Opinions: Using Taxes To Reduce Poverty; Fighting TB; Meeting Global Food Demands
Increased Tax Revenues Can Create 'In-Roads Into Poverty Reduction'
"To improve living standards and create jobs," African governments "need to provide their citizens with better health care, better education, more infrastructure. How to pay for this in a way that is both fair and efficient is a question that all governments face," Mark Plant, deputy director of the IMF's African Department, writes in a BusinessDay opinion piece where he describes how increased tax revenues in several African countries have led to "in-roads into poverty reduction."
For countries to be successful in revenue generation efforts, "countries should avoid taxes that hamper economic development or job creation. Instead they should be designed to be pro-development and pro-jobs," Plant writes, adding, "There are two pieces to this puzzle: improving revenue administration; and better tax policy." He also outlines five issues for consideration when reforming tax policy (3/24).
The U.S. Commitment To Fighting TB
Marking World TB Day, a VOA News editorial describes the progress made in the fight against the disease over the past two decades and challenges ahead, as described by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. "Milestones include a 35 percent decline in mortality since 1990, a 14 percent decrease in the prevalence of TB over the past two decades, and the emergence of new technologies which are better able to detect multidrug-resistant TB," the editorial states, adding, "Nonetheless, TB continues to be a major global health threat," with many cases going undetected and a rise in drug-resistant strains of TB.
"That is why the U.S. is making major investments to prevent and control TB in countries around the world where the burden of the disease is highest, said Dr. Shah," the editorial continues. "In collaboration with host nations and our partners, the U.S. works to improve the quality of basic TB programs, upgrade laboratory infrastructure, introduce new diagnostic technologies, and train community health workers to assist with early diagnosis and facilitate treatment for patients" (3/23).
BRIC Countries Should Join Together To Fight TB
"While the U.S. has created special initiatives for HIV (PEPFAR) and malaria (President's Malaria Initiative), no one is championing the cause of TB," the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Stop TB Jorge Sampaio writes in a guest column in the Financial Times, where he calls for BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) to "join together in a global initiative to galvanise action and tackle TB and MDR-TB head-on addressing a significant threat to global health security and development."
Despite the "fast-growing economies" of the BRIC countries, "these rising giants share [another feature] in common: a huge burden of tuberculosis (TB)," Sampaio writes. Not only do "Brazil, Russia, India and China all have the capacity to make rapid progress on TB. the BRICs could use their domestic manufacturing capacity to expand access to underutilised technologies such as fixed-dose combination drugs, or, better, build capacity to produce quality-assured TB drugs in less developed countries. All could commit themselves to increasing government funding for research and development of new TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Working in parallel, they could tackle individual projects of particular relevance to their regions or development agendas."
Sampaio concludes, "This June, world leaders will meet at U.N. Headquarters for a high-level meeting on AIDS. It is vital that TB be on the agenda. This would be an ideal opportunity for new emerging global leaders to form a coalition and take a stand on TB" (3/23).
Short-, Long-Term Strategies To Meet Global Food Demands
To respond to rising global food prices "as a country and a globe we must work with other governments to help those most vulnerable to spikes in food prices and put in place the fundamentals to feed a rapidly growing population," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack writes in a Financial Times opinion piece. "This means encouraging all nations to pursue policies that limit price volatility, while identifying vulnerable populations and responding appropriately," he writes.
Vilsack offers several short- and long-term approaches to meeting food demands globally and says that "[p]roducers across the globe must also continue to embrace existing and emerging technologies to produce more per acre while using less water, fewer pesticides and herbicides and less energy." He also addressed the U.S.' efforts to boost "agricultural productivity, both in America and in the parts of the world most plagued by food insecurity."
He concludes, "Global food security is important to the many people around the world who are hungry but also critically important to the sustainable economic growth of these nations, the stability of food prices and the economic prosperity and national security of our own country" (3/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.