How will we ensure the new Ebola vaccine reaches those most in need?

13 Aug 2015 by By Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director for HIV, Health and Development, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

A family recovering from the impact of Ebola in Liberia.Community participation in immunization programmes results in higher coverage and reduces the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Photo: UNDP Liberia
We are optimistic about a new tool in the fight against Ebola. The phase III trials on efficacy of the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine have yielded an impressive result in a relatively short time - 100% effectiveness in those receiving the vaccine. Without a doubt, this is an important tool for the protection of health and community workers and possibly the wider community. But how will this new tool be used? How will it reach those in need? … Read more

The case for a better approach to drug control policy

23 Jul 2015 by Tenu Avafia, Policy Adviser, HIV, Health and Development Practice, Bureau for Development Policy and Javier Sagredo, Advisor on Democratic Governance and Citizen Security, UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean

coca farmers in BoliviaMen working in the coca field in Bolivia. Photo: Ryan Anderton
The relationship between drug control policy and human development is complex and multifaceted. Both share a common objective to reduce drug-related harms. Yet drug control, human rights, public health and human development agendas often exist in isolation from each other. Policies aimed at prohibition and punishment form the international approach to drug control. Yet, there is ample evidence of the negative consequences of these policies. For the many farmers affected by poverty, conflict, and insecurity, cultivating illicit drug crops is a viable livelihoods option, yet international drug treaties ban the cultivation of these crops and require their eradication. … Read more

Co-financing for health and development – an affordable innovation

13 Jul 2015 by Douglas Webb, Mandeep Dhaliwal, and Pedro Conceicao

school children in EthiopiaUNDP has piloted a co-financing methodology in the area of HIV, health and social protection in four sub-Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania. Photo: UNDP in Ethiopia
The implementation of the post-2015 development agenda will call on countries to be more resourceful than ever, including improving efficiencies and leveraging increased domestic resources in innovative and cost-effective ways. How can innovative financing find critical synergies between the Sustainable Development Goals while saving money?In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues … Read more

An HIV milestone achieved in Cuba

10 Jul 2015 by Carlos Cortés Falla, Principal Technical Advisor, HIV projects, UNDP Cuba

HIV testIn Cuba, preventive services, like HIV testing for all pregnant women, contributed to the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Photo: UNDP
This is a momentous moment for us working in Cuba. The World Health Organization recently declared that Cuba had eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child. Cuba is the first country to reach this goal and it is a great milestone for us. But it is also a landmark in the response to HIV globally. How was Cuba able to achieve this? Cuba’s comprehensive health system is available for all Cuban citizens equally, and is effective in integrating the health care of mothers and children with the management of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. … Read more

Why are drug policies relevant to the new global development agenda?

07 May 2015 by Javier Sagredo, Advisor on Democratic Governance and Citizen Security, UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean

Photo: UNDP/Brian Sokol
Imagine a world in which all people who have problems with substance abuse do not suffer stigma but are guided to find appropriate health, social, and job-related support. Imagine a world in which justice systems and prison systems effectively fulfill their objectives to provide justice and social rehabilitation. This also entails finding alternative solutions that prevent keeping thousands of people imprisoned while awaiting trial, or experiencing grave human rights violations. … Read more

It is time to focus on the real drivers of malaria

24 Apr 2015 by Dudley Tarlton, Programme Specialist, Health and Development

A mother and child recover from malaria in a hospital in Burundi. A mother and child recover from malaria in a hospital in Burundi. The Government provides free health care for pregnant women and children under five. Photo: Maria Cierna/UNDP
Eliminating malaria seems like a straightforward issue. The virus is transmitted to people through bites from infected mosquitoes. So if we prevent the mosquito bites, we can eliminate the virus. But decades of malaria control efforts show there is more to the story. Much of our vulnerability to malaria, it turns out, is determined by human actions. The conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age define to a great extent who is vulnerable to malaria and who is not. … Read more

Maintaining HIV health services in the wake of disaster

01 Apr 2015 by Jean Thomas Nouboussi, HIV, Health and Development Team, UNDP Global Fund Programme, Haiti

Commemorating World AIDS Day in Petionville, Haiti. Photo: UNDP/Haiti
In 2010, Haiti suffered an earthquake with devastating consequences.  225,000 people died and 1.5 million people were displaced. There was 10 million cubic meters of debris, 30 of the 49 hospitals in the country were ruined, and 80 percent of schools and 60 percent of the government structures were destroyed.  With very little infrastructure left, the internally displaced people were settled in 1500 camps in the metropolitan areas. What happened to us in Haiti has been referred to as the largest urban disaster in modern history. The humanitarian effort following the earthquake was extraordinary, with much global attention and donor support. However, there was little funding and planning for the HIV response and to address gender-based violence.  These needs had not been integrated into the larger humanitarian work, despite the fact that Haiti has the highest burden of HIV in the Caribbean region. Incidences of rape in the internally displaced camps were high, young people were turning to sex work for economic reasons, and the rates of HIV and TB transmission increased. Haiti had been receiving Global Fund grants since 2003, but the weakened systems and capacities after the earthquake challenged their implementation. UNDP was invited to be the interim Principal … Read more

Zero Discrimination Day: a call for freedom, equality, and inclusion

27 Feb 2015 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Team Leader of UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Practice.

At the opening of the BeingLGBT in Asia dialogue, New Zealand parliamentarian Honorable Louisa Wall; Luc Stevens, UN Resident Coordinator, Thailand; Trans activist Geena Rocero; and LGBT activist and TV host Sophon Shimjinda show their support for Zero Discrimination.
Zero Discrimination Day is an international call for freedom, equality and ending exclusion. This day, and every other day, for effective HIV and development responses we must work towards creating a world that is free from stigma and discrimination. Intolerance is often fueled by and mirrored in harmful laws, policies and practices – laws, policies and practices that are not founded on human rights but based on moral judgment, fear and misinformation. These laws, policies and practices exclude or punish those that are marginalized. They perpetuate stigma and discrimination by dehumanizing and criminalizing those who are most vulnerable and they place a disproportionate burden on those affected by HIV such as sex workers, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender people. In a number of countries, discriminatory laws criminalize transgender people on the basis of their gender identity. These laws, which often reflect the social marginalization of transgender people, do not recognize their existence. Without legal recognition and access to justice, transgender people are unable to get official documentation with their names and sex reflecting their gender identity. Without the accurate identification, they are unable to access even the most basic of services that they are … Read more

Bigger cities don’t have to mean bigger risks

29 Jan 2015 by Zubair Murshed, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Adviser, Arab States

Sehwan Sharif cityAn aerial view of the city of Sehwan Sharif in Pakistan's southern Sindh Province, which was heavily affected by countrywide flooding in 2010. (Photo: Amjad Jamal/UN)
The majority of the world’s population is urban, and it’s easy to understand why: Urban settings often offer better economic opportunities and better access to essential services (such as healthcare and education), as well as a wider variety of entertainment and leisure options. But urban environments are also uniquely vulnerable to disasters. Many towns, cities, and urban sprawls stand in coastal zones, on riverbanks, or in mountains– settings that are exposed to geological and hydro-meteorological hazards like earthquakes, storm surges, and cyclones. In addition, rapid urbanization often brings poor land use planning, unsafe construction practices, and damage to natural resources (like waterways and mangroves). Urban centers can suffer from ‘intensive risk,’ because a large number of people, facilities, services, and assets are condensed in one place and at risk of substantial losses and damages from a disaster. As the world becomes more and more urbanized, urban risk reduction becomes more and more of a necessity. The post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, which will emerge at the upcoming UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, can help elevate this concern at the highest levels and push for disaster risk reduction to be built into urban planning and development. … Read more

Innovation brings new approaches and integration

20 Jan 2015 by Anita Nirody, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Egypt

 Egyptian youth explore gamification at UNDP Egypt innovation lab. (Photo: UNDP Egypt)
A few years ago, UNDP Egypt began an exciting innovation for development (I4D) journey experimenting with new and creative approaches for development solutions. This approach has become more focused and deliberate with the implementation of UNDP’s Strategic Plan. In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice. … Read more