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Opinion: U.S. Should Double Global Maternal, Child Health Spending; Ban, Chan Want ‘Global Solidarity'; Resources For Diabetes, HIV/AIDS

U.S. Should Double Newborn, Maternal Health Spending, Encourage Other G8 Countries To Do The Same

Although “child survival is improving – albeit way too slowly – in most regions of the world,” sub-Saharan Africa “continues to have the world’s highest child-mortality rates,” former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who serves as the chairman of Save the Children’s Survive to 5 campaign, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece.  Frist asserts, “We cannot continue to allow one of every seven African children to die when it is so readily within our reach to prevent those deaths.”

Frist writes that “African leaders have formally recognized that pursuing the greatest gains for children – and thus for the continent’s future – must go hand in hand with strengthening health systems that can deliver lifesaving interventions. … Now African governments and the international community must unite to develop and support systems to deliver these proven interventions efficiently and widely.” According to Frist, “For just $44, a package of these interventions can include immunizations; counseling on breast-feeding and newborn care; and treatment for childhood killers such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.”

He writes that the U.S. should “at least double” the current $495 million that is spent on maternal and newborn health and “encourage other industrialized nations to do the same at next month’s summit in Italy of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations, and reinforce a desperately needed and African-driven organizing principle to bring health care to all children and communities in Africa” (Frist, Washington Times, 6/16).

Ban, Chan Call For ‘Global Solidarity’ In Fighting Disease

An “effective response” to the spread disease must be “grounded in a sense of global solidarity and enlightened self-interest,” because “the impact of disease in one country is ultimately felt by all,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan write in a Gulf Times opinion piece.

The authors write, “Beyond this [H1N1] pandemic, there almost certainly lurks another down the road – potentially far more serious,” and the “same principles of solidarity must guide us as we mobilise to meet the other health challenges that afflict the world populations, and the poorest in particular.” Although health spending is “often among the first to be cut” during “hard times,” entire societies pay a “high price” when governments cut back on “primary health care for their poorer citizens,” Ban and Chan write. “In short, we must remain vigilant and continue actively to manage this pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic reminds us that we need to think and act beyond it. Only by doing so can we truly protect our people, our countries, our economy, and our global society,” they conclude (Ban/Chan, Gulf Times, 6/16).

Boston Globe Column Compares Resources For HIV/AIDS, Diabetes In Uganda

Resources to treat patients living with diabetes in Uganda pale in comparison to HIV/AIDS resources, Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson discovered during a recent trip to the city of Mbarara, Uganda, six hours southwest of the capital city of Kampala. In his column, Jackson writes that even though “[t]he World Health Organization has warned that diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and other diseases of development are well on their way to becoming entrenched worldwide,” stark difference exist between the Mbarara HIV-AIDS clinic, with its “immaculate, brightly lit labs with blood-sampling equipment and computer data stations worthy of a Boston hospital” and the local diabetes clinic, where the clinic head Bitekyerezo Medaro said patients sleep in the grass and have said they would prefer to have HIV so that their treatment would be free. “When I see the treatment for HIV, I become inspired as to what we can do,” Medaro said. “When I see what we have for diabetes, I feel defeated” (Jackson, Boston Globe, 6/16).