Top 5 Global Health Headlines: Global Fund Backlash, Foreign Aid Poll

BY Talea Miller  January 28, 2011 at 9:25 AM EDT

AIDS Conference Vienna; Photo by IAS/Steve Forrest

Executive Director of the Global Fund Michel Kazatchkine marches with AIDS advocates at the 2010 International AIDS Conference.

Global Fund Facing Corruption Backlash

In the wake of press reports of flagrant corruption within some projects backed by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Germany has suspended payments to the fund, and other countries are questioning their contributions.

Germany is the group’s third largest donor, and is withholding its $270 million 2011 pledge until a full investigation has been carried out.

The Associated Press reported Sunday it learned that up to two-thirds of certain project’s funds were misspent in Mauritania, Mali, Zambia and Djibouti. The Global Fund has responded that those instances of misuse were publicized and addressed, and that the fund has zero tolerance for corruption.

Poll: Americans Favor Foreign Aid Cuts

Government spending was in the spotlight this week, with President Obama proposing a five year spending freeze in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, while some Republicans are calling for spending cuts to many programs, including for the U.S. Agency for International Development. A USA Today/Gallup poll taken this week found that the majority of Americans oppose spending cuts in every area, except foreign aid. Fifty-nine percent of those polled said they were in favor of foreign aid cuts.

However, more than six out of 10 Americans believe U.S. troops and relief workers should remain in Haiti until basic services are restored, another USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found.

Bill Gates, Abu Dhabi Prince to Fund Vaccine Push

Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation* are each giving $50 million to vaccinate children in Afghanistan and Pakistan against pneumonia, hepatitis B, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio.

Polio is entrenched in both countries and the pledge comes at a crucial time in the push to eradicate the disease entirely.

Venezuelans Contract Cholera in DR

Venezuela’s health minister confirmed 37 cases of cholera among a group of 452 people who attended a family gathering in the Dominican Republic. All of the patients have been treated, are stable and no deaths have been reported.

The cholera outbreak that has sickened more than 4,000 people in Haiti also spread to neighboring Dominican Republic. Venezuela’s last reported case of cholera was in 1991.

Patients Paralyzed in Haiti

Four patients ill with cholera in Haiti were mysteriously paralyzed after treatment, raising alarm that polio may have been added to Haiti’s list of woes. Three of the four have died, but doctors say they tested negative for polio.

The Pan American Health Organization is continuing to investigate.

*For the record, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds the NewsHour’s global health unit.