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Opinions: Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak; Japan’s Global Fund Commitment; African Leaders’ Commitments To Global Fund; Building Sustainable Development Projects

Interventions Needed To Prevent Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak From Spreading

“[I]t was only a matter of time before a cholera outbreak occurred amid the devastation of post-earthquake Haiti. Why? Because cholera spreads in areas where there is untreated sewage, contaminated water, and people living close together. Cholera may also spread easily among people who are ill or malnourished as is clearly the case throughout Haiti,” writes Marc Siegel, assistant professor of medicine at New York University, in a FOXNews.com opinion. The author discusses the history of cholera epidemics, noting that the disease has been “practically eliminated” in the U.S.

In Haiti, he continues, “it is only a matter of time before this treacherous disease spreads to the tent cities around the capitol city of Port-au-Prince. The major hope is a large administration of sugar water, and an increase in the number of clinics and medical facilities that offer intravenous fluids. I also believe that there is enough evidence to warrant widespread use of the oral cholera vaccine.” Siegel cautions that if humanitarian efforts lapse, “we could have another worldwide pandemic on our hands” (10/26).

Japan Should Expand Global Fund Contribution To Continue Global Leadership

In working toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “Japan has carved out a special niche for itself, in championing the control of epidemic diseases in the poorest countries as a crucial investment in rapid economic growth and wellbeing,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, writes in a  Mainichi Daily News perspectives piece. Noting that Japan was a founding member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Sachs credits Japan with leadership in advocacy and financing global health as well as for its technological solutions. For example, “Sumitomo Chemical company invented a process to produce long-lasting anti-malaria bed nets, and these Olyset nets changed the entire malaria equation, making a decisive reduction of malaria deaths feasible within a few years.”

Sachs also writes, “Japan can and should do better” in its financing of the Global Fund to allow it to expand its programs. “Failing to replenish the Fund at a level that allows it to meet the projected need will have grave results. … The developing countries need Japan to replenish and expand its noble contribution to the Global Fund, thereby continuing Japan’s vital and historic leadership in global development” (10/26).

Letter Commends Recent Pledges By African Leaders To Global Fund

“Despite the difficult economic climate, for the first time African nations and private-sector partners have made significant commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” Kevin Starace of the U.N. Foundation writes in a New York Times letter in response to a recent editorial that appeared in the newspaper lamenting the amount of money raised at the Global Fund replenishment meeting.

“Africa’s leaders are dedicating resources that will help them address their own health challenges, saving countless lives and reducing economic losses,” Starace writes. “Nearly six million lives have been saved through Global Fund programs in less than a decade. The Global Fund cannot rely solely on donor resources from outside the continent of Africa. If Africa continues to invest in the future of its health, we will see a dramatic reduction in deaths from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis,” he concludes (10/24).

‘Practical Things Must Be Put In Place’ To Ensure Development Projects Work

In a follow-up to a previous post that profiled Riders for Health, a British organization that maintains motorcycles used by health workers in rural Africa, authors Tina Rosenberg and David Bornstein write of the challenges associated with ensuring the sustainability of development projects on the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog.

“One way to build sustainability, as several correspondents noted, is to do projects only when local people want them and will organize to help build and maintain them. That’s why it’s good to be wary of prescribing solution from afar … You may think it’s the solution.  But if the villagers don’t think so, your project isn’t going to last,” the authors write, noting how difficult it can be to interest governments and other donors to invest in maintenance for development projects.

The blog quotes Andrea Coleman of Riders for Health as saying: “The development community needs to feel much more attached to the idea that practical things must be put in place to make everything else work.” The authors conclude: “Delivery and sustainability are slighted because they fall outside the easy-to-measure and easy-to-envision last stage of the solution. … Development work can be drearily complex.  But this can be an opportunity too – because so many moving parts have to be humming for social change to happen, very often projects fail because simple, fixable things are overlooked” (10/22).