“If we don’t leverage the power of innovation to transform how health services are provided and utilized, efforts to stop new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths can reach a stalemate,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in this opinion piece in the Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog. “Many of the advances in HIV prevention and treatment have come through innovation and applying knowledge in new ways,” he continues, highlighting the protective benefits of male circumcision and the introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is facing an unprecedented crisis that threatens its position as the premier international health agency. To ensure its leading role, it must rethink its internal governance and revamp its financing mechanisms,” 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, write in this Nature Medicine opinion piece. They note that the WHO “was born in the bifurcated Cold War world in 1948, and every aspect of its charter, mission and organizational structure was molded by diplomatic tensions between NATO and the USSR,” but “with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the new emerging market superpowers, the WHO finds itself trying to straddle a global dynamic for which it was not designed.”
“Sahelian governments and local and international aid groups are struggling to cope with both the continual arrivals of people fleeing … northern Mali, and the mounting number of hungry people across the region as the lean season gets underway,” IRIN reports. According to UNHCR, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced within Mali or fled to surrounding countries, and IRIN reports “governments are already struggling to get aid to millions of their inhabitants, who are facing hunger due to drought.” The news service writes, “The U.N. estimates that 16 million people across the Sahel are facing hunger this year, and hunger levels are rising.” IRIN continues, “This complex mix of slow and fast-onset crises means the U.N. will be revising or launching new funding appeals from the current $1 billion to $1.5 billion in coming weeks, said Noel Tsekouras, deputy head of office at the West Africa bureau of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Dakar” (5/4).
In a joint statement (.pdf), UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin and Agneta Bridges, secretary-general of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), recognize the International Day of the Midwife on May 5. “The right to health is a basic human right that every woman should enjoy. Yet, every day, almost 1,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth â€¦ One of the main causes for these tragedies is lack of access to maternity services, including the care of midwives or others with midwifery skills at childbirth,” they write, continuing, “Urgent action is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on child and maternal health before the target year of 2015, and investing in human resources for health, especially midwifery, is one the soundest investments a country can make to accelerate progress” (5/4).
This RH Reality Check post by the International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region (IPPFWHR) examines a “resolution in support of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and human rights” adopted recently by member states at the 45th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD). According to the post, “[k]ey points of the final resolution include: The right of young people to decide on all matters related to their sexuality; Access to sexual and reproductive health services â€¦ that respect confidentiality and do not discriminate; The right of youth to comprehensive sexuality education; Protection and promotion of young people’s right to control their sexuality free from violence, discrimination and coercion” (5/3).
“Nine in 10 U.S. voters say it’s important for the United States to support the global health efforts of the U.N.’s World Health Organization, according to a United Nations Foundation/Better World Campaign poll [.pdf] released Thursday,” The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports. “The poll comes as lawmakers debate significant cuts to federal spending, including cuts to global health funding and foreign aid,” the blog notes (Pecquet, 5/3).
The Results for Development Institute’s Center for Global Health R&D Policy Assessment blog features an interview with Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. manager of the Access Campaign of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), who discusses the final report of the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG). Sanjuan addresses “the origins, significance, and likely impact of the CEWG’s work,” according to the blog (Ghoshal, 5/2).
The March of Dimes Foundation, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Save the Children, and the WHO on Wednesday released a new report, titled “Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth,” showing that 15 million infants are born prematurely each year, 1.1 million of those infants die, but 75 percent of those deaths are preventable. The following blog posts addressed the report and its findings.
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) “has warned clashes along the border between Sudan and South Sudan threaten to plunge the region into widespread hunger” and “said it is scaling up its humanitarian operation in South Sudan to assist a growing number of refugees and displaced people,” VOA News reports. WFP “plans to assist 2.7 million people in South Sudan this year under an emergency operation covering the border region and other areas,” the news service writes. WFP spokesperson Elizabeth Byrs “said [the agency] is providing special supplementary, nutritional feeding to about one-half-million young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers who are suffering from, or are vulnerable to, malnutrition,” according to VOA (Schlein, 5/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, said in a press release it also is concerned about the rising number of malnourished refugees arriving in South Sudan and the threat of water shortages in several border areas, the South Sudan News Agency notes (5/2).
“Calculating the number of hungry people around the world at any given moment, let alone predicting how that number is likely to change in the future, is no easy task,” Reuters reports in an article examining the numerous challenges of estimating the number of undernourished people worldwide and noting the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is expected to release new data and methodology in October “as part of [its] annual report on food insecurity.” According to the news service, “The question is not whether metrics are necessary, but how to collect, interpret and share the data to present a realistic and accurate picture of the food security situation.” While “[i]mproving the way hunger is calculated could have far-reaching consequences for the way governments and aid agencies respond more effectively to hunger crises, experts say,” “[u]ltimately … it is not data, but action, that makes a difference,” according to Reuters (Rowling, 5/2).