Our Perspective

      • South Sudan is running a marathon, not a sprint | Toby Lanzer

        09 Jul 2013

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        As part of the formation of a new nation, women police train in Western Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan. (Photo: UNDP South Sudan)

        Two years ago today, South Sudanese around the world celebrated their country’s independence after decades of war and struggle. Today, the hope remains but reality has set in. It is going to take a long time for South Sudan to achieve its goals. Like a marathon runner, South Sudan and its international partners need to commit for the long haul. Building health services, a professional police service, and a judicial system, along with all the other institutions needed in a modern state, can seem daunting in the best of circumstances. Only one in seven children complete primary school and only 27 percent of people over 15 know how to read and write. Fifty percent of South Sudan’s civil servants lack the appropriate qualifications for their jobs. To meet the gaps in the short term, the U.N. is helping to deploy civil servants from neighboring countries across South Sudan’s ten states, transferring knowledge and skills in 19 institutions. In the long term, overcoming the capacity gap requires huge investments in education. Encouragingly, this is on the government’s agenda: the budget presented to parliament for the 2013/14 fiscal year makes it a priority. In 2013, aid agencies are planning to reach nearly 200,000 Read More

      • Let’s follow Aqaba’s lead on urbanization and disaster risk reduction | Jo Scheuer

        03 Jul 2013

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        Cities like Dhaka, Bangladesh, are urbanizing rapidly, and must be prepared and proactive in ensuring they are resilient to natural hazards. (Photo: Kibae Park/UN Photo)

        For the first time in history, a majority of the global population is urban, and this number is expected to rise. This isn’t necessarily bad — great cities can offer many benefits, especially when urban planning is prioritized. But cities present challenges when urban growth is fast, unplanned and unmanaged. These challenges include high population density, unregulated and unsafe construction methods, environmental degradation, and inadequate water and drainage systems. Lack of planning can create weaknesses, exposing dense populations to worse impacts from disasters associated to natural events. When a city doesn’t enforce building codes, for example, it runs the risk of high losses from earthquakes; poor and inadequate drainage systems can cause flooding and disease; disregarding shorelines and ignoring climate change can expose the populace to severe weather events. Only a few months ago in Bangladesh, more than 1,000 people were killed during the collapse of a single, improperly constructed building. What will happen then when there are hundreds of poorly constructed buildings and an earthquake occurs? The Aqaba Declaration notes that more than 56 percent of the Arab population lives in urban areas. In an urbanizing region, ensuring that cities are more resilient to natural hazards must be a priority. Read More

      • Focusing on prices of HIV medicines in middle-income countries | Tenu Avafia & Katie Kirk

        27 Jun 2013

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        Low-income countries are often offered special arrangements by pharmaceutical companies on medicine to treat HIV. Middle-income countries are left out of these arrangements and must address the challenge of helping their citizens access the drugs. (Photo: UNDP)

        A key determinant of middle-income countries meeting their health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be their ability to sustain and expand access to treatment for HIV and its co-infections, like TB and Hepatitis C. By 2020, the majority of people living with HIV will be living in middle-income countries, such as South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Ecuador and Thailand. Yet at the same time as new, more effective medicines to treat HIV emerge, many of these countries, based on their average income levels, are increasingly being left out of special arrangements offered by pharmaceutical companies to low-income countries, such as price discounts or voluntary licenses to use their patents. For instance, in 2011, using Global Fund grants, HIV medicine Darunavir was offered to Sub-Saharan African countries at US $1,095 per patient per year. Meanwhile, Nicaragua and Moldova (middle-income countries) had to buy that same medicine at $7,424 and $9,188 respectively. This pricing challenge will test the 2011 commitment made by UN Member States, at a UN High-level Meeting on AIDS , to place 15 million people in need on antiretroviral treatment by 2015. Eighteen middle-income countries and stakeholders met in Brasilia in June to confront these challenges. Whether discussing intellectual property, drug Read More

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