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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Health

Last 20 Bulletins

October 28, 2015  South Sudan: Hard-Hitting Report from African Union
    "Based on its inquiry, the Commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that acts of murder, rape and sexual violence, torture and other inhumane acts of comparable gravity, outrages upon personal dignity, targeting of civilian objects and protected property, as well as other abuses, have been committed by both sides to the conflict."

October 20, 2015  Africa: Tax Tricks, Mobile Phones, and Beer
    "Despite MTN having its headquarters located in South Africa, 55% of the "management and technical fee payments" flow to "MTN International" (MTNI)--a company which has no staff and is located in Mauritius. The remaining 45% was paid to MTN Dubai--a subsidiary which the company says it renders international financial services and shared services to MTN Group." - Quartz Africa, on new report by amaBhungane and Finance Uncovered

October 13, 2015  Africa/Global: Health Challenges & Threats
    Last week was the first week since March 2014 that no new cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa. And late last month the World Health Organization announced official guidelines for beginning antiretroviral therapy for all persons infected with HIV even before they show symptoms of AIDS. Fully eradicating either disease and building sustainable health system remain formidable challenges, however. At the same time, U.S. policy to promote greater protection for large pharmaceutical companies in trade negotiations poses a still rising threat to global efforts to guarantee the universal right to health.

August 3, 2015  Africa/Global: Climate Change Roundup
    Coal is the most damaging of fossil fuels, both for human health and for the planet. Although it still dominates in some countries, including South Africa, the case against coal is rapidly gaining ground around the world. On business grounds as well, coal is losing its competitive advantage. 2015, many are suggesting, may be the beginning of the end for coal.

June 22, 2015  Africa: AIDS Struggle Continues
    "Both globally and in Africa, there is good news. Our collective efforts to end the AIDS epidemic are paying off. Now more people living with HIV than ever before are accessing treatment, more people know their status, and AIDS-related deaths are declining. ... This progress, however, belies a dangerous reality: young African women and adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to HIV." - UNAIDS, June 2015

May 11, 2015  West Africa: Ebola Down But Not Out
    "The [Ebola] epidemic is at its lowest but not over yet. The recent weeks have seen an important decrease in new confirmed Ebola cases across West Africa. Liberia is now close to being declared Ebolafree on 9 May, while Sierra Leone and Guinea are finally getting close to zero. However, the outbreak is not over until it's over at the regional level." - Doctors without Borders, May 6 update

January 21, 2015  Africa/Global: Ebola Lessons & Questions
    Media coverage of the Ebola epidemic, which took a sharp downward turn after a handful of patients in the United States recovered, has faded even further into the background as the battle against the epidemic has begun to succeed in the most-affected countries. But those on the front lines warn that complacency could easily allow the still-present virus to hold out and even expand. And although there are clear lessons to be learned, there are also unanswered questions, most notably about international will to implement the imperative of sustainable health systems for the future.

January 6, 2015  Sierra Leone: Losing Out
    According to World Bank estimates in December, Sierra Leone is the country that has suffered the greatest economic losses from the impact of Ebola. Economic growth, estimated at a 11.3% annual rate in the first half of 2014, contracted at a 2.8% annual rate in the second half of the year, and was projected to drop another 2% in 2015. Such massive losses not only illustrate the profound impact of Ebola; they also raise questions about the nature of the growth that left the country so vulnerable to the epidemic.

December 8, 2014  Africa: Reflections from an Elder Statesman
    "In recent years, Africa has had strong economic growth records largely attributed to the comparative advantage that we have on natural resources and the demands fuelled by the strong growth in the largest emerging economies in Latin America and Asia. However, this growth has not translated into further reduction of poverty nor income and wealth inequality as we expected. ... The wealth and resources of our countries must be used to serve our people and not benefit a few individuals." - H.E. Salim Ahmed Salim

November 19, 2014  Africa: Past Time for Bandaids
    Although the new BandAid30 single may raise millions, some of which may actually aid in fighting Ebola, it is also prompting an unusually high level of criticism for its patronizing lyrics and paternalistic stance towards Africa. Even more important, the Ebola epidemic is prompting not only traditional charity but also questioning of the fundamental global failure to invest in sustainable support for health at all levels.

November 5, 2014  Africa/Global: Public Health, Shared Responsibilities
    The language is moderate, as one would expect from a prestigious mainstream institute such as Chatham House. But the message, which echoes the clear lessons of the Ebola epidemic, is very clear. Sustainable financing for public health, in every country and at a global level, is not only a moral imperative but also a pragmatic economic necessity.

October 7, 2014  Africa: Ebola Perspectives
    At one level, the challenge posed by Ebola is immediate, direct, and even simple. Health professionals know what needs to be done; the issue is committing enough resources quickly enough to match the pace of the deadly virus. At the same time, the challenge is enormously complex and far-reaching, as the world's failure to mobilize an adequate response poses fundamental questions about past mistakes, future policies, structural inequalities, and persistent stereotypes.

September 10, 2014  West Africa: Ebola Response Scale-Up Urgent, Uncertain
    "The best way to help Africa stem the tide of the current Ebola epidemic is by rapidly investing in and deploying basic infectious control measures like gowns, gloves, water, and sterilization tools, coupled with health worker and community health trainings in how to properly use them." - Adam C. Levine, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Brown Medical School

April 14, 2014  Lesotho: "Model" Project Drains Health Budget
    A new hospital in Lesotho, touted as a model for public-private partnership by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), is already draining the country's health budget and diverting resources from rural health, charges Oxfam International in a new report released on April 7. Cost overruns, high earnings by the private partner, and clauses imposing additional financial risks for the government offset the advantages of the new hospital in improved hospital care in the capital Maseru, the report contends.

March 31, 2014  Africa: Accountability for User Fee Damage?
    "In contrast to the untested economic theories of the World Bank's health economists in the 1980s, it turns out the critics had been correct all along: user fees do not raise substantial revenue for the health sector, nor do they make public health interventions more effective." Rather, argues Richard Rowden in a 2013 paper, user fees "turned out to be inequitable and sharply limited access to health care for the poor." Those who imposed these policies, he suggests, should be held accountable.

November 18, 2013  Africa: Time to Pay for Climate "Loss and Damage"
    "The U.S. delegation negotiating at the U.N. international climate change conference in Poland is pushing an agenda of minimising the role of "Loss and Damage" in the UNFCCC framework, prioritising private finance in the Green Climate Fund, and delaying the deadline for post-2020 emission reduction commitments, according to a State Department negotiating strategy which IPS has seen." Inter Press Service

August 20, 2013  Africa: Progress against AIDS
    "During the past 10 years, the AIDS response has been extraordinary, nowhere more so than in eastern and southern Africa. The countries in this region are using the latest tools available to save people's lives, halt HIV transmission and achieve the dream of ending the AIDS epidemic. ... The rate of new HIV infections has been reduced by more than 30% overall, and by more than 50% in seven countries in the region. Since 2005, the number of people receiving lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) has increased tenfold—from 625,000 to more than 6 million at the end of 2012. Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland and Zambia reached universal access to HIV treatment (80% coverage of people eligible for treatment) by the end of 2011. Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe are on track to reach this goal." - UNAIDS

July 15, 2013  Africa/Global: Violence against Women is Epidemic
    "Physical or sexual violence is a public health problem that affects more than one third of all women globally, according to a new report released by WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council. The report represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women -- both by partners and non-partners." - World Health Organization news release, June 20, 2013

Dec 5 2012  Africa: Towards the End of AIDS
    "[Despite significant advances} the epidemic of HIV/AIDS is far from over. According to the most recent statistics from UNAIDS, there are still 2.5 million new HIV infections worldwide and 1.7 million deaths annually from this disease. Globally, there are 34 million people living with HIV and half do not know their HIV status. Nearly half of the people in need of antiretroviral treatment (6.8 million) do not have access to these lifesaving medications ... Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionate burden of disease, representing 69 percent of all people infected with the virus worldwide." - Susan Blumenthal, M.D. and Melissa Shive

Jul 27, 2012  Africa: End of AIDS in Sight, 2
    "As leaders and scientists prepare to discuss the latest initiatives needed to scale up treatment to such a high level it could potentially end the epidemic, seven million people still require urgent access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. While the United Nations AIDS agency (UNAIDS) estimates that 1.4 million more people were put on antiretroviral therapy in 2011, this pace will have to double to reach the global goal of 15 million people receiving treatment by 2015." - Doctors without Borders