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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Health

Last 20 Bulletins

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

December 1, 2014  USA/Nigeria: Uneasy Alliance
    "Boko Haram poses no security threat to the U.S. homeland, but its attack on Nigeria, and the Abuja response characterized by extensive human rights violations, does challenge U.S. interests in Africa. ... If Nigeria's civilian government is to forestall an implosion involving Boko Haram and the 2015 elections, and to resume its positive regional role, it needs to end ubiquitous human rights abuses by official entities, orchestrate humanitarian relief to refugees and persons internally displaced by fighting in the north, and ensure credible elections that do not exacerbate internal conflict." - John Campbell, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria

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

Jul 27, 2012  Africa: End of AIDS in Sight, 1
    "Even without a vaccine or a cure, it became clear this week that science has given us the tools we need to dramatically change the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and ultimately end AIDS. Any argument that this cannot be achieved because we do not have evidence-based tools is no longer valid. Science has given us the tools. Now they must be applied." - Anthony Fauci, at the opening of this week's International AIDS Conference

May 24, 2012  Africa: Food Security and Human Development
    "This [Africa Human Development] Report argues that subSaharan Africa can extricate itself from pervasive food insecurity by acting on four critical drivers of change: greater agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers; more effective nutrition policies, especially for children; greater community and household resilience to cope with shocks; and wider popular participation and empowerment, especially of women and the rural poor."

May 9, 2012  Africa: Decisive Year for Global Fund
    "We write as global health groups, communities affected by HIV, TB, and Malaria, and researchers from around the world to urge you not to undermine the founding principle of a demand-driven Global Fund. We are united against proposals to set 'envelopes' or 'allocations' for each country, which would result in limited ambition, scaled back or skewed plans, and ultimately a failure to get ahead of death and new infections. Limiting ambition now will only cost more in the future - in lives and money." - civil society letter to Global Fund Board

Apr 11, 2012  Africa: Issues for the World Bank
    Despite the tilted voting structure and the likely victory of the candidate nominated by U.S. President Obama, the contest for the new World Bank president, who will be chosen next week by the World Bank board, has been the subject of unprecedented open debate. Any of the three candidates would, in different ways, break the mold of selection of a white male American economist or foreign policy veteran. But, of equal importance, and much less discussed, any of the candidates would also head up an institution with a contradictory mix of old practices and new ideas, despite the demise of the market-fundamentalist "Washington consensus."

Apr 11, 2012  Africa: "New Structural Economics"
    "I believe that every developing country, including those in Sub-Saharan Africa, can grow at 8 percent or more continuously for several decades, significantly reducing poverty and becoming middle- or even high-income countries in the span of one or two generations, if its government has the right policy framework to facilitate the private sector's development along the line of its comparative advantages and tap into the late-comer advantages" - Justin Yifu Lin, Chief Economist, World Bank, in introducing his just published book New Structural Economics: A Framework for Rethinking Development and Policy