Opinions: G8 Summit; World Malaria Day; Family Planning; Global Food Security Act
To Improve Maternal, Child Health, Focus On Improving Nutrition
As G8 development leaders gather in Halifax, Nova Scotia, this week to discuss priorities for the upcoming summit, Josette Sheeran, executive director of the WFP, calls for world leaders to focus on the nutritional needs of mothers and children in developing countries in a Toronto Star opinion piece. "No issue is more urgent, or more foundational to other development goals, than getting maternal and child nutrition right," Sheeran writes, while noting the human and economic toll of malnutrition, and the contributions the WFP and Canadian government have made to fight malnutrition.
"We know that we have much more to do. The World Bank estimates that about $10 billion (U.S. dollars) per year would provide 13 proven interventions in the most vulnerable countries, from food fortification to targeted supplements for the most vulnerable. ... The G8 has a unique opportunity to make combatting child malnutrition a pillar of the leaders' summit in Muskoka. Now is the time. All that is needed is focus, our combined knowledge, political will and resources from around the world. The G8 summit can become a tipping point where the world can rally to make child malnutrition history" (4/26).
Why 'It Makes Sense For Washington To Invest In Malaria-Control Efforts Worldwide'
In a Politico opinion piece, Peter Chernin, chairman of Malaria No More, spells out "four reasons why it makes sense for Washington to invest in malaria-control efforts worldwide," including a strengthening of the global economy and a "cost-effective high rate of return" strategy. Chernin contrasts the rapid progress countries such as Tanzania, Ethiopia and Zambia have made to the experience of Sierra Leone, a country with "the highest child mortality rate, largely because of malaria." Chernin notes, "stamping out malaria helps address other health concerns. Because of malaria's relationship to health threats like HIV and AIDS, aid for malaria control can lead to additional improvements."
"With U.S. support, the Global Fund alone finances nearly two-thirds of all malaria-control efforts worldwide, leveraging every dollar into two more dollars from other donor countries. This is creating an effective partnership between Washington and the rest of the world in the fight against this disease. And there's more good news. We could eliminate malaria as a public health problem worldwide within five to 10 years. To achieve this milestone, lawmakers and the administration must continue to support malaria-control efforts so that countries like Sierra Leone won't be left behind - or become the place where progress starts to unravel again" (4/23).
World Malaria Day Numbers 'Tell Promising Story'
In a guest column for the Financial Times, Ray Chambers, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for malaria, reflects on what the statistics say of efforts to drive down malaria cases and deaths globally. "Nearly 1m lives have been spared from malaria due to the use of nets in the past 10 years. More than 100m life-saving mosquito nets have been delivered to sub-Saharan Africa in the past 12 months and 200m have been delivered since 2007. One-third of the planet's malarious countries have reduced the incidence and deaths from the disease by 50 per cent or more between 2000 and 2008."
Chambers outlines the positive impact of malaria control on maternal health and child health goals, adding, "While encouraging on so many levels, the numbers also reveal the challenges that still confront us. Most urgently, we face a financing gap for nets. Unless we locate the funding to bridge this shortfall, millions of people will remain at risk. Fortunately, success will continue to generate the momentum needed to overcome this and other obstacles, such as impediments to the employment of diagnostics and appropriate treatment. The figures on World Malaria Day 2010 tell us that with each passing year, we move closer to the number by which we will measure our ultimate victory: zero no more deaths from malaria" (4/22).
Christian Science Monitor Columnist Examines Connections Between Population Growth, Poverty
Christian Science Monitor columnist David Francis examines the connection between population growth in developing countries and poverty in his weekly column: "When some developing nations can't create enough new jobs for rapidly growing populations, they export people. Most rich nations have the opposite problem: Fertility rates have dropped below the rate of reproduction," Francis writes. "Under President Obama, the U.S. has stepped up its foreign aid for family planning and reproductive health. His budget proposal for fiscal year 2011 calls for $715.7 million in bilateral and multilateral such aid. That is up 10 percent from the amount Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2010, notes Population Action International in Washington, and the largest amount ever sought."
After highlighting the effects of population growth on the economies in Haiti and the Philippines, Francis writes, "In many developing nations, the U.S. and other rich countries fund 'death control' efforts to reduce mortality from such diseases as HIV-AIDS and malaria Now they should fund sophisticated campaigns for birth control that point out that smaller families can enhance education, reduce poverty, and add to happiness" (4/22).
There's One Problem With Global Food Security Act's Mandate For GM Crops: 'It Won't Work'
"With more people going hungry than ever before," the Senate's consideration of a "bill that would overhaul the way Americans deliver foreign aid could not have come at a better time," according to Hans Herren, co-chairman of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), and Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist and director of the Sustainable Food Systems Program at Pesticide Action Network, in an opinion piece in The Hill. "The Global Food Security Act would streamline the aid process and focus on long-term agricultural development. But something has gone awry ... this bill includes a mandate that we spend foreign aid dollars developing genetically modified (GM) crops."
"The trouble with a mandate for GM crops is this: it won't work. USAID has already spent millions of taxpayer dollars developing GM crops over the past two decades, without a single success story to show for it, and plenty of failures," Herren and Ishii-Eiteman continue. "Fortunately, we have alternatives. Improved farming practices, conventional breeding and agro-ecological techniques deliver far better results, without the risks and high input costs that accompany GM seeds. ... The bigger, more fundamental challenge today is about restoring fairness and democratic control over our food systems. This requires strengthening local food economies, increasing small-scale farmers' control of seed and land, and -importantly - breaking up corporate monopolies in agriculture and establishing fairer regional and global trade arrangements" (4/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.