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Opinion: Expanding Global Fund; Repurposing Wastewater; Financing Global Health Needs

Opinion Piece Outlines Challanges Facing Global Fund

In an Economic Times opinion piece, Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University outlines what he sees as “two huge challenges facing” the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: “The first is lack of financing. … The second challenge is to broaden the Global Fund’s mandate” from the current focus on specific diseases. “Many countries – including France, Japan, Norway, the UK and the U.S. – have recently recognised the need to move beyond the financing of control of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to financing improvements in primary health systems more generally. But they seem to view the issue of health-system financing as an either-or choice: scale up control of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, or scale up financing of primary health systems,” Sachs writes. “The truth, of course, is that both are needed, and both are affordable.”

Expanding the Global Fund’s “financing mandate” to include primary health systems strengthening programs would help address Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing child and maternal mortality, Sachs says. “President Barack Obama has been outspoken in support of scaling up primary health services, yet the specific budget proposals from his administration are not yet satisfactory,” Sachs writes, while also encouraging the Obama administration to increase its 2011 investment in the Global Fund from $1 billion per year, as proposed, to “around $4 billion per year” (3/22).

Wastewater Is An Overlooked Resource, Opinion Piece Explains

Marking World Water Day, Jules van der Lier of Delft University, describes the importance of addressing water pollution in Reuters’ blog, “The Great Debate.“ “In an era of increasing water scarcity, especially in the developed world, it is increasingly vital that we use all our water supplies efficiently,” van der Lier writes before highlighting the benefits of recent advances in water treatment technology. “Thus, far from being a useless by-product which is collected in pipes and gutters and flows into a dump-hole somewhere in the ground, wastewater is actually fast becoming a potential source of valuable raw materials including water and energy that can be reused productively for energy and irrigation.”

Though this potential has been overlooked in the past, van der Lier writes, “it is likely that a new generation of developing country entrepreneurs will be able to unlock the value and potential profitability in wastewater and play a key role in the construction and implementation of basic sanitary infrastructure, opening up new opportunities in areas such as micro-financing and environmental engineering. This would be hugely important in the developing world where 2.6 billion people still have no proper sanitation, resulting in some 200 deaths per hour, with the highest number among children under five” (3/22).

Financial Transactions Tax Can Improve Maternal, Child Health, Opinion Says 

In a Globe and Mail opinion piece, Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, and Stephen Lewis, co-director of AIDS-Free World, write about Canada’s opposition “to an innovative financing tool – the financial transactions tax (FTT) – that would produce billions of dollars to meet critical global health needs,” in light of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent G8 maternal and child health initiative proposal. They write that the tax “has been endorsed by Britain, France, Germany and the International Monetary Fund (with friendly interest shown by U.S. President Barack Obama), would levy a fee so small (as little as 0.005 per cent) on the millions of daily bank financial transactions that one would need a magnifying glass to even notice it.”

The FTT “would raise billions of dollars in a time of severe cutbacks for desperately needed global health initiatives, such as the effort to provide universal access to prevention, treatment and care for HIV – a goal that G8 leaders pledged in 2005 to meet by this year but that remains far off.” Montaner and Lewis write of the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and children worldwide before concluding, “The [Canadian] government’s stubborn resistance to this innovative idea embarrasses a country that was once a leader on global health” (3/19).