What Steps Should Be Taken to Combat Superbugs in the Developing World?

By Christopher Metzger

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Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), photo courtesy of Flickr user NIAID under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) refers to the ability of microbes to grow in the presence of substances specifically designed to kill them, specifically antibiotics. Superbug is a non-scientific term used by the media to refer to a pathogenic bacterium that has developed an immunity to antibiotics. The annual economic costs of AMR and superbugs—measured in lost productivity—could be as large as that of the 2008 global financial crisis. Without a global containment effort, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be out of reach. In particular, goals 1 and 3—ending poverty, and achieving good health and well-being—will be unreachable by 2030. If containment efforts fail by 2050, more people will be dying from resistant bacteria than from cancer, as shown in Figure 1. The deaths and medical costs that would result from widespread drug-resistant bacteria could cost developing countries five percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, yet the threat of superbugs is only just beginning to receive the international media attention that it deserves.

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Redefining Emergency Education for Syrian Youth

By Neha Rauf

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Syrian refugee children attend a lesson in a UNICEF temporary classroom in July 2014. Photo courtesy of Flickr user DFID- UK Department for International Development, under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

The Need for Emergency Education in Syria

As Syria heads into the sixth year of its humanitarian crisis, one of the major side effects of the conflict has been the high number of refugee children in need of emergency education. Today, more than 1.5 million Syrian children, who make up over half of total refugee children living in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, are not enrolled in school. The average length of a refugee crisis is 26 years, meaning some of these children will spend their entire childhood displaced and in need of emergency education. If Syrian children do not return to school, Syria is sacrificing its already tenuous future—the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates suggest this education gap would result in the loss of $10.7 billion in human capital.

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Reorienting the War on Drugs in Colombia and Afghanistan

By Ariel Gandolfo & Miguel Eusse

The United States’ multi-billion dollar War on Drugs in Afghanistan and Colombia has failed. Afghanistan supplies 80 percent of the world’s opium, which is derived from poppies and used to make heroin, while Colombia is home to around 43 percent of the global coca supply. Despite continued efforts to crack down on the production of heroin and cocaine in these countries, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose 36 percent between 2012 and 2013, to record levels. In Colombia, approximately 2.6 million acres of coca were sprayed with toxins between 2000 and 2007, yet cocaine production rose during the same period, and more recently increased by 44 percent between 2013 and 2014.

Coca field fumigation. Source: Policía Nacional Colombiana

Coca field fumigation. Source: Policía Nacional Colombiana

In Colombia and Afghanistan, farmers grow coca and poppies because they are profitable, but also because there are no viable alternatives to earn a living. Governments are now realizing that criminalization and eradication programs are not enough, and they are changing strategies to foster alternative opportunities to drug cultivation. These new approaches are supported by multilateral and bilateral organizations such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and USAID. Continue reading

Yemeni Refugee Crisis: What Assistance Can We Provide?

By Ali Reza Sarwar

The ongoing conflict in Yemen, particularly after the launch of Operation Decisive Storm on March 26, 2015, has inflicted serious humanitarian toll on ordinary Yemenis. According to the United Nations, 45, 0000 people, in addition to 33,0000 people previously displaced, including foreign citizens living in Yemen, have been displaced in the recent conflict and even more are entangled in war zones.

International aid organizations have recently warned about potential humanitarian crisis if conflict does not stop and immediate assistance is not provided to internally displaced people (IDPs).  A recent report by Relief International highlights that at least 15.9 million Yemenis “need some form of humanitarian assistance.”  The report further adds that 13.4 million Yemenis do not have access to drinking water with 12 million people without sanitation and finally 10.6 million who “are unable to meet their food need.”

Air Strike Yemen

As the conflict in Yemen continues, the refugee crisis will only expand

With total public debt of 48.2 percent of GDP in 2014 and only 154th on the Human Development Index  2014 and influx of mixed emigrants from neighboring countries, mainly Somalia and Syria and the internally displaced peoples ( IDPs),  Yemen was already on a perilous path to humanitarian crisis even before the collapse of UN-brokered unity government on January 2015. Continue reading

Landlocked Developing Countries Face Unique Challenges on Trade and Economic Progress

By Milos Purkovic

On November 5, the United Nations concluded its second conference on landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and produced a 10-year action plan designed to address their bottlenecks related to transit, trade, and infrastructure. According to the 2014 Human Development Report, nine of the poorest performing 15 countries are landlocked and face additional burdens in these areas critical for economic growth. Further, the UN conference highlights growing international recognition of “landlockedness” as a development issue and an opportunity for broad based economic growth. Below are key takeaways from the conference, and implications for development in LLDCs.

1.     Trade processes in LLDCs are more expensive, take more time, and have more steps than in average transit countries

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In 2013, the cost for LLDCs to export and import a standard 20 foot container was over twice the average cost of shipping in transit countries. Additionally, export costs from 2006-2013 grew at a faster rate in LLDCs than in transit developing countries — roughly 38 percent compared to 26 percent. Import costs over the same period increased about 35 percent in LLDCs versus 22 percent in transit countries.

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