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U.N., International Community Should Pledge To Improve Water, Sanitation In Haiti To Mitigate Cholera Epidemic

“The cholera epidemic in Haiti, which began in late 2010, is bad and getting worse, for reasons that are well understood and that the aid community has done far too little to resolve,” a New York Times editorial states, adding that the “Pan American Health Organization has said the disease could strike 200,000 to 250,000 people this year” and “has already killed more than 7,000.” The editorial says the U.N. “bears heavy responsibility for the outbreak,” as it is suspected that U.N. peacekeepers introduced the disease to the island nation, and it notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this month that “cholera in Haiti was evolving into two strains, suggesting the disease would become much harder to uproot and that people who had already gotten sick and recovered would be vulnerable again.”

Third Of World Carrying TB; Disease Could Become Incurable Without Action, WHO Warns

“A third of the world’s population is carrying tuberculosis [TB], and the disease could become incurable if governments fail to act, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned,” noting that a “[l]ack of funding for public health programs, the sale of inaccurate blood tests and the misuse of drugs, particularly in the private health sector, are hampering the fight against the disease and leading to drug resistance,” the Independent reports. “The rate of TB deaths had declined dramatically — by 40 percent between 1990 and 2000 — after a worldwide health campaign, which was particularly successful in China,” but “the emergence of drug-resistant strains threatens to halt progress and jeopardizes the WHO’s goal of eradicating the disease as a public health problem by 2050,” the newspaper writes, noting, “Two billion people are carriers of the TB bacillus” globally.

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).

Algeria, UNAIDS To Build First HIV/AIDS Research Center In MENA Region

“Algeria will partner with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to build the first HIV/AIDS research center in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Nature Middle East reports. “The center, which should be operational by 2013, will be based in the city of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria” and “will bring together researchers from Africa, Europe and the United States working on treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” the magazine writes.

Efforts To Stem Childhood Mortality In Ghana Will Not Be Enough To Reach MDG, UNICEF Official Says

Anirban Chatterjee, chief of health and nutrition for UNICEF in Ghana, said the country “is doing a lot” to fight child mortality — referring to a recently launched vaccination campaign and an initiative to educate mothers about nutrition — but “I don’t think it’s enough” to reach the fourth U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015, Inter Press Service reports. “I think there is definitely scope and need for more improvement,” he added, according to the news service. A GAVI Alliance-supported campaign to provide vaccines against rotavirus and pneumococcal disease is underway, but Chatterjee added that efforts to improve nutrition need to be provided simultaneously because he “said malnourishment can sometimes double or triple the chances of dying from a condition like diarrhea or pneumonia,” IPS writes.

This Mother’s Day, Ensure Babies Everywhere Are Born Free Of HIV

Ahead of Mother’s Day on May 13, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, “Together we can go from 390,000 children becoming infected with HIV each year to zero,” and he highlights “three simple things we can all do to ensure babies everywhere can be born free from HIV.”

Global Fund Announces $1.6B In Additional Funding For 2012-2014

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “expects to have an additional $1.6 billion to fund projects in 2012-2014, [the fund's General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo] said on Wednesday, a turnaround from a funding freeze last year,” Reuters reports (Miles, 5/9). “The new funds are a result of ‘strategic decisions made by the Board, freeing up funds that can be invested in countries where there is the most pressing demand,’ a statement by the fund said,” according to PlusNews (5/10). “The money includes funds from new donors, from traditional donors who are advancing their payments or increasing contributions and from some donors, such as China, that have offered to support projects in their own country to free up cash for more pressing needs elsewhere, Jaramillo said,” Reuters notes (5/9). “This forecast is better than expected, and it comes from the fantastic response we are getting to our transformation,” Jaramillo said, adding, “But we need more to get the job done. Countries that implement our grants are saving more and more people, but demand for services is still enormous,” according to the statement (5/9).

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).

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).