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Opinions: Clean Water; Oversight Of U.N. Bookkeeping; Obama’s Global Health Goals; Maternal Mortality

Clean Water Needs To Be Priority For Haiti

“Long before the earthquake, Haiti was mired in a crisis that only a few experts noticed – a severe lack of clean drinking water,” writes Joseph Treaster, editor of the University of Miami’s Internet magazine on global water issues and the environment, in a Miami Herald opinion piece that examines the interconnectedness between water and health problems in Haiti, as well as other countries around the world. “As the rebuilding of Haiti gets under way, billions of dollars are going to be spent. Some of those dollars, perhaps a billion or more, should be dedicated to cleaning up the country’s drinking water and to making sure it stays clean,” Treaster continues. “It would help put Haiti on a sound footing for the future, perhaps more than any other single thing. A well-orchestrated plan for providing clean drinking water to the people of Haiti could be a model for the world” (1/28).

Forbes Column Calls For Increased U.S. Oversight Over U.N. Bookkeeping

“If you don’t like your tax bill now, watch out for the plans of the United Nations,” writes the Foundation for Defenses of Democracies’ Claudia Rosett in a Forbes column that examines U.N. tax proposals to fund programs, including for WHO. “The WHO notions range from taxes on Internet use, to financial transactions to alcohol, tobacco and weapons,” Rosett writes. “Since its founding in 1945, as essentially a diplomatic talking shop headquartered in the U.S., the U.N. has ballooned into a sort of post-colonial global empire, involving scores of thousands of staff, peacekeepers, agencies and proliferating agendas worldwide,” Rosett writes.

“So who is keeping an eye on these increasingly acquisitive ambitions of the U.N.? And who is minding the books for its ever-expanding budgets? The sorry answer is that while U.N. ambitions and spending have soared, U.N. reform efforts have largely fizzled. Oversight has been receding to dismal levels. … With President Barack Obama lauding the U.N. as a forum for global peace and progress, what’s Washington going to do about this mess?,” Rosett concludes (1/28).

Foreign Policy Editorial Examines Obama’s Global ‘Health-Care Philosophy’

In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, Eduardo Gomez, assistant professor of public policy at Rutgers University at Camden, examines the Obama administration’s approach to tackling global health issues. “Previously, Washington focused its funding on individual diseases, such as AIDS,” Gomez writes. “The Obama administration, in contrast, seeks to tackle broad-category initiatives, most importantly, child and maternal health, family planning, and often-neglected tropical diseases. He also seeks to help other countries strengthen their health-care systems and infrastructure.” Gomez outlines several factors contributing to the adminstration’s global health strategy before writing, “While Obama certainly faces challenges in implementing his new global health vision, such as the economy and a fragmented bureaucracy, the administration has introduced initiatives that are much needed and long overdue. The next – and hardest – step is putting them into action” (1/27).

Canada Can Lead In Reducing Global Maternal Mortality

A Globe and Mail editorial commends the recent announcement by the Canadian Prime Minister that the country would lead an international effort to reduce child and maternal mortality. “By taking up this vital yet long-neglected and unglamorous cause through the G8 presidency, Stephen Harper and Canada could rally the richest countries’ resources to help turn back a needless and preventable tragedy. Curbing maternal mortality is urgently needed, and absolutely attainable,” according to the editorial. “The cause can be won, because many solutions are close at hand,” the editorial continues, noting several ways to help reduce maternal mortality. “Many development schemes have been most effective when they are targeted at a discrete problem with a known solution. … Bringing such leadership to bear on behalf of the world’s mothers, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged, is a cause that will repay itself far beyond the dollars we spend,” the editorial concludes (1/27).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.