In the news: tragedy and hope

It’s been the kind of week that shakes even the most cynical news reader. Fatal bombings in Boston, Somalia, Pakistan, and Iraq and an explosion in a tiny Texas town. So much sadness in just seven days.

In global health, we see our share of heartbreak. On that score, unfortunately, this week was no different: the head of UNICEF said fully a quarter of the world’s young children have been “stunted” physically and intellectually by malnutrition. But we also see an awful lot of hope in our field—a study shows pregnant women might reduce risks of stillbirth simply by sleeping on their sides, India proves to be a model for wiping out polio. As we look back at the past week, we wish for all of you the chance to find hope, and the solace it can offer.

UN children’s chief finds 165 million “stunted” kids suffering from malnutrition

The Washington Post, April 15, 2013

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says more than a quarter of children under the age of 5 worldwide are permanently “stunted” from malnutrition, leaving them physically and intellectually weak and representing a scandalous waste of human potential.

Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF since 2010, said organized provision of vitamins and clean water and a focus from birth on breastfeeding could have helped these 165 million children achieve normal brain and body development. But their lack of proper nutrition means instead they will suffer increased vulnerability to illness and early death.

Read the article.

A boy serves rice to other schoolchildren seated on the ground.

A boy serves his classmates lunch in India. Photo: PATH/Satvir Malhotra.

USAID head says food aid changes are urgent

TIME, April 17, 2013

The head of the Obama administration’s international food aid efforts says a proposal to shift the way food is delivered abroad could help an additional 4 million starving people. But there doesn’t appear to be much support for the idea on Capitol Hill….The United States now donates much of its food aid by shipping homegrown food overseas, but many aid groups have long argued that buying food abroad would be quicker, less expensive, and more beneficial to local farmers. The Obama administration last week proposed shifting food aid money to more flexible accounts that allow for cash purchases abroad or from US farmers, saying such a move would be more efficient.

Read the article.

Africans’ remittances outweigh Western aid

BBC, April 17, 2013

Analysis of cash flows by Hong Kong–based Ghanaian academic Adams Bodomo shows that Africans living outside the continent send more money home to their families than is sent by traditional Western aid donors in what is called Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Read the article.

Side sleeping may reduce risk of stillbirth

The New York Times, April 15, 2013

If pregnant women in poor countries were advised to sleep on their sides, many stillbirths might be prevented, a new study suggests.…The study is relatively small—it included only 220 women interviewed about their sleep habits just after giving birth in one hospital in Ghana. But because Ghana has such a high rate of stillbirth.…the conclusion seemed clear: if pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs, 25 percent of all stillbirths in poor countries might be prevented.

Read the article.

India’s great polio legacy

The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2013

Hundreds of leading scientists are urging the world to finish the job on polio, declaring that the disease has never been closer to eradication and endorsing a new global plan to wipe it out within six years. India has proved an inspiration.…The scientific declaration endorses a new global polio eradication plan provides a fully costed, realistic roadmap how to finish off polio. It applies lessons learned from India for reaching zero polio cases while simultaneously preventing re-importation of the disease and switching to a new vaccine that wipes out even the risk of vaccine-related polio.

Read the article.

Posted in Featured posts, Maternal and child health, Nutrition, Vaccines and immunization | Permalink

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