Working in partnership to beat undernutrition

June has been an exciting month for nutrition! It has shown what can be achieved when partners come together to tackle a difficult but ultimately solvable problem like ending undernutrition.

RESULTS UK and Global Health Advocates are part of the ACTION Global Health Advocacy Partnership. We work together to influence policy and mobilise resources to end undernutrition and other global health problems such as tuberculosis, and vaccine preventable childhood illnesses. Recently we worked with our partners to produce a Nutrition Scorecard which enables civil society to ‘Follow the funding for Nutrition’ and see which donors are on track to meeting their 2013 Nutrition for Growth commitments.

This month we’ve seen encouraging signs that donors are also increasingly working in tandem to raise nutrition higher on the global agenda. At the European Development Days in Brussels at the start of June, Melinda Gates announced that The Gates Foundation would double its investments in nutrition to $776 million over the next six years.

Melinda stated that for too long the world has underinvested in nutrition. She said “Along with the Gates Foundation, many European donors are now prioritizing nutrition, which we believe will be one of the fundamental solutions to help cut child mortality in half by 2030.” This is really welcome news for nutrition.

She also highlighted that “investment in data is key” as nearly half of all countries worldwide don’t have access to the data needed to track nutrition baselines and the status of those undernourished. The newly announced €23.5 million EU-Gates foundation partnership to establish National Information Platforms for Nutrition is an encouraging step towards bridging the data gap.

This announcement from the Gates Foundation and the new investment of $123 million USD by the Government of Canada, has also resulted in the UK government unlocking £156.5 million, i.e. more than 50% of its matched funding commitment of £280 million made at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013. This is a good example of donors working collectively and leveraging a greater impact for their money.

The EU also made an ambitious pledge of 340m EUR at Nutrition for Growth but should commit to an accelerated disbursement to meet that target by 2020. The National Information Platform on Nutrition will play a key role in ensuring the effectiveness of EU nutrition policies and help meet targets. Accurate data on nutrition will help us gauge the impact of both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive investments in-country and understand what works on the ground. This is much needed for the EU to meet its target of reducing stunting by 7 million by 2025.

At the EU level, the Generation Nutrition campaign is actively working not only to ensure that the necessary funding is available to tackle acute malnutrition, but also to advocate for effective and equitable nutrition policies. As the world’s largest donor it is essential to maximise the potential of the EU’s investment in nutrition, by actually disbursing committed funds and measuring their impact.

Generation Nutrition EU recently developed two new publications on nutrition and the EU’s nutrition policy to ensure that the European Union continues to play an active role in meeting global nutrition targets. The first publication is a background document on key issues related to undernutrition which should equip stakeholders with a general understanding of the topic. The second publication scrutinises the EU’s nutrition policy and identifies gaps.

There are two key gaps that have been identified. Firstly, the EC tackles one form of malnutrition (stunting) while neglecting another (wasting), thereby undermining its efforts to fight malnutrition globally. Secondly, the EC’s policies are weakened by the fact that insufficient dialogue takes place between Directorate-Generals (departments in the European Commission), preventing the integration of nutrition sensitive measures into all policies.  Generation Nutrition EU, of which RESULTS UK and GHA form part, is committed to addressing those gaps and pushing for change at the highest political level.

We also saw an ambitious statement from Germany at the G7 summit, pledging to reduce the number of hungry people by 500 million by 2030. However CSOs are questioning the means of achieving this target because of the lack of a financial pledge linked to this announcement, alongside the need for increased clarity regarding role of the private sector.

Nonetheless, these recent announcements have been a great build up to a potential Nutrition Summit in 2016 in Rio, which will be an opportunity to assess progress and serve as a key opportunity for further funding pledges from countries which have already been champions for nutrition, like the UK, and also those who could step up and make a big difference, such as France.

Now it is time to work together and ensure these positive announcements become concrete actions for improving poor nutrition in groups such as women and children. We know that undernourished women give birth to undernourished children with hindered physical and cognitive growth, trapping them in a cycle of ill-health and poverty.  This is something a recent infographic on anaemia from RESULTS UK highlights. We must work together with donors, countries and civil society networks such as the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement to scale up the impact of investments in nutrition.

The publications can be found here: Nutrition  and EU Nutrition Policy

Six reasons why the Financing for Development Conference matters for millions

Laura Kerr, Policy Advocacy Coordinator, blogs about the importance of the Financing for Development Conference next month.

2015 is a pivotal year for development. In September, global leaders will agree on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide the development agenda for the next 15 years.

The proposed SDGs are ambitious. The UN and member states are still working how the goals will be implemented but it is very clear that if we are going to achieve the goals, we’re going to have to find more money, and not just aid, for development.

Next month, the UN is convening the third ever Financing for Development Conference (FFD3) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, will all be attending to decide how we can raise finance for development to achieve the SDGs.

FFD3Financing for development is complex, even for the ‘experts’. So we’ve broken down the top five reasons why we need to make sure the conference is a success:

  1. There are still 1 billion people living in absolute poverty. 6 million children still die before their fifth birthday, the majority from preventable and treatable conditions. 1 in 8 people still go to bed hungry every night. We’ve got to ensure no-one is left behind in the development agenda.
  2. It is has been estimated that we need a further $1.5 trillion per year to fund the SDGs. That’s a pretty big amount of money we need to find to ensure the SDGs make massive strides to end poverty.
  3. Over 40 years ago, countries committed to spending 0.7% GNI on overseas development aid. Currently, only five countries in the world have reached this. It’s time for government commitments to be met.
  4. Domestic resource mobilisation, tax, and illicit financial flows (IFFs) are all on the agenda at FFD3. Every year Africa is estimated to lose $50 billion through IFFs! Research carried out by RESULTS and partners in Kenya found that $4.9 billion was lost in one year alone from capital flight.  The report – Who Pays for Progress? – will be launched in Addis on July 13th and we hope this will contribute to a debate about the necessary balance between Official Development Assistance (ODA) and domestic resource mobilisation (DRM)
  5. Lack of ambition at FFD3, with no substantial or new agreements on financing, would be a disaster for the SDG’s. This is the year to be bold, strong-willed, and fight for a world free from poverty which can simply not be achieved if we maintain ‘business as usual’ approach to financing.
  6. The success of this year’s third major development conference, the UN Climate Change negotiations in December (COP21), also hinges on a progressive outcome next month. FFD3 has to set the bar high, with aspiring and determined decisions, that inspire commitments on climate change which has been sorely lacking from previous climate negotiations.

FFD3 is a once in a generation conference. The success of the SDGs and development for the next 15 years hinges on whether world leaders will step up their commitments to finance a world free from poverty. We really can’t afford to waste this opportunity.

RESULTS welcomes Samuel Forward to the team!

20150622_152503Hello Everyone, I’m Samuel Forward, the new Fundraiser at RESULTS UK. My work will focus mainly on securing grants from national and international trusts and foundations in order to further the work of RESULTS, whether it be parliamentary, policy or grassroots advocacy. I will also spend time on community fundraising, supporting the great work of the grassroots network who have contributed so much over the last 30 years. After attending the National Conference (on my first day!) I am very excited to be joining what looks like a huge family of staff and volunteers, some of whom have been advocating with RESULTS since before I was born!

Before joining RESULTS I was based in Indonesia working for R.O.L.E. Foundation, a small NGO focusing on women’s empowerment and environmental protection. A large part of what we did was creating opportunities for sustainable business development for disadvantaged and at-risk women, leading to some extremely innovative and successful small businesses. As a Fundraising Manager I worked with major donors, corporations, grant givers and a growing base of supporters. Over the space of a 18 months it was fantastic to see the foundation grow and cheer on an ever increasing number of young graduates ready to take on the world.

After 2 and a half years in Indonesia moving to London has been a bit of a shock to the senses (hence the ever-present jumper in my picture), but I am excited to get started and look forward to meeting many of you!

Welcome to Emily Cabon, RESULTS’ new Campaigns Coordinator

Emily Cabon, RESULTS UK Campaigns Coordinator

Emily Cabon, RESULTS UK Campaigns Coordinator

Hello, I’m Emily the new Campaigns Coordinator at RESULTS UK. I will be working with the rest of the team to support the work of our grassroots volunteers and helping many more people get involved. I will also be taking full advantage of social media and helping out the team in any other way I can!

Before RESULTS, I was working in the campaigns team at The ONE Campaign. I was responsible for sustaining the ‘Just Say Yes’ general election campaign and supporting the Youth Ambassador programme. ‘Just Say Yes’ saw me lobbying local parliamentarians to ensure that they would do all they could to put the poorest first whilst my work with the Youth Ambassadors programme involved helping the organisation of the 2015 Summit, held in Munich ahead of the G7 with supporters from all around the world.

Before The ONE campaign, I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a Philosophy BA and travelled around Australasia and Southern Asia. This gave me the chance to explore some new places, experience new cultures and meet some truly amazing people.

In my first few days at RESULTS, I have already been privileged enough to join the grassroots volunteers at the 2015 National Conference and Speak Up For The Love Of Mass Climate Change Lobby of Parliament last week. I could not have asked for a better first week and I’m so excited to carry on working with such inspiring supporters.

I’m here to support all our grassroots campaigners, so feel free to get in touch with any questions at emily.cabon@results.org.uk.

N4G – 2 years since London, 1 year from Rio. Where do we stand?

Anushree Shiroor, Policy Advocacy Officer (Nutrition),  blogs on the second anniversary of Nutrition for Growth.

It is June 8th, two years since the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) summit in London where governments, development organisations and businesses came together to tackle the lifelong scourge of malnutrition. Co-hosted by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and the Government of Brazil, a total of £2.7 billion were committed for nutrition for 2013-2020, of which £1.9 billion was in the form of core funding and the remaining £1.8 was in the form of matched funding.

The UK was amongst the leaders in this fight against malnutrition, committing to triple its investments in nutrition between 2013 and 2015, and committing nearly £ 1 billion additional to its 2010 spending levels, for nutrition. The below chart shows all the UK’s commitments. Continue reading

Universal Health Care Speakers Announced!

With just under two weeks to go till the RESULTS UK National Conference, we want you to give you something to be excited about: our expert panellists on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). On June 13th, debating whether or not UHC is the right goal for developing countries are:

Jacqui Thornton @Jacquithornton

Chairing the dejacqui thorntonbate: Jacqui Thornton is a health journalist, facilitator and media trainer who, after a 15 year career in British national newspapers, now advises clinicians, medical charities and the pharmaceutical industry on communication skills. After reporting stints on the Daily Telegraph and Express, she joined the Sunday Telegraph as a news reporter in 1996, and became its health correspondent two years later. Following this, she moved to the Sun and became the paper’s first Health Editor.

Simon Wright, Save the Children @morningsimon

Simon Wright is Head of Child Survival at Save the Children UK. He has worked in both the health and development sectors since 1993, including in the UK NHS as a community development manager and a public health manager. He worked at the UK Parliament as policy advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on AIDS and the International Development Select Committee. In 2002 he joined ActionAid where he led its campaigning on HIV  including through the 2005 Gleneagles G8 and Make Poverty History. In 2006, he led ActionAid’s successful funding proposal to establish the European advocacy network, Action for Global Health. After serving as its first head for three years, he joined Save the Children in March 2009. He is responsible for Save the Children UK’s global policy and advocacy activities on health, and leading its focus on  child survival. He is a member of the Board of the Global Health Workforce Alliance, and a board member of Global Health Advocates (France) and Health Poverty Action (UK).

Robert Yates, World Health Organisation @yates_rob

rob yates

Robert Yates is an internationally recognised expert on universal health coverage (UHC) and progressive health financing. He is a senior fellow of Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London where he is Project Director of the UHC Policy Forum. His principal area of expertise is in the political economy of UHC, with a focus on advising political leaders and government ministries on how to plan, finance and implement national UHC reforms. He has previously worked as a Senior Health Economist with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), advising numerous governments in Asia and Africa on health financing policy and health system reforms. Rob is also a member of the “Health for All” Thematic Group of the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Dr Rodrigo Moreno-Serra, University of Sheffield

rodrigo moreno

Rodrigo Moreno-Serra is a health economist and lecturer in Economics at the University of Sheffield. Rodrigo was born in Chile and raised in Brazil, where he obtained a BSc and MSc in Economics, both from the University of São Paulo. He then worked as a lecturer in Brazil before moving to the United Kingdom, where he received a PhD in Economics from the University of York. Before joining the University of Sheffield last October, he was a MRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Imperial College London (Centre for Health Policy). He has also served as a consultant for international organisations such as the World Health Organization, OECD, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Rockefeller Foundation and Save the Children UK. He has published papers and book chapters on his main research interests, which lie in health system financing, financial risk protection, and the impact evaluation of health policies and programmes.

Universal Health Coverage is just one of many topics that we will be discussing at the RESULTS UK Conference (June 13th-15th). If you want to find out more and book your tickets, click here and if you have any questions, feel free to contact ola.forman@results.org.uk

Webinar recording now available

Missed our webinar on how to make the most of a meeting with your new MP? Don’t worry! A recording of the call and slides are now available here:

 

We were joined on the call by our very own parliamentary advocacy specialist Anna Gelderd, who shared her experiences of working directly with MPs in Westminster.

If you planning on arranging a hand-in of the action/2015 welcome pack with your new MP (more details here) do take the time to listen to the call and take a look at the slides for some useful tips. If you need any support arranging your hand-in, please drop Tom an email at tom.maguire@results.org.uk or give the office a call on 0207 793 3970.

Ahead of the World Education Forum, RESULTS Korea Calls for Leadership in Education

Dan Jones, Head of Campaigns. 

Today, a major summit focused on deciding the Post-2015 Education For All agenda – the World Education Forum – begins in Incheon, South Korea. To mark the occasion with some great advocacy, RESULTS Korea has harnessed Children’s Day — observed on May 5 in Korea — to publish its first-ever Korean language opinion piece, calling on its government to meet the international standard of committing 10 percent of development assistance to basic education. The article was originally published here, in one of the top five most widely read newspapers in the country, and has been translated and reproduced below.

Korea Should be Exemplary as the Country Hosting the World Education ForumMi_Jong_Kwon

By Mi Jong Kwon, Assistant Professor of English Literature at Anyang University and RESULTS Korea Volunteer

As the whole world is being linked via Facebook, drones deliver packages from the sky, and nouveaux riches emerge from the ranks of programmers, I wonder how many kids are still out of primary school. The answer is 57 million. Half of them live in conflict zones. If Steve Jobs had not received primary education, would Apple have been born? If Ma-Won of Ali-Baba had not received primary education, could he have dared to dream of being the king of online marketing?

The Education for All (EFA) movement started 25 years ago, and in the year 2000, at the World Education Forum, it set the goal of achieving universal access to primary education by 2015. With the cooperation of many countries, 90 percent of its primary school enrollment goal has been reached. If in 25 years, this much was achieved, we must admit, with regret, that we could have completed the job with stepped up efforts.

If the rate of increase that happened between 1999 and 2008 continued, we would have just about reached our target of 100 percent. Also, even when we say that we reached a 90 percent ratio for primary education enrollment, in sub-Saharan Africa the rate of completion reaches only 56 percent. In Arab countries and sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of girls who are not attending school in a given year will never go to school at all. When we look at the graduation level, things look much worse. Of the 90 countries monitored for progress on EFA, only 13 countries have reached universal completion of primary school. Despite these facts, due to the complacency of reaching 90 percent, the tendency to invest in education is turning downward.

Currently, in our country (South Korea) primary and middle school is compulsory. Even when our country was poor, we knew the importance of education; we invested a lot of money in education and became one of the top countries to champion education. But we must remember that during much of this era, we were an aid-receiving country. Without that aid, the present state of development would have occurred for South Korea at a much later date.

The upcoming World Education Forum will take place in Incheon on May 19-22. Its purpose is to review the promises made previously and to deliberate on new education objectives for 2030. One of the promises is to secure primary and middle school education (nine years) for all boys and girls. To accomplish this, we need $22 billion dollars annually. But aid going to education has been declining by six percent every year. This is because we have overlooked the importance of education and have not kept it as a priority. So while the goal is laudable, the financial resources are insufficient.

In this year 2015, when we are about to set a new target, Japan and Norway, two education champions, have refused to commit 10 percent of their aid to primary and middle school education. The reason is because there has not been any country that has had the courage to show the way. It is time that Korea showed the example and led the way.

As the country that is hosting the 2015 World Education Forum, as the country that has championed education more than any other, and as the country that became a donor country after being a recipient county (largely thanks to investments in its citizens’ education), we must show the way by dedicating 10 percent of our aid to primary and middle school education. This would be the way to be reborn as the country providing true leadership in education.

You can watch the World Education Forum livestreamed via http://en.unesco.org/world-education-forum-2015/

Five things you didn’t know about the search for a HIV Vaccine

Archbishop Desmond Tutu gets an HIV test

Archbishop Desmond Tutu gets an HIV test

Developing an HIV vaccine is one of the greatest scientific challenges in history. Leading scientists have dedicated their careers to breaking this enigma – some of them in the UK, some in Africa where their work is blazing a trail for other African scientists. Every day, they are edging closer to a breakthrough. Today, May 18th, is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, so here are five things you probably didn’t know about their mission to eliminate one of the deadliest diseases in history:

1. HIV is a very, very tricky customer

The HIV vaccine directly attacks the immune system, turning the cells that are supposed to be fighting it into virus factories. Once a single virus particle enters the bloodstream, it quickly duplicates and mutates into a multitude of slightly different versions, so any medicine has to be able to kill many different versions of the virus. The virus is so effective that not a single person has independently fought it off. This deprives researchers of a common method of designing a vaccine: copying the natural response of the body’s immune system.

2. Scientists have prevented HIV infection in mice, monkeys – and humans

In response to the challenge of hitting a moving target with your best players out injured and no training manual, scientists have learnt some clever tricks. One is to inject a non-dangerous virus to get the immune system going, then follow up with a bit of an HIV virus, to convince the white blood cells to prepare in advance for a full scale HIV attack. This method led to a breakthrough back in 2009 – a 31% reduction in HIV infection in volunteers tested in Thailand.

Scientists at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) are now taking this idea even further, using cutting edge technology to create a ‘mosaic’ HIV virus. This patchwork quilt will contain all the bits of the HIV virus that never change, no matter how many times it mutates, stitched together – so that your immune system is covered, whichever strain of the disease attacks.

3. Molecular and genetic engineering can turn years into days

Another breakthrough came with the discovery of special antibodies that can fight HIV – but are made in the body much too slowly to defend against an HIV attack. These can be injected straight into a healthy body, or even better, used for reverse engineering. That is, scientists are using the ‘key’ shape on these antibodies to work out what the matching ‘lock’ shape on the HIV virus looks like. They hope to then create safe copies of these ‘lock’ shaped bits, which will trigger the production of antibodies when injected into the body, protecting against HIV infection.

And just in case this isn’t clever enough for you, scientists at IAVI are hoping to take this one step further. Experiments are ongoing to re-write the genetic code of the non-dangerous virus mentioned above to include instructions for producing these special antibodies. So when the non-dangerous virus is injected, it will turn cells in the body into antibody factories, ready to fight off HIV should it rear its ugly head.

4. HIV vaccine science will save millions of lives – and billions of dollars

In four paragraphs, I’ve summed up 30 years of expensive, complicated, two steps forward-one step back work, carried out by some of the smartest people on the planet. As Bill Gates said earlier this year, we can be optimistic that an HIV vaccine – and a cure – will be found within the next 15 years, but let’s not pretend it’s going to be easy.

It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to need lots of money, and expertise, and commitment by those who can deliver those two things. The length of time and upfront costs needed by HIV vaccine R&D can work as barriers to big pharmaceutical companies getting involved. We need governments who understand the long-term public and economic value to get behind the work, no matter how long it takes. The UK Government has helped fund the work in the past, but we need them to keep going, and keep their eyes on the prize.

The figures add up. An HIV vaccine could save $95bn in treatment costs alone in its first ten years, and expand poor countries’ economies by over $15,000 per life saved – all for a one off outlay of less than $1bn. To put this cost in perspective, we spend $2bn globally every year on hair loss surgery (again, statistic courtesy of Bill Gates).

5. Tell your government to get behind an HIV Vaccine

Every year, 1.5 million people die from AIDS, after the HIV virus has damaged their immune system so much that they can’t defend themselves against even common illnesses. AIDS has killed half of the 78 million people it has infected in the last four decades, and is now the leading killer of adult women in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS destroys families, takes away futures and throws people into poverty, while holding back whole continents.

It’s not all bad news – the amazing work of the Global Fund, combined with new drugs to treat HIV and increased access to cheaper, generic versions of such drugs, has slowed the growth of this epidemic. But despite this huge achievement, there are still 2.1 million new HIV infections every year. We simply will not see HIV/AIDS eliminated without a vaccine. This HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, let’s spare a thought for the scientists working to get us there, and then spend a minute to tell our governments why it is worth paying for their work.

If you’re in the UK, please tweet Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, with a selfie and your message supporting the development of an HIV Vaccine:

Dear @JoJohnsonMP please support the search for an @AIDSVaccine this #HVAD by funding #HIV basic science @RESULTSUK

For more information, check out this great article by Wayne Koff, IAVI’s Chief Scientific Officer, and watch this video featuring scientists from across the world.

Alternatively, you can email laura.boughey@results.org.uk, Parliamentary Advocacy Coordinator at RESULTS UK and lead for Global Health R&D.

Changing of the Guard

By Matt Oliver, Parliamentary Advocacy Officer for TB.

Last Thursday evening saw one of the most remarkable elections the UK has ever had. As the nation went to the polls, few could have expected what was about to unfold. By 8am the following morning, 92 MPs had lost their seats, joining a further 90 who had previously indicated that they would be standing down. After many experts had heralded the end of ‘two party politics’, the Conservatives were returned to Westminster with a narrow majority.

In years to come, this election will be one that people talk about. Not only will we discuss the surprise of the result itself – on a personal note I don’t think I will ever forget exactly where I was when the exit poll was unveiled – but also the dignity and grace shown in equal measure by the vanquished and the victorious.

Amongst those who did not retain their seats were many RESULTS UK champions, people with whom we’ve worked over many years. On a personal note, the co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB, Andrew George, was involved in the very last constituency to be announced. Like so many other Liberal Democrats, he lost his seat, ending ten years co-chairing the group. I will be very sorry to no longer work with him.

Similarly, other long-time supporters stood down: Annette Brooke, the MP for Mid-Dorset and Poole and an education, TB and microfinance champion, decided not to stand again. As did David Blunkett and Peter Hain, education and disability, and TB champions respectively. They, and many others, made a great contribution to our work and we wish them the best with all their future endeavours.

Of course, for every MP who loses another is victorious. Our task over the coming months and years is to build relationships with new MPs and to continue our successful association with champions who have returned to the Commons. The next year is critical for development, and for the issues that RESULTS UK works on, so we’ll be aiming to hit the ground running as soon as parliament returns.

Finally, amidst all the election drama, do spare a thought for the staff of the MPs who have lost their seats. Whilst the MPs have to face their defeat publicly, four or five staff for each MP were also sacked by the electorate on Thursday night. At RESULTS UK we do a lot of work with MP’s staff, in fact, we couldn’t do our work without them. They are a hard-working, often unrecognised, group and without them our democracy would not function. So, if you’re reading this blog, and you’ve ever had contact with an MP’s office and staff, I urge you to send them a short message thanking them for their work and wishing them the best for the future, I’m sure it would be appreciated.