IHSJ Reader     January 2012     Issue 16         

Note: Triple asterisk (***) indicates subscription-only sources.


The MLI Model for Advancing Country Ownership (Ministerial Leadership Initiative, January 12, 2012) +
US Officials Pledge To Let Health Aid Recipients Decide (John Donnelly, Global Post, January 13, 2012)
Over the past five years, the ground-breaking Ministerial Leadership Initiative (MLI) has been working to change the way that foreign aid is delivered. Instead of building parallel health structures based on donor priorities, the MLI model enhances authentic country ownership of health planning and implementation. Lessons learned from the Gates Foundation-funded initiative include the benefits of South-South government exchanges, demand-driven technical assistance, and a focus on country leadership at all stages of planning and implementation. The MLI approach provides a helpful roadmap as the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative seeks to turn aid effectiveness rhetoric into reality.



***Elimination of Cholera Transmission in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (Mirta Roses Periago, Thomas Frieden, Jordan Tappero, Kevin De Cock, Bernt Aasen, Jon Andrus, The Lancet, January 11, 2012)
On January 11, the Governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, launched a call to action for major investment in water and sanitation infrastructure on the island of Hispaniola. Fifteen months after the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, over 500,000 cases have been reported in Haiti and over 20,000 cases have been reported in the Dominican Republic. Despite the multiple intervention efforts, Hispaniola will not see the elimination of cholera until existing water and sanitation infrastructure is strengthened and expanded. International donors should support local government efforts to build, operate, and maintain water and sanitation infrastructure over the long term. To watch the press briefing, see: Call to Action: A Cholera-Free Hispaniola .



India reports cases of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (Samuel Loewenberg, The Lancet, January 21, 2012)
The emergence of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB) in Mumbai, India raises burning questions for the international community: Why has TDR-TB emerged? Why do so many people lack access to quality, second-line TB drugs in countries like India? And what can be done to stop it? For decades, TB departments and programs have been underfunded, resulting in weak delivery systems of treatment and prevention, and unregulated private sector delivery of care. High-quality second-line TB medications remain prohibitively expensive and less than 1% of MDR-TB patients access treatment worldwide. The international community must step up to the plate.  Prices must be lowered on TB diagnosis and treatment tools, and resources must be mobilized to bring the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria—which contributes 80% of international funding for TB control—out of its financial crisis.



Applying New Technologies For Diagnosing Sexually Transmitted Infections in Resource-Poor Settings (Rosanna Peeling, British Medical Journal, January 20, 2012)
Bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STI) impose a disproportionate burden on the developing world, especially among women and children. Though STIs are curable and treatment is affordable, the sensitive diagnostic tests that play a crucial role in early detection require laboratory capacity—something that is frequently missing in resource-poor settings. This paper analyzes recent technological advancements that have made such diagnostics available, while simultaneously urging readers that increased investments in technological innovations must be balanced with investments to strengthen health systems.



Effectiveness of Agricultural Interventions That Aim to Improve Nutritional Status of Children: Systematic Review (Edoardo Masset, Lawrence Haddad, Alexander Cornelius, Jairo Isaza-Castro, British Medical Journal, January 17, 2012)
Researchers conducted a literature review of 23 studies to examine the impact of agricultural interventions on the nutritional status of children. Though initiatives such as home gardens were found to increase production and consumption of nutrient-rich foods, methodological constraints made it difficult to assess their impact on child nutrition. These findings are a useful reminder that agriculture programs should be rigorously evaluated and refined to meet the nutritional needs of children. Today, malnutrition contributes to more than 3.5 million deaths of children annually and more than one billion people—nearly one-sixth of the world's population—suffer from chronic hunger. It is critical that agricultural interventions be designed to increase access, availability, and utilization of food, and ultimately improve child health outcomes.



New Mindset Needed to Tackle Non-Communicable Diseases, Says UN Official (UN News Centre, January 16, 2012)
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced this week that tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will require a change to the traditional mindset that focuses public health efforts on controlling and preventing infectious disease. Dr. Chan reiterated the WHO’s commitment to making prevention and treatment of NCDs a priority and cautioned that new approaches will not be easy, but are necessary to control the NCD epidemic that disproportionately impacts the world’s billion poorest people.

A United Nations General Assembly Special Session for Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use Disorders: The Time Has Come (Judith Bass, Thomas Bornemann, Matthew Burkey, Sonia Chehil, Lenis Chen, John R.M. Copeland, William Eaton, Vijay Ganju, Erin Hayward, Rebecca Hock, Rubeena Kidwai, Kavitha Kolappa, Patrick Lee, Harry Minas, Flora Or, Guiseppe Raviola, Benedetto Saraceno, Vikram Patel, PLoS Medicine, January 17, 2012)
In this recent essay, international health experts call for a special session of the United Nations to focus on mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders. The authors outline three broad areas of action needed globally: enhancing access to treatment of MNS disorders, ensuring that people living with mental health disabilities have full access to their basic right to live a life with dignity, and expanding knowledge about MNS disorders. A special session of the UN General Assembly would provide recognition of the urgent need for a global strategy to address the burden of MNS disorders. 



Haiti Builds State-Of-The-Art Teaching Hospital (CBS News, January 21, 2012)
Dr. Jon LaPook of CBS News interviews Dr. Paul Farmer about the state-of-the-art teaching hospital in Mirebalais, two years after the devastating earthquake. Built in collaboration with the Haitian government, this facility will ensure that high-quality health services are accessible to poor people regardless of ability to pay. The hospital will also serve as a teaching facility for a new generation of Haitian doctors and nurses.

With EU and UNICEF Support, Lesotho Puts in Place a Social Protection Programme for the Most Vulnerable (Tsitsi Singizi, UNICEF, January 18, 2012)
This short video provides a look into the social cash transfer program, Lesotho Child Grants Programme, which operates in rural communities in Lesotho and is supported by the European Union and UNICEF. The program was implemented in 2007 to serve as a social safety net for children affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition to the comprehensive support offered by the program, participation also increases access to health and education services for vulnerable children.

Famine, War, and Corruption: The British Media’s Portrayal of the Global South (Institute for Development Studies, January 11, 2012)
This new short film discusses how media coverage tends to focus on the violence and victims of disasters in the Global South, while ignoring the structural causes at the root of global poverty.