IHSJ Reader     October 2011     Issue 10         

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


 No Quick Fix for Haiti Cholera (Declan Butler, Nature Magazine, October 18, 2011)
It's been one year since cholera was detected in Haiti. Today it is the largest cholera epidemic in the world, with nearly 5% of the country’s population officially reported to have been infected in just 12 months. The lack of clean water and sanitation infrastructure, and the slow prospect for improvement make a compelling case for increased resources and efforts to halt the spread of infection. Resources are urgently needed to: (1) scale-up efforts to aggressively identify and treat all those with cholera, (2) strengthen Haiti’s sanitation infrastructure and improve access to clean drinking water, and (3) roll out a safe, affordable and effective oral cholera vaccine. 

Haiti Doesn’t Need Your Old T-Shirt (Charles Kenny, Foreign Policy, November 2011)
Why don’t non-profit organizations like Partners In Health accept donations of pop-tarts, NFL shirts and yoga mats? Charles Kenny suggests that for most organizations, human and financial resources are more effectively spent addressing the root causes of poverty and disease. Instead of more choices in imported “leftovers”, impoverished countries would benefit from more choices in trade and economic policy. Instead of increased “charitable” donations, impoverished communities benefit from increased access to basic rights like health care, education and employment. Just as dumping surplus corn on Haiti pushes rural families into hunger, importing used clothing donations to poor countries is shown to put local people out of work. For organizations like Partners In Health that are committed to building local and public sector capacity to break the cycle of poverty and disease, cash donations are almost always more helpful than material goods.

UN Agencies and CIDA Announce New Maternal and Child Health Program in Haiti (Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network, September 2011)
The Canadian International Development Agency is financing a new United Nations-supported program, Maman ak timoun an santé (Healthy Mothers and Children), to reduce infant and maternal mortality. The program will expand the provision of free health care to pregnant women, children under five, and people living in IDP (internally displaced person) settlements, and will be administered by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health (MSPP). This commitment by the Canadian government highlights the importance of strengthening health systems through the public sector so that they can provide comprehensive care to vulnerable populations.

Haitian Lawmakers Approve Cabinet, Prime Minister’s Policy Agenda (Washington Post, October 15, 2011)
After months of delay, the Haitian Parliament’s October 5th confirmation of Gary Conille as Prime Minister has ushered in a new era for the Haitian government. Haiti hasn’t had a fully staffed government since national elections were held almost a year ago. This week’s approval of a 17-member Cabinet will hopefully bring an end to the reconstruction delays as many donors who promised aid have been reluctant to deliver it without a central government.



 The Budget Control Act of 2011 and Global Health: Projecting the Human Impact of the Debt Deal (The Foundation for AIDS Research, October 14, 2011)
This new analysis by amFAR examines the human impact of projected FY’13 budget cuts. The analysis projects that proportional reductions in foreign assistance would have minimal impact on deficit reduction, while costing thousands of lives. Funding for programs like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) must be protected in order to continue offering life-saving treatment to millions of existing patients. These budget estimates will remain approximations until the 12- member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction or “super committee” announces their recommendations in November. 

Innovative Financing Mechanisms for Global Health: Overview & Considerations for U.S. Government Participation (Josh Michaud and Jen Kates)
Have you ever wondered what exactly people are referring to when they speak of “innovative financing mechanisms”? In this report, researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation summarize and categorize the 31 most prominent innovative financing mechanisms - including a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), which is attracting unprecedented attention in advance of the G-20 Summit. Authors find that the US government is more likely to support some “mixed” public-private innovative financing mechanisms, and least likely to support those that require upfront, multi-year funding commitments or changes in US tax policy. Innovative financing mechanisms are increasingly critical to supplementing existing funding mechanisms for global health and development.

No Time to Get Stingy (Carol Giacomo, New York Times, October 8, 2011)
If the US House of Representatives budget prevails, foreign aid could suffer another $2 billion in cuts in 2012, in addition to the 11 percent cuts ($6 billion) made in 2011. These cuts would severely affect four areas of the foreign aid budget – food aid, global health, development, and USAID operating funds. The funds garnered from slashing poverty-focused programs would be a tiny share of the federal budget, but would drastically upset America’s foreign policy by reducing resources that encourage nonmilitary solutions for global health, development, and democracy movements.



Youth Manifesto on Non-Communicable Diseases (Sandeep Kishore, Karen Sigel, Aria Ahmad, et. al, Global Heart, August 31, 2011)
Young people are mobilizing worldwide to reverse the growing burden of non-communicable disease (NCDs). This document calls for governments, civil society organizations, development agencies, and the global health community to reduce the burden of NCDs by 20% over the next ten years by following seven key recommendations. These include: re-framing NCDs as a barrier to development; acting on the social determinants of health; tackling NCDs across the life-span; investing in interdisciplinary health education; enabling global access to essential drugs and technologies; adopting innovative financing for NCD prevention and control; and developing a common, community-led vision for equitable global development. PIH stands in solidarity with the Youth Manifesto on NCDs, and will continue working to ensure that the poorest billion people are included in the movement to reverse deaths and disability from chronic disease.



HIV/AIDS Overseas Budget to Be Cut By Almost a Third (Mark Tran and Claire Provost, The Guardian, October 4, 2011)
The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced in October that it will drastically reduce funding for global HIV/AIDS programs by 2015. The 32% reduction reflects an 85% decrease in DFID’s budget for AIDS programming in Asia and a 17% decrease in Africa. Now that turning the tide on one of the most serious public health crises of our time is finally within reach, the necessity of increased, rather than decreased, funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS cannot be understated.

 ***Use of Hormonal Contraceptives and Risk of HIV-1 Transmission: A Prospective Cohort Study (Renee Heffron, Debroah Donnell, Helen Rees, et. al, Lancet, October 4, 2011)
This recently published study was conducted to establish whether hormonal contraception increases the risk of women acquiring HIV. Among 3790 couples (1314 in which the female was HIV positive, 2476 in which the male was HIV positive), the transmission rates were twice as high in women who used hormonal contraceptives. With more than 140 million women worldwide using hormonal contraception, these results emphasize the need for couples to use condoms to prevent HIV transmission. Multilateral institutions, like the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund, are analyzing the methods and results of this study. Partners In Health is also studying these results to determine if program changes are needed.



Global Tuberculosis Control 2011 (World Health Organization, October 2011) + Tuberculosis on the Decline For the First Time Ever (UN News Centre, October 11, 2011)
The sixteenth global report on tuberculosis (TB) finds that, for the first time ever, the number of people contracting TB each year is declining. The ability to continue making this progress relies on continued funding for TB and multidrug-resistant TB (DR-TB) infection control, detection and treatment activities. In 2010, there were approximately 650,000 people living with MDR-TB--the vast majority of whom lack access to appropriate treatment. Insufficient progress on MDR-TB highlights the crucial need for continued attention and funding for TB and MDR-TB programs globally.


House Advances Bill to Stop Funding UN Women’s Health Program (Laura Bassett, Huffington Post, October 5, 2011)
Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to halt US dues to the United Nations, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA works to reduce maternal mortality, prevent HIV/AIDS, and provide family planning to the most vulnerable populations across the world; this bill is part of a larger effort among House Republicans to cut US funding for family planning and the United Nations. Though it is unlikely that this bill will ever become a law, Congress should be more concerned with improving the capacity of health systems in poor countries than political culture wars.



This Is Maya (World Bank, September 19, 2011)
Watch a short video on the importance of knowledge, resources, and people working together to create strong health systems for healthy populations and “a million crying babies”.

“Peanut Butter Medicine” Giving Hope to Haiti’s Hungry (Gary Strieker, CNN, October 11, 2011)
Poverty and a lack of access to healthy food are the main causes of malnutrition. For many children who have severe acute malnutrition in Haiti, ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) can alleviate the immediate consequences and restore health. Though RUTF is malnutrition critical tool in the fight against child malnutrition, prevention is the best medicine for acute and chronic malnutrition.

Haiti Cholera Update (Partners In Health, Fall 2011)
The first case of Haiti’s raging cholera epidemic was discovered one year ago. The deadly epidemic continues to rage, with infections spiking in the rainy seasons, though funding has not kept pace with the spread of the disease. At the one-year mark, Partners In Health is making a big push to raise awareness and funds to continue fighting cholera. Please watch this video to learn more about our efforts to combat this epidemic.