What could possibly be freakier than the global spread of a mysterious zombie disease in “Contagion”? How about this interactive map, which shows an alarming number of outbreaks for diseases we already know how to fight?
By GAVI Alliance Managing Director for Innovative Finance & Private Sector Partnerships David Ferreira Dr. Tebebe Demane Berhan, eminent scientist and a leading members of Lions Clubs International in Ethiopia, a GAVI Matching Fund partner, administers GAVI-funded pentavalent vaccine at the Meshuwalekiya Health Centre in Addis Ababa in October to Amen as his mother looks on. I am
Back in 2011, GAVI Alliance was challenged with ambitious goals. Partners and donors tasked the Alliance with immunizing 370 million children in the poorest countries in the world and averting 4 million future deaths by 2015. Halfway through the 2011-2015 period, the same partners and donors gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 30 to review the progress made to date. Thanks to an unprecedented scale up in activities, our stakeholders were able to conclude that the Alliance is well on its way to meeting its bold targets. But we were also facing a different challenge. As we started to tell partners about our progress, many commented that while we were “delivering together” on the promises made in 2011, we were also not doing quite enough to let the world know about these successes. So we reached out. In the months leading to the Stockholm meeting, a number of partners such as ONE, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, UN Foundation, and World Vision lent their digital platforms to carry the immunization success stories of this daily fight against childhood diseases. And many news media in the US and Europe and in implementing countries such as Ghana, added context and a critical view to these successes.
Sweden: home to famous DJs, sunken ships, delicious gummy candy, and—for two days this October—150 vaccine donors, manufacturers and advocates from around the world. I traveled to Stockholm last week for the GAVI Alliance’s Mid-Term Review (MTR) meeting to take stock of the progress GAVI has achieved and explore its challenges and opportunities in the
“Fighting extreme poverty does not mean just increasing incomes for the poor, but also removing obstacles that are at the root of poverty and replacing them with long-term, sustainable economic opportunities that truly will lift the poor from poverty,” Shah said. To advocates like us, that means not only fighting epidemic diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB, but also promoting lifesaving vaccines to children under five and working to improve access to advanced agricultural techniques and reliable electricity for all. The United States is uniquely positioned to lead in this effort.
Because of the strong anti-poverty efforts of the last 50 years, we can now see the way forward in ending poverty by 2030. But how? According to Shah, we must change the way America does development. In previous generations, America could just “pay its way out” of problems and make it work. But today that model no longer applies. Not only are the United States and other nations grappling with growing budgetary constraints, but the nature of the world is different.
Standing at the periphery of the one-roomed house, I observed Dr. Baguma’s silhouette lean over to whisper to the patient’s two daughters, Fausta and Dorothy. He was informing them that their mother was in her final days of life. The sound of silence from beyond the doorway resonated solace. And then the unexpected: doctor, patient and caregivers responding to the news by bowing their heads together in a short prayer. Fausta, the eldest daughter, later told me that although the family had limited resources, for years Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU) had provided her mother with both medication and pain relief in her own home. On a regular basis, HAU sent a doctor or nurse who took the time to listen and respond to their mother’s needs, consistently infusing the two sisters with courage. This snapshot of this family’s experience reflects what palliative care is really about: caring for the physical and emotional pain, fear, social and spiritual anguish that often rides on the heels of disease, both for the patient and their families.
At ONE, we’re always excited when we see new projects that fuse transparency, collaboration and technology that can improve service delivery in developing countries. Smag Media is one such example. Founded by Milwaukee ONE member Sando Johnson, who is originally from Liberia, his company supports voting transparency and reports on elections across Africa using a cloud-based telecommunications network. This network supports secure transmission of various mobile transmissions – including text messages, and has already been used for election monitoring in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Now, Sando has his sights set on transforming the way healthcare is delivered, by making the path from funding to healthcare service shorter, more transparent, and focused on results.
This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its annual Global Tuberculosis Report I have been following tuberculosis (TB) quite closely for the past 3 years, and it is a disease that increasingly worries me. This year’s report findings should be worrying to everyone. TB is an air-borne infectious disease that gained prominence in the past decade “thanks” to the HIV/AIDS crisis. People who are HIV-positive are over 50 times more likely to be infected by TB. But it also affects HIV-negative people – also fully healthy people. There is currently no effective prevention for TB, and without treatment, it’s a lethal disease. Thanks (and this time without inverted commas!) to organizations such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, TB detection and treatment rates have been increasing. And subsequently, death rates have been falling globally – albeit very slowly. In 2012, 1.3 million people died from TB.