Undercover illness: Interventions needed to detect and treat sickle-cell anemia in Africa

In resource-constrained settings like Kenya, “more than 90% of children with sickle-cell anaemia die before the diagnosis can be made,” most likely due to opportunistic bacterial diseases. Two of the most common infections, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, are preventable or treated readily in developed countries. A recent study published in The Lancet underscores these health inequities suffered by children in sub-Saharan Africa. The report, “Bacteraemia in Kenyan children with…

Self-governance and international treaties

A comment on OpenForum’s August 10th post on the US ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child raised several common misconceptions about US policy on such issues. This presented a good opportunity to speak to these perhaps broadly-held concerns. First, the US has long used both international agreements and domestic law to govern its citizens — the US has been and continues to be a party to…

Sexual Violence in the Congo

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Ms. Katherine Moloney.] Sexual violence against civilian populations during armed conflict is recognized as a deliberate tactic of war, the gravity of which determines whether it is considered a war crime, a crime against humanity, or an element of genocide [see Statute of the International Criminal Court art 7.1(g) and art 8.2(b)(xxii); Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security…

Righting a Century of Wrongs: Whiteclay, Nebraska

Whiteclay, Nebraska, population 14 (more or less) has been called the “skid row of the plains” for its four liquor stores, which all do brisk business — approximately 12,000 cans of beer a day. The visitors buying the beer are from South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation — less than 200 feet from the town line — where alcohol is illegal and alcoholism has ravaged the community. In a New…

Participation as a development tool for the health sector: The Rwandan experience

[Editor’s note: For further discussions of participation and the right to health, see , now available with full text online.] Participation is a right situated at the very heart of the human rights vision. Participation holds this central place because it requires and activates the full range of other human rights. People can only fully exercise their right to participation if they are correctly informed and free to express their…

HIV stigmatization and children: Fear and ignorance prevent HIV-positive children from going to school

The beginning of the school year is both anticipated and bemoaned by students around the world, but most students will never have to worry about being let in the front door. This is not the case for HIV-positive children in some communities, where stigmatization and fear can keep them from going to school. HIV stigmatization is widespread, especially among people who do not understand how the virus is transmitted. Fear…

Childhood malnutrition: Another reason to advocate for reducing tobacco use

It is now common knowledge that smoking is a major contributor to poor health, particularly with respect to respiratory and cardiovascular health. Now there is also evidence that smoking affects health in another, more subtle way — by contributing to childhood malnutrition. In a study published in the October 2009 issue of Economic Development and Cultural Change, two researchers from Tufts University, Steven Block of the Fletcher School of International…

Eradicating malaria: Don’t dismiss DDT

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Danielle Brown.] “There is more money put into baldness drugs than into malaria,” said Bill Gates at the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design conference. To underscore his point Gates released a jar full of mosquitoes into the crowd, stating, “there is no reason that only poor people should have this experience [malaria].” He quickly assured the audience that those particular mosquitoes were…

Promoting infant male circumcision to reduce transmission of HIV: A flawed policy for the US

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Sarah Bundick.] On August 23, the New York Times reported that the CDC may recommend infant male circumcision as an HIV-prevention strategy. This article was followed by an editorial in the Boston Globe on August 26. The editorial states that infant male circumcision “makes sense [as a tactic] against a virus that infects more than 50,000 Americans each year” and that…

Innovative low-tech health systems save women’s lives

A number of non-traditional practices are arising in poor and developing communities to fight high maternal mortality rates. One example that has taken hold in many African countries is the use of non-physician clinicians (NPCs) – health care providers who are not licensed physicians but who still provide substantial medical care. The retention rate of these types of practitioners tends to be higher, and the cost of training and deployment…