Monday, 27 September 2010

the Guardian newspaper's new development blog

The Guadian newspaper has launched a development blog at the time of MDG summit. Hopefully, others will follow!

Recent article
Millennium development goals: governments pledge £25.5bn to eradicate world poverty
22 September 2010, 20:19:46 Sarah Boseley, Polly Curtis
Nick Clegg backs drive to combat malaria which kills many pregnant women and children under five
Governments, businesses and aid organisations today made commitments totalling $40bn (£25.5bn) backing the UN secretary general's plan to reach goals on alleviating world poverty and ill-health by 2015.
At a set-piece session at the United Nations, one leader after another stood up to promise to back Ban Ki-moon's strategy to achieve the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) by concentrating on the health of mothers and their children.
"We all know what works to save women's and children's lives, and we all know that women and children are critical to all of the MDGs," said the secretary general. "Today we are witnessing the kind of leadership we have long needed."
Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, committed the UK to double the number of women's and children's lives saved by reorienting Britain's aid programme to put their needs at its core – in addition to new funding for malaria.
He acknowledged that all countries found it tough to justify more spending on aid during a recession but urged other leaders not to give up.
"We have a job to explain to people back home that this isn't only the right thing to do for moral reasons, to heal the grotesque divisions between wealth and poverty in the world, to tackle human suffering, to restore a greater sense of balance between one part of the world and another, but that it's also in our own financial and our enlightened self-interest – 22 of the 24 countries that are furthest away from the MDGs are steeped in conflict. Conflict breeds radicalism, extremism, terrorism."
In his first major address on the world stage – his speech was followed by an address from President Obama – Clegg also issued a demand that other countries do not shy away from their responsibilities. "My message to you today, from the UK government, is this: we will keep our promises and we expect the rest of the international community to do the same."
The fifth goal – a pledge to cut the numbers of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth by three-quarters – is the furthest behind of those agreed by the G8, the world's richest countries, in 2000. The deadline set for their achievement was 2015. In some countries, one woman in eight dies in childbirth, Ban said. A major push to improve their health will not only reduce deaths but help keep children alive and in education and out of poverty.
"In many parts of the world, women have yet to benefit from advances that made childbirth much safer nearly 100 years ago," he said. "Millions of children die from malnutrition and diseases which we have known how to treat for decades. These realities are simply unacceptable." The strategy, he added, included women's empowerment. "Women must lead the way," he said.
Not only donor countries but also developing nations promised to spend more on the poorest people in their societies. Tanzania promised to increase health spending from 12% to 15% of the national budget by 2015 and increase the numbers of health workers it trains and employs. Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, who has played a prominent role in the summit and was warmly praised a few days ago by Ban as a "stellar leader", pledged to spend 15% of the budget on health by 2012. His country has already brought maternal mortality down from 1,071 to 383 per 100,000 births between 2000 and 2008.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, announced a new alliance on maternal health between USAID, the UK, Australia and the Gates Foundation, which will focus on the dearth of family planning in developing countries. Norway, Australia and France were among those promising substantial new money. Pledges also came from aid organisations, philanthropic foundations and businesses.

Inequalities in Child Survival - Save the Children Report

Save the Children Report

Inequalities in Child Survival

This paper aims to understand the inequalities in child survival in the developing world.
It looks at the disparities in under-five mortality in 65 low- and middle-income countries, from 1990 to 2008, with case studies from India and Bangladesh to complement analysis.
Understanding inequalities in child survival and its wider determinants has important policy implications towards meeting MDG 4.
Download Inequalities in Child Survival (PDF 395KB)

Save the Children blog on MDG Summit

MDG Summit: And the winner is…
Friday 24 September 2010
Heading home at last from New York. As I wait for BA188 to Heathrow (seat 34H, in case you were wondering) here are my top ten heroes from a week of excitement, nervous tension and cautious (OK, very cautious) celebration at the outcome of the UN Summit. Cue the music. Here goes…

At Number 10: Luca de Fraia. Luca is my friend who runs Action Aid in Italy and a stalwart of the Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History campaigns. Luca told me he was in a meeting with various government representatives and other campaign leaders at the UN when the government minister sitting next to him (whose identity and nationality will have to remain undisclosed) turned on him and said “you are a disgrace.

You have no credibility here whatsover.” Evidently this minister thought our Luca was working for Silvio Berlucsconi’s government, best known around here for its miserable record of broken promises on aid to the poorest countries. Hats off to poor Luca, who certainly took one for the team (and it wasn’t even his team). And an honorary mention to that unnamed minister whose intentions, at least, were good.

At Number 9: Ian Wright. No, not the cheeky-chappie footballer-turned-TV-pundit — Ian Wright the New-York based artist. Ian is the genius who created our installation that was on display in Grand Central station and was visited by Claire Danes and countless other big-hearted New Yorkers on Monday.

The artwork was made up of thumbprints from some of the three million people who have taken action worldwide as part of our EVERY ONE campaign. I must admit to being slightly taken aback when I met Ian. I had in my mind a particular idea of what a New York based artist would be like, and Ian certainly looked the part. But when he opened his mouth to speak I realised that he in fact comes from London, and if I closed my eyes I could have been talking to — well, the cheeky-chappie footballer-turned-TV-pundit, I guess…

At Number 8: Dr Abhay Bang. Dr Bang’s story of achieving a dramatic reduction in the deaths of children and mothers in his home district of Gadchiroli in rural India captivated audiences here all week. It all comes down to trained and equipped health workers in every village. It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense, and if we can do it there, we must do it everywhere. Thank you Dr B — Save the Children was proud to bring you to New York and proud to be associated with you and your brilliant work.

At number 7, its a joint effort: First up, Michael Klosson, the former US ambassador and now Save the Children’s policy chief in Washington DC. Late on Wednesday afternoon, the team were in the office trying to agree on the thing that we could do the following day that would capture a bit of interest on the last day of the summit and help us get our message across.

We knew what we wanted to say — that the progress so far towards the Millennium Development Goals was too slow and that they needed to pick up the pace in the months ahead if they are to have a chance of reaching the goals and saving millions of women’s and children’s lives. What could we give to the leaders, and to the media and others, that would help get this point across?

For a while we were stuck on sweatbands — but they were too expensive, and just didn’t feel right. Too Flashdance. Then we thought about bottles of water or Powerade or something — but realised that trying to get large quantities of liquids past UN security might just set off the odd alarm.

And just as our enthusiasm began to wane, Michael — who had hitherto been apparently totally immersed in his laptop and some in-depth briefing on US government nutrition policy, looked up over his spectacles and said only two words: “Energy bars.” Genius. The team swung into action and within a few hours, 500 Hersheys bars had been suitably re-designed and were being placed in the hands of the British Deputy Prime Minister and influential figures across the United Nations complex. Hooray for the policy guy — and for policy guys everywhere. We love you all.

And joining him at number 7 – as a surprise entry really: the mysterious masked man who raced across New York City as dawn broke on Thursday. Helping Save the Children get across that message that world leaders need to give themselves a burst of political energy, and armed only with the strange substance that is American chocolate, our tall, black-clad hero sprinted (OK, sort of shuffled quickly, with a slightly wobbly gait) past the city’s famous landmarks and delivered our specially-adapted high-energy bar right to the very heart of power.

It looked like something out of a movie. So, we made one. Sir, whoever you were, wherever you are now, we salute you. And special thanks to the brilliant Liz “Orson Wells” Scarff, who made the film.

Right. I need to hurry up a bit. At Number 6: Peter Singer. The author of The Life You Can Save spoke on a Save the Children platform on Wednesday and moved hearts and minds with his passionate call for each of us to do what we can. If you ever needed help getting over the doubts that get in the way of generosity to the world’s most vulnerable kids, watch his amazing video at It made me cry – and it doesn’t even have any pictures in it.

Into the top 5, and at 5 – it’s @mummytips, aka my video blog partner Sian To. Sian and the British mummybloggers went to Bangladesh a couple of weeks ago and then she came here to tell her story. Well done Sian for getting in front of just about everyone who mattered — and for making our videoblogging so much fun. It wasn’t quite the One Show, more the No Show… but it was fun. Thanks Sian for joining our team. And while I’m on it: the Save the Children team from many countries who made this week happen are all complete heroes, too often unsung. So thank you (deep breath) Fiona, Margaret, Patrick, David, Hadiza, Francesco, Anna, Ben, Cicely, Tanya, Andrew, Wendy, Liz, Steve, Ceri, Sue, Tul, Tricia, Tara, Candace, Michael, Desmond, Gorel, and especially Rachel who did the late shifts back in London and missed all the chocolate.

At Number 4, a surprise entry – it’s Justin Bieber. The pre-teen heart-throb pop star has been with me all week — although I left him in my hotel room most of the time. It all began when I passed a street stall selling life-size autographed celebrity pictures on the first evening. My nine-year-old daughter had told me that if I saw Justin Bieber I should get his autograph. I didn’t think twice — and I am now sitting in Departures at Newark airport with Justin, too large to fit in my case, staring plaintively across the terminal. And yes, people are definitely staring back.

Getting serious now: Number 3 is Nthabiseng Tshabalala. 12-year-old Nthabiseng is a schoolgirl from Soweto and an ambassador for the 1GOAL Education for All campaign. I met her when I was there during the World Cup. She flew from South Africa to tell world leaders they have to do a lot more to give every child the chance to go to school like her. She is brave, clever and funny and every time she spoke here, the room would get to its feet. Nthabiseng, you’re a star.

At Number 2, credit where credit’s due: it’s UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He didn’t have to do this. He decided there should be a special UN session on the Millennium Development Goals and personally led a specific initiative on women’s and children’s health. The result of that was a Global Strategy mapping out a direction for the next five years.

It isn’t perfect — some governments were pretty shocking in their failure to contribute - and the test of it is in how much actually gets delivered — but it is a whole lot better than nothing (which is what we would have got, if Mr Ban hadn’t been bothered).

And finally, at Number 1: there can only be one winner. Well, actually, there are three million winners. Yes, it’s YOU – and all the rest of the 3,029,659 who’ve taken action in more than 50 countries for the EVERY ONE campaign to save children’s lives. People have marched, run, knitted, donated, petitioned, thumbprinted, shouted, danced, all to help the campaign achieve it’s goal — to get the world on track to achieving its promise to save 15 million lives by 2015.

Together we told leaders we wanted them to focus on that challenge at this summit and agree a strategy for meeting it. They have come, focused, and produced a strategy. Now there can be no excuse for failure. We KNOW this goal is achievable — but we also know the hard work starts here. Each one of those leaders who came here this week must now hear our voices loud and clear, and many more too.

Let’s make saving the lives of children and their mothers the world’s great shared mission of the next few years — bringing together governments, international institutions, organisations like Save the Children (we’ve made our own commitments to save many more lives, so hold us to that), faith groups, business, health professionals, celebrities, schools and individual citizens around the world. We had a tough job in New York this week, but we just about made it. And you know what they say in New York: if we can make it there… It’s up to you…

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Developing Nations to Get Clean-Burning Stoves

Not very glamorous but significant cause of lung infections in women and children.

September 20, 2010
Developing Nations to Get Clean-Burning Stoves

WASHINGTON — Nearly three billion people in the developing world cook their meals on primitive indoor stoves fueled by crop waste, wood, coal and dung. Every year, according to the United Nations, smoke from these stoves kills 1.9 million people, mostly women and children, from lung and heart diseases and low birth weight.

The stoves also contribute to global warming as a result of the millions of tons of soot they spew into the atmosphere and the deforestation caused by cutting down trees to fuel them.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to announce a significant commitment to a group working to address the problem, with a goal of providing 100 million clean-burning stoves to villages in Africa, Asia and South America by 2020. The United States is providing about $50 million in seed money over five years for the project, known as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

More than a dozen other partners, including governments, multilateral organizations and corporate sponsors, are to contribute an additional $10 million or more.

Mrs. Clinton called the problem of indoor pollution from primitive cookstoves a “cross-cutting issue” that affects health, the environment and women’s status in much of the world. “That’s what makes it such a good subject for a coordinated approach of governments, aid organizations and the private sector,” she said in a telephone interview on Monday.

She acknowledged that the American government’s contribution of $50 million was a modest commitment for a problem with enormous implications for billions of people worldwide.

“Like anything,” she said, “we have to start somewhere.”

Mrs. Clinton is to make the announcement at the annual aid conference sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, former President Bill Clinton’s health, development and environmental organization. She will be joined by Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and officials from a number of partner groups, including the United Nations Foundation.

Although the toxic smoke from the primitive stoves is one of the leading environmental causes of death and disease, and perhaps the second biggest contributor to global warming, after the industrial use of fossil fuels, it has long been neglected by governments and private aid organizations.

The World Health Organization says that indoor air pollution caused by such cooking methods is the fourth greatest health risk factor in developing countries, after unclean water and sanitation, unsafe sex and undernourishment. The gathering of fuel is mainly done by women and children, millions of whom are exposed daily to dangers in conflict-torn regions. The need to forage for fuel also keeps millions of children out of school.

Although researchers have been aware of the health and environmental risks caused by carbon-belching indoor cookstoves for decades, there has been little focus on replacing them until recently, and it is not clear that the alliance’s high-profile initiative can pay the intended quick dividends. An estimated 500 million households depend on burning biomass for cooking and heating, some in the remotest places on earth, and it will not be easy to reach them with affordable and acceptable alternatives.

Even if the alliance’s goal were fully met, it would address no more than a fifth of the problem, according to its sponsors.

Stoves that are coming on the market for as little as $20 are 50 percent more efficient than current cooking methods, which are often simply open fires or crude clay domes, backers of the project say. A $100 model can capture 95 percent of the harmful emissions while burning far less fuel to produce the same amount of energy.

Reid Detchon, vice president for energy and climate at the United Nations Foundation, one of the founding partners of the alliance, said that the plan was not simply to use donations to buy millions of new stoves and ship them out to the developing world.

Rather, he said, the group hopes to create an entrepreneurial model in which small companies manufacture or buy the stoves close to their markets, taking into account local fuel choices, food consumption patterns and methods of cooking. This microproject model is expected to provide business opportunities for women while reducing the fuel-gathering burden of women and children around the world.

“The idea is how to create a thriving global industry in cookstoves, driven by consumers’ desire to have these products at a price they can afford,” Mr. Detchon said.

“These stoves don’t have a long lifetime,” he said. “To produce low cost and high volume, you’ll have to replace them relatively frequently, perhaps every two, three or five years. You’ll need a supply chain and business model that delivers them, not on a one-time basis, but as a continuing enterprise.”

Among the other founding partners of the alliance are the Shell Foundation, the Morgan Stanley Foundation, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the governments of Germany, Norway and the Netherlands.

Aside from the State Department and the E.P.A., participating United States agencies include the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Secretary Clinton on the Global Health Initiative: More on the WHAT and the WHO, but Not the HOW

Secretary Hilary R. Clinton spoke yesterday at SAIS on the objectives of the Global Health Initiative (GHI). The webcast of the event provided a forum for an interesting and interested set of tweeters (I participated) to point out what we heard and did not hear during the talk. My overall impression, echoed by several others (see here and here for two round ups of the discussion) was that while it was encouraging to hear Secretary Clinton reiterate the administration’s commitment to global health and its vision to transform the way in which global health is designed, delivered and managed, we did NOT hear anything new about the GHI: for example, no specifics on HOW the U.S. will “do” the GHI and apply all its commendable principles, metrics for success, and global leadership?

follow the link for rest of blog.

Global Health Policy _ Center for Global Development blog

Global Health Policy is a group blog discussing the issues facing the donor community on everything from HIV/AIDS financing to pharmaceutical R&D to broader health systems concerns. Comments are strongly encouraged, and suggestions for new posts can be sent to us here.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Politics of Poverty: Elites, Citizens and States

What difference does governance make?

A new DFID synthesis report, The Politics of Poverty: Elites, Citizens and States, shows how research from four major DFID-funded research programmes closing this year is changing academic and policy thinking on governance.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Public Health Ethics Conference Feb 2011 Hanover Germany

Public Health Ethics.
Scientific methods, foundational concepts, and case analyses
An interdisciplinary European conference for young scholars
February 14-18, 2011 at Hanover Medical School, Germany
Deadline for Abstracts: October 4, 2010

This five-day interdisciplinary conference takes up questions of public health ethics from 15 European scholars (PhD-students & post-docs) from the fields of public health, health services research, philosophy, biomedical ethics, medicine, nursing sciences, health economics, psychology, law, political science, and social sciences. All participants give an oral presentation of their research findings, which will then be discussed more thoroughly in a plenary session. Additional workshops with experts like Angus Dawson, PhD (Keele University, UK), Marcel Verweij, PhD (Utrecht University, NL), Johannes van Delden, MD, PhD (Utrecht University, NL), Neema Sofaer, PhD (King’s College London, UK) aim to improve international network building and teaching curricula in the field.

Participants are paid all travel and accommodation costs and an additional expense allowance of 300 € for preparing a manuscript that shall be published in an anthology edited by the conference organizers. The conference language is English.

Please send your application containing an abstract (max. 500 words), a curriculum vitae and a publication list to:

After peer review, all applicants will be informed about the acceptance of their proposed talk by November 5, 2010.

Further information and Call for Abstracts

Daniel Strech MD, PhD (Hanover Medical School, Centre for Public Health and Healthcare)
Georg Marckmann, MD, MPH (University of Tübingen)

Irene Hirschberg, MD, MPH
Institute for History, Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine
Centre for Public Health and Healthcare
Hannover Medical School
Carl-Neuberg-Straße 1
30625 Hannover, Germany
phone: 0049-511 532-8241 (Hirschberg) or -2709 (Strech)