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FAO Head Warns Of Funding Gap For Food Security Activities In Sahel, Horn Of Africa

Speaking at an economic forum in Madrid, Spain, “[t]he head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], Jose Graziano da Silva, warned Thursday of a major funding gap for activities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports. “He added that boosting food security entailed combining emergency action with support for family farming and smallholder production, as well as promoting long term development and reducing vulnerability to extreme events, like drought,” the news agency writes (5/10). According to the U.N. News Centre, Graziano da Silva also called for the involvement of “civil society, private enterprise, international agencies, and the governments of developing and developed countries” to help fight chronic hunger and malnutrition — which affects one of every seven people in the world — because it “is a challenge too great for FAO or any government to overcome alone” (5/10).

International Community Must Organize, Commit Financial Resources To Win War On Polio

In this editorial in the International Herald Tribune’s “Express Tribune,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon examines the global push to eradicate polio, highlighting progress in the “world’s war on polio” since it was declared nearly a quarter century ago but warning that “we are in danger of falling victim to our own success,” as “the world is now populated by a generation which has either never been exposed to polio or has been inadequately vaccinated.” However, “[w]ith a determined push, the international community can wipe out polio once and for all,” Ban continues, adding, “To do so, … it must organize and commit the required financial resources.” Ban highlights two upcoming meetings — the G8 summit at Camp David this week, and a meeting of World Health Assembly in Geneva the following week — as opportunities for world leaders to push for polio eradication on the international agenda.

House Appropriations Committee Approves FY13 State, Foreign Operations Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved its FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill (.pdf), which would provide $40.1 billion in regular discretionary funding and an additional $8.2 billion in funding for ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, The Hill’s “On the Money” blog reports (Wasson, 5/17). Taken together, the bill would provide about $5 billion, or nine percent, less than FY 2012 funding levels, a committee press release notes (5/17). “The bill contains tough new limitations on aid,” including cutting all funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and reinstating the Mexico City policy, also known as the “global gag rule,” which prohibits foreign aid from going to any organization that performs abortions or provides information about or referral for the procedure as a method of family planning, according to The Hill.

Loss Of U.S. Funding For UNFPA 'Would Be Devastating' To Family Planning Services In Developing Countries

“By voting to ban any U.S. contribution to UNFPA” in the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday “made a judgment call that saving the lives of women and girls around the world is simply not a U.S. priority,” Valerie DeFillipo, president of Friends of UNFPA, writes in a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. She notes that “[c]ommittee members voted against amendments that would permit funding to UNFPA for preventing and treating obstetric fistula, ending female genital mutilation, and providing family planning services and contraceptive supplies in nine sub-Saharan African countries with high rates of poverty and maternal mortality where USAID does not provide family planning assistance.”

UNAIDS Launches Campaign Aimed At Ending New HIV Infections Among Children By 2015

UNAIDS on Tuesday launched a new campaign “aimed at ending new HIV infections among children by 2015 and ensuring mothers living with HIV remain healthy,” Xinhua reports (5/8). “The campaign, ‘Believe it. Do it.,’ is part of a global plan of action that was adopted last year at the U.N. High Level Meeting on AIDS, when world leaders committed to end new HIV infections among children by 2015,” the U.N. News Centre writes (5/8). “Each year, about 390,000 children become newly infected with HIV and as many as 42,000 women living with HIV die from complications relating to HIV and pregnancy,” according to a UNAIDS press release (5/8).

Examining The Need For WHO Today

Responding to an opinion piece published in Nature Medicine last week in which Tikki Pang, a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore and former director of research policy and cooperation at the WHO, and Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, argue the case for reforming and improving the WHO, KPLU’s Tom Paulson writes in a post on KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog, “It’s a good overview of what’s wrong with the WHO and what these two think needs to change.” Paulson summarizes an email from Garret in which she says the WHO is the only international agency able to respond to drug resistance, drug safety and integrity, the threat of pandemic flu, health systems metrics development, and drug-resistant malaria (5/8).

Agreement On Voluntary Land Guidelines Shows Collaboration On Food Security Is Possible

“The endorsement of voluntary guidelines [.pdf] to improve the way countries govern access rights to land, fisheries and forest resources by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on Friday marks a historic milestone not only for the way in which land tenure is managed, but also for international consensus-building,” Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), writes in this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. As the “eradication of hunger depends in large measure on how people, communities and others have access to, and manage, land, fisheries and forests,” and “weak governance of tenure hinders economic growth and the sustainable use of the environment,” the “voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security set foundations that are indispensable to resolve these issues,” he argues.

U.N. Office On Drugs, Interpol Better Equipped Than WHO To Combat Counterfeit Drug Trade

“The worldwide counterfeit drug market is huge and growing,” Tim Mackey and Brian Liang of the Institute of Health Law Studies at the California Western School of Law and Thomas Kubic of the Pharmaceutical Security Institute write in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, noting such “drugs occupy a wide spectrum of medications, and their quality is suspect; they can be mislabeled, tainted, adulterated, ineffective, or, in the worst cases, all of the above.” They argue for a new framework for fighting the illegal drug trade because “[g]lobal policy has not kept up with the burgeoning counterfeit drug trade.” The authors say that although initial results of the WHO IMPACT (International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeit Taskforce) are “encouraging,” they note that “[s]ome WHO member states, including India and Brazil (both top producers of generic drugs) and other developing countries, have questioned whether WHO can rightly take on enforcement operations” because it “is not a global law enforcement agency.”

Reuters Examines Use Of Statistics In Public Health Ahead Of WHO Report

“Above all else, analyzing the state of the world’s health — be it by looking at obesity rates, cancer cases, malaria deaths, or HIV-free births — requires decent statistics,” Reuters reports in an article examining the use of statistics in public health ahead of the WHO’s World Health Statistics report. “The year’s report, due on May 16, will give data on everything from rates of measles deaths around the world, to the percentage of women who have no access to contraception, to the number or psychiatrists one country has compared to another,” the news service writes. “But some recent high-profile disputes about some sets of data have focused a spotlight on the way the WHO collects its data and compiles its estimates,” it notes.

FAO Committee On World Food Security Endorses Global Guidelines On 'Land Grabbing'

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on Friday “endorsed a set of far-reaching global guidelines aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries,” according to an FAO press release. “The new Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security outline principles and practices that governments can refer to when making laws and administering land, fisheries and forests rights,” the press release adds (5/11). “Giving poor and vulnerable people secure and equitable rights to access land and other natural resources is a key condition in the fight against hunger and poverty,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, the U.N. News Centre notes (5/11).