Op-Eds Examine Food Aid in Eastern DRC, Vitamin A Deficiency, Clinical Trial Ethics
U.S. Should Aid WFP's Operation in Eastern DRC
The U.S. should continue its "national tradition of aiding the world's poor by helping the people of eastern Congo," writes Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a member of the HALO Trust and Operation Smile boards, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. McCain continues, "As the world tries to figure out how to cope with the economic downturn, we Americans are presented with the challenge of giving even more."
The U.N.'s WFP is attempting to feed more than a million people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where the situation is "the same as or worse than in 1994" when 300,000 refugees crossed the border because of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda, McCain writes. Over the last year, the "price of cornmeal has risen by 35%" and the WFP faces a funding shortfall of $77 million for its operations in the eastern Congo, according to McCain. "I hope that my country chooses to save lives in the Congo by continuing to support the World Food Programme as it strives to provide more aid to the orphans, the sick, and those torn from their homes," she concludes (McCain, Wall Street Journal, 5/14).
Vitamin A Prevents Blindness, Saves Lives
Americans mostly take vitamin A "for granted, but many of the world's poorest people lack it," although vitamin A capsules, which cost about 2 cents each, are a "simple fix," columnist Nicholas Kristof writes in a New York Times opinion piece. According to the U.N., half of the children in many African countries are deficient in vitamin A, Kristof writes, adding that vitamin A deficiency is the "leading cause of child blindness in the world today."
Not only do vitamin A supplements reduce blindness, they also decrease death from diarrhea and other diseases, which might make them the "most cost effective intervention you can implement," according to an aid worker. Kristof writes that distributing vitamin A capsules twice a year "could lead to 600,000 children's lives saved each year in Africa" (Kristof, New York Times, 5/14).
Some Clinical Research Still Violates International Ethic Codes
"The increasing globalization of clinical research trials calls for more effective ethical and legal rules to protect both research subjects and scientific integrity," George Annas a professor and chair of the Boston University School of Public Health's Department of Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights writes in a New England Journal of Medicine perspective. Although some observers "noted more than a decade ago" that research conducted in developing countries did not adhere to the international ethical principles for human-subjects research contained in the 1947 Nuremberg Code and the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki, "[t]he situation has not improved," Annas writes (Annas, NEJM, 5/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.