A recent article from a global health leader provides insights into what influenced his successful work in Haiti.Dr Paul Farmer, co-founder of the Boston-based Partners in Health, declares in an article for the Christian magazine Sojournersthat two Latin American priests were among his greatest teachers: Archbishop Oscar Romero and Gustavo Gutiérrez.Farmer was made famous through the book Mountains Beyond Mountains a profile of his work by acclaimed author Tracy Kidder. The community-based health network model that found success in Haiti can be traced back to the theological teachings of the two Catholic priests.The lessons, Farmer says, came from all types of Catholics, from the priests to those living in poverty. Farmer credits the activists that he met as a young man in the “tough neighborhoods in Boston, the farms of North Carolina, and the slums of Lima” as living the teachings of Liberation theology. He outlines the three lessons that stood out most in his mind: 1) Preferential option for the poor; 2) The existence of structural violence; 3) The power of accompaniment.Their activism taught me a lot about a space in the Catholic Church I’d not seen clearly before, and about the promise of long-term engagement in the monumental struggle against poverty and discrimination in all its forms. That includes gender inequality, no stranger to the institution.
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The often debated topic of whether or not foreign aid has done good reappeared in this weekend’s column by Nick Kristof for the New York Times.By featuring the story of one young girl’s struggle to go to school, Kristof shows that aid works. Even in Haiti.Jonathan Katz, he reported from Haiti during the earthquake and cholera outbreak, saysthe argument has some major holes.“When you consider these facts, it gets pretty difficult to argue that whatever is going on right now in Haiti—including aid—is working, and much harder to dispute the claim that “dedicated and ethical” or any other foreigners are doing harm,” wrote Katz for the Beacon Reader.Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, as an example of where critics make their attacks and where he sees hope. Kristof uses the example of a Haitian-led private school called the SOPUDEP school. A total of 836 pre-K through twelve students are served by the school. Many come from low-income families who cannot always pay for tuition.Enter foreign aid (or Exhibit A, as Kristof might say).The school founder Rea Dol happened to have made friends with a teacher from Los Altos school in California.
Uganda has emerged as a focal point of US evangelical efforts in Africa. A new film, God Loves Uganda, shows how the efforts to bring Jesus to Ugandans is also spreading hate against gays. Specifically, it has enabled the progress of legislation that will imprison gay Ugandans.Film director Roger Ross Williams debuted the film at the Sundance film festival earlier this year and it will hit US screens in October. The main character is Reverend Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia and doctoral candidate at Boston University. His 2010 research paper showed how a new form of evangelism took shape in Africa starting in the 1970s and 80s that impacts the trend of anti-gay laws across the continent.“African allies of the U.S
Amy Lieberman has a nice article in the World Policy Journal on the nexus of migration and the spread of disease. She reports from Nepal: Yet the issue of health—access to education, services, treatment, and a quality of life that can prevent migrants from getting sick with a transmittable illness—remains largely absent from regional and international agreements and discussions on migration. It is unlikely to surface as a priority any time soon, international experts on health and migration say, given the predominant, though inaccurate, conviction that migrants bring disease to a new country rather than acquiring them there and returning home to spread the contagion. “We talk about global health care and everybody seems to agree on the principles, but when it comes to migrants, you see the sensitivity the issue raises. People say, ‘Oh, now we are talking about migrants’,” says Davide Mosca, the Geneva-based director of the International Organization for Migration’s Department of Migrant Health.
International development is just about at the bottom of the list of things that the average American thinks about each day. Foreign bureaus are closing for major US news sources. One of the big television networks turned down more money for global health reporting after a series, entirely funded by grants, led to a dip in viewers. In other words ratings were so bad that the network turned down millions of dollars. It is that tough.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a global problem, but one that is particularly worrisome in Asia. An estimated 60% of the 500,00 MDR-TB cases in 2011 occurred in Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa. The problem is made worse by the low number of people with MDR-TB enrolled in treatment in countries like China, Myanmar and India. Information on MDR-TB in the reclusive North Korea has been hard to come by, until now. Dr
Public health emergencies arise around the world on a regular basis.Humanitarian and aid organizations need to act quickly, but they need money to get work done. An emergency appeal for millions, if not billions, of dollars can take time to fulfil.So what if the money was already available? With the money in place, an organization can respond to an emergency immediately.The International Finance Facility for Immunisation Company (IFFIm) does just that for the GAVI Alliance, a public-private global health organization that increases access to immunizations in poor countries by working with governments, donors and the private sector.IFFIm sells bonds to private investors in order to raise money for GAVI’s vaccine work. When GAVI needs money a request is made to IFFIm’s board to disburse the needed funds. For vaccines, a health solution that requires early action, gaining access to needed funding quickly has a big impact on programs like the eradication of polio.“Having predictable, long-term funding in place will help us ensure that the world’s most vulnerable children have access to healthcare, and that is a critical step in achieving the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank.The GAVI Alliance is a sort of middleman between donors (Gates Foundation, United States, etc), pharmaceutical companies (GSK, Merck, Pfizer, etc) and governments (afghanistan, Eritrea, Haiti, etc)
The United Nations again refused to take responsibility for the cholera outbreak in Haiti caused by a peacekeeping unit from Nepal.Legal claims against the UN were again rejected as the body reaffirmed its stance that it is a ‘political and policy matter.’The cholera outbreak that started in October 2010 has killed nearly 8,200 Haitians and infected an estimated 665,00 people. More evidence, including a study published this month, shows that the cholera was imported from Nepal by a peacekeeping unit and was spread due to improper waste disposal into a nearby river.A letter from the UN addressed to Brian Concannon, Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), refused to consider mediation and said that “there is no basis for such engagement in connection with claims that are not receivable.” Patricia O’Brien, Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs for the UN’s Legal Counsel, also refuted claims by IJDH that the UN has not lived up to its obligation to the victims of he cholera outbreak. She includes excerpts from recent remarks by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.“Since the outbreak of the disease, the United Nations, in cooperation with other partners, has taken several steps to contain and combat the epidemic and prevent future outbreaks,” said Ban. “These efforts have helped to decrease the rate of new infection by 90 per cent since the outbreak began. The mortality rate has been brought down to around 1 per cent
USAID Administrator Shah chats with CGD’s Nancy Birdsall about the US partnering with Africa. In the above clip, Shah says the current food aid system “is both deeply inefficient and crushes local farmer incentives.” He expresses some level of optimism that food aid reform can take place and more money will be available in the form of cash as opposed to US goods and services. Watch the full conversation here.
Economist Michael Clemens wanted to know if foreign aid prompts economic growth in developing countries. It is a tough question to answer. Poor countries that receive aid do show economic growth. But is it the aid that causes the growth, or is growth due to other factors? Experts argue in favor of both sides of that equation.
The Obama administration has an ambitious plan to reform the delivery of international food aid.It’s ambitious not in concept. Everybody else does food aid this way: Buying food overseas in or near the emergency in order to speed up response times, support local economies and save money. No, it’s widely regarded as very sensible. The reason it’s ambitious is because Congress doesn’t want to do it. In the latest move of political inertia, the US Senate on Monday voted to spend a tiny bit more on local food procurement, about $20 million
Food aid reforms came under the spotlight last month when the Obama Administration announced its Fiscal Year 2014 budget.The changes are important to humanitarian response. Oxfam America estimates that reforms to food aid procurement laws could speed up crisis response by 14 weeks and reach an additional 17.1 million people. For a crisis like the 2010 drought in the Horn of Africa, that improved response time could have saved thousands of lives. “The current approach to food aid can become, at times, an impediment to its very own mission,” said USAID Administrator Raj Shah.Humanitarian groups were mostly supportive in response and contractors were unhappy that changes would affect their business.
Journalist Roger Thurow presents at the recent TEDxChange out in Seattle. He describes the moment when he realized the importance of the issue of hunger. He goes on to discuss ways that hunger is being addressed. You can listen to Tom Paulson chat with Roger after the event here.