“Western and central Africa are facing one of the biggest cholera epidemics in their history, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said last month, in reporting that more than 85,000 cases of cholera have been registered since the beginning of the year, with nearly 2,500 deaths,” according to Le Monde/Guardian. The newspaper writes, “UNICEF has identified three main cholera epidemic outbreaks in the Lake Chad basin, the West Congo basin and Lake Tanganyika,” and “[f]ive countries — Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC) and Chad — account for 90 percent of the reported cases and fatalities.”
Water and Sanitation
Global Post Interviews Former U.N. General Assembly President On Role Of Water, Sanitation In Family Planning
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog interviewed Ambassador Jan Eliasson, former president of the U.N. General Assembly and Sweden’s former minister for foreign affairs, on how water and sanitation play a part in family planning, as the world’s population approaches seven billion. Eliasson discusses his interest in women’s reproductive health issues, strategies for increasing attention on these issues, and difficulties faced by policymakers on the issues surrounding family planning, among other topics. “We don’t realize when you look at the issues of child mortality, women’s health, or education, all the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) are affected by water and sanitation. I see a real need for a horizontal approach to health. Population issues and family planning are an integrated part of solving that problem,” he said (Donnelly, 10/26).
“Seasonal rains cause massive damage and disease throughout Nigeria each year, and this year’s onslaught comes as international experts warn West Africa is suffering from its worst cholera outbreaks in years,” the Associated Press/ABC News reports. According to UNICEF, Nigeria “had recorded more than 21,000 cholera cases this year by the end of September” and “[a]t least 694 people have died from the disease,” the news agency writes. Twenty-five of Nigeria’s 36 states have reported cholera cases, with most coinciding with local flooding, the AP notes, adding that “almost half of Nigeria’s 150 million people lack access to clean water and proper sanitation, according to the World Health Organization” (Gambrell, 10/26).
“Countries around the world marked the world’s population reaching seven billion Monday with lavish ceremonies for newborn infants symbolizing the milestone and warnings that there may be too many humans for the planet’s resources,” the Associated Press/MSNBC.com reports (10/31). “With the world’s population more than doubling over the last half century, basics like food and water are under more strain than ever, say experts, and providing for an additional two to three billion people in the next 50 years is a serious worry,” AlertNet/Reuters writes, adding that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says food production will have to increase by 70 percent to keep pace. “But climate change may be the greatest impediment to meeting this target, say experts,” the news agency notes (Kumar/Bhalla, 10/31).
The VOA News audio program “Explorations” on Tuesday discussed international humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa. The program features interviews with Kurt Tjossem, the International Rescue Committee’s regional director for the Horn of Africa and East Africa; Shannon Scribner, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy manager; and Nancy Lindborg, USAID’s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
With more than one billion people lacking access to clean and safe water, and waterborne diseases causing 7,000 child deaths every day worldwide, “[i]t’s more important than ever that we be willing to look at old problems and find innovative ways to solve them. The issues of water access, quantity and quality need to be addressed at the same time,” Kevin McGovern and Quincy Jones, chair and honorary chair, respectively, of The Water Initiative (TWI), write in a Huffington Post opinion piece.
The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti on Tuesday “filed claims with the United Nations seeking damages on behalf of more than 5,000 Haitian cholera victims and their families,” the Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Daniel, 11/8).
“[A] lack of action on climate change and habitat destruction will threaten the progress of developing countries,” because environmental sustainability affects “a wide range of social issues,” including “health, education, income, gender disparities and energy production, combined with protection of the ecosystem,” according to the U.N. Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2011, titled, “Sustainability and Equity: a Better Future for All,” VOA News reports. The report “argues that if you invest in people’s health and schooling, the population will be a better keeper of its environmental resources over the long term,” according to the news service (Lewis, 11/8).
As part of its series on innovation, the Washington Post features an interview with PSI Vice President for Corporate Marketing and Communications Kate Roberts, who answers several questions regarding PSI’s work in global health. Roberts discusses providing safe drinking water; creating partnerships between the private sector and non-profit organizations; being a “lone actor” for short periods in order to prove an intervention’s worth; investing in an Innovations Fund “that allows us to experiment with new ideas that PSI believes in but that donor agencies aren’t yet ready to support”; and social franchising, which is “a way of delivering health products and services that ensures that they’re accessible, affordable and desirable to all those in need” (Roberts, 11/8).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation presents an infographic on reinventing the toilet, as “2.6 billion people still don’t have a safe, affordable way to poop.” The Gates Foundation also includes links to a video and additional information about its work in sanitation (11/14).