More than 100 world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week for Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, to address ways to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. The following blog post, opinion piece, and press release address health aspects of the conference.
“The potential for antiretroviral medicine to reduce transmission of HIV and tuberculosis has been demonstrated, but the challenges of using treatment to prevent infection will need to be tackled country by country, and with focus on people for whom it will have the biggest impact, the latest bulletin on HIV treatment from the World Health Organization says,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “WHO’s June 2012 Antiretroviral Treatment as Prevention (TasP) of HIV and TB Programmatic Update is the latest of a series of documents the organization says will lead to a completed set of guidelines on treatment and prevention in July 2013,” the blog reports, noting, “The organization also plans to release new recommendations in time for the July International AIDS Conference, addressing the preventative use of antiretroviral medicine by people who are uninfected but potentially exposed to HIV, including those involved in commercial sex work, in ongoing relationships with infected partners, and men who have sex with men” (6/18).
With “the highest level of chronic malnutrition after Afghanistan, affecting 60 percent of under fives,” Yemen is facing levels of acute malnutrition that are equal to or worse than those in Africa’s Horn or Sahel, UNICEF’s Yemen representative Geert Cappelaere said on Friday in London, AlertNet reports. “If you don’t do anything about these incredible high levels of malnutrition, in the short term you may have more and more children dying. In the long term, the cost of inaction for a country like Yemen may be up to $1.5 billion a year,” he said. According to AlertNet, “The figure comes from a World Bank estimate that the cost of failing to address malnutrition could be 2-3 percent of a country’s GDP.” Cappelaere “said that in some areas it had almost nothing to do with access to food, but rather to lack of access to drinking water or sanitation. He said bringing down malnutrition levels would require integrated investment in water, sanitation, nutrition, education, and health,” the news service writes (Batha, 6/15).
The governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, on Thursday launched the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, D.C., during a two-day event that brings together world leaders, public health experts, child health advocates and others in an effort to reduce child mortality to 20 per 1,000 by 2035 worldwide, with the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths. The following summarizes several opinion pieces addressing the effort.
“More than 50 countries look set to miss both Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for cutting mortality rates for young children and mothers by the 2015 deadline, according to” the Countdown to 2015 report, “Building a Future for Women and Children,” released by the WHO on Wednesday, the Guardian reports. “The Countdown report echoes many findings of the WHO’s World Health Statistics 2012 survey, published last month, which found that although improvements in the poorest areas have accelerated, ‘large variations in health â€¦ persist both between and within countries,'” the newspaper notes. The Guardian goes on to detail the key findings of the report and provides a link to an interactive map of key indicators for progress on health-related MDGs (6/14).
The two-day Child Survival Call to Action, “a conference hosted by the government in collaboration with Ethiopia, India and UNICEF to recognize and promote efforts to curtail child mortality,” began in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports, noting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Ben Affleck, founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, “were two of more than 80 governmental, civil society and business leaders slated to speak at the conference Thursday and Friday.” During her speech, Clinton said improving child health “cannot be just a job for governments,” and she “announced that more than 60 faith-based organizations from 40 countries were joining the fight to end preventable childhood deaths through promotion of breastfeeding, vaccines and health care for children,” the news service writes (6/14).
“Today we celebrate World Blood Donor Day — a day devoted to thanking those among us who help save lives through blood donations and to raising awareness of the need for safe and secure blood supplies,” a VOA editorial writes. “Blood transfusion is an essential part of today’s medical care,” it continues, adding, “A safe, sustainable blood supply system is critically important to the health care system of every country.”
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on Wednesday spoke with GlobalPost’s John Donnelly about the Child Survival Call to Action, a two-day high-level meeting convened by the governments of Ethiopia, India, and the U.S., in collaboration with UNICEF, according to a post in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog (Donnelly, 6/13). “The Call to Action challenges the world to reduce child mortality to 20 or fewer child deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035,” a UNICEF press release notes, adding, “Reaching this historic target will save an additional 45 million children’s lives by 2035, bringing the world closer to the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths” (6/14).
“Deaths of mothers giving birth in developing countries have dropped by nearly half since 1990, while deaths of children under five have fallen from 12 million to 7.6 million, according to a new report released Wednesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),” the Los Angeles Times reports. “A few countries have made ‘spectacular progress’ toward lowering death rates, but some others have made virtually no progress at all, according to the report, ‘Building a Future for Women and Children,’ which was published under the auspices of the Countdown to 2015 Initiative,” the newspaper writes (Maugh, 6/13). “The report assesses the progress that the 75 highest-burden countries are making towards achieving U.N. Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (MDGs),” a Countdown to 2015 press release states, noting, “These MDGs call for reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters and the deaths of children under five by two-thirds, both by 2015 compared to 1990 levels” (6/13).
“Coinciding with the 2012 General Assembly AIDS review, the Permanent Missions of Malawi and Luxembourg to the United Nations and UNAIDS organized a panel discussion to further understand the strategic investments needed for the AIDS response,” a UNAIDS reports in a feature story on its webpage, adding, “The discussion brought together representatives of member states, U.N. organizations and civil society.” According to the story, “UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe stressed the need to focus investments where they can have greater impact”; “[p]anelists agreed that incremental yet bold steps must be taken to close the financing gap by 2015, including greater allocations from domestic and international resources”; and the “UNAIDS Investment Framework was presented as an opportunity for development partners and national governments toward developing a ‘shared responsibility’ agenda and maximizing value for money” (6/12).