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IRIN - Western Sahara


Western Sahara’s moment in the sun

Thu, 14 Apr 2016 16:57:59 +0000

Of all of the world’s forgotten conflicts (and there are plenty), that of Western Sahara, with its refugees tucked away in a remote desert, ranks as one of the most consigned to oblivion. But last month, the world’s top diplomat, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, brought the issue to temporary attention with a rather undiplomatic move. After visiting part of the disputed territory, which is claimed by both Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, he called Morocco’s presence there an “occupation.” What counts as chaos in the land of diplomacy ensued: Morocco angrily ordered civilian members of a UN peacekeeping force out; there were meetings in the UN Security Council that amounted to little and no joint expression of support for the secretary-general; and finally a spokesman tried to walk back Ban’s comments, saying it had all been a “misunderstanding” born of his “spontaneous, personal reaction” to the situation of the Sahrawi refugees. “Without meaning to do so, Ban has awoken a sleeping dog,” Marina Ottoway, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank, said of the secretary-general’s actions. But does that mean there could finally be progress in resolving one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, one that has rumbled on largely unnoticed for more than 40 years? Here’s a look at the long-neglected Western Sahara dispute and the Sahrawi refugees stuck in the middle. What is Western Sahara? Western Sahara’s 266,000 square kilometres formed a Spanish colony from the late 19th century until the mid-1970s. Morocco claims the territory as its own, but no country officially recognises its sovereignty and it is countered by the Polisario Front, which has a government-in-exile in Algeria and the backing of many of the indigenous Sahrawi people. When Spain washed its hands of the area in 1975, a war between Morocco and the Polisarios ensued. In the 1980s, Morocco built a 1,500-kilometre long wall through the territory, placing 82 percent on its side and separating many families. By the time a 1991 UN-brokered ceasefire brought quiet as well as peacekeepers in the form of MINURSO, tens of thousands of Sahrawis had been displaced by the fighting. Most live in five Polisario Front-administered camps in Tindouf, Algeria, on the edge of the 18 percent of the territory that the Polisario Front considers “liberated”, and the international community tends to call a no-man’s land. There’s no official count of how many Sahrawi refugees live in the camps – the Polisario Front and Algeria put it at 165,000 and the UN tends to base its needs assessments on an estimate of around 90,000. Some live in tents, others in mud brick homes. They are extremely vulnerable to inclement weather – in October 2015 more than 17,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged in flooding that affected both sides of the wall. There are almost no employment opportunities for the Sahrawis in Tindouf, and almost all rely on aid to survive, although conditions are said to be significantly better on the Moroccan side because of the country’s investment in development there. Human rights groups regularly report on Morocco’s heavy-handed way of dealing with Sahrawi dissidents, and there is concern that the Polisario Front does not tolerate dissent particularly well either. UN Map MINURSO's civilian staff have been pulled out of Western Sahara What do the parties want? The 1991 ceasefire was meant to be followed by an independence referendum, and MINURSO set about compiling a voter roll in the 1990s. But deciding who had the right to vote on the territory’s fate became a Sisyphean task, as throughout the 1990s Morocco had moved many new residents into the area and both sides objected to various counts. By the time MINURSO came up with a list– reportedly kept in Geneva for safekeeping – the possibility of a referendum actually taking place had become remote. A new plan by former UN special envoy James Baker, which includ[...]

Cost of clinical trials worries donors

Wed, 23 May 2012 23:00:00 +0000

The more medical successes there are, the more it costs to find the next one, prompting donors to demand more from researchers carrying out large-scale trials of drugs, vaccines and global health impacts. “As a funder, I hate clinical trial applications,” said Jimmy Whitworth, head of international activities at the science funding division of UK-based Wellcome Trust, which finances health research. Clinical trial costs have spiralled in recent years - one recent report estimated a 70 percent cost rise per patient between 2008 and 2011 - but without sound evidence of beneficial medicinal effect, regulatory agencies will not approve. A clinical drug trial can take up to 12 years, enrol thousands of participants across continents, and cost from as much as US$1.3 billion to nearly $12 billion for each new drug before it is approved for public use. And the costs keep climbing. “We need other ways of funding that are more flexible, quicker,” said Geoff Garnett, deputy director of the HIV Department at the US-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “I think a lot of what we should be doing is public health trials rather than clinical trials,” Garnett commented. “If we bog down our public health trials with clinical trial requirements, then we miss out on some of the important behavioural and organizational interventions that make clinical care and prevention work much better.” Why so costly? A greater number of participants must be tested in more settings, including those living where reports of a particular disease are falling, to determine whether improvements are the result of the proposed intervention or are being produced by existing ones. Bloated trials mean more researchers, institutes and funders, which in turn increases regulatory requirements. “The reality is, trials are getting steadily larger and more expensive… regulation is becoming ever more complicated,” said Chris Witty, research director at the UK Department for International Development (DFID). “We’re paying more and more for less and less.” Too ambitious As researchers compete for dwindling research and development dollars, donors criticize overly ambitious proposals. “The timetables are often extremely optimistic, so there is a real problem in that funding may run out before the research question is actually answered, said the Wellcome Trust’s Whitworth. “Frankly, very often clinical trials don’t look great value for money.” HIV research has tended to carry out trials in the most expensive way, Witty said, noting that researchers often make poor correlations between cost and the potential impact of a study. Donors and researchers are looking at partnerships and other ways to bring down costs, including “adaptive testing”, which uses real-time data to modify an ongoing trial. New funding In 2010, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $10 billion to research and develop vaccines for some of the world’s poorest countries and its grants database shows more than $70 million going to clinical trials since 2004. In the UK, the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and DFID have committed $57 million to fund late-stage trials of interventions in cash-strapped countries. “Give us the evidence,” said Wendy Ewart, deputy chief executive and director of strategy at MRC. “Make the case for future funding.” oja/pt/he 95507 200709057.jpg Feature Health Cost of clinical trials worries donors IRIN LONDON Global Afghanistan Africa Armenia Angola Saudi Arabia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Burkina Faso Bahrain Burundi Benin Bhutan Botswana Belarus East Africa DRC Central African Republic Congo Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Comoros Cape Verde Djibouti Algeria Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Georgia Ghana Great Lakes Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Guinea-Bissau HORN OF AFRICA Haiti Indonesia Israel Inde Iraq Iran[...]

Where to watch prices

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 23:00:00 +0000

Against a global background of steadily climbing food prices, IRIN lists a selection of websites that offer some useful insights into how, why and where food is becoming more expensive. • UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index This monthly price list consults private sector as well as government sources for prices and export orders. It is officially accepted by countries and used by governments, policy-makers, humanitarian agencies and financial institutions. In its April edition the index showed that food prices had declined but this was a temporary dip reflecting the crises in North Africa and Japan in March, which delayed cereal purchases. The FAO food price index includes an average of the trading prices of five essential commodities - cereals, cooking oil, dairy products, meat and sugar. The average value of the export share of each of these commodities between 2000 and 2004 forms the base for making comparisons. The month-to-month changes in the prices of each of these commodities is shown in graphs based on detailed information on the prices of a broad range of commodities, including 11 kinds of oils, various varieties of rice and kinds of meat. • FAO Global Food Price Monitor If you need more details on how global cereal prices are affecting individual countries then consult the FAO Global Food Price Monitor. Information from markets and FAO offices around the world feed into this information service, which has also created a food price tool. With a few clicks you can access the price of a particular food commodity in any country. • The World Food Programme (WFP) Market Monitor If you are a policy maker or a humanitarian aid worker and need to find out how food prices are affecting the purchasing power of people in 63 vulnerable countries, then consult this quarterly bulletin.  The April edition, covering the first quarter of 2011, reported that in 44 of the 63 countries monitored, the overall basic food basket had increased more than 10 percent above the 5-year average. Read more  EASTERN AFRICA: Consumers, traders feel the burn as prices skyrocket UGANDA: As food prices bite, HIV-positive people turn to kitchen gardens VIETNAM: Struggling to cope with rising prices AFGHANISTAN: Government stockpiling wheat ahead of expected drought Biofuels make a comeback as prices rise In 16 of the countries the cost of the food basket had increased more than 10 percent since the last quarter of 2010, and by more than 20 percent in Ghana, Somalia, Afghanistan, Georgia, and El Salvador. The market monitor uses information collected by WFP field offices and in the April edition it also examined the impact of fuel prices on essential food commodities. It noted that the highest increases in fuel prices occurred in Ethiopia and Haiti, where fuel subsidies have been scaled back, and in Malawi and Uganda. • World Bank Food Price Watch The World Bank has begun producing regular food prices bulletins, using its own food price index based on information drawn from its offices across the world, the FAO food price index, and the US Department of Agriculture, which also regularly produces updates on global supplies of food commodities. The information is detailed and often contains useful analyses not found on other websites. The current update looks at the projected impact of continued food price increases on poverty. jk/he 92568 2008070416.jpg News Food Health Where to watch prices IRIN JOHANNESBURG Global Afghanistan Africa Armenia Angola Saudi Arabia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Burkina Faso Bahrain Burundi Benin Bhutan Botswana Belarus East Africa DRC Central African Republic Congo Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Comoros Cape Verde Djibouti Algeria Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Georgia Ghana Great Lakes Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Gui[...]

Stillbirths "absent from global health agenda"

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 23:00:00 +0000

The annual number of stillbirths around the world is more than double the number of people who die from HIV-related causes, according to a new report that says this widely overlooked epidemic could be dramatically mitigated with better antenatal care. Some 2.64 million foetuses die after the 28th week of pregnancy, most of them in low- and middle-income countries, according the report published by The Lancet. While the number of stillbirths globally has fallen from an estimated three million in 1995, the decline lags behind progress in reducing deaths in children under the age of five. The series authors say the lack of recognition of the issue at a global health level means not enough is being done to prevent more babies from dying. "Parental groups must join with professional organizations to bring a unified message to UN agencies regarding the need to include stillbirths in global health policy." The authors report that grieving mothers are often disenfranchised from their communities; stillbirths can also affect future parenting and lead to divorce. In many countries, bereavement counselling is not widely available for families dealing with depression after a stillbirth. "Behind the statistics are individual stories of families devastated by the loss of their precious child," Janet Scott, research manager at Sands, a British stillbirths and neonatal death charity, said in The Lancet. "A baby who dies before he or she is born is no less loved and cherished, the grief and pain for the parents no less agonizing and enduring, and the guilt at not being able to protect that child no less intense." According to the UN World Health Organization, the five main causes of stillbirth are childbirth complications, maternal infections in pregnancy, maternal disorders such as hypertension and diabetes, foetal growth restriction and congenital abnormalities. A baby who dies before he or she is born is no less loved and cherished, the grief and pain of the parents no less agonizing and enduringHealth facilities overwhelmed At Madiany Hospital in Rarieda District in western Kenya's Nyanza Province, doctors and midwives deal with stillbirths on a daily basis; health workers are overwhelmed by expectant mothers from the entire district, even though the number of women who seek antenatal care is a mere fraction of what it should be. "We are just one hospital serving a whole district with a huge population. To reduce cases of irregular antenatal visits among pregnant mothers - one of the biggest contributing factors to stillbirths - we need to build the capacity of lower level health centres to provide antenatal care," Sylvia Warom, in charge of the hospital's maternity ward, told IRIN. "Many women come to the hospital when they realize they are pregnant and you never see them again until they are ready to deliver; it is unfortunate because many come to deliver already dead children," she added. In rural Nyanza, health centres are few and far between, and many women lose their babies on the long journey from home to the hospital, while others lose babies by choosing to deliver at home. More than half of all Kenyan women deliver their babies without the benefit of skilled medical professionals. According to The Lancet series, an estimated 1.2 million of all stillbirths happen during labour and delivery, highlighting the need to increase the number of women delivering babies with skilled birth attendants present. Better healthcare, better data "In Uganda only 42 percent of women receive skilled attended delivery," said Robina Biteyi, national coordinator of the Uganda chapter of The White Ribbon Alliance, an international maternal health NGO. "It is estimated that 15 percent of all pregnancies are likely to develop life-threatening complications and will need emergency obstetric care but in Uganda, only 24 percent have access to it." The authors of The Lancet series noted that measures to re[...]

Protection takes centre stage in new Sphere guidelines

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 23:00:00 +0000

Avoiding exposing vulnerable people to further harm, ensuring their access to impartial aid and assisting them to claim their rights and recover from abuse are some of the guidelines given to humanitarian actors in a new edition of the Sphere handbook, a set of common principles and universal standards for aid delivery. Incorporating a new chapter on protection principles, the third edition of the Sphere Handbook, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response (2011), stresses that protection is an intrinsic aspect of all humanitarian response. "The handbook incorporates a stronger focus on protection and safety of affected populations and considers emerging issues like climate change, disaster risk reduction, disasters in an urban setting, education, as well as early recovery of services, livelihoods and governance capacity of affected communities," Maxine Clayton, head of the Inter Agency Working Group (IAWG), said. Philip Wijmans, Kenya's country representative for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), said: "This new edition of the Sphere handbook is a lifeline for humanitarian aid workers... it marks the beginning of a roll-out strategy." Besides the chapter on protection, the handbook incorporates a rewritten Humanitarian Charter and restructured chapters on core standards as well as minimum standards. According to the Sphere Project, at least 650 experts and more than 300 organizations in 20 countries were involved in the preparation of the 2011 edition, which is aimed at improving the quality of aid given to communities affected by natural disasters and armed conflict. "The Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards will not of course stop humanitarian crises from happening, nor can they prevent human suffering," the Sphere project said in a statement marking the launch. "What they offer, however, is an opportunity for the enhancement of assistance with the aim of making a difference to the lives of people affected by disaster." Launched alongside the Sphere handbook was Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Operations by Transparency International Kenya (TI Kenya), the anti-corruption NGO. It is a practical guide to help aid organizations deal with corruption in their operations. This new edition of the Sphere handbook is a lifeline for humanitarian aid workers... it marks the beginning of a roll-out strategy "It highlights best practice tools for preventing and detecting corruption in humanitarian organizations," Rachel Mbai, TI Kenya's vice-chairwoman, said. "Transparency International defines corruption as 'abuse of entrusted power for private gain'. This includes financial corruption such as fraud, bribery, nepotism and extortion but also encompasses non-financial forms such as the diversion of humanitarian assistance to benefit non-target group." Mbai said humanitarian organizations must be accountable, not only to their development partners but also to the people they have the mandate to serve. "They have the duty to be transparent about their mandate, their scope of work, the eligibility criteria of the relief and services they are providing to communities," she said. Roslyn Hees, TI senior adviser and co-author of the handbook, said: "The handbook is a menu of good practice tools to help organizations deter, detect and deal with specific corruption risks in their operations. It can also be used by donors as a checklist when looking at the institutional policies of the aid organizations they work with." js/mw 92478 20081127.jpg News Human Rights Conflict Protection takes centre stage in new Sphere guidelines IRIN NAIROBI Global United Nations HQ Afghanistan Africa Armenia Angola Saudi Arabia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Burkina Faso Bahrain Burundi Benin Bhutan Botswana Belarus East Africa DRC Central African Republic Congo Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Comoros Cape Verde D[...]

Invest in adolescents' education and training, urges UNICEF

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 00:00:00 +0000

With the majority (88 percent) of the world's 1.2 billion adolescents living in developing countries, investing in their education and training could break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequality, says the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) 2011 State of the World’s Children report. “We need to focus more attention now on reaching adolescents - especially adolescent girls - investing in education, health and other measures to engage them in the process of improving their own lives,” Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director, said in a statement issued at the launch of the report, Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity, on 25 February. Lake said: "Adolescence is a pivot point – an opportunity to consolidate the gains we have made in early childhood or risk seeing those gains wiped out." In Nairobi, UNICEF's regional director for eastern and southern Africa, Elhadj As Sy, told IRIN: "Africa has the largest proportion of children, adolescents and young people in the world. Almost half its population is younger than 18 years and almost two-thirds are younger than 25 years. "As the gap between rich and poor, men and women, urban and rural keeps widening, and inequality generates a 'nothing to lose' generation, paying more attention to adolescents and young people is especially critical for the African nations." According to UNICEF, strong investments during the last two decades have resulted in "enormous gains" for young children up to the age of 10, with a 33 percent drop in the global under-five mortality rate. "On the other hand, there have been fewer gains in areas critically affecting adolescents. More than 70 million adolescents of lower secondary [school] age are currently out of school, and on a global level, girls still lag behind boys in secondary school participation," UNICEF said in a statement. "Without education, adolescents cannot develop the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the risks of exploitation, abuse and violence that are at their height during the second decade of life." Among the challenges facing today's adolescents, UNICEF said, are health risks such as injury, eating disorders, substance abuse and mental health issues - "it is estimated that around one in every five adolescents suffers from a mental health or behavioural problem". Today's investment will lay the foundation for a generation of active agents of change for a better future Challenges The agency said global challenges facing adolescents include the current bout of economic turmoil, climate change and environmental degradation, explosive urbanization and migration, ageing societies, the rising costs of healthcare and escalating humanitarian crises. To enable adolescents to effectively deal with these challenges, UNICEF recommends improved data collection to increase the understanding of adolescents’ situation; investing in education and training to lift adolescents out of poverty; expanding opportunities for youth to participate and voice their opinion; promoting laws, policies and programmes that protect the rights of adolescents, and stepping up the fight against poverty and inequality through child-sensitive programmes to prevent adolescents from being prematurely catapulted into adulthood. Lake said: "Millions of young people around the world are waiting for greater action by all of us. Giving all young people the tools they need to improve their own lives will foster a generation of economically independent citizens who are fully engaged in civic life and able to actively contribute to their communities." js/mw 92041 2006461.jpg News Human Rights Conflict Invest in adolescents' education and training, urges UNICEF IRIN NAIROBI Global Afghanistan Africa Armenia Angola Saudi Arabia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Burkina Faso Bahrain Burundi Benin Bhutan Botswana Bela[...]

Billions lack access to life-saving surgery

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 00:00:00 +0000

More than two billion people, mostly in low-income countries, lack adequate access to life-saving surgical procedures, which is a potential obstacle to achieving health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), say specialists. "It is not news that the poor have worse access to hospital services like surgery. But the size of the population is a shock," said Atul Gawande, associate professor at Harvard School of Public Health and head of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, Safe Surgery Saves Lives.  "Surgery has been a neglected component of public health planning and this clearly needs to change," he added. Even though a substantial number of diseases worldwide require surgery, residents of higher-income regions undergo 75 percent of surgeries annually, versus the poorest third who account for only 4 percent, according to a 2010 Harvard University School of Public Health study. Based on profiles of 769 hospitals in 92 countries, wealthier countries had 14 operating theatres per 100,000 people versus two in lower-income regions. Shortfalls Surgery has been a neglected component of public health planning and this clearly needs to change A separate February 2010 study of 132 health facilities in eight countries (Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia and São Tomé and Príncipe) revealed infrastructure to be just one of the "enormous shortfalls" in emergency surgical care.  "Are there staff to assist with surgery? Next, do they have the supplies and equipment necessary to undertake the procedures? . Lastly, do the personnel have the knowledge and capability to treat?" asked Adam Kushner, the study's co-author and founder of the New York City-based NGO, Surgeons OverSeas. The study highlighted shortages in all those areas. No surveyed centres reported uninterrupted water or electricity (and therefore oxygen supply), with most reporting less than a 50 percent supply of all three. For MDG 5 (improve maternal health), 44 percent of facilities offered Caesarean sections. For MDG 6 (combating the spread of HIV/AIDS) 48 percent of the surveyed centres offered male circumcision, recommended by WHO to fight the spread of HIV. Where are the surgeons? Specialist surgeons and anaesthetists are scarce where they are most needed, for example, in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a 2010 medical survey published in Plos Medicine of eight district hospitals in Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania. In 2008, Uganda had 10 specialist surgeons and 350 anaesthetists for a population of more than 30 million. In Mali, Mamby Keïta, a surgeon at the country's largest hospital, Gabriel Touré Hospital in the capital Bamako, told IRIN there were three paediatric surgeons nationwide in 2010 to serve an estimated 2.2 million under-five children (2008); four more are in training but not expected to graduate until 2012. "We also need paediatric anaesthetists. The absence of such technicians limits how many paediatric surgeries we can do," said Keïta. Stop-gap To help cover the shortage of local surgeons, there are international doctors serving short-term contracts; NGOs; visiting humanitarian projects such as Operation Smile or the faith-based NGO, Mercy Ships, a hospital at sea that docks for months at a time to offer medical procedures including surgery; or mid-level health workers and nurses. Non-doctors carried out half of all surgical procedures in the centres surveyed in the Plos Medicine study. Kushner said it was critical to prepare all levels of health workers to carry out emergency surgical procedures - rather than foregoing surgical care. What next? A resolution for the next WHO World Health Assembly in May 2011 to create a WHO Department of Surgical Care and Anaesthesia has been circulated to health ministries. There is still a poor understanding o[...]

Prepare now for future migration surge, says IOM

Mon, 03 Jan 2011 00:00:00 +0000

Decisions taken by local authorities on land use, building regulations and access to health services probably affect migrants more than decisions taken nationally, “yet in most countries, migration policy is set at the national level with little attention to capacity-building at the local level, where policy is usually implemented,” says the new World Migration Report 2010.  The report, published every two years by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), highlights several such gaps, and explores the extent to which countries are prepared for a surge in migration over the coming decades. The current number of 214 million migrants globally, according to IOM, could rise to 405 million by 2050. It says new trends in migration could be affected by varying rates of population growth (slowing in the developed world and prompting an even greater demand for labour); environmental change; and shifts in the global economy. The current “lull” in international migration due to economic recession, IOM says, should be used by countries to prepare for larger flows of people: capacity-building and better managed databases could be areas to look at. The report provides a self-evaluation checklist to help countries and organizations assess their preparedness levels. jk/cb 91513 201010210751260211.jpg News Human Rights Migration Prepare now for future migration surge, says IOM IRIN JOHANNESBURG Global Afghanistan Africa Armenia Angola Saudi Arabia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Burkina Faso Bahrain Burundi Benin Bhutan Botswana Belarus East Africa DRC Central African Republic Congo Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Comoros Cape Verde Djibouti Algeria Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Georgia Ghana Great Lakes Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Guinea-Bissau HORN OF AFRICA Haiti Indonesia Israel Inde Iraq Iran Jordan Kenya Kyrgyzstan Cambodia Kuwait Kazakhstan Laos Lebanon Sri Lanka Liberia Lesotho Libya Morocco Middle East and North Africa Madagascar Mali Myanmar Mauritania Mauritius Maldives Malawi Moldova Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Nepal Oman Palestine Papua New Guinea Philippines Pakistan Qatar Russia Rwanda Southern Africa South Africa Seychelles Sudan Sierra Leone Senegal Somalia Sao Tome and Principe Syria Swaziland Turkmenistan Chad Togo Thailand Tajikistan Timor-Leste Tunisia Tanzania Ukraine Uganda Uzbekistan Vietnam West Africa Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Français العربية [...]

NGO probes gaps in tackling anaemia in pregnancy

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 23:00:00 +0000

Are iron-folic acid tablets difficult to take? Is the packaging appropriate? What are health workers advising? Is the mineral content correct? These are some of the questions the organization Micronutrient Initiative (MI) is posing in several developing countries – studying women’s use of iron-folic acid supplements to get at why despite widespread coverage “on paper”, anaemia prevalence in pregnant women remains high. The coverage data does not necessarily reflect how or whether women are taking the supplements, or factors that might deter them. “We know from efficacy trials that if women take iron-folic acid supplements the prevalence of anaemia in late pregnancy and at delivery is low,” Lynnette Neufeld, MI chief technical adviser, told IRIN. In most countries where MI works there are high levels of anaemia and folic acid deficiency during pregnancy, despite almost all of the countries having iron-folic acid supplementation for pregnant women in their health policies and including the products in their standard drug procurement lists, she said. “If these policies and the supplements are in place but we are not seeing improvements, something is amiss.” Countries’ demographic and health surveys have information about iron-folic acid supplement coverage, but generally the question posed to women is simply whether they received the supplements. “Our plan is to accumulate specifics from the countries where we work about iron-folic acid supplementation to get a clear understanding of formulation, supply issues, usage and other factors, with the aim of creating programmes more effective in reducing anaemia.” She noted that so far MI is studying programmes for public distribution of prenatal supplements for the most vulnerable populations. MI has already done ‘mini situation analyses’ in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, Neufeld said. In one case researchers found that the dose of iron in the supplements used was much higher than World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and above the level associated with frequent adverse effects including cramping and heartburn. Women’s nutrition Many health experts say in discussions about child malnutrition all too often the importance of women’s nutritional status is overlooked. “Absolutely the nutritional status of a woman during pregnancy gets neglected,” Neufeld said. “But also if a woman is not well-nourished or is anaemic before she’s pregnant that too will affect her and her child.” The issue is beginning to get more attention. After consultations in 2007 on anaemia in women, WHO put out a policy statement in 2009 on providing iron-folic acid supplementation to non-pregnant women of child-bearing age. Improving iron and folate nutrition of women of reproductive age could improve pregnancy outcomes as well as enhance maternal and infant health, WHO says in the policy statement. “There is growing recognition that you cannot fix [nutritional deficiencies] just once a woman is pregnant,” Neufeld said. np/aj 90722 A mother tends to her baby at a hospital in Bangladesh's northern Siraganj District. Maternal mortality rates in the impoverished nation remain poor and the worst in South Asia. News Human Rights Health NGO probes gaps in tackling anaemia in pregnancy IRIN DAKAR Afghanistan Africa Armenia Angola Saudi Arabia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Burkina Faso Bahrain Burundi Benin Bhutan Botswana Belarus East Africa DRC Central African Republic Congo Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Comoros Cape Verde Djibouti Algeria Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Georgia Ghana Great Lakes Global Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Guin[...]

Le Royaume-Uni, un modèle pour le financement privé des secours d’urgence

Mon, 06 Sep 2010 23:00:00 +0000

Le Comité britannique de gestion des urgences liées aux catastrophes (DEC), un organisme fondé il y a plus de 45 ans afin de convaincre les organisations humanitaires de collaborer plutôt que de se livrer concurrence pour récolter des fonds d’urgence, a à ce jour récolté plus de 60 millions de dollars à la suite de son appel de fonds en faveur des crues au Pakistan (indépendamment de l’aide publique britannique). C’est la deuxième fois cette année, après le séisme en Haïti, que cette machine londonienne bien huilée se met en marche. Et ce modèle est adopté par de plus en plus de pays. Selon Brendan Gormley, directeur exécutif du comité, les appels de l’organisme s'adressent au grand public, y compris aux personnes qui ne donnent pas régulièrement aux associations caritatives. « Lorsque les gens ont vu quelque chose de terrible à la télévision, ou en ont entendu parler à la radio, quand ils ont vu qu’il est possible de faire quelque chose pour y remédier, nous leur donnons les moyens d’agir facilement. C’est un service centralisé. Nous avons un seul numéro de téléphone, un seul site Internet, les banques reçoivent les fonds sans frais, et notre boîte postale est 999, le numéro des urgences au Royaume-Uni », a-t-il expliqué à IRIN. En situation d’urgence, les organismes membres, dont Oxfam, la Croix-Rouge britannique, Concern et World Vision, peuvent continuer à recevoir des fonds de leurs propres donateurs, mais ils ne sont pas tenus de faire de la publicité pour obtenir des dons parallèlement à l’appel du DEC. D’après Jeremie Bodin, directeur de la récolte de fonds d’urgence chez Save the Children Royaume-Uni, les organismes tirent parti d’une campagne publicitaire de grande envergure qu’ils n’auraient pas les moyens d’organiser individuellement. « L’appel télévisé est lancé gratuitement par les opérateurs de télévision. On voit vraiment la différence dans les sommes récoltées et les sommes qui ont dû être dépensées pour récolter ces fonds. Au cours des derniers appels lancés, nous avons constaté que nous recevions normalement entre deux et cinq fois plus que nos revenus normaux ».  L’inconvénient, pour les organismes, c’est qu’ils perdent leur visibilité auprès du public. « Lorsque les gens donnent, on ne peut pas les recontacter, alors on passe à côté d’une occasion d’obtenir le soutien de nouveaux donateurs », a déploré M. Bodin. Il n’est pas surprenant que tout organisme dont les campagnes viennent « se greffer » à celles du DEC fasse l’objet d’un ressentiment considérable. Le Fonds des Nations Unies pour l'enfance (UNICEF), par exemple, a lui aussi lancé un appel en faveur du Pakistan en Grande-Bretagne. « Nous perdons notre visibilité au profit d’autres organismes qui ne font pas partie du DEC », a déclaré M. Bodin à IRIN. « L’UNICEF, qui ne fait pas partie du groupe, fait de la publicité en ce moment. Evidemment, il en bénéficie énormément, tandis que nous [chaque organisme] sommes invisibles pendant la période où le DEC lance son appel ». « Si la BBC convient que la situation exige de lancer un appel sur le réseau, j’aime à penser que c’est une reconnaissance énorme » En comparaison, l’appel lancé par Islamic Relief à l’occasion du Ramadan ne fait pas l’objet du même ressentiment ; les organismes reconnaissent que cette campagne avait été planifiée et financée bien avant les crues au Pakistan. Selon M. Gormley, cette campagne est un atout, et non un obstacle à l’appel collectif. « Islamic Relief est membre du DEC et nous l’avons encouragé à collaborer avec d’autres associations caritatives islamiques (Muslim Aid, Muslim Hands) pour assurer que le message sur [...]