In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, David de Ferranti, president of the Results for Development Institute, and Robert Hecht, managing director at the Institute, examine whether patent pools could help increase access to AIDS drugs among the world’s poor, writing, “AIDS program managers and advocates must pursue all measures that can keep the cost of treatment low and affordable. In addition to the actions that are already being taken — like having African governments and donors buy AIDS drugs in bulk from suppliers in order to obtain better prices — could a ‘patent pool’ for new drugs help to make AIDS treatment more accessible?”
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The Guardian examines child malnutrition in Chad, where “[r]ising therapeutic feeding center admissions highlight the growing urgency of the situation in one of Sahel’s driest, most remote areas.” Chad’s Kanem region “is one of the worst-hit regions in the current food crisis, which UNICEF estimates is affecting approximately 15 million people in the Sahel,” the news service writes. “‘The needs are many and varied in Chad, as we are facing multiple crises,’ said Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, during a visit to Mao,” according to the Guardian. The news service writes, “Chad has a cereal deficit of about 400,000 tons this year, and stocks of only about 40,000 tons” (Hicks, 4/10). “The United Nations has warned that at least one million children under the age of five across Africa’s Sahel region are at risk of dying from severe famine and malnutrition due to drought,” Press TV reports, adding, “UNICEF said it needs $120 million to tackle the looming crisis” (4/10).
“In many parts of India, teenagers and housewives are now donning the garb of health volunteers and convincing pregnant women to deliver in hospitals, and not at homes,” the Times of India reports, and profiles Lata Ravikar, “one of the many ordinary women who are leading a silent revolution in urban slums and villages across the country.” The news service writes, “The invisible hand of these women” — called didis — “has already improved maternal and child health indicators, according to a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded initiative that has tracked their impact in two states,” noting, “In Maharashtra, for instance, the proportion of hospital deliveries has gone up from 78 percent to 88 percent in four years in the communities where these workers have been active.”
“The world appears reluctant to open its wallets to relief organizations dedicated to saving the lives of Africa’s children until it’s official. They want the United Nations to declare a famine,” a Globe and Mail editorial states. “UNICEF is to be credited for its preemptive global effort to break this tragic cycle of paralysis and delayed response in the case of the Sahel,” where “[o]ne million children are currently at risk of dying of acute malnutrition,” the editorial continues, and highlights a fundraising campaign launched by the organization last week, called #SahelNOW.
On Thursday at the TEDxChange conference in Berlin, Germany, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “delivered a powerful case for universal access to contraception for women around the world who need and want it,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. “She described birth control as an idea that, if made policy in both developed and developing countries, could save hundreds of thousands of women’s and children’s lives each year,” the newspaper writes, adding that she “noted being brought up a Catholic and being educated at church schools through high school, even that her mother’s great-uncle was a Jesuit priest.”
“The advancement of women’s health and their rights is one of the core principles of President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative,” a VOA editorial states, adding, “And so it is that the United States has rolled out a new initiative that will tackle one of the greatest threats to women’s health, HIV/AIDS, by attacking another scourge: gender-based violence [GBV].” According to the editorial, “Physical violence or the threat of physical violence and coercion are all associated with HIV transmission for women of all ages,” which is why “[i]n mid-March, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby announced an initiative to provide $4.65 million in small grants to grassroots organizations to address gender-based violence issues.”
Legislation In Congress Is ‘Good Start’ To Raising Awareness Of, Preventing Attacks On Medical Workers
Attacks, kidnappings, and the murders of health care workers in the uprisings taking place across the Arab world violate principles held in the Geneva Conventions and international human rights treaties, Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, writes in this Global Post opinion piece. “Recently I briefed the U.S. Congress on eight proximate causes — which I describe below — for the recent rise in such abuses across the Arab world,” he says. The eight causes include the unaccountability of military forces; medical workers have first-hand knowledge of the extent and responsible party of attacks; health care workers sometimes are viewed as “helping the enemy” and are attacked out of retribution; “perceived political activism”; “discrimination based on religious identity”; and “[o]f course error is a possible cause for violations of medical neutrality,” he notes.
Government, NGOs Working To Improve Health Services, Education To Prevent Rising Teenage Pregnancy Rate In Guatemala
“Teenage pregnancies are on the rise in Guatemala, along with the drop-out rate in schools, family breakdown and many other related social ills,” Inter Press Service reports, adding that the “impoverished Central American country of 14 million people has an adolescent (under-20) birth rate of 114 per 1,000 women in rural areas, according to the National Mother and Child Health Survey for 2008-2009.” The article discusses efforts by the government and non-profit organizations to prevent unwanted pregnancies, including laws allowing for basic maternity services and sex education classes.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “[a] long list of development experts, government officials and news organizations around the world have mounted a rebellion of sorts” in response to the nomination of Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and Dartmouth College president, to head the World Bank, as “[m]any of them say the two other candidates, Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, are better qualified for the post.” According to the newspaper, “The race marks the first time the selection of a World Bank president has been contested,” but “[d]espite the controversy” surrounding the nomination, Kim “is still virtually certain to secure the post because of his support from the U.S., the bank’s largest shareholder.”
The WHO on April 7 celebrated the founding of the organization in 1948 and World Health Day, “by focusing on aging, including a host of events, research and information under the theme, ‘Good health adds life to years,'” CNN reports (4/7). “Contrary to common perceptions, the WHO reports by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s older people will be living in low-and middle-income countries — not in the wealthier nations,” and “a new analysis shows the key reasons for ill health in older people are from non-communicable diseases,” VOA News writes (Schlein, 4/7).