Jane Battersby, University of Cape Town
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of food insecurity in the world. An estimated 220 million people lack adequate nutrition. The nature of the problem is shifting rapidly, with overweight status and obesity emerging as new forms of food insecurity while malnutrition persists. But continental policy responses do not address this changing reality.
Food insecurity is the outcome of being too poor to grow or buy food. But it’s not just any food. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s definition, people need:
… sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.
Current policy focuses on alleviating undernutrition through increased production and access to food. It does not focus on the systemic issues that inform the food choices people make. This may result in worsening food insecurity in the region.
Continue reading What’s Driving sub-Saharan Africa’s Malnutrition Problem?
In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). During the month of August,they’re featuring blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question, “Why immunize in 2015?” You can read an excerpt of Violent Metaphors‘ Jennifer Raff here, and be sure to read on to explore more posts. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.
“It’s critical that we continue to talk about immunization, because vaccine opponents are relentless — see the comments on my piece here for many examples of the bad science and provocative rhetoric they employ.
Speaking up is the most important step, letting parents know that their decision to vaccinate is the safest and most common way people protect their children. The anti-vaccine minority is disproportionately loud, partly because vaccines are so safe, so effective and so ubiquitous that they become part of the background landscape of parenting. Fortunately, in reaction to harmful pseudoscientific scaremongering and events like the Disneyland outbreak, people are motivated to speak out in favor of vaccines.
It matters how we talk about vaccines, too. Here is where there is the most room for improvement in 2015. Writers want the discussion to be dramatic and too often try to paint “anti-vaxxers” as demonic or vile. Or they try to use the vaccine debate as a weapon in the larger culture wars. This leads to the media (and many well-meaning science writers) giving too much weight to vaccine opponents, creating the false perception that there is a “growing movement.” Another problem is that the default images associated with stories on vaccinations are often distressed children and menacing needles. These approaches can have the unfortunate effect of recruiting more people to the anti-vaccine community, as Dan Kahan has pointed out in his piece in Science Magazine and on his blog.
Continue reading Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric with Science
Featured photo: A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the Al Neem Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan. UN Photo/Albert González Farran
In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). During the month of August, we’re featuring blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question, “Why immunize in 2015?” You can read an excerpt of National Meningitis Association President Lynn Bozof’s guest post here, and be sure to read on to explore more posts. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.
“Evan had meningococcal meningitis, a multi-syllabic disease that kills rapidly, without mercy. For weeks, Evan struggled to fight the infection. We were surrounded by doctors and medical teams. We clung to any indication that he might live. But one complication followed another — extremely low blood pressure, damage to the lungs and liver, gangrene of the limbs followed by amputation of all his limbs, seizures and finally, irreversible brain damage. Evan died 26 days after his first phone call to us.
Meningococcal disease, also known as bacterial meningitis, is difficult to say but simple to prevent with a vaccine. Meningitis kills 10 to 15 percent of the people who get it. About 20 percent of those who survive will suffer serious, long-term complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function or amputations.
When my son died, there were no routine recommendations for meningococcal vaccination. Now, in part because of years of advocacy from awareness groups and families, we have recommendations in place to protect adolescents and young adults.” Read the rest of her post here.
Continue reading The Push to End Meningitis Cases and Outbreaks: MHA@GW Observes National Immunization Awareness Month
This week at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a new multibillion-dollar global fund was launched. Called the Global Financing Facility, the fund will pump international, domestic, public, and private financing into high-burden, low-income countries that desperately need the funds to save more of its mothers, newborns, and children. The Global Financing Facility will be housed at the World Bank.
According to the World Bank, $12 billion of the needed $33.3 billion has already been pledged to this financing effort that will support the United Nations’ Every Woman Every Child. Some sources report that Norway has already pledged $600 million and Canada has pledged $200 million. Together, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States, Japan, and Canada (with a new $40 million pledge) have also committed $214 million. To date, those public numbers are far shy of the $12 billion that is said to have been “aligned” to the fund. Who pledged the additional funds I am not entirely sure. What is clear, however, is that over the course of 15 years, a total of $33.3 billion will be needed to save the lives of 4 million mothers and 101 million children and prevent 21 million stillbirths. [PDF]
Continue reading Multibillion-Dollar Fund Launches to Prevent Global Maternal, Newborn, and Child Deaths