Brazil recently announced plans to create a low-cost measles and rubella vaccine, specifically for export to developing countries. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil’s top medical research facility, is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create, produce, and export the vaccine.
Measles and rubella, viruses that primarily affect children, have been eradicated in most developed countries. Brazil, for example, eradicated measles in 2000 and rubella in 2009. These highly contagious viruses spread through human contact (sneezing and coughing) and no anti-viral cure exists for either disease, so prevention through vaccination is essential. In 1980, measles alone caused 2.6 million deaths each year. However, the development of effective vaccines and widespread vaccination campaigns has greatly reduced the prevalence of these diseases around the world. Between 2000 and 2011, there was a 71% decrease in measles cases globally due to effective vaccination. But measles still kills 158,000 people every year, mostly children in low-income countries.
Bio-Manguinhos, the unit of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation that will produce the new vaccine, already produces an effective combination vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella. However, many developing countries cannot afford the existing vaccine because of its high cost. For example, Pakistan experienced a measles epidemic earlier this year- there were 239 measles-related deaths in the country from January to April 2013. Dr. Tanvir Ahmed, the Director-General of Health Services for Punjab province, attributes the recent outbreak to low vaccination coverage: “In the districts there are even pockets where there is no vaccination coverage. The average for Punjab is 58%.”
Brazil hopes to produce 30 million doses of the new vaccine per year by 2017. This measles and rubella vaccine will be the only produced by Brazil solely for export and will cost $0.54 per dose. Right now, India produces only similar vaccines for developing countries.
This new development in global health showcases the solutions cross-sector, international partnerships can produce. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil received a $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation; in addition, the Brazilian Health Ministry has pledged $727 million to construct a new pharmaceutical plant to facilitate production. The new vaccine will be sold to low-income, developing countries, primarily in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The international community has committed to improving child health around the world; the 4th Millenium Development Goal aims to reduce the 1990 under-5 mortality rate by two-third by 2015 and the World Health Assembly committed in 2010 to reducing deaths from measles (2000 levels) by 95% by 2015. This new vaccine will, hopefully, help us to meet these goals through cost-effective strategies, like vaccinations.
This past week marked the second anniversary of the death of dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, captured after an eight-month revolt against his four-decade rule in Libya. Since the country’s liberation, its transitional government has struggled with security issues and has exhibited a woeful need for the assistance of external actors that can strike a balance between smothering the nascent state and idly standing back.
The military intervention in Libya was unique in many respects. The United States, with the crucial and historically unforeseen support of the Arab League, orchestrated Operation Unified Protector, a NATO operation carried out by mostly British and French forces that deployed air strikes and imposed a no-fly zone to prevent Qaddafi forces from attacking civilian areas held by rebels. Most notably, international actors did not deploy post-conflict peacekeeping forces after the operation and have continued to maintain this low-profile approach.
Foreign actors had good reason to limit their role in the early post-conflict stages. Under the aegis of NATO and the United States, international actors have refrained from excessive involvement so as to not undermine the fragile legitimacy of the Libyan authorities—cognizant of the mixed record of United States security assistance—as bloated foreign assistance absent of investments in institutions and people that support local entrepreneurship often leads to poor governance and disincentives for exports.
In contrast with the post-conflict situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the immediate post-war situation in Libya was much calmer. The country’s uprising was a byproduct of the neighboring positive political trends in Tunisia and Egypt. Regional, tribal and other cleavages that were instigated by the 40 year authoritarian regime were temporarily put aside as diverse groups fought against Qaddafi. Key infrastructures were mostly left intact through attentive NATO military planning. And most importantly, the country was also relatively wealthy on account of its energy resources ($14,100 GDP per capita in 2010) and, therefore, less desperate for financial assistance. Richard Weitz, senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute surveys the situation likewise: “There is a bit of a concern in Washington as well as in Libya itself that the government is seen being … too closely attached to the western powers that intervened militarily to overthrow Qaddafi and so it is better if in public, the government … attacks the US for violence and sovereignty, even if in private they are collaborating with the United States.” It is clear that for Libya to be stable and prosperous in the future, concerted and nuanced international engagement is needed.
Libya is devolving into anarchy and observers forecast an oncoming civil war. Rival factions continue to act autonomously, showing they are the ultimate arbiters in a struggle between rival tribes and radical Islamist leaders. In the past year alone, more than 80 people, many of them high-ranking military and police figures, have been killed in eastern Libya. Just last week, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped from the Corinthia Hotel. Upon his release, the premier thanked a rival armed group for his rescue in what can be a harbinger of future threats. The tragic attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September, 11th, 2012, which resulted in the death of 4 Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens, punctuated the abysmal failure to disarm and reign in the revolutionary brigades into a single national force. It now appears that southern Libya has become a new base for al-Qaeda. Can any type of government be built in such a climate? The sine qua non of post-conflict nation building endures: without a security guarantee on the ground, political and economic goals are unachievable.
When President Obama addressed the nation on Libya in 2011, he said, much to the consternation of some observers: “There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are…In such cases, we should not be afraid to act–but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action.” Garnering the attention of the international community has been diluted and complicated by the fact that Libya is not pivotal to the geostrategic interests of the United States vis-à-vis Egypt or Afghanistan. On the other hand, Europe’s oil flows are suddenly at risk.
The sine qua non of post-conflict nation building endures: without a security guarantee on the ground, political and economic goals are unachievable.
But this goal is not impossible and now requires imperative action. The Libyan state needs to monopolize the legitimate use of force in order to solidify its sovereignty. Ergo, NATO has recently agreed to a Libyan request to advise it on the strengthening of its security forces, an ancillary engagement that should vitally assist in the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants via a holistic approach that includes financial, social, and security incentives. Only then can deliberations on the role of shari’a law and the appropriate balance between centralized power in Tripoli and local authorities occur within a constitutional drafting framework. If Libya’s current challenges are handled adroitly, the state could become a valuable partner against al-Qaeda in an increasingly unstable region and a vindication of a less costly approach to nation building where the United States acts at a low cost to defend human rights by putting allies in the lead. So far these outcomes are only a chimera as states, intergovernmental organizations, and NGOs alike have left Libya behind.
Rabies is a terrifying disease that kills approximately 60,000 people worldwide each year. Though scientific innovation has created vaccines that are effective before and after exposure to the virus, there is no way to cure rabies once symptoms have begun. Rabies is a zoonosis, meaning that it is transmitted from animals to humans. Rabies is a threat in about 150 countries, but its fatalities are constrained to the developing world with 95% of rabies cases occur in Asia and Africa. Over 99% of deaths from rabies occur in developing countries, one-third in China and India alone.
Rabies is a neglected disease and most commonly affects poor, young, and vulnerable populations. Children are particularly at risk- 40% of those bitten by a suspected rabid animal are under 15 – and the risk is highest in rural areas, where required vaccines may not be readily available. While rabies is always present in the wild, most human cases are caused by dog bites. Canine rabies threatens more than 3 billion people in Asia and Africa.
“This is a disease of the poorest of the poor who can’t afford the vaccine.” – Dr. Herve Bourhy of France’s Pasteur Institute.
You’ve surely seen the “Fair Trade” label on your coffee or your fancy chocolate bar. You know what it means: that whoever grew your product received a fair price under good working conditions. But how much do you know about the movement behind the labels or the 2011 split in the fair trade camp?
The Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) is an international federation of labeling initiatives and producer networks that promote fair trade. The FLO demands that “certified traders must buy directly from a certified producer organization and pay a minimum price that is set by the FLO with the intent to cover sustainable production costs” and a “social premium that is to be used for social, economic, or environmental development of the community.” The FLO focuses on small producers grouped in producer organizations, which handle business transactions with buyers.
Samysuddin, a current resident of Indonesia, can recall the days when he would take his trusted speargun and dive into the coastal waters of Ujung Village and be able to catch his family’s dinner. But things have since changed in the waters off the Kapoposang island of Indonesia: “I can spend the whole day motoring around, paddling and swimming, I’ll try everything. Sometimes I don’t catch any fish and we’ll go a whole day without eating any. These days, the coral reefs around Kapoposang are degrading. If the reefs continue to degrade then there won’t be any fish here. There won’t be anything left for us to do.”
Samysuddin is a part of a growing population of Indonesia migrants that have been displaced as a result of economic, social, and now adverse environmental changes. changes. Narratives like his are becoming a familiar tocsin. UN forecasts predict “200 million to 1 billion” people will have to migrate as a result of climate change with 200 million being the most widely cited estimation but not devoid of misapplication and manipulation. While there is a considerable amount of research on migration as a response to various, social, political, and economic conditions, humans are now beginning to migrate as an adaptive strategy to adverse environmental conditions. Migration due to rising sea levels is in its most nascent forms as push and pull factors vary greatly among regions and social groups and are often intertwined with livelihood opportunities and public policy responses. For example, research conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch found that rural Nicaraguan families in extreme poverty were the least likely to migrate as they were unable to finance the cost of moving. Yet Costa Rica still absorbed an enormous influx of Nicaraguan migrants that have been victims of violence and have faced constraints in accessing social services.
The global human population is increasing rapidly, especially in urban areas. With 180,000 people moving to cities every day around the world, it is predicted that the number of people living in urban areas will double by 2030. By 2050, 70% of the global population will live in urban areas.
This rapid urbanization presents major development challenges for the international community. As more and more people move to urban areas, governments around the world are confronted with the problem of providing adequate housing, transportation, and services for these growing communities. For example, China’s urban population grew from 200 million to 700 million in just the past 30 years, and China plans to have 60% of its population living in urban areas by 2020. Jim Young Kim, President of the World Bank, recently urged China to give more attention to the development of these urban areas, saying: “China now needs to find new ways to make cities more energy efficient, promote clean energy, and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.”