A New Global Fund?

More healthy mothers and children is the goal.

More healthy mothers and children is the goal / photo: Alemush, flickr

“Why don’t we have a Global Fund for maternal health, like the one for TB, malaria and AIDS?”, implored Dr Siriel Nanzia Massawe, an obstetrician in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

I was jolted by this desperate doctor’s question, buried in a recent New York Times article about the prevalence of maternal deaths during pregnancy and childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa.

You mean we don’t have a Global Fund fighting maternal – and for that matter, child – mortality? I wondered incredulously.

After all, two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) call for a significant reduction in child and maternal mortality by 2015. And former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan established the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2001 to reach this third health-related MDG.

So why has only the MDG addressing communicable diseases been deemed worthy of a Global Fund? After all, the international community is far behind on all MDG health-related targets: maternal mortality has been stagnant for two decades; more than nine million children under age five still die every year; and AIDS infection rates are still too high for antiretroviral treatments to keep pace.

Clearly, a more synergized and streamlined approach to the three health-related MDGs is desperately needed. Each one impacts the other: For example, AIDS and malaria cause specific complications for pregnant women and their fetus’s development.

In the end, perhaps every one of these MDG initiatives could be more fully realized if greater attention were paid to how they interact. Has the time for an integrated Global Fund for Health arrived?

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ISN Weekly Theme: The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Peres Center for Peace Soccer Game, with Israeli and Palestinian coaches / photo: WrenB, flickr

Peres Center for Peace soccer game, Israeli and Palestinian coaches / photo: WrenB, flickr

It’s one of the oldest and most controversial conflicts in history: The Israeli-Palestine Conflict. We’re dedicating this week to examining the issue, presenting views from all sides.

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The Flip-side of Facebook

Screenshot of Facebook WorldIn the wake of the news that a Russian investment company had coughed up $200 million for a 2 percent stake in Facebook (and yes, that amounts to an estimated $10 billion value for the whole thing), and that Facebook itself had reached the coveted 200 million user mark (making it the 5th largest “country” in the world, no less), I thought it appropriate to have a look at how it is being used in the world beyond the college dorm and my living room.

For to think that Facebook is only good for easy messaging, picture-sharing and spying (and yes, even self-discovery through such wonderfully insightful tests as ‘Which city would you be?’) would be a grave mistake indeed. Outside the world of highspeed broadband-lines and trendy presidential campaigns, Facebook is attracting more and more users from the fringes of the social-networking-society; from unexpected sources and people who cannot organize or interact on more traditional forums. It even has the Pope involved (but that’s a whole different story).

I present to you the flip-side of Facebook.

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The ISN at this year’s Global Media Forum

Global Media Forum Banner

Bonn is hosting the second Global Media Forum (GMF), 3-5 June, organized by Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

The forum addresses conflict prevention in the multimedia age, with the main topics including media freedom, media in Africa and the challenges posed by new technologies.

Read all about it, as the Deutsche Welle has recently launched the GMF blog. The conference organizers are also on Twitter @DW_GMF. Photo material will be available on the Deutsche Welle Flickr page.

As for us, we will be at the GMF in Bonn this year. Stay tuned for our liveblogging from the GMF and for our conference daily tweets (@cviehmann on Twitter).

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From Macedon to Mt Vernon

Boone (m) says things are fine the way they are / photo: screenshot of NYT slideshow

Boone (m) says things are fine the way they are / photo: screenshot of NYT slideshow

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal around here. It’s what we know and it’s what our parents have done for so many years. [...] It’s not really about being racist or having all white friends or all black friends [...] it’s about your attitude and how you present yourself and how you take care of yourself.”

Those are the words of Haley Boone, Montgomery County High School senior (Mt Vernon, Georgia, US. It’s between Atlanta and Savannah), during an interview with the New York Times for the audiovisual presentation Voices from a Divided Prom. The school is racially mixed, but the students continue with the tradition of holding separate “white” proms and “black” proms. (A prom is ball for high school seniors. Trust me, it’s a big deal.)

In the year that saw the inauguration of the US first black president, yes, such things still happen.
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