Humanosphere

Humanosphere
10:44 am
Tue July 26, 2011

Perspectives: Famine in East Africa is a crime … and bad science

Somalis from southern Somalia carrying their belongings make their way to a new camp for internally displaced refugees in Mogadishu Tuesday. The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia.
Associated Press

As the United Nations and the international community ramps up to airlift food and supplies into East Africa, mostly for starving Somali refugees, two perspectives on this crisis seemed especially interesting to Tom Paulson, who runs KPLU’s Humanosphere.

One: In Foreign Policy, Charles Kenny contends that, in this day and age, allowing a famine to occur is basically a crime against humanity.

Two: David Dickson, editor of the Science and Development Network, contends that the UN, Western powers and aid organizations could have been well-prepared for this crisis – if they had paid any attention to the scientific evidence.

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
12:21 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Seattle's PATH embroiled in HPV vaccine controversy in India

“Collapsed trial fuels unfounded vaccine fears,” a news headline said of an HPV vaccine program in India run by Seattle's PATH.
Meena Kadri Flickr

In 2009, Seattle-based PATH, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a project aimed at combating cervical cancer in India by introducing the HPV vaccine.

The vaccine program didn’t work out as planned.

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
10:13 am
Fri June 17, 2011

Fighting over 'philanthropy'

There appears to be a deep-seated intellectual boil festering at the base of our discussions around philanthropy, foreign aid and development, reports our global health blog Humanosphere.

Tom Paulson, who runs the blog, says he’s not sure anyone really knows what they mean.

He is sure the experts on philanthropy, aid and development all think they know what they mean, “but as a journalist assigned to cover this stuff — and asked to translate it into “normal” language — I’m increasingly running into debates about fundamentals, if not outright confusion.”

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.

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Humanosphere
12:45 pm
Mon June 13, 2011

Press release: Donors push historic milestone in global health

Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization – Major public and private donors achieved a milestone in global health today by committing funding to immunize more than 250 million of the world’s poorest children against life-threatening diseases by 2015 and prevent more than four million premature deaths.

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Humanosphere
12:01 pm
Mon June 13, 2011

Gates' vaccine efforts criticized for favoring drug industry

Bill Gates at World Health Assembly.
United Nations

Vaccines are “miracles,” Bill Gates likes to say, because of their power to prevent death and disease so simply and at such a low cost.

Today, governments and international donors (the Gates Foundation chief among them) agreed to boost funding for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization initiative by $4.3 billion.

In this time of economic recession, GAVI’s success at fund-raising is extraordinary. However, the question must be asked: Does GAVI strike the hardest bargain with drug companies, getting the needed vaccines at the lowest cost?

Read more

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