In this post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog, Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at GHTC, responds to the release of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request, writing, “In his introduction to the overall budget request, Obama emphasized that research and development (R&D) programs are essential to the U.S. economy and the country’s future. … When looking at the budget numbers for global health, Obama’s emphasis on R&D in his introduction played out in various ways, with some good and bad news.” She notes that while “Congress has the authority to change the funding levels as it sees fit, … it could be difficult to justify spending above what the Administration views as appropriate, especially given the current fiscal crisis and the shortened election-year appropriations process” (2/16).
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In this SciDev.Net opinion piece, journalist Priya Shetty writes that the Sustainable Development Goals — a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) proposed to begin in 2015 — “need more focus on health to continue the progress achieved with MDGs.” She continues, “[A]lthough early drafts of the SDGs address issues that the MDGs neglected, such as food security, they are light on health and many social issues (education, for example, or gender equity). This should be of major concern to public health experts.”
“A stakeholder consultation convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva has reviewed recent epidemiological studies related to HIV transmission and acquisition by women using hormonal contraceptives,” a UNAIDS press statement reports (2/16). In a technical statement (.pdf), “[t]he Geneva-based United Nations health agency confirmed its existing recommendations [Thursday] after a study published last year found using contraceptive injections doubles the chance women will catch HIV and transmit it to a male partner,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Hallam, 2/16). The WHO “concluded that hormonal contraception — whether the pill or injection — was safe for women at risk of HIV to use if they wanted to prevent pregnancy,” the Guardian notes (Boseley, 2/16).
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, recognized on February 6, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “said … that there is no cultural justification for female genital cutting, a practice that is sometimes referred to as female circumcision,” and that “governments and non-governmental organizations are making progress toward ending female genital mutilation, or FGM, by reaching out to those who still practice it,” VOA News reports (Stearns, 2/16). “The press conference was intended to highlight the continuing need for policy changes and new strategies to end FGM and promote support for women who have undergone the procedures,” ABC News writes (Conley, 2/16).
“At least 16 people have been killed this week when a category four cyclone lashed Madagascar’s eastern shores, rescue authorities said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports, adding, “Some 65 people were injured and about 11,000 people left homeless after Cyclone Giovanna pummeled the country’s eastern seaboard causing power shutdowns in parts of the island’s port city of Tamatave, rescue officials said” (Iloniaina, 2/16). UNICEF “will start distributing medicines and mosquito nets [Thursday] to the parts of eastern Madagascar hardest hit” by the cyclone, the U.N. News Centre writes.
“A feeble international response to Pakistan’s second major flooding crisis in two years has left millions of people at serious risk of malnutrition and disease, aid groups warned Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), a network of the 41 largest international charities in the country, called on the international community and Pakistan to take urgent steps with the next monsoon season months away,” the news service adds. “At least 2.5 million people are still without food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care, putting them at serious risk of malnutrition, disease and deepening poverty, said the coalition of international charities,” AFP writes, adding, “Around 43 percent of affected people are severely short of food and malnutrition levels were already well above the emergency threshold in the southern provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan before the floods struck” (Gilani, 2/15).
U.N. Meeting Delegates Urge International Community To Respond Thoroughly, Rapidly To Drought-Stricken Sahel
“Delegates at a meeting convened by the United Nations to draw up strategies to respond to the humanitarian crisis in West Africa’s drought-prone Sahel region [on Wednesday] called for comprehensive and rapid assistance to the millions of people affected, especially children and women,” the U.N. News Centre reports (2/15). “Heads of U.N. agencies and representatives from governments, the African Union and the Economic Community Of West African States met in Rome to discuss a joint response to the situation in the region,” the Guardian notes (Ford, 2/15). “U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization director Jose Graziano da Silva warned there is ‘little time to act,'” according to VOA’s “Breaking News” blog (2/15).
The “WHO should regulate alcohol at the global level, enforcing such regulations as a minimum drinking age, zero-tolerance drunken driving, and bans on unlimited drink specials,” Devi Sridhar, a lecturer in global health politics at the University of Oxford, argues in a commentary published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, Scientific American reports. “[A]lcohol kills more than 2.5 million people annually, more than AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis,” and it is a leading health concern for middle-income populations, “greater than obesity, inactivity and even tobacco,” according to the news service (Wanjek, 2/15).
Indian Authorities Vaccinate Children Crossing India-Pakistan Border; Distrust Of Polio Vaccines Grows In Pakistan
After going a year without recording a polio case, Indian health officials have begun vaccinating young children who cross the border to or from Pakistan at the Munabao railway station in Rajasthan state, BBC News reports. “The drive was launched after more than 175 cases of polio were reported in Pakistan, officials said,” the news agency writes (2/16).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at CGD, and Denizhan Duran, a research assistant at CGD, note that while the decreases in funding for the Global Health Initiative (GHI) and PEPFAR in President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request are “alarming,” the “bright spot” is that multilateral programs, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance, would get increases in their funding. “Multilateral aid is more efficient. … In the case of U.S. global health aid, potential gains from a shift to multilaterals may be large,” they write (2/15).