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Despite One Year Without Polio Cases, Threat of Disease Still Looms In India

T. Jacob John, a former professor of clinical virology an the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, who has served on several Global and National Committees on Immunization and Polio Eradication, writes in this opinion piece in India’s Hindu, “While one year has passed without polio caused by natural poliovirus, we can claim complete eradication only after we ensure the absence of wild and vaccine polioviruses in the population.” He provides a brief history of polio eradication efforts, globally and in India, and continues, “For certification of eradication, two more years should pass without any case of wild virus polio. … We must continue working as if we still have poliovirus lurking somewhere, only to show up when least expected” (1/8).

Suing Others For Spread Of Disease Ignores Dynamics Of Infectious Disease

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the CGD, and Richard Cash, senior lecturer on global health at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Global Health and Population, report on a lawsuit brought forth against the U.N. on behalf of some of Haiti’s 15,000 cholera victims, writing that “the thought of suing the ‘sending’ government — Mexico for H1N1, India for polio, etc. — for the spread of these diseases seems absurd because it does not recognize the dynamics of infectious diseases” (1/11).

Investing In Frontline Health Workers Effective In Saving Lives Of Mothers, Children

In the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, writes about the Frontline Health Workers Coalition’s call on the U.S. government to train 250,000 new frontline health workers in developing countries, stating, “At a time when every dollar counts more than ever, the new Frontline Health Workers Coalition believes this focus is the most cost-effective way to save mothers’ and children’s lives around the world, address global health threats, and help advance strategic U.S. interests in a secure and prosperous world.”

U.N. Poised To Take On Challenge Of Global Health

“In just over two decades, global health has gained a political visibility and status that some authors have called a political revolution,” Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, writes in a U.N. Chronicle opinion analysis. She reviews how the U.N. and its health agency, the WHO, have addressed global health issues, how funding for global health has increased but needs remain, and how the number of key players in the field has “increased considerably.”

Melinda Gates, Nicholas Kristof Answer Readers’ Questions About Development Issues

Last week in a Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, asked readers to submit questions about her recent trip to Bangladesh. In this post in New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s “On the Ground” blog, Kristof and Gates answer readers’ questions about development issues in the region. Questions address ways in which those with limited resources can help women around the world, how to factor in unintended consequences — such as rapid population growth — of global health programs, and investing in health versus other sectors (1/9).

Restricting Publication Of H5N1 Research ‘More Perilous’ Than Threat Of Biological Warfare

In this Reuters opinion piece, New York-based writer Peter Christian Hall responds to “the U.S. government’s move to restrict publication of vital research into H5N1 avian flu,” writing, “This unprecedented interference in the field of biology could hinder research and hamper responsiveness in distant lands plagued by H5N1,” yet “no one seems to be challenging a key assumption — that H5N1 could make a useful weapon. It wouldn’t.”

Moving FAO Forward With Sights On Hunger Eradication

Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece, “My top priority for 2012 will be to make a renewed push towards [achieving the first millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people living in hunger and extreme poverty by 2015], but also to look beyond it, to the final, total eradication of hunger from this planet. Obviously, it is not something that FAO can do alone. It needs a new international mobilization, the support of decision-makers everywhere, and a concerted effort by the entire U.N. family and other development partners.”

Governments Must Rethink Policies Surrounding Biosecurity, Not Resort To Censorship

Author Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece that the announcement that researchers from Norway and the U.S. have developed a supercontagious variety of bird flu “has highlighted a dilemma: How do you balance the universal mandate for scientific openness against the fear that terrorists or rogue states might follow the researchers’ work — using it as catastrophic cookbooks for global influenza contagion?” She continues, “Along with several older studies that are now garnering fresh attention, [the research] has revealed that the political world is completely unprepared for the synthetic-biology revolution” and notes “there are no consistent, internationally agreed-upon regulations governing synthetic biology, the extraordinarily popular and fruitful 21st-century field of genetic manipulation of microorganisms.”

Bringing Health Solutions To Women, Children

In this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes that she will be visiting Bangladesh to “lear[n] even more about two of the biggest killers of children — pneumonia and diarrhea,” and says “Bangladesh has made incredible progress in recent years, reducing the number of childhood deaths by 65 percent since 1990.” She writes, “As I reflect back on what I learned this year about the progress and the challenges in women’s and children’s health, I’m struck by the fact that we don’t need to wait for the solutions,” including “[t]hings like life-saving vaccines, contraceptives, healthy practices for mothers and newborns and good nutrition.”

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