November 22nd, 2010
Here a few more blog posts I came across that you may want to check out.
Global Health And Development
“The Problem That Nobody Wants to Think About,” Louis Boorstin, Nov. 19, on the Foundation Blog of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Boorstin is the deputy director of water, sanitation, and hygiene at the foundation. Using the hook that Nov. 19 was World Toilet Day, Boorstin writes that “the slum dwellers in Port au Prince [Haiti] are keenly aware that cholera has descended on their communities.” He points out that many of the people at risk for cholera “and certainly their leaders, recognize that poor sanitation is contributing greatly to the spread of this dread disease.” Boorstin notes that in certain parts of the world, lack of adequate sanitation is a real problem: For example, according to data he cites, “half the population of the developing world—that’s 2.6 billion people, mostly in rural areas—either have no toilet at all or use one so primitive that it’s not safe.”
Some five years ago, the Gates Foundation began looking into the subject area of water, sanitation, and hygiene, and subsequently, in 2009, it decided to focus its work in that subject on sanitation, he says. This work is part of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.
“Questions for Melinda Gates,” Mitch Nauffts, Oct. 26, on the Foundation Center’s PhilanTopic Blog. Nauffts describes here an interview with Melinda French Gates, cochair and trustee of the Gates Foundation and wife of Bill Gates. The interview that Nauffts mentions is by Deborah Solomon and appeared in the New York Times Magazine on Oct. 24. Nauffts notes that, in general, in Solomon’s interviews, she “likes to poke and prod, isn’t afraid of controversial subjects, and can dish out snark with the best of them”! Nauffts then comments, “Sometimes it works; sometimes, not so much.” In this interview, he maintains, three of Solomon’s questions tried “to get Gates (who attended an all-girls parochial high school) to criticize the [Catholic] Church’s stand on abortion.”
In the short New York Times interview, Gates seems to confidently and diplomatically answer Solomon’s often pointed questions. For example, Solomon asks why the Gates Foundation doesn’t do more grant making in the United States, where, for example, it could “try to solve the health care crisis.” Gates responds, “As a foundation, first of all, you have to focus.” She goes on to say that the foundation, in fact, does have a United States program (as well as programs on Global Health and Global Development). According to the foundation’s Web site, health is not a topic of the U.S. program, though.
Nauffts, the blogger, asked a few Foundation Center colleagues “what they would ask Melinda Gates if she happened to drop by their office.” A list of eleven questions follows in his post, including “Does the Gates Foundation have too much influence in the areas in which it works?” and “What is the most critical issue not funded by the Gates Foundation that you’d like to see other grantmakers address?”
“Putting Our Health First,” by Robert K. Ross, Nov. 2, on the California Endowment’s (TCE’s) Bob’s Blog. Ross, who is president and chief executive officer of the endowment, explains that its “mission is to expand access to affordable, [high-] quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.” To accomplish that, he says, “we must move beyond the heated rhetoric coming from all sides in the debate over the new health [reform] law,” to learn about what is really in the law and to ensure that it “is the very best it can be for Californians.”
TCE has gotten physician Mehmet Oz (“Dr. Oz,” who rose to fame on The Oprah Winfrey Show) “to lend his celebrity” to the endowment’s outreach effort on health reform. Oz has done a public service announcement for the endowment already; click here to watch it. It is on the “Helpful Resources: The New Health Law and You” page of TCE’s website.
Ross mentions various benefits of the Accountable Care Act in a bulleted list. Speaking of the “overheated rhetoric from all sides,” he then refutes some of the complaints about the law. He focuses on complaints from the right, not the left, though. He rallies readers with some words of encouragement: “Whether or not you supported the law, it’s up to all of us to make it work on behalf of our health, of our family’s health, and of the health of our state economy.”
“Health Reform: Staying Alive,” by Leif Wellington Haase, Nov. 5, on the New Health Dialogue (a New America Foundation blog). Haase is a senior fellow with New America’s Health Policy Program; his work focuses on California. Please note that the New America Foundation is a nonpartisan public policy institute, not a philanthropic foundation.
“Helping You Find Emergency Information When You Need It,” by Roni Zeiger, Nov. 11, on Google.org Blog. (Google.org is the philanthropic arm of Google, the company.) Zeiger, a physician who is chief health strategist at Google, reports that, as of Nov. 11, in thirteen countries, including the United States, Google was to have begun “displaying some combination of special search results” for searches related to poison control, suicide, and “common emergencies, such as fire, medical and police emergencies.” For example, in the United States, when one does a search on www.google.com for “suicide,” the National Suicide Prevention Hotline’s phone number will appear at the top of the results page. In countries including France, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, people will see one or more of these “special search results,” if they search under certain key words. Zeiger says, “We looked for hotlines that are available nationally and 24/7.” Also, Google hopes to help travelers to, as well as residents of, these thirteen countries with the common emergency info, “as some countries have different numbers for different emergencies.” Here is the example (for France) that the blog post points to.
Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! And, hopefully, no emergencies will befall you this weekend!
“Sanctioned Abuse in Armenia’s Hospitals,” by Anahit Papikyan, Nov. 11, on the Open Society Foundations Blog. Papikyan, who is the Public Health Program coordinator at the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation—Armenia, writes that “the right to be treated in a safe environment, free of abuse, harassment, and neglect” is not always being extended “to people living with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems” in this Eastern European country. This is even after Armenia adopted a law comporting “with international norms” in mental health.
The foundation sponsored human rights experts to visit psychiatric hospitals and monitor conditions therein. He quotes from their reports: “A male nurse beat a patient who tried to run away”; “many patients are subjected to physical abuse, they are forced to. . . do the work that the clinic staff should do”; in a driving rainstorm, “a barefoot patient washed the car of a hospital employee.” Shocking stuff.
Papikyan states, “The government of Armenia should take measures to close these abusive institutions”; he recommends that “people with mental health disabilities . . . receive care within their communities.”
George Soros, an investor and philanthropist, “established the Open Society Foundations, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism,” the foundations’ website says. Now there are numerous Open Society grant-making organizations; they are located in the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.