This post on IntraHealth International’s “Global Health Blog” discusses a new report (.pdf) from the WHO, titled “Research and Development to Meet Health Needs in Developing Countries: Strengthening Global Financing and Coordination,” which “concludes that ‘all countries should commit to spend at least 0.01 percent of GDP on government-funded R&D [research and development] devoted to meeting the health needs of developing countries.'” The post states, “The report has a double significance. First, it is a vigorous statement of the need for a binding agreement on health innovation to address diseases that mostly affect developing countries. Second, it is an important concrete step on the long path to it” (Chiscop, 4/13).
IRIN examines how local Zimbabwean farmers’ usage of water containing raw sewage to irrigate their crops poses a risk of disease transmission to people who consume the vegetables. In the capital Harare, less than half of the raw sewage produced is treated before being sent back into tributaries, according to IRIN, which notes, “In a recent report, Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said 60 percent of the capital’s residents did not have access to clean water, and 10 percent relied on boreholes and unprotected wells.” Since a cholera outbreak in 2008, UNICEF and other international donors have been helping Zimbabwean municipalities treat their water, but the UNICEF program is winding down, leaving some unsure whether local authorities “can go it alone,” IRIN writes (4/16).
“Nearly 780 million people are deprived of safe drinking water — and 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation — all because governments aren’t spending scarce resources wisely, according to a joint report [.pdf] of the World Health Organization and U.N.-Water,” VOA News reports. Though “more than two billion people gained access to safe drinking water and 1.8 billion gained access to improved sanitation” between 1990 and 2010, billions of people still lack these basic services, the report noted, according to the news service.
“Over 600 parliamentarians from more than 100 countries” met in Kampala, Uganda, this week for the 126th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, where participants discussed child and maternal health and nutrition, UNICEF reports in a news article. Speaking at the opening session, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said, “The damage [malnutrition] causes to a child’s development is irreversible. … I can’t think of any greater inequity than condemning children, while in the womb, to a loss of their ability, of their right, to live fully â€¦ to learn fully â€¦ and to realize their potential,” according to the article (Ponet, 4/5). “During a panel discussion on tackling malnutrition, Dr. Werner Schultink, the UNICEF Chief of Nutrition, urged legislators to be at the vanguard of the fight against malnutrition through application of their legislative power and influence,” Uganda’s The Observer notes (Kakaire, 4/4).
Yaws, a skin and bone disease caused by a treponematoses bacterium that can cause long-term deformities, “has recently been put on WHO’s list of 17 so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)” and, along with Guinea worm, is “slated for eradication,” the Lancet reports. A “massive push to free the world from yaws failed in the 1950s and 1960s,” and the WHO in 1995 estimated “there were 2.5 million cases of endemic treponematoses (mostly yaws),” according to the Lancet. A study published in the Lancet in January showed a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin was effective at curing the disease among children, a finding that “jump-started the NTD community into action,” the article states.
“We commend the 130th session of the WHO Executive Board for adopting a resolution calling for a comprehensive response to the global burden of mental illnesses,” Rebecca Hock of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Mental Health, and colleagues, write in this Lancet opinion piece. “The resolution for mental health, led by India, the U.S., and Switzerland, is the result of a crescendo of political support for addressing mental illnesses and received unanimous support from countries on the WHO Executive Board,” the authors write, noting, “The resolution urges countries to protect and promote the rights of persons with mental disorders and to combat stigma against mental illness.”
The PBS NewsHour’s “The Rundown” blog features an interview with journalist Jon Cohen, in which he discusses the possibility of an “AIDS-free generation,” recent reports from UNAIDS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIDS funding, HIV vaccine research, and World AIDS Day. “So there’s good news in the sense that the epidemic has stabilized, that new infections are dropping compared to a decade ago. And the more sobering news is there’s a lot of progress that the world collectively agreed should happen by 2015 … and it just doesn’t look like much of it is going to happen,” Cohen said about data in the UNAIDS’ World AIDS Day report: Results, the blog reports (Kane, 11/30).
On Saturday, December 1, “United Nations officials [marked] World AIDS Day with a call for building on recent successes and pressing ahead to get to zero — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths — by 2015,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘On this World AIDS Day, let us commit to build on and amplify the encouraging successes of recent years to consign HIV/AIDS to the pages of history,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [.pdf] in his message for the day,” the news service writes, noting UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said, “We have moved from despair to hope. Far fewer people are dying from AIDS.” The news service also includes quotes from Irina Bokova, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake; and U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin (11/30).
“A UNICEF progress report [.pdf] says that more than 850,000 children are expected to have received life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition across nine countries in the Sahel region during the course of 2012,” according to a UNICEF press release, noting the number is “based on the more than 730,000 children under five treated at centers between January and the end of September.” The press release continues, “The report says early funding by donors such as the Swedish and Danish Governments, the European Union and USAID meant crucial supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food were purchased in good time and pre-positioned.” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s acting regional director, said in the press release, “In 2012 a tremendous effort meant we were able to give every child who was able to arrive at a treatment center appropriate care. But we need to get to the state where more robust systems are in place and treatment centers see far fewer children” (12/11).
IRIN examines efforts to recruit Madagascar’s traditional midwives, called “matronnes,” to “a campaign to get women to deliver in clinics or hospitals, part of a move to lower maternal and newborn death rates.” The country, which has the highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa, has a “moderately high” maternal mortality ratio, despite having “dropped from 710 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 240 per 100,000 live births in 2010,” the news service notes. IRIN describes how health centers and non-governmental organizations are working to provide better maternal and newborn health care by convincing traditional midwives to accompany women in labor to clinics, where skilled birth attendants can attend to them (12/12).