Friends_of_the_global_fight
Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, better known as “Friends”, is an advocacy organization that is working to expand and sustain U.S. support for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Global Fund was created in 2002 to support countries and programs in the fight against the three pandemics. From those distributing mosquito nets to protect families from malaria in Honduras, to those training peer counselors of teenagers diagnosed with HIV in South Africa, partners in tackling the deadly infectious diseases get support from the Global Fund. Friends has grown to become the leading source of information about the Global Fund in the United States, becoming its much needed voice in Washington, D.C.

Friends shares information with policy leaders and decision makers on the direction the Global Fund takes and the achievements it makes. Friends also ties together the two organizations’ communications and education goals by providing the Global Fund’s Secretariat, based in Geneva, Switzerland, with legislative counsel and strategic direction. Through these efforts, Friends is able to foster collaboration and mutual support between the Global Fund and the U.S. government’s AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria efforts.

As of December 2012, the Global Fund had approved about $23 billion in grant funding. These resources are provided to in-country partners that have donated HIV/AIDS treatment to 4.2 million people, detected and treated 9.7 million cases of tuberculosis, distributed over 310 million insecticide-treated nets, and reached 1.7 million HIV-positive mothers with services to prevent transmission to their children. Overall, efforts around the globe have reduced tuberculosis deaths by more than 40%, HIV incidence by more than 20%, and malaria deaths in Africa by 33%. In turn, communities have stabilized, human rights have improved, economic productivity has increased, and partnerships have been built.

Friends of the Global Fight was founded in 2004 to help advocate on behalf of the world’s largest public health financier. Since its founding, Friends has played a significant role in helping the Global Fund to increase funding from the U.S. government over the past few years. U.S. support for lifesaving programs increased from $345 million in FY2005 to $1.65 billion in FY2013. The following are just a few of the milestones that have led to Friends’ success:

  • 2004 – Philanthropist Ed Scott and Adam Waldman found Friends, led by well-known D.C. influencer Jack Valenti
  • 2004 – The U.S. Congress approves $435 million for the Global Fund for FY 2005
  • 2006 – The U.S. Congress approves $724 million for the Global Fund for FY 2007
  • 2008 – Friends collaborates with congressional office to facilitate the Global Fund’s Access to Life photo exhibit at the African American Museum and Library in Oakland, California and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
  • 2008 – The U.S. Congress approves $1 billion for the Global Fund for FY 2009
  • 2010 – The U.S. Administration makes an unprecedented pledge of $4 billion to the Global Fund for FY 2011 through FY 2013
  • 2010 – The U.S. Congress approves $1.05 billion for the Global Fund for FY 2011.
  • 2012 – Friends hosts highly attended event on Capitol Hill highlighting the Global Fund’s public-private partnerships with Coca-Cola, Chevron, (RED) and PEPFAR.
  • 2012 – Friends hosts high-level dinner timed during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C, resulting in a total U.S. contribution of $1.3 billion to the Global Fund for FY 2012
  • 2012 – The U.S. Congress approves $1.65 billion for the Global Fund in a continuing resolution for FY 2013
  • 2013 – Friends hosts Dr. Mark Dybul for his first official visit to the U.S. after his appointment as the new Executive Director of the Global Fund, planning and executing a four day roll-out in Washington, D.C., that included meetings and events with the U.S. Congress, the Administration and the global health advocacy community
  • 2013 – The House and Senate State and Foreign Operations appropriators allocate $1.65 billion for the Global Fund in their bills for FY 2014, a record funding level in the House

– Ali Warlich

Sources: Friends of the Global Fight, The Global Fund

War_Women_Rape
Dating as far back as the Japanese occupation of Nanking in 1937, rape as a weapon of war has been prevalent in conflicts throughout the 1990s and continues to be used today.

A common misconception is that rape is simply a by-product of war. Sexual violence is certainly occurring in every conflict around the world but its role has evolved from an unfortunate effect of war to a tactic used to humiliate and control entire populations.

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution (UN Resolution 1820) in 2008 defining the use of sexual violence as a war tactic and calling for an end to impunity for those who perpetrate such acts. This resolution came too late for many, including the over 20,000 Muslim women and girls raped in Bosnia during the Bosnian War as well as the estimated 200,000 women and girls raped during the fight for Bangladeshi independence in 1971.

Sexual violence has become a common element of 21st century war. To be able to combat its prevalence, we must first understand the methods and reasoning behind its use.

Perpetrators utilize sexual violence in conflict situations for many different reasons. Rape can be used as a method of ethnic cleansing, as was seen in the Bosnian War. Serbian fighters raped Muslim women to produce Serbian offspring and thereby “cleanse” the population. During the Sudanese War, however, the Janjaweed militia typically used rape as a scare tactic to humiliate, intimidate, and punish the non-Muslim women and communities. Currently in Colombia rival groups are using rape and murder as part of a punitive code to strengthen control in specific regions.

Not only is rape considered the most invasive of war crimes, it has long-lasting consequences for entire communities and countries. Sexual violence during conflicts has contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in multiple regions. In addition, mass rape has produced a new generation of young adults that are growing up with only one parent or as orphans because their mother was killed during the conflict. This has long-lasting ramifications for countries that will only be seen in the coming decades as this generation reaches working and reproductive age.

It appears that the use of rape as a war strategy will continue to be employed in conflicts across the globe as long as the culture of impunity surrounding this crime persists. Although the United Nations made sexual violence an official war crime in 2008, the International Court of Justice has yet to find efficient means to indict and prosecute the many thousands of people guilty of this heinous crime.

– Sarah C. Morris 

Sources: BBC, UNICEF, United Nations
Photo: The Wip

Global Development Indicators
There are many global development indicators that are worth mentioning, however the five apex indicators are discussed below.

 

Top 5 Global Development Indicators

 

  1. Hunger and Nutrition: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that between the years of 2010-2012, 870 million people were undernourished. To many, 870 million is a difficult number to grasp, so in more relatable terms, imagine the population of the United States going hungry about three times over. While starvation is certainly a form of malnutrition, the term also represents any diet severely lacking in essential vitamins. The lack of certain vitamins can lead to a smorgasbord of life long mental and physical health issues. Although the overall number of malnourished people has declined in recent years, there is still much to be done to prevent developmentally stunted children and persistent illnesses plaguing entire populations. While this number is high, to be sure, over the past 20 years, the figure has been effectively halved. Primarily through domestic development, individuals have greater access to higher value foodstuffs.
  2. Poverty Rate: The Global Poverty Rate has effectively been cut in half in the last 20 years. On the whole, governments and NGOs have set the threshold for global poverty at $1.25 a day, which is far less than the American poverty threshold of $30. While this level of purchasing power is painfully low, from the years of 1990 to 2010, global poverty has declined from 43 percent to 21 percent, respectively. While support from NGOs, non-profits, and to some degree foreign assistance certainly play a role, the decline in global poverty can almost be almost entirely attributed to domestic economic development. The Economist reports that between 1981 and 2001, approximately 680 million Chinese were lifted out of poverty due to domestic economic development.
  3. Population Growth: Population Growth is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and Lowest in Developed Europe. According to the World Bank, the world population grew by about 1.2 percent each year between 2000 and 2010. Globally, at about 2.5 percent, a year, the Sub-Saharan countries of Africa represented the highest population growth rate. The lowest, on the other hand, were European and Central Asian countries, which averaged around 0.2 percent growth per year. While it almost seems irrational, where there is economic prosperity, birthrates tend to decline. In poorer countries, parents are inclined to have more children in order to ensure survival of at least one or two. In a self perpetuating manner, with more children and less food, poverty rates and hunger skyrocket.
  4. Health: HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects poorer regions. According to World Bank statistics, in 2009, 31-33 million people were living with HIV/AIDS globally. This equates to approximately the entire population of California. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 14.8 million children have lost one or both parents to the disease. Despite intensive care campaigns, the World Health Organization estimates that only 5.25 (36 percent) of those suffering from the disease are receiving treatment.
  5. Child Mortality: Child Mortality Rates are Steadily Declining. On a global scale, a tell-tale sign of a countries development is their infant mortality rate. A welcome statistic the world over is that this rate is falling in all areas of the globe. In developing nations, the World Bank has found, infant mortality rates per 1,000 births has dropped from 98 in 1990 to 63 in 2010. With greater access to care, more abundant resources, and fewer unplanned pregnancies, developing nations are able to keep more and more of their young alive into adolescence. While matters seem to be improving, underdeveloped nations still exhibit shocking infant mortality rates. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a newborn stands only a one in eight chance to see their fifth birthday.

– Thomas van der List
Sources: FAO, The Economist, World Bank
Photo: The Guardian

Raising HIV Awareness in South Sudan
South Sudan has one of the highest rates for HIV infection in the world. It is estimated that only 100,000 people in South Sudan live with HIV. But out of those 100,000, only 4,678 people receive antiretroviral therapy (ARTs). The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis have launched a project in Southern Sudan to raise awareness and provide treatment to people who have HIV.

The project specifically focuses on HIV patients who are also at risk for Tuberculosis (TB). It provides information on prevention, surveillance, testing, and counseling to those living with HIV and TB. In 2012 the program offered treatment to 1,500 TB/HIV co-infected patients received ART treatment and 4,882 people with TB received treatment. From 2005 to 2012 those who received counseling for HIV or TB rose from 1 person to 12, 753.

Although this project is incredible for those in South Sudan who are already living with HIV, a key strategy for HIV reduction is raising awareness about prevention. A group in the state of Western Equatoria, where nearly seven percent of residents are infected with HIV, is going out into the community to spread the message of safe sex. Zereda AIDS information Center group has been influential in its community. It has grown to 470 members and encouraged dozen of community members to get tested.

“When I got the disease, I was very worried, but when I started getting counseling – before I thought I had no life in this world. But after joining the group I realized am still useful in this world,” said Angelina Baptist, who is a member of Zereda.

Projects and support groups such as these are necessary for raising HIV awareness and preventing the prevalence of HIV in Southern Sudan.

– Catherine Ulrich
Sources: UN, Voice of America News

World Vision 101
World Vision is an Evangelical Christian advocacy, development, and relief organization. The organization is committed to working with families, children and communities to fight poverty and global injustice. Inspired by Christian values, and disregarding race, ethnicity or religious background, World Vision seeks to reach out to the most vulnerable people.

World Vision has offices in approximately 100 countries. Each division exists under the umbrella of the Covenant of Partnership, which is a biblically based agreement that unites offices and allows them to serve together. Thus, world vision staff is made up of people from all different fields. Workers have skills that range from the technological fields such as hydrology, to business with a focus on microfinance and development. World Vision currently employs about 40,000 staff members with 97% of those workers working in their home nations.

Since World Vision was founded by Bob Pierce in 1950, it has grown into one of the largest development and humanitarian aid organizations in the world. It has total revenue of around $2.79 billion that comes from grants, products and donations. In its earliest days, the organization cared for children of the Korean War through developing a child sponsorship program. As the children involved in the program began to improve and flourish, Pierce expanded his relief agency into other Asian countries, and then across the globe.

World Vision International was founded later in 1977. By then, the organization was focused on training families to build small farms through teaching agricultural skills. In doing so, World Vision began to construct long-term benefits in communities by promoting self-reliance.

Since the beginning of the decade, World Vision has established food programs for 1 million Afghanis, waged a war against sex tourism in various countries, and helped stop the flow of conflict diamonds that fuel civil wars in Africa. In 2004, following the massive Tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean, World Vision and 3700 local staff responded with life-saving aid from donors all around the world. The aid enabled the construction of new homes, schools, and access to clean water, economic opportunities, and healthcare.

Today World Vision has turned its focus to the HIV/AIDS epidemic with the launch of the Hope Initiative in 2000. By sponsoring orphans and children in aids affected areas, World vision has been able to care for thousands of vulnerable individuals. Monthly contributions from various sponsors enable World Vision to keep doing its work.

World Vision offers people 4 opportunities to get involved in the work they do. The first is to sponsor a child. The second is to give a meaningful gift. World Vision provides dollar values for donating items such livestock, clothes and medicine. The third way would be to simply make a dollar donation. And the fourth method of helping World Vision is to make a micro-loan in order to sponsor new entrepreneurs.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: World Vision, Charity Navigator

farmer_human_health
While many human rights activists address a wide spectrum of issues, Paul Farmer focuses his efforts on an often-overlooked human right – the right to health.

Farmer is a medical anthropologist at Harvard Medical School and the founding director of Partners in Health, an international organization that seeks to address the health problems of the poor. An enthusiastic human rights advocate, Farmer believes that human rights organizations have focused too much on political and civil rights, which cannot be enjoyed when people lack access to basic healthcare and nutrition.

Farmer says that his experience working as a doctor in countries like Haiti and Rwanda revealed to him that ill health is usually “a symptom of poverty and violence and inequality” that can only be remedied by “bringing…many others” into a movement to recognize basic human rights.

Farmer points out that many of his patients “can vote but…can’t get medical care or clean water,” highlighting the discrepancy between the constitutional rights of the world’s poor and the basic human right to health that they are regularly denied. So how, when millions of people die each year due to poverty-induced ill health, can the global community even begin to establish health as a fundamental and inalienable human right?

Farmer says that the key is to “go to people with power and try to get their help.” He acknowledges that Partners in Health and similar aid organizations cannot singlehandedly establish health as a globally-recognized human right, but ordinary people can make a difference in the lives of the world’s poor and sick simply by letting those in power know they care.

While the poverty and illness present in the world may appear overwhelming, Farmer stresses that we must not assume that those in power will not help. In order to change the world, though, we have to ask.

Katie Bandera

Sources: NPR, NY Times, WHO
Photo: The Daily Beast

education_opt
The Better World Fund was founded in 1998 by media mogul, philanthropist, and humanitarian Ted Turner. The man who brought us the cable station CNN started the Fund as an umbrella organization to facilitate public-private partnerships to address a range of global concerns, including health crises and environmental problems.  The fund also serves as an advocacy and outreach organization to support the work of the United Nations, and to lobby for the US Government to provide political, financial and sometimes military support for UN humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts.

The major initiative of the Better World Fund is the Better World Campaign, whose publicity and advocacy work currently focuses on what the organization calls its “key issues.”  The top three of those issues are climate change, global health, and international security.

In each of these areas, the Better World Fund and the Better World Campaign work to build support for UN initiatives.  On climate change, they advocate for adoption of the Copenhagen Accord, which establishes a registry to keep track of the ways that different nations are responding to climate change. The Accord also commits developed countries to providing up to $100 billion per year by 2020 to reduce emissions and take other measures to address climate change.

In the area of global health, the Better World Fund supports UN education and treatment efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria, and it supports vaccination efforts to eradicate polio.  In the area of international security, the Fund advocates for UN efforts to end nuclear proliferation, to combat international terrorism, and to enforce maritime laws governing the activities of governments and businesses, and the management of marine natural resources.

The Fund’s Board of Directors includes former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, civil rights leader Andrew Young, and Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan.

– Délice Williams

Sources: Better World Campaign, Charity Navigator
Photo: Glogster

Philippe-Douste-Blazy
In an interview with the British publication The Guardian, Philippe Douste-Blazy, special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on innovative finance for development, and chairman of the global health partnership Unitaid,  discussed his interest in development, its relationship to poverty and extremism, and the goals of his organization.

Douste-Blazy recounted how his interest in development was sparked by a conversation he had with former French President Chirac, who emphasized for him the  political importance of caring for the 1.5 billion people living in extreme poverty. Chirac’s arguments helped convince Douste-Blazy that the more the world becomes interconnected, the more inequality there is, and that “breed[s] ground for conflict.” Douste-Blazy personalized these issues by stating that if he were an 18-year old living in a developing country and he had to watch his family die from malaria because “the world could not give them less than a pound while knowing that in London or Paris a couple may spend 100 [euros] on dinner, [he could] understand how poverty can be a catalyst for extremist views.”

In his interview Douste-Blazy also described how Unitaid, which uses innovative financing to help facilitate accessibility to the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis in developing countries, started off with the concept of raising plane ticket prices by 1 euro and donating that 1 to raise these funds. Unitaid was established in 2006 by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway, and the U.K. Today, various members support this mission, including organizations from the global south. Douste-Blazy asserted that this mission’s key goal is to show the international community that this “levy tax on plane tickets” can produce solid results through new financing models further beyond the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. To address the financial problems of development, he said that there is a need for “new sources of innovative financing,” that invest in the poor of today so that they can become the “economic actors of tomorrow” cutting off the ties between poverty and extremism.

Leen Abdallah

Source: Guardian

Chinese Health Diplomacy in Africa
China has been a part of health aid to Africa since 1941 and has since then developed their intervention in Africa to be distinctly different from that of Western aid. Their emphasis has been on horizontal interventions to further develop health care infrastructure in a clearly anti-imperialist manner. Health diplomacy for China specifically targets under-served rural communities, with more than 15,000 medical personnel serving in Africa since 1964. Another important difference is that China’s assistance is almost entirely public in nature, and in the words of one Chinese informant: “If they don’t ask, we don’t provide”.

This factor is incredibly important, as it gives the aid recipients a much larger role in any initiatives, wherein they propose a project and the Chinese government then assesses whether it can meet those demands or not. Chinese medical teams also tend to stay together in one facility for a minimum of two years, whereas interventions from the West usually end up turned over to the government with an end to donor involvement after a project ends. In this way, China is working towards a very sustainable strengthening of the Chinese healthcare system.

The construction of clinics and training of medical students is also a focus point of Chinese health diplomacy. Most recently, the development of “container hospitals” will soon be introduced into African countries, either in Cameroon or Namibia as a starting place. Each hospital consists of ten containers with rooms for “general clinics, waiting for patients, treatments, a pharmacy and back-up power supply”. These portable hospitals were developed in order to be used for long-term service use near suburban villages. Smaller “container clinics” have also been developed with one to three containers. These clinics are expected to reach Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Egypt by the end of the year, and the first of these will be staffed by African doctors trained specifically to use these container hospitals and clinics.

While China’s focus on infrastructure is clear and effective, recently Chinese health diplomacy has seen a shift to work closely with organizations such as The Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization. These collaborations have been focused on malaria and HIV/AIDS treatment, which are a contrast to the infrastructural focus of China’s common aid projects. Hopefully, Western organizations and donors will begin to shift their focus as well so that no source of aid is entirely focused on vertical or on horizontal aid programs. As well, all forms of assistance should work closely with the recipient governments in order to provide more effective and efficient aid.

– Sarah Rybak
Source: All Africa, All Africa
Photo: The Age World

Poverty in Namibia

Located on the southernmost part of Africa’s western coast, Namibia is not recognized by most Americans.  Namibia invests heavily in its people’s education and health, possesses a free press, competitive business markets and one of the lowest rates of corruption in Africa.

However, it is marked by an extremely large economic divide among its citizenry.  Although it is technically a middle-income country, there is much poverty in Namibia as a result of income inequalities.  The UNDP rates the income disparity in Namibia as the highest in the world, at 70.7 on a scale of 0 to 100. The top 5 percent of Namibians control 70 percent of the country’s GDP, while the poorest half of the population controls only 3 percent of GDP.  Poverty is most prevalent in rural areas of the country and among women, as is often the case.  Women head around 40 percent of households in Namibia, and these households are the poorest in the country.  Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.

The government’s poor land redistribution contributes significantly to Namibian poverty.  During the era in which Namibia was ruled by the apartheid regime in South Africa, large white-owned commercial farms dominated agriculture with cattle production.  The Namibian government has now divided these farms up and given the portions to natives in Namibia, still committing them to cattle production.  Essentially, the government has reproduced the apartheid era farms, but in a weakened form, as they are smaller and no longer subsidized by the South African government.  Experts suggest that a shift towards tropical agriculture and crop cultivation rather than cattle production is the solution to these land distribution issues.

Namibia also faces a severe HIV/AIDS epidemic, in which 19.7 percent of the country is afflicted.  As a result, life expectancy in the country has declined from 61 to 49 years.  Promoting economic growth in the country is difficult due to an under-educated and low-skilled workforce.  The economy is subsisted largely on the export of primary resources for little profit.

USAID uses its “ABCDE’s of development” to combat poverty in Namibia:  AIDS and TB prevention, care, and treatment, basic education, community-based natural resource management, democracy and governance, employment creation/enterprise development.  Through PEPFAR, the US has given $42.8 million in funds for disease management and prevention.  USAID has also provided training to 4,000 teachers in Namibia in the hope of developing human capital to form a more skilled workforce.  USAID also promotes community-based democratic programs to help strengthen the country’s democracy and governance.

Namibia, rich in natural resources such as diamonds, uranium, lead, gold, copper, zinc, bountiful fisheries, natural gas, and some of the most spectacular and varied scenery and wildlife in the world, could greatly benefit the world’s economy. It also benefits from an extremely developed infrastructure and a politically stable government.  If the country can overcome its disease issues, poor land redistribution and income inequalities, it will be an asset to the global economy.

–  Martin Drake

Source: World Bank, USAID, IRIN News
Photo: Steps For Children