Here are a few blog posts that caught my eye as I looked through blogs listed on GrantWatch Blog’s “Blogroll.” Other topics touched on are social media and quality of care.

Global Health

“Soros Pledges $27.4-Million for Rural African Development,” Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy Today blog, October 4. This short post summarizes an Associated Press article on the commitment by investor and philanthropist George Soros to donate a second time to the Millennium Villages Project, which launched in 2006. This project strives to help villages in ten African countries meet United Nations (UN) goals that were established back in 2000. (Goals include cutting child mortality by two-thirds and “halting the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2015,” the post says.)

According to a UN press release, the project achieved several successes in the years 2006–2009; for example, a recently released scientific review said that with the project’s help, the number of households (across eleven Millennium Villages) that gained access to safer drinking water more than tripled.

Read an October 4 post by George Soros on the Open Society Foundations’ Blog for more on why he decided to make another donation, through the foundations, to this effort to end “extreme poverty” in rural Africa.

“Success Story: A New Vaccine Set for Children in Africa,” Rajeev Venkayya on Impatient Optimists blog (of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), September 27. Getting the vaccine that prevents rotavirus—the commonest cause of severe diarrhea—to all children is a “top priority” for the Gates Foundation, Venkayya says. The author cites a statistic that 1.3 million kids die from severe diarrhea each year. And he notes that recurrent episodes of the unpleasant condition lead to malnutrition, susceptibility to other infections, and even delayed development in many more children than that.

The GAVI Alliance, a public charity focused on vaccinating children in developing countries, announced in late September that twelve additional African countries will receive funding to introduce the rotavirus vaccine. (Sudan was the first, in July.) By 2015, GAVI plans to introduce the vaccine in more than forty of the world’s poorest countries.

The Gates Foundation, which awarded a multiyear grant of $375 million (yes, you read that correctly!) to GAVI for general operating support in 2009, is the organization’s leading funder from the private sector. Venkayya is the foundation’s director of global health vaccine delivery.

Fun Fact:

“Why Twitter, Why Now?” Melinda French Gates, Impatient Optimists blog, September 21. Melinda Gates announces here that she has officially joined Twitter. You can find her Twitter page here: Gates plans to use Twitter to “share stories of impact in an instant.” Although Gates is obviously a very wealthy woman, she comments in this post, “In my mind, philanthropy is not about the money.” Instead, “it’s about using whatever resources you have at your fingertips and applying them to improving the world.” A fine suggestion!

Health Reform

“Development of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Underway,” Gretchen Hammer, Community Connections blog of the Colorado Trust, September 7. Hammer, who is interim chair of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Board, says the board has begun its work to develop the state’s exchange for individuals and small businesses. Hammer (who is also executive director of the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved) notes that the exchange—a health insurance marketplace—will increase such insurance coverage in the state by addressing two of the major impediments for uninsured Coloradans looking to purchase insurance: cost and lack of information. The staff and board of the exchange, Hammer says, plan to open it in late 2013 so that people can enroll and then be covered effective January 1, 2014.

Follow the exchange board’s work here. Heads up: the board seeks a chief executive officer—applications are due Oct. 15!

Mental Health

“Wildfires Take a Toll on Mental Health,” Rick Ybarra, Hogg Blog (of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health), September 8. Central Texas, near Austin (where this foundation is located) has suffered through wildfires in recent weeks. (There was apparently one this week, according to the Austin newspaper.) The author writes that a disaster’s effects can lead to “fear, confusion, and uncertainty in daily life.” He mentions some to-be-expected (that is, normal) reactions to fires and other disasters and provides some helpful hints and links for more information.

Quality of Care

“Quality Improvement? It’s All Greek to Me,” Topun Austin, in the Blog of the Health Foundation (London, United Kingdom), September 14. The author writes, ‘Remember quality? We don’t hear much about that these days.” Austin explains why he thinks the three “buzzwords” safety, efficiency, and quality are so important. Acknowledging that there is a global financial crisis now, Austin mentions the danger of cutting already efficient services. He concludes that if you focus on efficiency and safety, then quality of care will improve.

Austin is a neonatologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, which, according to its website, is an internationally known teaching hospital (for Cambridge University). Cambridge University Hospitals NHS (National Health Service) Trust runs Addenbrooke’s.

The Health Foundation, a charity, aims to continuously improve the quality of care in the United Kingdom (UK). Read here about the foundation’s current policy work; it seeks to influence the government of the UK’s proposals for reforming the NHS England.