Polio movement celebrates successes, faces setbacks

Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta shares his reflections on polio’s complex 2013. Dr. Bhutta is Founding Director of the Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University in Pakistan, and Co-Director of Research in Global Child Health at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

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The Daily Impact: Gunmen attack UN mission in South Sudan

April 18, 2014

Gunmen wounded dozens of people when they stormed a UN base in South Sudan. From AFP:

The top UN aid official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said he was “outraged” by the assault in the war-ravaged town of Bor, in which two peacekeepers were also wounded.

Almost 5,000 civilians are sheltering inside the fortified base of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), one of the most bitterly contested regions in the four-month-long conflict splitting the country.

UNMISS condemned “heinous murders” in the attack, although it has not officially confirmed any deaths.

“The armed mob forced entry into the site and opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base,” the UNMISS said in a statement, saying its forces returned fire — first firing warning shots and then taking part in a ferocious gun battle — before the fighters retreated.

The gunmen had initially approached the camp “under the guise of peaceful demonstrators” intending to present a petition to the UN, before opening fire and breaching the compound, the statement added.

The civilians fled into the base weeks ago amid brutal ethnic massacres in the world’s newest nation.

Information Minister Michael Makuei said that a “huge number” of gunmen had come seeking revenge for the rebel capture of the oil town of Bentiu two days ago hoping to kill the trapped civilians, many of them children.

The conflict in South Sudan has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes since fighting broke out on December 15 in the capital Juba before spreading to other states in the oil-rich nation.

Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, has swapped hands several times during the conflict.

The latest clashes in Bor echo an attack by gunmen in December on a UN base in Akobo, also in Jonglei, killing at least 11 civilians and two Indian UN peacekeepers.

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Eighty million years of healthy life and counting

By Kim Longfield, Director of Research, PSI

The Global Health & Innovation Conference is the world’s leading global health and social entrepreneurship conference. Held in New Haven, Conn., last week, the tenth edition of the gathering attracted more than 2,000 delegates and speakers from an array of disciplines: global health leaders like Jeffrey Sachs; investigative journalists like Michael Moss; influential bloggers like Seth Godin; and activists, entrepreneurs, academics, students, donors, and implementers.

It was the first time I’ve presented at this prestigious conference.

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The benefits of public-private partnerships in global health

PPP

It is imperative that both the public and private sectors work together. Businesses have invested in GAVI because they know that one of the strongest ways to promote global health is through immunization. And quite simply, vaccines provide a strong return on investment. Through collaboration between the public and private sectors, GAVI has been able to raise additional funds and, most importantly, bring significant private-sector expertise, skills, advocacy and visibility to its work

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The Daily Impact: Global Climate Change Efforts are Falling Short

April 14, 2014

A UN panel warned that governments are not doing enough to prevent the risks posed by climate change. From the NY Times:

In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.

“We cannot afford to lose another decade,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”

The good news is that ambitious action is becoming more affordable, the committee found. It is increasingly clear that measures like tougher building codes and efficiency standards for cars and trucks can save energy and reduce emissions without harming people’s quality of life, the panel found. And the costs of renewable energy like wind and solar power are falling so fast that its deployment on a large scale is becoming practical, the report said.

Moreover, since the intergovernmental panel issued its last major report in 2007, far more countries, states and cities have adopted climate plans, a measure of the growing political interest in tackling the problem. They include China and the United States, which are doing more domestically than they have been willing to commit to in international treaty negotiations.

Yet the report found that the emissions problem is still outrunning the determination to tackle it, with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rising almost twice as fast in the first decade of this century as they did in the last decades of the 20th century. That reflects a huge rush to use coal-fired power plants in developing countries that are climbing up the income scale, especially China, while rich countries are making only slow progress in cutting their high emissions, the report said.

The report is likely to increase the pressure to secure an ambitious new global climate treaty that is supposed to be completed in late 2015 and take effect in 2020. But the divisions between wealthy countries and poorer countries that have long bedeviled international climate talks were on display yet again in Berlin.

Some developing countries insisted on stripping charts from the report’s executive summary that could have been read as requiring greater effort from them, while rich countries — including the United States — struck out language that might have been seen as implying that they needed to write big checks to the developing countries. Both points survived in the full version of the report, but were deleted from a synopsis meant to inform the world’s top political leaders.

The new report does not prescribe the actions that governments need to take. But it does make clear that putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, either through taxes or the sale of emission permits, is a fundamental approach that could help redirect investment toward climate-friendly technologies.

If climate targets are to be met, the report said, annual investment in electrical power plants that use fossil fuels will need to decline by about 20 percent in the coming two decades, while investment in low-carbon energy will need to double from current levels.

The report warns that if greater efforts to cut emissions are not implemented soon, future generations seeking to limit or reverse climate damage will have to depend on technologies that permanently remove greenhouse gases from the air; in effect, they will be trying to undo the damage caused by the people of today.

 

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