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Recent Releases In Global Health

Women’s Rights Essential To Improving Maternal Mortality

The U.N.’s plan to improve maternal health is lacking “the one element that will make it work. Human rights,” according to blog post on Huffington Post. “Medical causes of maternal death – hemorrhage, sepsis, hypertension, unsafe abortion, HIV and AIDS – are inextricably linked to human rights. Each one of these instances can be prevented or treated by simply respecting women’s human rights in health policies and delivery of services, and addressing systemic gender inequality.” The piece also calls for addressing the anti-prostitution loyalty oath, which organizations must sign to receive U.S. funding, saying, “It strips women of their ability to protect themselves or their clients against HIV infection. By perpetuating stigma and discrimination against sex workers, it blocks their access to health care, including pre and postnatal care, and newborn and infant care” (Sippel, 6/15).

U.S. Sustains Global AIDS Fight Despite Challenges

A post on America.gov says that despite economic challenges, “U.S. officials at the front lines of the [HIV/AIDS] pandemic promise increased funding and modified strategies for preventing the spread of the disease.” The post describes attention given to developing an HIV vaccine after an early trial in Thailand showed “a modest ability to prevent HIV infection.” It also describes an increase in PEPFAR funding and the focus on tailoring prevention efforts to diverse communities affected by HIV (Pellerin, 6/15).

Burden Of Plasmodium Falciparum Malaria Estimated At 451M

A study published in PLoS Medicine “concludes that there were an estimated 451 million clinical cases of Plasmodium falciparum malaria worldwide in 2007,” according to a press release. The study used an alternative cartographic method for estimating global clinical burden because “in places where malaria is endemic diagnosis is often inaccurate and national reporting is incomplete.” In the study, the researcher note that their estimate for P. falciparum “is higher than the WHO estimate of 247 million cases each year that was obtained using surveillance-based methods.” The researchers, who are part of the Malaria Atlas Project, conclude that “[u]nacceptable uncertainty in the clinical burden of malaria in only four countries confounds our ability to evaluate needs and monitor progress toward international targets for malaria control at the global scale. National prevalence surveys in each nation would reduce this uncertainty profoundly” (Hay, et. al., 6/15).

Blog: Transparency Key To Foreign Aid

Change.org’s Global Poverty blog discusses transparency in U.S. foreign aid in light of a recent report from Oxfam, which conducted 200 interviews with “aid stakeholders” in various countries.  The blog writes, “You’d think that at the start of any aid project, U.S. officials would apprise local government about what they’re planning to spend, where they’re spending it, for how long, how and why. That way, governments can absorb this information into future plans, right? Not exactly.” Oxfam found that “45% say the U.S. is less transparent than other donors. (And no, that doesn’t mean the majority thinks the U.S. record on transparency beats out other donors – 26% of respondents believed that the U.S. had just a middling approach, and that donors in general aren’t very transparent.),” the blog notes (Chen, 6/14).

Blog: Future Of Global HIV/AIDS Funding

African leaders are concerned about “stagnation” in international funding for AIDS, according to a post on the Center for Global Health Policy’s blog “Science Speaks,” which reports from a session at the Global Health Council’s annual conference. The blog highlights discussion of future funding levels for HIV/AIDS and how to allocate spending to maximize impact. The post includes comments from Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator Paul Bouey and several other experts including two leaders in Africa, who “expressed concern about whether the international funding would last, leaving them vulnerable with a growing number of people on AIDS treatment and little resources to pay for them” (Donnelly, 6/14).

Heritage Foundation Blog Examines Women Deliver Conference

The Heritage Foundation’s “The Foundry” blog says that the “overriding emphasis of the [Women Deliver] conference was on increased family planning and abortion projects as the primary tools in reducing maternal mortality and reaching the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.”

“Unfortunately, Women Deliver 2010 served as yet another forum for the thinly veiled attempt by the Obama Administration and its allies at Planned Parenthood to tap into the global commitments and funding dedicated to maternal and newborn health,” the blog asserts. The piece calls the conference “little more than the international version of the Administration’s domestic plan to bail out organizations whose main focus is condom distribution and abortion liberalization” (6/14).

PEPFAR Funding Has Not Improved Non-HIV Health Outcomes

A retrospective study published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society concludes that the “WHO Africa Region showed a small worsening in health outcomes status when all indicators were analyzed together and weighted equally. However, more health indicators improved than worsened over this six-year period.” The study examines whether there was an association between PEPFAR funding and improvement in overall national health indicators in Africa. “This study suggests that vertical programmes, even one that is the scale of PEPFAR, may have little or no impact on health outcomes not explicitly targeted,” the authors write (Duber et. al., 6/12).