“[T]his Valentine’s Day, perhaps it’s time to celebrate with a gift many of the world’s women desperately want and need: reproductive health,” Robert Engelman, president of the Worldwatch Institute, writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. Engelman provides global maternal mortality statistics and notes, “Access to family planning and other reproductive health services safeguard the lives of women and their children and promote families that are emotionally and economically healthy.”
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“While the headlines out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meetings in Davos primarily focus on getting (or keeping) the global economy on track, it’s a welcome development when nutrition and health information also rise to the top of the priorities list, reminding world leaders of the inextricable link between nutrition, health and well-being of the people on our planet and that of our global economy,” Klaus Kraemer, director of Sight and Life, a not-for-profit nutrition think tank, writes in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog.
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Leslie Gerwin, associate director of law and public affairs at Princeton University, reflects on the recent controversy over whether to research and publish data about potentially dangerous strains of the H5N1 bird flu virus, writing, “I am disturbed that so much coverage of this dispute — so deserving of sober consideration — is fixated on fear mongering.” She notes, “Those opposing research or publication … predict that publishing results will lead to abuse or misuse by terrorists looking to create a biological weapon. … Those favoring continuation of the project warn of ‘censorship,’ a constitutional no-no particularly when involving the ‘suppression’ of science.”
“The World Health Organization warned Monday that the battle against the age-old scourge of leprosy is not yet over, with more than 5,000 new cases reported yearly in the Western Pacific, where the disease was declared eliminated in 1991,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (2/13). “‘Leprosy is still much alive in the Western Pacific,’ said Shin Young-Soo, WHO regional director,” at a meeting of national leprosy control program managers from the Western Pacific, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C writes, adding, “Policymakers, health workers and the public should not be misled that the disease is totally gone and must continue to fight it, he said.”
Crop Failures, Returning Migrants, Weather Patterns Threatening To Worsen Malnutrition In Africa’s Sahel, Horn Regions
“Sahel states are bracing for a long, potentially deadly hungry season, many weakened by the return of people from Libya who are unemployed, armed and creating fresh strife in already-vulnerable countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Crops have failed across a massive swathe of eight countries after late and erratic rains in 2011, and aid agencies have raised the alarm of a food crisis bigger than that which left millions hungry in 2010,” according to the news agency (Blandy, 2/11). In an article examining hunger among children in Mauritania, Inter Press Service writes that “other countries in the Sahel … are affected as well: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal,” adding, “Twelve million people will soon suffer severe food insecurity and hunger in this region, aid agencies warn” (Palitza, 2/10).
Foreign Policy examines “India’s flourishing fertility treatment business,” a multi-billion dollar industry that “has earned India the dubious reputation of being the world’s baby factory.” While “regulation has not kept pace with the proliferation of clinics” and some “facilities have been accused of a litany of shocking abuses,” “[t]he Indian government is gearing up to pass a new law to regulate the fertility business,” the magazine writes. The article focuses on “one pressing issue [that] has remained beyond the purview of regulation: How old is too old to get pregnant?” and discusses post-menopausal aged women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments in order to become pregnant (Chopra, 2/10).
The announcement at the end of January of the largest coordinated effort to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) provides “more reason to hope that we may soon see a future free of these diseases,” Adetokunbo Lucas, former director of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, writes in a Daily Monitor opinion piece. “This new coordinated action will take these previous efforts to a whole new level,” he writes, adding, “Together, these partners have pledged to increase the supply of existing drugs and invest and collaborate on research to accelerate the development of new and better drugs.”
This report — titled “The Race to Eradication,” published on Friday by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), and written by Jennifer Cooke, director of the CSIS Africa Program, and Farha Tahir, a program coordinator and research associate in the program — examines efforts to eradicate polio in Nigeria, a country that “remains one of the most entrenched reservoirs of poliovirus in the world,” according to the report summary. CSIS writes on its website, “The Nigerian experience has underscored the complexity of the eradication endeavor and vividly demonstrates the fragility and reversibility of gains made to date” (2/10).
“Current negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and India are causing serious concern in many quarters over future access to cheap generic medicines used to treat some of the world’s great public health threats: HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and also cancer,” Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.N. special adviser on innovative financing for development and chair of UNITAID, and Denis Broun, executive director of UNITAID, write in this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” “Those fears are well founded: if the E.U. and India agree on stringent patent and border measures, India’s role as the ‘pharmacy of the south’ could well come to an end,” they add.
“The growing threat of nodding disease and increased pressure for action has spurred the Ugandan government to announce a $3 million (USD) plan to address the mystery illness,” Global Health Frontline News reports, adding, “Initial funds will be used to set up screening centers and treat those affected in Pader, Kitgum, and Lamwo districts in northern Uganda as early as this month.”