also advance corporate or political agendas.” The blog writes, “Birn will compare the efforts of the Rockefeller Foundation to largely fund and direct the creation of the field of international health, which contributed to improvements in public health worldwide and eventually the creation of what would become the World Health Organization, to the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s] current efforts to achieve similarly grand results” (Paulson, 10/4).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

NPR Examines Local Production Of Childhood Malnutrition Treatment In Haiti

NPR’s “The Salt” blog examines how some humanitarian organizations are looking to purchase the ingredients for and manufacture a peanut-based nutritional supplement in the countries where it is used. “They see local production as a way to provide jobs and bring money into impoverished communities. But paying the bill is still a struggle. Even in poor countries, local food often turns out to be more expensive food,” the blog writes. “The Salt” looks at the case of a small organization in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, that has built factories that “emplo[y] Haitian workers and bu[y] peanuts from Haitian farmers.” However, the cost of the final product can be up to 20 percent more expensive than if it were made with peanuts imported from Argentina, the blog notes, adding, “For now, at least, UNICEF has agreed to buy local, even if it costs a little more” (Charles, 10/4).

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