The New York Times reports on how microlending has “prompted political hostility in Bangladesh, India, Nicaragua and other developing countries.” Such negativity “toward microfinance is a sharp reversal from the praise and good will that politicians, social workers and bankers showered on the sector in the last decade.” The article notes “[p]hilanthropists and investors poured billions of dollars into nonprofit and profit-making microlenders, who were considered vital players” in helping to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the MDG target to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Such attention “helped the sector reach more than 91 million customers, most of them women, with loans totaling more than $70 billion by the end of 2009,” with half of all borrowers from India and Bangladesh.
Though world food prices “jumped to a record high” in the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) latest index, the agency “is drawing comfort from the absence of widespread riots, usually the defining element of a food crisis,” the Financial Times reports looking at the factors that have led some food prices to rise significantly without sparking international panic. “To an outsider, the relative calm, compared with riots in more than 30 countries three years ago, is striking. But a closer look reveals big differences to the situation then, differences that make clear why the world is not facing a crisis. At least not yet,” the newspaper writes.
“The United Nations is widely known for functions like peacekeeping, health programs, refugee support and the International Court of Justice. But those are just a part of its bureaucracy, whose size and structure still bewilder many of its own employees,” the New York Times writes in an article that examines how the current economic situation could impact the role of the U.N. in the future.
Also In Global Health News: Vaccination Hampered In Cote d’Ivoire; TB And Lung Cancer; HIV Testing, Counseling In Zambia; Reducing Child, Maternal Mortality In Ghana; Male Circumcision Campaign In Kenya
Political Unrest Hampering Cote d’Ivoire’s Yellow Fever Vaccine Campaign “Unrest following Cote d’Ivoire’s presidential election is blocking a nationwide vaccination drive against yellow fever, a fatal mosquito-borne disease that is affecting people throughout the country,” IRIN reports. The immunization campaignÂ â€“ part of a global effort by WHO and UNICEF â€“…
“Food prices hit a record high” in December, exceeding 2007-2008 levels when price spikes resulted in riots around the world, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Wednesday in its monthly Food Price Index, the Financial Times reports (Blas, 1/5).
India’s patent office “has rejected American drug maker Abbott Laboratories’ patent application for an HIV combination drug, allowing low-cost local drug makers to make and sell their generic versions in India and other countries where the medicine is not patented,” Economic Times reports (1/4). The drug under consideration was Abbott’s “Kaletra, which combines two antivirals, [lopinavir/ritonavir and] is one of the preferred second-line treatments to fight drug-resistant HIV, according to the World Health Organization, which recommends governments include it on their list of essential medicines,” Bloomberg/Businessweek writes (Narayan, 1/4).
Opinions: U.S. International Affairs Budget; Health Impacts Of Climate Change; Role Of U.N.; Drug Development, Free Trade
The U.S. ‘Must Continue To Have A Strong, AndÂ Effective International Affairs Budget’ Despite challenging economic times, “[t]wo areas we cannot afford to shortchange right now … are our national security and our economic prosperity, which is why we must continue to have a strong and effective International Affairs Budget,” U.S.…
“[A] recent study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization identified 72 different ‘social pension’ plans around the world dedicated to the elderly, the ill, or the down and out,” Newsweek writes in an article exploring the growth in welfare programs around the world. “Most countries on the [WHO/ILO] list are developing nations once considered too destitute to help their poor and that, until recently, had little or no welfare coverage at all. … While fighting inequality and helping the neediest has long been on the docket of Third World leaders, most previous attempts have been sabotaged by inefficiency, corruption, and stagnant or dysfunctional economies,” the magazine writes. “Now roaring economies in Asia, Latin America, and even Africa, coupled with better-functioning governments and sound fiscal stewardship, have stretched the policy horizons for many nations that once lived from one crisis to the next,” according to Newsweek.
Years after deadlines for polio and guinea worm eradication came and went without achieving their intended goals Science magazine examines efforts to strengthen disease eradication. The topic was front and center of a meeting of public health experts earlier this year in Frankfurt, Germany, that “sought a new way forward” on disease eradication, the magazine reports. “The participants, many of them involved in past and current eradications, believed that eradication campaigns should continue. But ‘proceed with caution’ could have been the motto” of a report the group drafted during the meeting, according to Science.
“Nearly 260,000 people died in earthquakes, floods, typhoons, heatwaves, fires and landslides in 2010 â€“ the worst toll since 1976 â€“ compared with 15,000 last year, according to reinsurance company Swiss Re. Haiti and Pakistan stood out because of the massive death toll and millions of homeless, and the extent to which both countries tested the limits of international aid. In both countries, the collapsed infrastructure will take decades to rebuild, and the disasters likely set back development gains for generations,” IANS/Sify News writes in an article examining the fall out from the disasters in Haiti and Pakistan.