Tom Paulson

Humanosphere Blogger

The host of the Humanosphere community is Tom Paulson, who spent 22 years reporting on science and medicine at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Tom was one of the first daily news reporters to cover the topic of “global health” (a much-debated label which he discusses the merits of on the Humanosphere website).

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Humanosphere
1:50 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Gates Foundation still struggling with 'transparency'

While the Gates Foundation is probably more transparent than many, if not most, private foundations, it is still struggling with a public relations problem identified a year ago:  Many felt then that the Seattle philanthropy was difficult to work with and fairly uncommunicative.

In its new annual report released today, Gates CEO Jeff Raikes said, "Many grantees said we are inconsistent and unclear about our decision-making process and our programmatic strategies. They also said we should be more welcoming of their feedback."

Humanosphere
9:54 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Foreign aid on chopping block

A refugee carries food aid on his back at a food distribution center run by the World Food Programme, in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, today.
Associated Press

Given the demand for cuts in government spending following the compromise deal Congress struck in order to raise the debt ceiling, many experts say foreign aid and development programs are on shaky ground.

Read more.

Humanosphere
2:26 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Community, collaboration: The next phase for Seattle’s do-gooders

'In Seattle, we are already the Silicon Valley of sustainable, social and innovative development,' Hub Seattle's Brian Howe. 'But we are still very fragmented, many of us working inefficiently in isolation.'
Tom Paulson Humanosphere

Clearly, the explosion of do-gooders in Seattle represents a great opportunity – an opportunity to do more good, to maybe even “do well by doing good” or at least find a job.

But our region’s emerging humanitarian “sector” also poses some dangers: A plethora of good (and maybe not-so-good) causes competing for funding, of redundancy, lack of clarity, lack of criteria for measuring success (or failure) and, overall, of not making the most of this opportunity due to lack of collaboration, of community.

That’s where Hub Seattle hopes to play a role.

Read more.

Humanosphere
5:38 pm
Wed July 27, 2011

New Seattle org wants to unite all the do-gooders in Seattle

Seattle has a plethora of organizations helping people around the world. (Pictured is Seattle International Foundation's Mauricio Vivero in Guatemala, checking on a Seattle-funded microfinance project). A new organization wants to connect them all.
SIF

“We live in this amazing community where so many people are trying to make a difference …”

Seattle has become a hub, or more accurately a hodgepodge, of international do-gooders. And, well, nobody seems to really have a handle on everything going on.

That’s where another internationally oriented foundation in Seattle comes in. Appropriately enough, it’s called the Seattle International Foundation.

Read more.

Humanosphere
10:24 am
Wed July 27, 2011

Malawi protests: An African spring?

A protester burns vegetation in a street in Lilongwe, Malawi, last week. Protesters went on the rampage after a court injunction stopped them protesting the economic and democratic crisis in the country.
Associated Press

Just as when Tunisians first rose up against their government, few outside are paying much attention.

The same basic forces — unemployment, high food prices, human rights abuses and mistrust of government — which sparked the revolt in Tunisia and then led to today’s widespread popular revolution across the Arab world, is now at play in this small, southeastern African nation.

Read more.

Humanosphere
5:14 pm
Wed July 20, 2011

Water advocate wonders at Gates Foundation’s focus on the toilet

Marla Smith-Nilson and friends.
Water 1st

Marla Smith-Nilson is director of Seattle-based Water 1st International and has worked for decades trying to improve access in the developing world to clean water and safe, healthy sanitation.

Smith-Nilson said she welcomes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decision to get more involved in water and sanitation issues. But she is concerned that their primary interest in re-inventing the toilet is focused too much on the simple fix.

Read more.

Humanosphere
4:54 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Why CIA's faked vaccines may cause damage

johanoomen Flickr

The CIA has acknowledged running a deceptive, if not totally fake, vaccination program in Pakistan as part of the effort months ago to hunt down Osama bin Laden, and here are three reasons why the deception may cause problems in global health efforts:

  • This isn’t just about vaccines.
  • Health workers and aid workers overseas have to be seen as neutral and independent if they are to operate effectively and safely.
  • National security isn’t achieved just by hunting and killing bad guys. It’s also achieved through humanitarian efforts.

Read more.

Humanosphere
9:05 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Microwaving malaria among winners of Gates grants

Gates Foundation announces latest round of grants.
Tom Paulson Humanosphere

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded its latest set of grants supporting innovative scientific research aimed at solving problems in global health.

The grants, awarded through the Gates Foundation’s $100 million Grand Challenges Exploration program, for this go-round appear to favor novel methods aimed at combating malaria.

Read more.

Humanosphere
2:18 pm
Tue July 12, 2011

Did CIA's fake vaccination program undermine global health?

Associated Press

One of the chronic problems the international community has with almost every disease-fighting campaign has been the need to overcome mistrust — mistrust of government, of foreign health workers or outsider do-gooders in general.

This is, for a variety of reasons, especially true of vaccines.

So many worry that such global health efforts will suffer from the revelation, reported first in The Guardian and later by the New York Times and others, that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) set up a fake vaccination program in Pakistan in order to collect DNA samples.

Read more.

Humanosphere
10:53 am
Wed July 6, 2011

Mysterious microfinance firm re-emerges

Indian woman Jahan Bano, right, a microfinance beneficiary makes lime stone along with her daughter at her factory in Mumbai, India, March 2011. Long heralded as a way to lift the downtrodden out of poverty, microfinance has come under a cloud.
Associated Press

A year ago the Seattle microfinance firm Unitus closed its doors, laid off most of its staff and didn’t really tell anybody (including some major donors) why it did so.

Unitus, which had claimed its primary mission was to help poor people, also happened to have made a lot of money — having invested in an Indian company, SKS Microfinance, which had pursued this anti-poverty financing scheme as a for-profit venture.

Now, Unitus has been resurrected as Unitus Labs.

Read more.

Humanosphere
2:31 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Mayor McGinn jumps into Twitter fight over child prostitution

There’s a Twitter war going on right now that has prompted Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to write to Jim Larkin, the CEO of Village Voice which also owns the Seattle Weekly, regarding child sex trafficking. McGinn has also asked the Seattle Police Department to look into these allegations.

The Twitter battle is basically an assault on the Seattle Weekly based on claims that the periodical, as part of the Village Voice Media chain, publishes ads that put minors at risk of prostitution. Here’s the Weekly’s rebuttal to those claims.

The story now is that actor Ashton Kutcher has taken up the Twitter assault on the Weekly and other publications carrying these ads.

Read more.

Humanospere
12:11 pm
Wed June 29, 2011

Botswana: An African success story in the fight against AIDS

Former President of Botswana Festus Mogae.
Tom Paulson Humanosphere

The southern African nation of Botswana has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV infection and yet is also widely considered one of the big success stories in the fight against AIDS.

On Tuesday, at a Seattle event sponsored by the World Affairs Council, former Botswanan President Festus Gontebanye Mogae spoke and took questions from an audience of several hundred people at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center.

Read more.

Humanosphere
11:30 am
Fri June 24, 2011

Top 10 global health achievements in the past decade

No. 3 on the CDC’s list of the top 10 global health achievements in the past decade is access to safe water and sanitation.
Brande Jackson Flickr

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a list of the top 10 achievements in global health over the past 10 years.

The report notes, however, that “major disparities persist” and much remains to be done even in these areas that have shown most improvement.

Read more.

Humanosphere
9:31 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Health summit starts Wednesday; private meetings begin today

This week, several “invitation-only” meetings will be held in Seattle featuring hundreds of leading experts in global health from around the world.

They all revolve around the Pacific Health Summit, which starts Wednesday. For an audio summary and Q & A about the summit, listen to the above podcast.

One of those confabs orbiting the summit is the Global Health Research Congress, which starts today.

Read more

Humanosphere
3:00 pm
Wed June 15, 2011

Bono's ONE Campaign growing in Seattle

Members of ONE on the streets of Seattle, taking names and fighting poverty.
One Campaign Seattle

How were world governments, under constant pressure to cut back on foreign aid due to the economic downturn, convinced to support the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization to the tune of $4.3 billion?

Bill Gates and his foundation likely had some influence, sure. He’s long been a big proponent of vaccines. But even the Microsoft billionaire can’t always get governments to do what he wants. That’s where his friend Bono and the ONE Campaign come in.

Read more

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