Family planning for climate change


A March 2014 publication by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification contained two stunning statistics. It projected that “by 2020 an estimated 60 million people could move from the arid desert areas of sub-Saharan Africa towards North Africa and Europe” and that by 2050, “200 million people may be permanently displaced environmental migrants.”

But what is even more startling is what is absent from the recent U.N. report: There is no mention of improving access to family planning.

Where the world’s poor will live: 2005 vs 2015

Major gains by China and India over ten years means that they will be home to far less of the world’s poor. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is worrying as poverty is expected to increase by 2015 in terms of the number of people. In Nigeria a massive population with continued growth means the number of people living in poverty will decline only a little bit in real terms.

All of that is to say that the concentration of poverty is shifting and the response will likely change as well.  These findings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) report Fragile states 2013: Resource flows and trends in a shifting worldBy 2015 half of the world’s population will live under $1.25 a day.

Check out the numbers:


Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Convenes 27 Global Leaders

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a group of 27 global leaders that will carry forward the mission of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. “Never before have so many leaders, from so many countries and fields, agreed to work together to improve nutrition,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Scaling Up Nutrition Movement gives all of us, including the UN, an opportunity to support countries in their efforts to end hunger and malnutrition.”


The SUN movement aims to address the burden of under-nutrition and support the effort of the MDG to halve poverty and hunger by 2012. The group created a framework in 2010 on how to acheive the goal. The advised, “The worldwide pursuit of vital strategies to improve nutrition will need backing through a strong public information programme which focuses on the importance of (a) making the economic impact of under-nutrition visible (b) engaging decision makers as activists for attention to under-nutrition in the context of food security, health and social protection in order to tackle this negative economic impact, (c) encouraging public participation in a social movement that empowers households and communities for better nutrition.”

The appointment of SUN leaders helps to further the goal of encouraging international participation in the framework. “It is time to recognize nutritional status not only as a marker of progress in development, but also as a maker of progress – and a key to more sustainable development. We must invest now in programmes to prevent stunting or risk diminishing the impact of other investments in education, health and child protection,” said Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, who has been appointed by Secretary-General Ban to chair the Lead Group.

Melinda Gates On Global Health Spending

Melinda Gates and New York Times journalist Nick Kristof allowed readers to submit questions about international development and global health.   The first part of the conversation was published yesterday; this question and answer caught the eye of us at Healthy Lives:

Question: I attended a talk once with the British economist Benny Dembitzer. He thinks that too much money is spent on the fight against malaria and other diseases, believing that a child may be saved from malaria today but could die from diptheria tomorrow. Instead, he’d rather see that money spend on primary education. As a molecular biologist, I think that the fight against insect transmitted diseases can be won, but I can understand the argument. Do you think that a point might be reached at which we have to say: Enough’s enough. Let’s give everyone bed nets and we can fight malaria through bringing people out of poverty? –ROBERT JONES

MELINDA: I hear that question a lot, and I don’t think it is either or. We have to do both. It is incredibly important not only to invest in health, but also to invest in efforts that stimulate economic growth, expand access to opportunity, and help the poor raise themselves out of poverty. Take agriculture, for example. We invest in agriculture because we believe that if smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women, had access to better information and higher yielding and more resilient crops, they could better feed their families, earn higher incomes, and become self-sufficient.

Healthy Dose July 5, 2011

Top StoryZimbabwe Ramps Up Male Circumcision Campaign An IRIN story shows how awareness and ease of access has lead to a significant jump in the number of men circumcised. Zimbabwe's goal is to have 1.2 million men undergo voluntary circumcision by 2015. Tinashe Damba, 29, is one of almost 30,000 men who have taken advantage of the free circumcision scheme offered by the ministry of health in conjunction with Population Services International (PSI), an NGO, and other partners. "I thought the circumcision procedure was going to be very painful but I did not feel a thing," said a relieved Damba after leaving the operating room at a clinic in the capital, Harare. The only pain he felt was when his penis was injected with the anaesthetic that made it numb during the procedure. "I heard that if you get circumcised you have a better chance of not contracting the deadly HIV. It's not 100 percent prevention, but you reduce the chances of contracting that disease." A large study in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda in 2006 found that the procedure could reduce a man's risk of contracting HIV through vaginal intercourse by as much as 60 percent. Before Zimbabwe launched its campaign, male circumcision had only ... Read more

The Relationship Between Tobacco and Poverty

Seeing that today is World No Tobacco Day, it is appropriate to look at the correlation that tobacco use has with poverty. For many high income nations, tobacco use poses a major public health risk. For the poor, the stakes are even higher as access to education about tobacco and strong health systems are much harder. Causing 5 million deaths a year, the number is projected to grow to 8 million by 2030. WHO researchers recently released a report that examined the issue of tobacco and poverty. What they found is not surprising, but affirms the need to address tobacco use among the poor. [The} study presented a solid base from which to support its conclusions of an inverse relationship between income level and tobacco use prevalence, and its related consequences. Greater efforts to reduce tobacco use among poor people are clearly needed. This research may be useful for policy makers as well, to improve strategies in tobacco control and inequity.  Image credit Read more

As the G8 Meets in Deauville Global Health is Missing from the Agenda

The Global Health Council's David Olson is supremely disappointed that global health is missing from the G8 agenda this week in Deauville, France. The heads of state are arriving as I write this — Russia and Canada arrived last night and the rest are on their way now — and global health is nowhere visible on the agenda, neither in the French presidency’s official agenda on the website, or in the more detailed agenda we are now seeing here in Deauville.We have heard that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the champion of the 2010 Muskoka Initiative and the co-chair of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, plans a presentation on the commission’s newly-released report “Keeping Promises, Measuring Results,” but we have no details yet on where and when this will be done. Last week, the G8 itself released its much-anticipated Deauville Accountability Report on G8 commitments on health and food security but the NGO reaction to it was universally negative. Oxfam International and the ONE Campaign both called it a “whitewash,” Action Aid said it was “deeply embarrassing” and Malaria No More UK was disappointed at the lack of clear information. Member organisations of Global Call to Action Against ... Read more

Healthy Dose May 25, 2011

Top Story Vuvuzelas Spread More Than Noise Unprepared World Cup fans were surprised that the buzzing was not a hoard of bees on the pitch, but ardent fans blowing their vuvuzelas. Now, the BBC reports new research which shows that using the loud horn can spread diseases like TB. Dr Ruth McNerney, who carried out the latest work at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said a "vuvuzela blowing etiquette" may be needed rather than a ban. "Just as with coughs or sneezes, action should be taken to prevent disease transmission, and people with infections must be advised against blowing their vuvuzelas close to other people," she said. Her team investigated the vuvuzela hazard using a laser device to measure how many droplets were produced by eight volunteers using the horns. On average, 658,000 lung particles, or aerosols, per litre of air were expelled from the instruments. The droplets shot into the air at the rate of four million per second. In comparison, when the volunteers were asked to shout, they produced only 3,700 particles per litre at a rate of 7,000 per second. "When attending a sporting event and surrounded by vuvuzela players, a spectator could expect to inhale large numbers of respiratory aerosols over the ... Read more

Watch Live: Bill Gates Discusses Implications of Climate Change and Global Health

Tune in at 11:15 to watch Bill Gates discuss how climate change affects global poverty and global health, with Climate Solutions Board Co-chair Jabe Blumenthal. In the chat, he will touch on the ways that he sees clean energy solutions as ways to address disease, poverty and hunger. For more information on the talk, go here. Read more

Healthy Dose May 2, 2011

Top StoryOsama Bin Laden Killed in Surgical Strike The al Qaeda Leader and terrorist mastermind was killed in commando-style raid on a compound near Islamabad, Pakistan, President Obama announced late Sunday night. In a dramatic late-night appearance in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama declared that “justice has been done” as he disclosed that American military and C.I.A. operatives had finally cornered Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader who had eluded them for nearly a decade. American officials said Bin Laden resisted and was shot in the head. He was later buried at sea. The news touched off an extraordinary outpouring of emotion as crowds gathered outside the White House, in Times Square and at the Ground Zero site, waving American flags, cheering, shouting, laughing and chanting, “U.S.A., U.S.A.!” In New York City, crowds sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Throughout downtown Washington, drivers honked horns deep into the night. ----------------------------------------- Global Health and Development Beat Non Communicable Diseases - China bans smoking in restaurants, rail stations, and airports. Maternal Health - New data on maternal deaths in Nigeria reveals that poor monitoring supervision has lead to the government missing its intended reduction targets. Millennium Development Goals - The 2010 MDG report for Ghana has revealed ... Read more