World Malaria Report 2020: Governments fell short of pledges, malaria poised to make a comeback.

December 1, 2020

World Malaria Report 2020 carries bad news. Despite remarkable progress against malaria, despite being on the verge of beating the disease and eradicating it from the planet, governments stopped supporting anti-malaria work.

Malaria is poised to come roaring back to kill millions.

COVID-19 complicates fighting malaria. But the real enemy of the fight against malaria is apathy, neglect and ignorance.

Cover of World Malaria Report 2020, WHO's annual accounting of the fight to eradicate malaria.

Cover of World Malaria Report 2020, WHO’s annual accounting of the fight to eradicate malaria.

Below, the full press release from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the 2020 accounting of the war against malaria.

____________________________

WHO calls for reinvigorated action to fight malaria

Global malaria gains threatened by access gaps, COVID-19 and funding shortfalls

30 November 2020
News release
Reading time: 6 min (1645 words)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on countries and global health partners to step up the fight against malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that continues to claim hundreds of thousands of lives each year. A better targeting of interventions, new tools and increased funding are needed to change the global trajectory of the disease and reach internationally-agreed targets.

According to WHO‘s latest World malaria report, progress against malaria continues to plateau, particularly in high burden countries in Africa. Gaps in access to life-saving tools are undermining global efforts to curb the disease, and the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to set back the fight even further.

“It is time for leaders across Africa – and the world – to rise once again to the challenge of malaria, just as they did when they laid the foundation for the progress made since the beginning of this century,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Through joint action, and a commitment to leaving no one behind, we can achieve our shared vision of a world free of malaria.”

In 2000, African leaders signed the landmark Abuja Declaration pledging to reduce malaria deaths on the continent by 50% over a 10-year period. Robust political commitment, together with innovations in new tools and a steep increase in funding, catalyzed an unprecedented period of success in global malaria control. According to the report, 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million deaths have been averted since 2000.

A plateau in progress

In 2019, the global tally of malaria cases was 229 million, an annual estimate that has remained virtually unchanged over the last 4 years. The disease claimed some 409 000 lives in 2019 compared to 411 000 in 2018.

As in past years, the African Region shouldered more than 90% of the overall disease burden. Since 2000, the region has reduced its malaria death toll by 44%, from an estimated 680 000 to 384 000 annually. However, progress has slowed in recent years, particularly in countries with a high burden of the disease.

A funding shortfall at both the international and domestic levels poses a significant threat to future gains. In 2019, total funding reached US $3 billion against a global target of $5.6 billion. Funding shortages have led to critical gaps in access to proven malaria control tools.

COVID-19 an added challenge

In 2020, COVID-19 emerged as an additional challenge to the provision of essential health services worldwide. According to the report, most malaria prevention campaigns were able to move forward this year without major delays. Ensuring access to malaria prevention – such as insecticide-treated nets and preventive medicines for children – has supported the COVID-19 response strategy by reducing the number of malaria infections and, in turn, easing the strain on health systems. WHO worked swiftly to provide countries with guidance to adapt their responses and ensure the safe delivery of malaria services during the pandemic.

However, WHO is concerned that even moderate disruptions in access to treatment could lead to a considerable loss of life. The report finds, for example, that a 10% disruption in access to effective antimalarial treatment in sub-Saharan Africa could lead to 19 000 additional deaths. Disruptions of 25% and 50% in the region could result in an additional 46 000 and 100 000 deaths, respectively.

“While Africa has shown the world what can be achieved if we stand together to end malaria as a public health threat, progress has stalled,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “COVID-19 threatens to further derail our efforts to overcome malaria, particularly treating people with the disease. Despite the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on African economies, international partners and countries need to do more to ensure that the resources are there to expand malaria programmes which are making such a difference in people’s lives.”

WHO response

A key strategy to reignite progress is the “High burden to high impact” (HBHI) response, catalyzed in 2018 by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. The response is led by 11 countries – including 10 in sub-Saharan Africa – that account for approximately 70% of the world’s malaria burden.

Over the last 2 years, HBHI countries have been moving away from a “one-size-fits all” approach to malaria control – opting, instead, for tailored responses based on local data and intelligence. A recent analysis from Nigeria, for example, found that through an optimized mix of interventions, the country could avert tens of millions of additional cases and thousands of additional deaths by the year 2023, compared to a business-as-usual approach.

While it is too early to measure the impact of the HBHI approach, the report finds that deaths in the 11 countries were reduced from 263 000 to 226 000 between 2018 and 2019.  India continued to make impressive gains, with reductions in cases and deaths of 18% and 20%, respectively, over the last 2 years. There was, however, a slight increase in the total number of cases among HBHI countries, from an estimated 155 million in 2018 to 156 million in 2019.

Meeting global malaria targets

This year’s report highlights key milestones and events that helped shape the global response to the disease in recent decades. Beginning in the 1990s, leaders of malaria-affected countries, scientists and other partners laid the groundwork for a renewed malaria response that contributed to one of the biggest returns on investment in global health.

According to the report, 21 countries eliminated malaria over the last 2 decades; of these, 10 countries were officially certified as malaria-free by WHO. In the face of the ongoing threat of antimalarial drug resistance, the 6 countries of the Greater Mekong subregion continue to make major gains towards their goal of malaria elimination by 2030.

But many countries with a high burden of malaria have been losing ground.  According to WHO global projections, the 2020 target for reductions in malaria case incidence will be missed by 37% and the mortality reduction target will be missed by 22%.

Note to editors

WHO’s work on malaria is guided by the Global technical strategy for malaria 2016-2030 (GTS), approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. The strategy includes four global targets for 2030, with milestones along the way to track progress. The 2030 targets are: 1) reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90%; 2) reducing malaria mortality rates by at least 90%; 3) eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries; and
4) preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.

Near-term GTS milestones for 2020 include global reductions in malaria case incidence and death rates of at least 40% and the elimination of malaria in at least 10 countries. According to the report, the 2020 milestones for malaria case incidence and mortality rates will be missed:
Case incidence:  WHO projects that, in 2020, there were an estimated 56 malaria cases for every 1000 people at risk of the disease against a GTS target of 35 cases. The GTS milestone will be missed by an estimated 37%.
Mortality rate: The estimate for globally projected malaria deaths per 100 000 population at risk was 9.8 in 2020 against a GTS target of 7.2 deaths. The milestone will be missed by an estimated 22%.

WHO African Region Since 2014, the rate of progress in both cases and deaths in the region has slowed, attributed mainly to the stalling of progress in several countries with moderate or high transmission. In 2019, six African countries accounted for 50% of all malaria cases globally: Nigeria (23%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), United Republic of Tanzania (5%), Niger (4%), Mozambique (4%) and Burkina Faso (4%). In view of recent trends, the African Region will miss the GTS 2020 milestones for case incidence and mortality by 37% and 25%, respectively.

 “High burden to high impact” (HBHI) Launched in November 2018, HBHI builds on the principle that no one should die from a disease that is preventable and treatable. It is led by 11 countries that, together, accounted for approximately 70% of the world’s malaria burden in 2017: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania. Over the last two years, all 11 HBHI countries have implemented activities across four response elements: 1) political will to reduce the toll of malaria; 2) strategic information to drive impact; 3) better guidance, policies and strategies; and 4) a coordinated national malaria response

Malaria elimination – Between 2000 and 2019, 10 countries received the official WHO certification of malaria elimination: United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Sri Lanka (2016), Uzbekistan (2018), Paraguay (2018), Argentina (2019) and Algeria (2019). In 2019, China reported zero indigenous cases of malaria for the third consecutive year; the country recently applied for the official WHO certification of malaria elimination. In 2020, El Salvador became the first country in Central America to apply for the WHO malaria-free certification

In the six countries of the Greater Mekong subregion – Cambodia, China (Yunnan Province), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam – the reported number of malaria cases fell by 90% from 2000 to 2019, while P. falciparum (Pf) cases fell by 97% in the same time period. This accelerated decrease in Pf malaria is notable in view of the threat posed by antimalarial drug resistance in the subregion.

A call for innovation Eliminating malaria in all countries, especially those with a high disease burden, will likely require tools that are not available today. In September 2019, the WHO Director-General issued a “malaria challenge,” calling on the global health community to ramp up investment in the research and development of new malaria-fighting tools and approaches. This message was further reinforced in the April 2020 report of the WHO Strategic advisory group on malaria eradication.


UN/Lurie cartoon awards 2015 retrospective: 3rd Place to Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Constitution-Journal

December 14, 2016

Cartoonist winners of the 2016 United Nations/Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards will be announced December 15, 2016.

American political cartoons come through a rich and glorious history. Cartoons held politicians’ feet to the fire throughout the 19th century, helped fight corruption and campaigned for wise growth policies. In the 20th century, political cartooons helped establish America’s rich conservation foundations, and again fought corruption, playing a huge role in the Watergate scandal exposure.

The UN/Lurie awards bring to us a world of good cartoons, often carrying powerful messages in images that require no translation. Anticipating the 2016 awards, we’re looking back at 2015 winners.

Here’s third prize winner in the UN/Lurie Awards for 2015, a year dominated by attacks on journalists and especially cartoonists which add an exclamation point to the powerful effects cartoons have in fighting for good. Third prize went to U.S. veteran cartoonist Mike Luckovich who draws for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

2015's 3rd prize in the UN/Lurie Political Cartoon Awards went to Mike Luckovich, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

2015’s 3rd prize in the UN/Lurie Political Cartoon Awards went to Mike Luckovich, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

AP World History teachers may want to keep that cartoon for document-based questions, noting the links to the French Revolution and revolutions through the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as events of 2014 and 2015.

 

 


UN/Lurie cartoon awards 2015 retrospective: 2nd Place, Raimundo Rucke, Brazil

December 13, 2016

A reminder, cartoonist winners of the 2016 United Nations/Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards will be announced December 15, 2016.

Truth in cartoons. Boss Tweed complained that his voters couldn’t read the news stories, but they could see the “damned pictures.” On the run, Tweed was captured in Spain when someone recognized him from the images drawn by Thomas Nast.

Fighting corruption across the globe.

Here’s the second place winner in the UN/Lurie Awards for 2015, to Raimundo Rucke, drawing for O Dia, in Brazil.

Second place cartoon in 2015's UN/Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards, to Raimundo Rucke, drawing for O Dia, in Brazil.

Second place cartoon in 2015’s UN/Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards, to Raimundo Rucke, drawing for O Dia, in Brazil.

What issues will dominate the 2016 contest, do you think?

 


UN/Lurie cartoon awards 2015 retrospective: 1st Place to Aristides Hernandez Guerrero

December 13, 2016

Cartoonist winners of the 2016 United Nations/Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards will be announced December 15, 2016.

Political cartoons pack a powerful punch, of information and political policy critique. Cartoonists are among the first to be censored when authoritarian governments move in, among the first to be attacked when radical, destructive political militants commit terror acts (as we saw in 2015).

Political cartoons record history, making them fertile materials for classroom use.

Here’s the first place winner in the UN/Lurie Awards for 2015. First place went to Cuban cartoonist, Aristides Hernandez Guerrero, for a cartoon in Courrier International:

First place cartoon in the 2015 UN/Lurie Political Cartoon Awards, by Aristides Hernandez Guerrero, in Courrier Political, Cuba.

First place cartoon in the 2015 UN/Lurie Political Cartoon Awards, by Aristides Hernandez Guerrero, in Courrier Political, Cuba.

 

 


2016 International Literacy Day, September 8

September 8, 2016

International Literacy Day in Mongolia:

International Literacy Day in Mongolia: “A young girl studies during class break. With rapid growth, the Government of Mongolia introduced a number of programs to improve the country’s education system, especially rural primary education. Photo: Khasar Sandag/World Bank”

I almost never remember on time:  September 8 is International Literacy Day, a day designated by the United Nations to celebrate literacy.

From the Dag Hammerskjöld Library:

Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all – children, youth and adults – is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target. A combination of ambitious goals, insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and complexity of the task accounts for this unmet goal. Lessons learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but also for renewed political will and for doing things differently at all levels – locally, nationally and internationally.

In its resolution A/RES/56/116, the General Assembly proclaimed the ten year period beginning 1 January 2003 the United Nations Literacy Decade. In resolution A/RES/57/166, the Assembly welcomed the International Plan of Action for the Decade and decided that Unesco should take a coordinating role in activities undertaken at the international level within the framework of the Decade.

Sources listed by the Dag Hammerskjöld Library:

Links to UN and UN System sites:

Unesco

United Nations

UNICEF

United Nations Development Programme

World Bank Group

Additional resources:

The additional resources links on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement by the United Nations.

Asia-Pacific Literacy Database

Center for Literacy Studies

Commonwealth of Learning

Education International

International Reading Association
—   International Literacy Day

Literacy Online

Proliteracy Worldwide

SIL International – Literacy

StoryPlus Foundation

Even more resources:

It’s fascinating to me that activities on International Literacy Day seem to be noted in out-of-the-way U.S. newspapers, and even there not much.  Do Americans care about literacy, really?

I half expect the Texas State Board of Education to pass a resolution condeming literacy, since the UN worries about it.

Save


Report that malaria and DDT hoaxsters hope you never see

January 21, 2016

 Cover of World Health Organization's "World Malaria Report 2015," which reported dramatic progress controlling malaria.

Cover of World Health Organization’s “World Malaria Report 2015,” which reported dramatic progress controlling malaria.

World Malaria Report 2015 dropped in mid-December, with United Nations-style fanfare.

Which means, you probably heard little to nothing about it in U.S. media, and “conservatives” and anti-science hoaxsters hope you won’t ever see it, so they can claim contrary to the facts that liberals kill kids in Africa.

My cynicism about the fight against malaria dissipates some, but my cynicism about hoaxes substituting for political dialogue grows.

World Health Organization (WHO) releases an annual report near the end of every year, detailing the fight against malaria and progress or lack of it.

Good news this year: WHO estimates deaths to malaria fell below 500,000 per year in 2015. That’s at least a 50% reduction since renewed vigor in the malaria fight in 2000, and it’s a 90% reduction from peak DDT use years, 1958-1963, when WHO estimated 5 million people died each year from malaria.

About 80% of malaria deaths take children under the age of 5.

Bigger picture: Malaria is on the run. Humans are winning the fight against malaria. Much remains to be done, however. Plus, malaria fighters warn that malaria can come roaring back, if governments neglect to follow through on promises of funding, and with well-run programs to cure humans of malaria and prevent new cases.

World Malaria Report 2015 should influence policy discussions in U.S. elections. But generally, this report was ignored.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub will feature in-depth discussions of parts of the report, and simple repetition for the record of the report, as part our long-term battle against hoaxsters who claim the U.S. ban on use of DDT on U.S. farms somehow increased malaria in Africa, and killed millions, when malaria actually decreased and millions were saved from death.

Malaria loses only with hard work on the ground by medical people treating and curing humans of the disease, and by public health people working hard to prevent new infections. Most of that work is not glorious, occurs relatively anonymously and away from television cameras and photographers with access to social media.  Which is to say, the hard work of defeating malaria goes unsung around the world. We should work to change that.

What did others say about World Malaria Report?

A collection of Tweets, and other links, for your study.


India, world’s last DDT maker, heaviest user, plans to stop

August 29, 2015

DDT sprayed in a vegetable market in India. (Photo: rzadigi) Living on Earth image

DDT sprayed in a vegetable market in India. (Photo: rzadigi) Living on Earth image

Sometimes big news sneaks up on us, without press releases. We often miss it.

Quiet little Tweet from journalist I’d never heard of, who passed along news from an obscure journal:

As a journalist, this guy has a piece of a world-wide scoop.

India is probably the last nation on Earth producing DDT.  In the last decade other two nations making the stuff got out of the business — North Korea and China. For several years now India has been the largest manufacturer of DDT, and far and away the greatest user, spraying more DDT against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, sand flies, and agricultural and household pests than the rest of the world combined.

As if an omen, India’s malaria rates did not drop, but instead rose, even as malaria rates dropped or plunged in almost every other nation on Earth.

Under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) signed by more than 150 nations (not including the U.S.), DDT was one of a dozen chemicals targeted to be phased out due to its extremely dangerous qualities, including long-term persistence in the environment and bioaccummulation, by which doses of the stuff increase up the food chain, delivering crippling and fatal doses to top predators.

A perfect substitute for DDT in fighting some disease-carrying insects (“vectors”) has never been developed. Health officials asked, and the Stockholm negotiators agreed to leave DDT legally available to fight disease. Annex B asked nations to tell the World Health Organization if it wanted to use DDT. Since 2001, as DDT effectiveness was increasingly compromised by resistance evolved in insects, fewer and fewer nations found it useful.

The site Mr. Nazakat linked to is up and down, and my security program occasionally says the site is untrustworthy. It’s obscure at best. Shouldn’t news of this type be in some of India’s biggest newspapers?

I found an article in the Deccan Herald, confirming the report, but again with some

India-United Nations pact to end DDT use by 2020

India-United Nations pact to end DDT use by 2020

New Delhi, August 26, 2015, DHNS:

It would be better to switch to another insecticide, says expert

India is the lone user of DDT, though only in the malaria control programme, while rest of the world got rid of the chemical that has a lasting adverse impact on the environment. DH file photo

India is the lone user of DDT, though only in the malaria control programme, while rest of the world got rid of the chemical that has a lasting adverse impact on the environment. DH file photo

India has launched a $53 million project to phase out DDT by 2020 and replace them with Neem-based bio-pesticides that are equally effective.

India is the lone user of DDT, though only in the malaria control programme, while rest of the world got rid of the chemical that has a lasting adverse impact on the environment.

India on Tuesday entered into a $53 million (Rs 350 crore) partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Environment Programme and the Global Environment Facility to replace DDT with safer, more effective and green alternatives.

“As per the plan, the National Botanical Research Organisation, Lucknow, tied up with a company to produce Neem-based alternatives for the malaria programme. The production will start in six months,” Shakti Dhua, the regional coordinator of UNIDO told Deccan Herald.

Till last year, the annual DDT requirement was about 6,000 tonnes that has now been cut down to 4,000 tonnes as the government decided to stop using it in the Kala-Azar control programme.

A recent study by an Indo-British team of medical researchers found that using DDT without any surveillance is counter-productive as a vector control strategy as sand flies not only thrive but are also becoming resistant to DDT.

“It would be better to switch to another insecticide, which is more likely to give better results than DDT,” said Janet Hemingway, a scientist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. While the Health Ministry wanted to bring in synthetic pyrethroids, the United Nation agencies supports the bio-pesticides because of their efficacy and long-lasting effects.

“The new initiative would help check the spread of malaria and other vector-borne diseases. These include botanical pesticides, including Neem-based compounds, and long-lasting insecticidal safety nets that will prevent mosquito bites while sleeping,” Dhua said.

Ending the production and use of DDT is a priority for India as it is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) of 2002 that seeks to eliminate the use of these chemicals in industrial processes, drugs and pesticides. DDT is one of the POPs.

The clock is counting down the last years of DDT.  Good.

If events unroll as planned, DDT making will end by 2020, 81 years after it was discovered to kill bugs, 70 years after it was released for civilian years, 70 years after problems with its use was first reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 58 years after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, 50 years after European nations banned some uses, 48 years after the famous U.S. ban on agricultural use, 19 years after the POPs Treaty.

When will the news leak out?

More:


Do something to fight malaria today: April 25, 2015, is World Malaria Day

April 25, 2015

Photo from the World Health Organization (WHO), the lead agency in fighting malaria.

Photo from the World Health Organization (WHO), the lead agency in fighting malaria. “A child dies every minute from #malaria in Africa http://goo.gl/46QhJq #WorldMalariaDay”

One day dedicated to education and spurs to action to beat malaria.

Amazingly, there are ways to get it wrong. Please avoid them.

Don’t claim that all we need to do to beat this nasty disease is shoot environmentalists and poison the world with DDT.  Don’t claim that health workers who risk their lives to prevent malaria with bednets, are misguided. No, Rachel Carson didn’t kill millions with false claims against DDT (in fact, she tried to keep DDT viable as a key tool to fight malaria, but we failed to listen to her in time).

You might kick in $10 to Nothing But Nets, and save a life in the most effective anti-malaria campaign in the last 50 years. In fact, I recommend it.

Have a thoughtful World Malaria Day.


U.N. General Assembly notes progress against malaria

September 16, 2014

In Ghana:  Community members perform a scene to educate others on how and why to use bednets. (USAID/Kasia McCormick) 2012. USAID Africa Bureau

In Ghana: Community members perform a scene to educate others on how and why to use bednets. (USAID/Kasia McCormick) 2012. USAID Africa Bureau, via Wikimedia

In stark contrast to the usual hoax stories we get in the U.S. about malaria and DDT, the United Nations General Assembly this past week passed a resolution noting progress made in fighting the parasitic disease.

Quoting wholesale from Ghana Web:

The United Nations General Assembly at its 68th Session, adopted Resolution A/68/L.60, “Consolidating Gains and Accelerating Efforts to Control and Eliminate Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa, by 2015” by consensus.

Recognising progress made through political leadership and a broad range of national and international actions to scale-up malaria control interventions, this annual resolution urges governments, United Nations agencies, and all stakeholders to work together to meet the targets set out in the Roll Back Malaria Partnership’s Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

An official statement issued in Accra and copied the Ghana News Agency said with just less than 500 days until the 2015 deadline of the MDGs, the adoption of this resolution by the General Assembly reiterates the commitment of UN Member States to keep malaria high on the international development agenda.

“We have seen tremendous progress against this killer disease in recent years, but continued success will require increased political and financial commitment from donor and endemic governments alike. Together we can scale-up efforts and continue saving lives,” it said.

The statement said since 2001, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that malaria death rates have decreased by nearly 50 per cent in Africa alone, where 90 per cent of all malaria-related deaths still occur – contributing to a 20 per cent reduction in global child mortality and helping drive progress towards UN MDG 4.

“Between 2001 and 2012, collective efforts helped avert an estimated 3.3 million deaths (69 per cent) of which were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden in 2000 and more than half of the 103 countries that had ongoing malaria transmission in 2000 are meeting the MDG of reversing malaria incidence by 2015.

“Despite these advances, almost half of the world’s population remains at risk from malaria, with an estimated 207 million cases of infection around the world each year and 627,000 deaths. Around the world, a child still dies from malaria every minute.

“The resolution calls for donor and endemic governments alike to support global malaria control efforts, including the secretariat of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and to intensify efforts to secure the political commitment, partnerships and funds needed to continue saving lives.

“Increased financing will be critical to further advancements, as current international and domestic financing for malaria of US 2.5 billion dollars in 2012 amounts to less than half of the US 5.1 billion dollars estimates to be needed annually through 2020 to achieve universal coverage of malaria control interventions,” the statement said.

In 2012, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named malaria as a top priority of his second mandate. Malaria control has consistently proven to be a strong global health investment, generating high return on low investments.

Impacting all eight of the United Nations MDGs, malaria prevention and treatment serves as an entry point to help advance progress against other health and development targets across the board by reducing school absenteeism, fighting poverty, and improving maternal and child health.

Did you see that report in your local newspapers, or on radio or television?

More:


Best flying of a U.S. flag in a while

September 6, 2013

You’d forgotten there’s another war going on in South Sudan?

Location of South Sudan in Africa.

Location of South Sudan in Africa (darkened area). Wikipedia image

More:

Best flying of a U.S. flag: A woman carries a bag of food in Gumuruk where @WFP is assisting IDPs uprooted by violence.

Best flying of a U.S. flag: A woman carries a bag of food in Gumuruk where @WFP is assisting IDPs uprooted by violence.


Humanitarian crisis in Syria: Refugee kids need food; here’s how you can help

August 23, 2013

Description from YouTube:

Published on Jun 27, 2013

In Syria, a humanitarian crisis has developed as millions flee conflict, facing homelessness, hunger and food shortages. The United Nations World Food Programme is working to provide emergency assistance to 2.5 million hungry people inside Syria and more than one million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. Needs remain great and the children of Syria are particularly vulnerable. Syrian families need your support today.

At UpWorthy, Megan Kelley complains that this need for food and other aid for refugees has been eclipsed by news coverage of the civil war.  So she urges you to pass on the video, and the pleas for help:

Maybe someday the world will be peaceful and perfect and we won’t need emergency aid. In the meantime, let’s do what we can to help give Syrians one less thing to worry about.

And at 1:57, remember: Providing aid to people in need is an amazing thing to do, but we can’t forget that the real heroes are the ones who face the tragedy and strive against it every day.

More:

WFP caption: A Syrian refugee smiles as she carries food from the World Food Programme (WFP) home to her family. Thanks to @WFP for posting this photo and more on their Twitter page. - See more at: http://blogs.un.org/blog/tag/undp/#sthash.gFwbkl9a.dpuf

WFP caption: A Syrian refugee smiles as she carries food from the World Food Programme (WFP) home to her family. Thanks to @WFP for posting this photo and more on their Twitter page. – See more at: http://blogs.un.org/blog/tag/undp/#sthash.gFwbkl9a.dpuf


Meanwhile, back at the rice paddy, global warming holds families hostage . . .

May 1, 2013

See this United Nations Development Program ten-minute video that, to the wise and concerned, lays out the stakes of delaying action against human-caused climate change.

Without enough funding, NGOs work to help farmers getting hammered in the Southern Philippines, and other places.

In the Southern Philippines, farmers’ lives and the weather are intimately interwoven, but something is changing, now that the rains in Agusan del Norte are too heavy, the sun shines too fiercely. Now there’s hope for poor farmers with the community-based approach monitoring and Weather Index-Based Insurance packages, to warn people when heavy weather is on the way.

Though, I do weary of the astonishing abuse of acronyms in this work-of-the-angels. “WIBI?”

Incidentally, though the phrase doesn’t appear anywhere in this material, this is exactly the sort of work carried on by the UN’s Agenda 21 project.  Doesn’t look subversive to me.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the UNDP and ILO Tweet:

More:

Map of the Philippines with Agusan del Norte h...

Map of the Philippines with Agusan del Norte highlighted. Wikipedia image


Still no ban on DDT: Treaty monitors allow DDT use to continue

December 16, 2012

Real news on a topic like DDT takes a while to filter into the public sphere, especially with interest groups, lobbyists and Astro-Turf groups working hard to fuzz up the messages.

News from the DDT Expert Group of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention was posted recently at the Stockholm Convention website — the meeting was held in early December in Geneva, Switzerland.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pol...

Logo of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Treaty) Wikipedia image

In the stuffy talk of international relations, the Stockholm Convention in this case refers to a treaty put into effect in 2001, sometimes known as the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs).  Now with more than 152 signatory nations and 178 entities offering some sort of ratification (not the U.S., sadly), the treaty urges control of chemicals that do not quickly break down once released into the environment, and which often end up as pollutants.  In setting up the agreement, there was a list of a dozen particularly nasty chemicals branded the “Dirty Dozen” particularly targeted for control due to their perniciousness — DDT was one of that group.

DDT can still play a role in fighting some insect-carried diseases, like malaria.  Since the treaty was worked out through the UN’s health arm, the World Health Organization (WHO), it holds a special reservation for DDT, keeping DDT available for use to fight disease.   Six years ago WHO developed a group to monitor DDT specifically, looking at whether it is still needed or whether its special provisions should be dropped.  The DDT Expert Group meets every two years.

Here’s the press release on the most recent meeting:

Stockholm Convention continues to allow DDT use for disease vector control

Fourth meeting of the DDT Expert Group assesses continued need for DDT, 3–5 December 2012, Geneva

Mosqutio larvae, image from WHO

Mosqutio larvae, WHO image

The Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention, under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), allows the use of the insecticide DDT in disease vector control to protect public health.

Mosquito larvae

The Stockholm Convention lists dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known at DDT, in its Annex B to restrict its production and use except for Parties that have notified the Secretariat of their intention to produce and /or use it for disease vector control. With the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of DDT, the Convention requires that the Conference of the Parties shall encourage each Party using DDT to develop and implement an action plan as part of the implementation plan of its obligation of the Convention.

At its fifth meeting held in April 2011, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention concluded that “countries that are relying on DDT for disease vector control may need to continue such use until locally appropriate and cost-effective alternatives are available for a sustainable transition away from DDT.” It also decided to evaluate the continued need for DDT for disease vector control at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties “with the objective of accelerating the identification and development of locally appropriate cost-effective and safe alternatives.”

The DDT Expert Group was established in 2006 by the Conference of the Parties. The Group is mandated to assess, every two years, in consultation with the World Health Organization, the available scientific, technical, environmental and economic information related to production and use of DDT for consideration by the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention in its evaluation of continued need for DDT for disease vector control.

The fourth meeting of the DDT Expert Group reviewed as part of this ongoing assessment:

  1. Insecticide resistance (DDT and alternatives)
  2. New alternative products, including the work of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee
  3. Transition from DDT in disease vector control
  4. Decision support tool for vector control.

The DDT expert group recognized that there is a continued need for DDT in specific settings for disease vector control where effective or safer alternatives are still lacking. It recommended that the use of DDT in Indoor Residual Spray should be limited only to the most appropriate situations based on operational feasibility, epidemiological impact of disease transmission, entomological data and insecticide resistance management. It also recommended that countries should undertake further research and implementation of non-chemical methods and strategies for disease vector control to supplement reduced reliance on DDT.

The findings of the DDT Expert Group’s will be presented at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, being held back-to-back with the meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Rotterdam and Basel conventions, from 28 April to 11 May 2013, in Geneva.

Nothing too exciting.  Environmentalists should note DDT is still available for use, where need is great.  Use should be carefully controlled.  Pro-DDT propagandists should note, but won’t, that there is no ban on DDT yet, and that DDT is still available to fight malaria, wherever health workers make a determination it can work.  If anyone is really paying attention, this is one more complete and total refutation of the DDT Ban Hoax.

Rachel Carson’s ghost expresses concern that there is not yet a safe substitute for DDT to fight malaria, but is gratified that disease fighters and serious scientists now follow the concepts of safe chemical use she urged in 1962.

More:


U.S. actions to support Agenda 21: Soil conservation, farm and rural development; no population control, no black helicopters

October 24, 2012

Not sure what Agenda 21 is?  It’s the larger program of the United Nations to pick up where the U.S. Soil Conservation Service left off (SCS is now the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS).  Erosion control.  Don’t deplete the soils.  Keep water sources clean and flowing.  Use wise plowing practices to prevent another Dust Bowl.  Get Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and Future Farmers of America and 4-H Clubs to build check dams and plant beneficial trees.

See a quick explanation of Agenda 21 here (courtesy of Grist, here).

Keenan Wynn and a Coke machine, Dr. Strangelove (publicity still?)

Keenan Wynn as Col. Bat Guano, pauses before shooting open a Coke machine to get change to place a call to the President of the United States to save the world, in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” (publicity still?).  Agenda 21 is not like “Dr. Strangelove,” except perhaps in the minds of those poisoned by dramatic over-consumption of Coca-Cola or Monster Cola.

You can’t find that stuff easily on Google, nor Bing, usually.  Instead you’ll find people worrying about black helicopters, the massive, unseen and never-detected UN Army poised to take over U.S. golf courses, and unhinged rants about forced population control, rants worthy of Col. Bat Guano but lacking Kubrick’s and Southern’s and George’s wit or Keenan Wynn‘s sharp delivery.  (Yes, if you hear someone complaining about Agenda 21, you may and perhaps should say, “That’s Bat Guano!”)

Agenda 21 is the umbrella agency under which nations who are members of the UN undertake studies of Earth’s resources, human effects upon those resources, and which makes recommendations about how to save our planet’s resources from depletion.  KyotoRio CopenhagenIPCC.

Agenda 21 is about as milk toast a policy initiative as it is possible to get.  Why all the angst among so-called neo-conservatives and so-called libertarians?  Beats me.  I can only imagine that they have never read any of the documents, know nothing of the issues discussed, and have slept through much of the past 50 years on farm and food production issues.

Should we fear, as Paul Sadler‘s GOP opponent for the Texas U.S. Senate seat does, that Agenda 21 will require Texas to turn over all its golf courses to the UN?  No, we should instead pay attention to what the government has actually done in support of Agenda 21 initiatives — all of which are voluntary under the Agenda 21 program and the UN Charter.  Also, perhaps, we should make sure to vote against anyone who tries to instill fear by misstating what Agenda 21 is, or does, or “requires” (Yeah, you, Ted Cruz — what sort of crazy are you on? and this is why we’re voting for Paul Sadler instead; we need rational people who love Texas more than crazies who speak smack about golf courses and people who golf).

Here’s the White House list of activities to support Agenda 21 in the last four years; can you find the black helicopters and UN takeover of U.S. territory?  No, neither can anyone else:

Policy Initiatives

President Obama’s administration understands that a strong American economy is contingent upon a strong rural economy. Since the creation of the White House Rural Council, the President has made historic investments in rural America designed to drive job growth.  The actions will help ensure the development of a rural economy built to last.  These actions include:

Doubling Small Business Administration (SBA) Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses
Announced August 2011

The Administration established a rural “carve-out” in the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program that will invest in distressed areas and emerging sectors such as clean energy.  SBA will provide up to a 2:1 match to private capital raised by the fund.  SBA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are committed to partnering to drive $350 million of investment capital through the fund and existing SBICs into rural small businesses over five years, doubling the current rate of investment.

Providing Job Search Information through USDA Field Offices
Announced August 2011

The USDA and Department of Labor (DOL) partnered to offer job training information and better utilize the rural footprint of the USDA field offices across the country to provide them with greater access to job search resources by reducing the driving times and distances for rural customers seeking program information.

Expansion of the National Health Service Corps to Critical Access Hospitals
Announced August 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded eligibility for the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program so that Critical Access Hospitals, those with 25 beds or fewer, can recruit new physicians, using student loan repayment incentives.  This program will help hospitals across the country recruit needed staff.  Once a hospital has qualified as a service site, it can then apply for student loan repayment on behalf of its primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Expanding Health Information Technology in Rural Communities
Announced August 2011

USDA and HHS signed an agreement to improve access to capital for rural hospitals and other providers seeking to implement health information technology and expand the health IT workforce in rural communities.

Commercial Aviation Biofuels Partnership
Announced August 2011

The Navy, the Department of Energy, and USDA have joined forces to spur the creation of an advanced biofuels industry that will support commercial aviation, with a pledge of $510 million, over three years, under the Defense Production Act of 1950.

Promoting a Bioeconomy through BioPreferred
Announced February 2012

To support the Administration’s “Blueprint for a Bioeconomy,” the President is utilizing the purchasing power of the Federal government by directing Federal agencies to take additional steps to significantly increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create thousands of new rural jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured. Utilizing the existing BioPreferred program, the Federal government will use its procurement power to increase the purchasing and use of biobased products, promoting rural economic development, creating new jobs, and providing new markets for farm commodities. Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from farm grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.

Rural Jobs Accelerator
Announced February 2012

The “Rural Jobs Accelerator” will link Federal programs to facilitate job creation and economic development in rural communities by utilizing regional development strategies. The “Rural Jobs Accelerator” will allow multiple agencies to coordinate technical assistance and grant/loan programs so that a consortium of public and private rural entities can have a single access point within the Federal government, allowing for improved access, streamlining of programs, and better leveraging of resources.  USDA and EDA will leverage approximately $14 million in funding, with technical support from Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Education.

Development of Rural Health IT Workforce
Announced February 2012

HHS and the DOL signed a memorandum of understanding to link community colleges and technical colleges that support rural communities with available materials and resources to support the training of HIT professionals.  Rural health care providers face challenges in harnessing the benefits of health information technology (HIT) due to limited capital and a workforce that is not trained to work within the expanding field of HIT. Due to lower financial operating margins and limited capital, funds for hiring new staff or training existing staff in HIT implementation and maintenance are often simply not available to rural health care providers.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the needed HIT workforce will increase by 20 percent by the year 2016.  A significant part of that growth will come in rural areas, which are served by approximately 2,000 rural hospitals, 3,700 Rural Health Clinics as well as the more than 3,000 Community and Migrant Health Centers that are either located in or serve rural communities.

Timber and National Forest Restoration
Announced  February 2012

USDA’s Forest Service, in conjunction with the White House Rural Council, released a strategy to increase the scale of restoration treatments like forest thinning, reforestation, and other activities to restore and sustain the health of our forests.  In addition to environmental benefits, these activities create jobs in the forest industry which has been hurt significantly by the economic downturn.  The strategy relies on (1) using collaborative approaches to broaden public support for forest restoration; (2) expanding restoration tools like the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and stewardship contracting; (3) better targeting budget resources; and (4) streamlining forest planning and analysis without sacrificing quality.

Mortgage Refinancing
Announced February 2012

The Administration announced an initiative to assist rural homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates through USDA’s Rural Development agency. By reallocating existing funding, at no additional cost to taxpayers, USDA will have almost doubled the amount of funds available to homeowners seeking to lower their mortgage payments or avoid foreclosure.  Under the new allocation, the amount of the $24 billion program dedicated to refinancing will increase from $520 million to $1.1 billion, allowing USDA to meet the growing demand for refinance transactions.

Task Force on Tourism and Competitiveness
Announced January 2012

On January 19, the President signed an Executive Order creating a Task Force charged with developing a National Travel and Tourism Strategy with recommendations for new policies and initiatives to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States. The strategy will include recommendations to promote visits to the United States public lands, waters, shores, monuments, and other iconic American destinations, thereby expanding job creation in the United States, as well as tourism opportunities in rural communities. The Task Force is co-chaired by Secretary Salazar and Secretary Bryson, with participation from USDA, other agencies and WH offices.

Advancing Water Quality Conservation across the U.S.
Announced May 2012

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launch of a new National Water Quality Initiative committed to improving one to seven impaired watersheds in every U.S. state and territory. The Initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s White House Rural Council which is working in partnership with farmers, ranchers and forest owners to improve conservation of working lands in rural America. The 157 selected watersheds were identified with assistance from state agencies, key partners, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Technical Committees. NRCS will make available at least $33 million in financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners this year to implement conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities.

Small Business Administration Investing in Rural Small Businesses
Announced June 2012

The Administration extended more than $400 million in FY 2011 of investments in rural America through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program, at no cost to taxpayers. Nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations around the country.

MOU to Improve Support in the Colonias
Announced June 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD), Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) partnered to create the Border Community Capital Initiative. This collaboration is designed to expand access to capital in the U.S/Mexico border region which includes some of the poorest communities in the country. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will provide up to $200,000 to nonprofit and/or tribal financial institutions that serve colonias. This funding will go to increase access to basic necessities such as safe drinking water, adequate sewage systems, and safe, sanitary housing.

U.S Department of Education Investing in Rural Schools
Announced June 2012

Through the national broadband plan, the Obama Administration will leverage the power of technology to overcome distance and increase collaboration to accelerate student achievement in rural schools. The White House Rural Council partnered with the U.S Department of Education to deliver a new online community of practice groups for rural schools. This online tool will create virtual communities of practice for educators to connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learned activities both within and beyond schools. The Administration is using technology to break down geographic barriers and address rural isolation in education.

Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
Announced June 2012

On June 14, 2012 President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. U.S agencies that manage Federal properties and roads will partner to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. Providing a uniform approach for broadband carriers to build networks will speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, business, and schools in rural America. In order to further expand the nations broadband service, more than 25 cities and 60 national research universities are partnering to form “US Ignite.” US Ignite will create a new wave of services that will extend programmable broadband networks to 100 times the speed of today’s internet. This partnership will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American business.

Supporting Appalachian Communities
Announced June 2012

Facilitated through the White House Rural Council, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) developed a Livable Communities Initiative. This initiative is a partnership between ARC, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD). The initiative provides technical assistance to small rural towns to help them develop and implement strategies for making the communities more livable and competitive. The partnership will focus on expanding transportation choices, supporting thriving and distinctive rural communities by investing in rural town centers, and extending affordable housing opportunities.

There is nothing seriously objectionable in that list of activities.  If you’re an astute, patriotic American, you’ll recognize a lot of actions that strengthen our nation.  Maybe opposition to Agenda 21 is a virus spread by an insect vector — there is no rational explanation for it, certainly.

More:

Highlights from the video, as listed at the White House blog:

Drought Relief: President Obama also toured McIntosh Family Farms in Missouri Valley, Iowa to see drought damage first-hand and offer relief to those being effected. The President announced that the Department of Agriculture will begin to buy up to $170 million worth of pork, chicken, lamb, and catfish. And the President is directing the Department of Defense — which purchased more than 150,000 million pounds of beef and pork in the last year alone — to encourage its vendors to accelerate meat purchases for the military and freeze it for future use.

“Understand this won’t solve the problem. We can’t make it rain,” the President said. “But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa. And we’re going to keep doing what we can to help because that’s what we do. We are Americans. We take care of each other.”

To learn more, the Department of Agriculture is collecting resources for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis at USDA.gov/drought. More information still is available at WhiteHouse.gov/drought.

Banner Year for the U.S. Wind Industry: Also this week, the Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a new report highlighting strong growth in America’s wind energy market in 2011 and underscoring the importance of continued policy support and clean energy tax credits to ensure that the U.S. remains a leading producer and manufacturer in this booming global industry.As President Obama has made clear, we need an all-of-the-above approach to American energy and the U.S. wind industry is a critical part of this strategy. In fact, wind energy contributed 32 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions last year, representing $14 billion in new investment.

Wall of Shame on Agenda 21; sites that promote the crazies:


Agenda 21: In graphic novel form, so it must be the truth

August 23, 2012

What is Agenda 21?  It’s a program at the United Nations to work on economic development, sustainable development, environmental protection, resource conservation and economic policies.  As with almost all UN programs, Agenda 21 pronouncements are wholly voluntary.

Several international programs create studies and make recommendations to nations — but unless they come from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund along with loans to help nations develop, such recommendations remain mostly academic:  Nations follow them only to the extent that a nation’s policy-making groups (like Congress in the U.S.) are persuaded that the recommended policies benefit the nation.

For reasons unclear to me the wacky wing of the crazy right seized upon Agenda 21 as the symbol of most things evil in the world, especially since we don’t have the Soviet Union to blame stuff on any more.

Grist featured a graphic-novel-style explanation of Agenda 21, so you can follow the issues as they arise at the 2012 Republican Convention:  Agenda 21: Everything you need to know about the secret U.N. plot, in one comic.  Here is the entire post:

Agenda 21: It’s the biggest threat to your freedom, and unless you regularly attend yahoo-filled local planning and zoning meetings, you’ve probably never even heard of it. Until recently, this vast United Nations conspiracy to force us all to live “sustainably” was known only to stalwart defenders of Liberty and Freedom like the John Birch Society. But the underground resistance is about to go mainstream. GOP intellectual it boy Ted Cruz leads the counterstrike, and the Republican Party is even considering a public flambéing of Agenda 21in its official 2012 platform.

Looking to help break the siege of bike paths and high-quality education on our freedoms? Here’s what you’ll need to know.

First panel, Agenda 21 graphic documentary from Grist

Panel 1

Concocted by the U.N. during the 1992 Earth Summit and signed by the 1st President Bush ... in the dark of the night!

Panel 2

A comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering and global political control, Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities!

Panel 3

If implemented, Agenda 21 would wreak unspeakable havoc on the American way of life!

Panel 4

Imagine what our lives would be like under this Reign Of Terror!

Panel 5

Happily, there is a bright spot in this dark cloud! Shortly after the Earth Summit, the United States forgot Agenda 21 even existed!

Panel 6

This paranoid fantasy has been brought to you by: The Republican National Committee, The Water Fluoridators, The Gub'ment Mind Jockeys, and the evil elves that live in your walls!!!

Panel 7

Tip of the old scrub brush to Grist, and Charles Nesci and especially Greg Hanscom, the cartoonist.  Hanscom is a “senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.”

More (not a lot from sane sources on this topic):

More, a sampling from sources without hinges (a small selection):


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