U.N. Agencies Call for Greater International Health Funding from Richer Nations
The World Health Organization, the U.N. Children's Fund, the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNAIDS, the U.N. Population Fund and the World Bank yesterday released a joint report on health that states they have had "some success" in reducing the spread of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing nations, but that an additional $5 billion per year from wealthy countries is needed to save the lives of millions of children, the Washington Times reports. Although David Heymann of WHO noted "a great decrease in mortality among young people in 20 countries," the U.N. agencies' successes have been "patchwork," and need to be introduced in many other nations. He said, "The message is optimism," but thwarting the spread of disease requires "increased political commitment" to poorer nations for the installation of effective health practices, adding that "[g]oods such as drugs, condoms and mosquito nets" are still widely unavailable. Developing countries that have implemented aggressive policies to make condoms affordable and to provide counseling and treatment of AIDS patients, such as Thailand, Uganda and Senegal, have "dramatically reduced the spread of AIDS," the report said. UNICEF faces a "terrible dilemma" in trying to prevent transmission of HIV to infants through breast milk, Rudolf Knippenberg of the agency said, because the risk of death from dysentery and malnutrition for impoverished children who are not breastfed is increased nine to 14 times, surpassing the risk of becoming infected with HIV from their mothers. Chris Lovelace of the World Bank called for greater contribution from donor countries as "developing nations already spend $50 billion of their own money on health care;" doubling international health funding to $10 billion would save many of the 10 million children who die from infectious and preventable diseases each year, he said (Barber, Washington Times, 12/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.