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Nepal’s Maternal Mortality Decline Paradox (March 18, 2013)

Nepal is one of the few developing countries to have successfully reduced its maternal mortality rate (MMR) by nearly half between 1996 and 2006. Effective family planning programs, societal changes and government initiatives like the Safe Motherhood program offering mothers financial incentives to seek appropriate healthcare during maternity, have all helped contribute toward this decline. However, with a decreasing MMR comes the need to provide health care workers and facilities to deal with the rise in demand, as highlighted in Nepal’s 2006 policy for skilled birth attendants. Currently, only 36% of births in Nepal are assisted by mid-wives, identified as a cost effective solution for improving maternal mortality rates. The program is especially needed in rural areas, where women are unable to travel to hospitals and must depend on skilled birth attendants. For Nepal to maintain its success in maternal mortality rate reduction, it must invest in adequate healthcare workers to ensure women are able to access the appropriate services. (IRIN)

With End of TRIPS, Aid Groups See Access to Cheap Drugs Closing (March 1, 2013)

The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement signed in 1995 by the WTO members allows for patent laws to be passed and enforced uniformly among all states. It includes patents for medicines but has a special transition period for the 49 least-developed countries (LCDs) enabling them to use cheap drugs through exemptions from pharmaceutical patent laws and test data protections. Various civil society organizations appealed for an extension to the transition period due to expire in July 2013, claiming the LCDs do not have the resources to comply with the standards. Moreover, medical assistance from humanitarian organizations like Medecins Sans Frontieres will also suffer from higher costs. The UN joint program on HIV/AIDS and UNDP strongly urged the council to consider the benefits of the transition for disadvantaged LDCs in their deliberation. (Devex)

Call for Targeted Investments in Cholera-Prone Areas (January 25, 2013)

A widespread cholera epidemic across the Guinea-Sierra Leone border has drawn attention to the need for Water and Sanitation (WASH) funding to eradicate cholera. WASH specialist Christophe Valingot from the EU Aid body ECHO talks about identifying risk areas known as “cholera hotbeds” to help governments develop long-term solutions. The widespread effects of WASH projects can significantly lower the health risks of cholera for the entire country even though the project directly impacts only a small proportion of the population. Water borne diseases like cholera are a sign of poor health services on top of lack of access to water and sanitation. Disease control is a development issue and greater focus must be placed on increasing WASH funding globally to eradicate endemic diseases like cholera. While MDG 7 on water and sanitation tends to focus on the number of people covered, it can also be realized through indirect health benefits that WASH funding can bring. (IRIN)

Maternal Mortality Down Sharply in Congo (January 21, 2013)

A recent demographic and health survey shows significant improvements in Republic of the Congo’s maternal mortality rate and child mortality over the past decade. The Congolese government achieved this improvement by making maternal mortality a national priority. Working with various UN organizations and the World Bank has provided financial support and policy advice for creating a national roadmap to address the issue. Improve the existing healthcare facilities alone reduced maternal mortality by 30% in cities. This may reflect on Congo’s ranking on the Human Development Index in the future, although the government falls behind on its budget allocation commitments. (IRIN)


The United Nations Must Cure Haiti of the Cholera Epidemic it Caused (November 12, 2012)

Haiti has faced many tragedies, including coups and environmental disasters. The UN peacekeeping mission has made matters worse. A cholera epidemic, spread by troops from Nepal, has taken thousands of lives and the UN has failed to respond adequately. This article argues that the hundreds of millions spent on the peacekeepers could be better spent on clean drinking water and sanitation in the country. (Guardian)

Children Treated as Lab Rats (Aug 14, 2012)

India’s lax drug regulation laws have attracted global pharmaceutical companies to conduct unethical human drug trials in India. Collaboration between local Indian hospitals, foreign pharmaceutical companies and academic research institutions ensure fast and low cost introduction of a new drug from the lab to market. While the health ministry has tried to obligate financial compensation for trial-related death and injury, stiff opposition from research organizations has undermined the ministry’s effort to legislate the practice. As many doctors prioritize the extra income from the test rather than the ethical treatment of their patients, illiterate and poor people have become victims of unethical clinical trials. (IPS)

Pharmaceutical Companies Putting Health of World's Poor at Risk (July 26, 2012)

India, a major exporter of generic medicine to the developing world, is facing attacks from pharmaceutical firms backed by the European Union (EU) and the US. In the free trade agreement (FTA) proposal, the EU is calling for intellectual property rights enforcement that could be detrimental for generic drug manufacturers in India. US government has backed the German pharmaceutical company Bayer to revoke the compulsory license for an Indian firm, Natco Pharma to produce cheaper version of its anti-cancer drug. Western politicians are acting to secure the profitability of their own industries as a way out of domestic crisis, while the poor people around the world are losing access to life saving medicines. (Guardian)

Middle-Income Countries Flex Muscles to Overcome Patents in Face of Unaffordable Drug Prices (July 25, 2012)

In March 2012, India issued a compulsory license against patenting a cancer drug, sending an important message to monopolistic pharmaceutical companies. This change in the balance of power will allow generic drug manufacturers to produce affordable alternatives for low-middle income earning countries.  India and other countries did not have patenting laws until 2005, when the WTO ruled that they had to grant patents to MNCs. While some governments are alert to the consequences of drug patents, which limit access to valuable drugs, others have lax patent laws which are exploited by pharmaceutical giants. In order for the “patent game” to be fair, governments must strike a balance between giving MNCs sufficient incentive to pursue research on life saving drugs, and limiting patents on their technology in order for generic manufacturers to produce affordable drugs for all. (Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign) 

Pakistan Polio Campaign Faces Taliban Hurdle (July 16, 2012)

The Taliban has banned polio vaccinations in tribal northwestern Pakistan to protest against US drone attacks. They condemn the national immunization campaign as an intelligence-gathering exercise, as the CIA used hepatitis vaccination as a cover in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. The Pakistani government may have to abandon the polio campaign in the region as it puts health staffs’ lives at risk. The ban could put 240,000 children at risk in a country where polio is endemic. (Al Jazeera)

Nigeria: Bridging the North-South Maternal Death Divide (July 6, 2012)

Nigeria’s yearly maternal death account for 14 percent of the world’s total, and the problem is especially severe in the socio-economically disadvantaged Muslim north. In addition to the inadequate number of health facilities, practitioners and equipment, cultural barriers to visiting hospitals pose challenge to achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters. The government has made efforts to develop health worker training and to improve immunization and nutrition support, but some groups advocate for a policy shift to well-trained care at home rather than referral to unequipped hospitals. (IRIN)

India to Give Free Medicine to Hundreds of Millions (July 5, 2012)

India has adopted a plan to provide free medicine and to ban branded drugs. This policy will expand access to medicine in a country where healthcare is a luxury. The multinational pharmaceutical giants will be disadvantaged in the branded medicine market: another setback for big pharma, on top of the lack of intellectual property protection in the emerging markets. Nevertheless, a pharmaceutical lobby group argues that the policy will hasten the overall growth of the industry as the poor gain access to essential medicines. (Reuters)

Insuring a Healthier Future (July 2, 2012)

The growing urban middle class in Africa is driving the expansion in the private insurance market. The market has been traditionally limited to domestic national health insurance programs and top-end private insurance for expatriates, but nothing in between. Many people have no access to health insurance; out-of-pocket payments in hospitals cripple families and damage the economy. As more private capitals flow into the “highly profitable” insurance sector and monopolize the solution to healthcare, it is worrying that African governments have complete faith in free market to provide universal access to affordable healthcare. (This Is Africa)

Climate Change and Family Planning - Twin Issues for LDCs (May 31, 2012)

The least developed countries (LDCs) face a double challenge: mitigating climate change and combating poverty. The reproductive rights agenda is crucial to lowering birth rates, reducing poverty, empowering women, and protecting vulnerable populations from climate change. In the Rio+20 summit, LDCs should focus on reducing fertility rates to promote sustainable development. (Inter-Press Service)


Researchers Link Death to Social Ills (July 4, 2011)

The American Journal of Public Health published an innovative study calculating the number of US deaths attributed six social factors, including individual poverty, area level poverty, and income inequality. The study found that 291,000 deaths per year are caused by poverty and income inequality, supporting the argument that social factors can cause death in the same way that behaviors like smoking can. The authors claim that social factors have a causal link between bad behaviors, such as smoking and overeating, and impact an individuals’ access to health screenings and quality care. Social factors play a role in health in much the same way that biological factors do, and policies that address development must recognize the overlap between physical and fiscal health. (The New York Times)

State of the World’s Midwifery 2011 (June 2011)

In this major report on midwifery in “resource poor” countries, the UNFPA and its partners make note of three alarming gaps: not only are there not enough midwives, but women can often not access necessary care and, finally, the competencies of midwives need to be upgraded. If these problems are appropriately addressed, an enormous number of stillbirths, newborn deaths and maternal deaths could be avoided. Additionally, the improvement of access to midwives can increase the healthcare for entire communities, which explains its centrality to three Millennium Development Goals (MDG 4, 5 an 6). (UNFPA)

Indians Growing Richer and Less Healthy: Study (January 11, 2011)

Millions of Indians are prospering, but less healthy. In a country where public health spending accounts for a paltry 1.1 percent of GDP, upscale lifestyles are a cause for concern. Public health analysts suggest that education and government taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and fatty foods, could reduce many chronic health problems.


Developing Nations to Get Clean-Burning Stoves (September 20, 2010)

According to the UN, smoke from primitive indoor stoves kills 1.9 million people, mostly women and children, every year due to lung and heart diseases. These stoves also contribute to global warming as a result of the millions of tons of soot they release into the atmosphere as well as the deforestation caused by using trees as fuel. The WHO has noted that indoor air pollution is the fourth greatest health risk factor in developing nations, though it has long been neglected. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is receiving support this week at the UN. (New York Times)

H.I.V Prevention Gel Hits Snag (September 3, 2010)

A gel for female use with the potential to prevent up to 39 percent of H.I.V infections has been developed in South Africa. But the follow up research needed before distribution can begin, has been blocked by lack of funding. Women and girls are biologically at increased risk for H.I.V infection. In sub-Saharan Africa; alone over 22 million people are infected - the majority being women. Experts say that the shortage of investment is explained by "shifting global health priorities" in western society and priorities are instead given to less expensive research areas, such as malaria and tuberculosis. (The New York Times)

Sanitation Too Often Overlooked in Developing Nations(August 6, 2010)

Over two billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.  Consequently, they face the likelihood of contaminated drinking water and higher risk of disease. Improved sanitation greatly boosts public health, yet organizations and governments place it as a low priority on their budgets. Anders Wilhelmson, a Swedish entrepreneur, has come up with a portable solution to help solve sanitation issues in developing countries. Wilhelmson is the inventor of the Peepoo which is a portable bag that replaces toilets and destroys pathogens found in waste while turning it into fertilizer, or "humanure." The Peepoo is low-cost and was designed with developing countries in mind. (WorldWatch)

Video: Rape Threat Stalks Kenya's Slums (July 7, 2010)

A new report from Amnesty International highlights the extent of sexual violence against women in Nairobi's slums, where women live in indignity and insecurity, often too afraid to leave their one-room homes to use communal bathroom facilities after dark. In these settlements rape and domestic violence is increasingly prevalent. Yet, with limited access to justice and fear of repercussions, women are often too frightened to report attacks. The report calls for the Kenyan government to take immediate measures to improve security in these settlements, and to realize its international commitments to sanitation and water service improvements. (Aljazeera)

Concerns Over Costs of New HIV/AIDS Treatment Regime in Malawi (July 10, 2010)

The Malawian government currently provides 250,000 HIV positive citizens with free antiretroviral therapy yet limited resources mean three times as many Malawians still go without. Despite the existing funding limitations, in line with WHO recommendations, the government of Malawi plans to adopt new improved medicines costing three times that of the existing treatment regime. Pledges to channel more governmental resources into HIV interventions have been made but, at a time when treatment needs to be scaled up, many feel it is likely that even fewer Malawians will be able to access free treatment. (IPS)

Addressing Energy Crisis through Alternatives and Efficiency at Household Level (January 2, 2010)

In Tanzania, ninety percent of the population do not have access to electricity. People use charcoal and firewood for cooking. This destroys 109,500 hectares of forest per year. Health problems due to inhaling smoke threaten lives of women and children. Although environment-friendly alternatives remain unaffordable for the Tanzanian, cheaper alternatives such as burning rice husks and coconut shells have started replacing charcoal.  (IPS)


UN: 4 million on AIDS drugs, others still in need (September 30, 2009)

According to a report jointly published by UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO, the number of HIV infected people having access to drugs increased by a million in Africa since 2007. Although the quality of the data remains uncertain in some regions, the experts consider this to be big progress. Nevertheless, 5 more million people are still waiting for drugs in Africa. The article emphasizes the importance of sustainable health policies in order to tackle the biggest health problem in the continent. (Associated Press)

South Africa Embraces Study Critical of Health Policy (August 24, 2009)

A leading team of South African scientists has published an important report on HIV/AIDS and child mortality, spurring the new health minister into action. South Africa, with more HIV infected people than any other nation in the world, will finally address this long neglected health problem. (New York Times)

Maternal Mortality, a Human Rights Catastrophe (June 30, 2009)

Every minute, a woman dies in childbirth and more than half of maternal deaths appear in Africa. Poverty and very youthful pregnancy lead to this humanitarian catastrophe. The United Nations Human Rights Council has addressed the situation and declared maternal mortality a breach of women's rights, giving women a tool to defend themselves.(IPS)


World Struggling to Treat HIV-AIDS (July 18, 2007)

The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition released a report titled "Missing the Target" which investigates AIDS treatment in 17 of the world's poorest countries. The report argues that HIV treatment is not free in most of the countries assessed, and this limits the number of people who are able to receive "lifesaving care." Although 700,000 more people received medication in 2007 than in 2006, the speed at which people are treated must increase. (Reuters)

Climate Change: Africa's Deadly Weather Roller Coaster (July 6, 2007)

Menghestab Haile of the WFP's Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping unit explains why climate change will impact the world's poor and hungry the hardest in years to come. He states that Africa has been on a "weather roller coaster" for a few years, with severe droughts on one part of the continent and brutal floods in other parts. With such variations in climate, malaria could become more widespread. Menghestab also adds that the WFP implements emergency measures when disasters strike but it does not tackle climate change in the long-term. (World Food Program)

Tackling Political Barriers to End AIDS (May 21, 2007)

Warning that "millions of lives are at stake," ActionAid calls on governments to fulfill their pledge to provide universal HIV prevention, treatment and care by 2010. The world's richest countries have thus far failed to fill the approximately US$9 billion annual AIDS funding gap, leaving 75 percent of HIV positive people and 90 percent of HIV positive pregnant women without access to antiretrovirals.

Help Wanted: Confronting the Health Care Worker Crisis (May 18, 2007)

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warns that a lack of healthcare professionals will result in "hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths" from HIV/AIDS. According to this report, many international donors fund access to health clinics and antiretroviral drugs while failing to provide nurses' wages – meaning that frequently "the medicine is available but there is nobody to administer it." MSF blames this shortage on inadequate salaries, poor working conditions, and an inability to attract new health workers.

State of the World's Mothers 2007 (May 2007)

Save the Children's eighth annual State of the World's Mothers report focuses "on the 28,000 children under age 5 who die every day from easily preventable or treatable causes." Along with an analysis on the living conditions of children worldwide, the report provides key recommendations to governments on improving children's lives, such as ensuring the well-being of mothers, expanding health care, and increasing funding for basic medicines. The study concludes with a "Mothers' Index," which ranks 140 countries to show "where mothers and children fare best and where they face the greatest hardship" – Sweden and Niger, respectively.

Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria Aims to Triple in Size (April 27, 2007)

In order to meet projected demand, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria – which currently supports programs that save 3,000 lives per day – aims to triple in size by 2010. Arguing that increased funding will allow greater progress toward meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals, the Fund has called on both public and private donors to "dig deeper into their pockets" and to provide more "reliable and predictable finance." (Agence France Presse)

AIDS Drugs Reach More People, UN Report Says, but Not Enough (April 18, 2007)

Although the number of people worldwide receiving drugs for AIDS has increased by 26 percent over the past three years, this New York Times article reports that this nevertheless falls far short of the UN World Health Organization's goals. Further, despite the "substantial progress" in the treatment of AIDS, efforts to prevent the spread of HIV "are faltering or not in place." The UN has therefore "urged governments to do more" to control the transmission of HIV – especially from mothers to their infants – in poor and middle-income countries.

African Despot "Cures" AIDS (March 8, 2007)

Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh has announced that a mandate from God allows him to cure AIDS using a combination of Koranic prayers, herbs, and bananas. When a United Nations representative in Gambia questioned the "cure" – which also requires that patients stop taking anti-viral medication – Jammeh promptly "branded [her] persona non grata" and gave her 48 hours to leave the country. However, this Der Spiegel article reports, "hardly anyone in the country dares challenge him and, unfortunately, many actually believe him."

The $10 Solution (January 4, 2007)

For only US $3 each a year, argues economist Jeffrey Sachs, the one billion people in the high-income world could finance a comprehensive anti-malaria program for the entire continent of Africa. As malaria decreases worker productivity, increases the rate of population growth and, possibly, the likelihood of transmitting AIDS, this "common resolve" to reduce malaria could be the key to "unlocking Africa's poverty trap." (Time)


Patents versus Patients: Five Years After the Doha Declaration (November 14, 2006)

The ‘Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health' asserts that WTO members must allow poor countries' to produce generic medicines to protect public health. Five years after its enactment, Oxfam reviews the agreement, and finds that rich countries display a very poor record of honoring their promises. Through free trade agreements, the US negotiates "TRIPS-plus" rules that increase patent protection and undermine poor countries' public health safeguards, while EU countries let their companies benefit from the US negotiated rules. Oxfam calls for rich countries to stop pushing for stricter intellectual property rules, for poor countries to resist TRIPS-plus rules, and for the WTO to review the impact of TRIPS on public health.

Human Development Report 2006 (November 9, 2006)

The 2006 Human Development Report argues that water and sanitation must be put "front and centre on the development agenda." 1.1 and 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean water and sanitation respectively, causing the death of nearly two million children annually. Reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water and sanitation would save these lives as well as bring large economic benefits to developing countries, and is essential to reaching the other seven MDGs. Hoping to see diminishing "tolerance for […] extreme inequalities," and the G8 countries taking on a central role, the report calls for a Global Action Plan' to tackle the global water and sanitation crisis similar to the way major US and European cities tackled their deadly water and sanitation situation 100 years ago. (United Nations Development Programme)

AIDS Tests, Everywhere (October 13, 2006)

After Botswana introduced routine AIDS tests of all patients entering a clinic or hospital unless they object, the rate of Botswanans receiving antiretroviral treatment increased from 10 to 85 percent of those needing the treatment. The author of this New York Times editorial calls on UNAIDS and the World Health Organization to "move quickly to endorse opt-out AIDS testing," and urges governments around the world to follow Botswana's example.

UN's Airline Drug Tax "Getting Support" (October 10, 2006)

In September 2006, France, Brazil, Britain, Norway and Chile joined by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and former US President Bill Clinton, launched the international drug purchasing facility, UNITAID. Under the UN-backed project, revenue from airline ticket taxes will fund the provision of cheaper drugs to poor countries fighting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. According to French Foreign Minister and President of UNITAID Philippe Douste-Blazy, "countries around the globe are rallying to the idea." 19 countries have so far agreed to levy the tax. (Reuters)

Toxic Shock: How Western Rubbish Is Destroying Africa (September 21, 2006)

As Dutch trading company Trafigura Beheer offloaded 400 tons of toxic waste at a landfill near the Ivorian capital of Abidjan in August 2006, the generated fumes killed six people and forced 15,000 to seek treatment for nausea, vomiting and headaches. The incident illustrates that the practice of Western companies dumping toxic waste in poor countries continues. As rich countries' consumption of electronic equipment keeps increasing, so does the amount of electronic waste shipped to poor countries for "recycling," but ending up in landfills posing significant health risks to local residents. (Independent)

Five Nations to Tax Airfare to Raise Funds for AIDS Drugs (September 19, 2006)

With a tax on international airline tickets France, Britain, Norway, Brazil and Chile together expect to raise $300 million in 2007 to help pay for the treatment of children with AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in poor countries. Planning to pool their buying power and join forces with the Clinton Foundation, the countries hope to negotiate volume discounts with drug companies. Some public health experts welcome the prospects for a stable source of finance for AIDS treatment, while others warn that such initiatives does not "deal with the most difficult obstacles to treatment in Africa: the extreme shortage of health workers and broken-down public health systems." (New York Times)

Letter to South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki – Expression of Concern by HIV Scientists (September 4, 2006)

Signed by 82 HIV scientists from around the world, this letter to the South African president expresses deep concern with the government's response to the HIV epidemic and calls for the immediate removal of its minister of health. The minister disputes that HIV causes AIDS and furthermore proposes garlic, lemon and potatoes as alternative treatments for HIV infection. The minister pursues disastrous and immoral HIV policies, denying the importance of antiretroviral treatment and leaving many to die. (AIDSTruth)

Governments Harshly Berated at Close of AIDS Meet (August 19, 2006)

This Inter Press Service article highlights the problems with South African, US and Canadian policies encouraging ineffective abstinence and herbal remedies programs to combat the spread of AIDS. Each of these governments lacks the political and financial dedication needed to combat the spread of the disease. Oxfam Canada's Director Robert Fox pillories the lack of political leadership at the August 2006 international AIDS conference in Toronto.

African Churches Are Hidden Weapon in AIDS War (August 6, 2006)

Released a week before the UN International AIDS Conference in Toronto, this Tearfund report calls attention to the work done by millions of church volunteers "tackling Africa's AIDS crisis head on." With their immense presence and extensive reach, African churches could become "one of the single most effective strategies for tackling the HIV and AIDS pandemic." International donors need to "urgently" recognize and act on the churches' potential. Churches, for their part, must acknowledge the stigma and discrimination of their attitudes towards sex and gender. (Tearfund)

Africa's Health Shortage (July 25, 2006)

This Boston Globe editorial draws attention to the shortage of health officials in Africa. African countries lack educational facilities to train medical professionals and often lose their better educated to the Western world. The author suggests that rich countries could help minimize these losses by training more doctors and nurses of their own, and not pressure poor countries to reduce public sector spending.

HIV Risk to Indian Economic Boom (July 20, 2006)

This Guardian article highlights a UN study on how the growing incidence of HIV among the Indian population will slow economic growth. Indian officials, however, claim that UN projections exaggerate the spread of HIV because they do not account for the government's strategies to control infection rates. Still, India, which holds the position of the world's second fastest growing major economy, may witness an economic slowdown if HIV spreads as projected.

14 Nations Will Adopt Airline Tax to Pay for AIDS Drugs (June 3, 2006)

At the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS, governments agreed to double worldwide spending aimed to slow down the spread of AIDS. But, as rich countries have pledged less than half of an estimated US$20 billion needed for preventive education and medicines, more countries and NGOs support new sources of funding. During the UN meeting, 14 governments reaffirmed their intention to implement taxes on airline tickets to raise additional money to fight AIDS. (Los Angeles Times)

Epidemic Continues to Outpace Response, Says New Comprehensive Global AIDS Update (May 30, 2006)

The UNAIDS 2006 report on the global AIDS epidemic states that although AIDS is spreading at a slower pace, some regions still struggle with increasing infections. This press release emphasizes the need for continued funding, prevention, and treatment. Also, countries must better coordinate their national efforts to combat AIDS. (UNAIDS)

Preventing Disease through Healthy Environments (2006)

The executive summary of this World Health Organization report suggests that human-controlled environmental factors such as unsafe drinking water, deforestation and pollution cause a quarter of all global disease. Based on studies of 80 specific diseases, the report prescribes methods to reduce disease incidence such as safe household water storage and control of toxic substances in the household. The report uses charts and graphs to illustrate the types of diseases, their location and the correlation with environmental conditions.

In the Public Interest – Health, Education, and Water and Sanitation for All (2006)

This Oxfam and WaterAid report argues that public provision of health and education services play a most important role in ending global poverty. Poor country governments must commit to bigger and better investments in health and education. Rich countries, for their part, must support these initiatives and increase both quantity and quality of aid, fully cancel debt for all poor countries that need it and stop demanding budget cuts in and privatization of public services through the international financial institutions.


World AIDS Day 2005: Pambazuka News Interview with Stephen Lewis (December 1, 2005)

In this interview, the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa urges western leaders to "keep the promise" they made at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in July 2005. So far, governments have given only half of the money necessary to address this issue for 2006 and 2007. Furthermore, gender inequality is causing a growing "feminization" of the AIDS pandemic. (Pambazuka)

The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa (October 2005)

The HIV/AIDS epidemic affects 11-12% of the world's population, the majority of whom lives in sub-Saharan Africa. In the region, life expectancy has decreased and, in several countries, more than one in five adults have contracted the illness. This fact sheet from the Kaiser Family Foundation reiterates that the pandemic continues to pose "serious development challenges.

Global Health Priorities – Priorities of the Wealthy? (April 22, 2005)

As health gains importance in the global agenda, international health policy-making has slowly moved away from public spheres and is now concentrated in the private sector. This allows the interests of transnational corporations and their shareholders to shape global health policy, weakening the effectiveness of regulation and accountability in policy-making. (Globalization and Health)

AIDS Patients See Life, Death Issues in Trade Pact (April 22, 2005)

Public health experts fear that thousands of chronically ill Central Americans would suffer if the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) comes into force. By imposing even tighter regulations on medicine patents than existing World Trade Organization rules do, the proposed trade pact would drive up drug prices and make them inaccessible for people who suffer from chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS. (Los Angeles Times)

When Marriage Kills (March 30, 2005)

US President George W. Bush's program against AIDS in Africa emphasizes abstinence and marital fidelity while focusing less on distributing condoms. The well-intended policy might make sense at a White House prayer meeting, but on the ground in Africa it just means "a lot of unnecessary deaths," says this New York Times op-ed piece. The author contends that telling sexually active people to "return to abstinence" is not likely to get far, but encouraging more use of condoms would save lives.

Cheap AIDS Drugs under Threat (March 23, 2005)

Under pressure from the World Trade Organization, the Indian parliament has passed a bill that makes it illegal to copy patented drugs. Health activists say the decision is serious blow to millions of HIV/AIDS infected poor people who have received treatment mainly because of cheap Indian drugs. (Guardian)

Globalization and Health (March 3, 2005)

In a time when the life expectancy gap between the rich and poor countries is exceedingly great, the prohibitive cost of health care has become an impoverishing factor. Weak health systems and lack of development aid has allowed preventable infectious diseases to claim the lives of ten million children each year. In this interview, Mexico's Minister of Health Julio Frenk examines how health issues affect globalization and development. (Mother Jones)

Long-Term Help for the Poor (February 25, 2005)

Appropriations for foreign aid are usually among the first targets when governments start thinking about where they could save money. However, the fight against AIDS requires long-term planning and support. According to this New York Times editorial, the easiest way to create a long-term stream of money is for rich countries to cancel the poorest nations' debts. Currently, Sub-Saharan countries annually spend US$15 billion in debt service, which could be used to fight AIDS.



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