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Posts Tagged ‘WHO

The hollowing out of India

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This is not about an ‘epidemic’. And it is not about a virus.

The awful series of events that have taken place since I wrote ‘India and the illiteracy of fear’ has occupied many people in India at least part time if not full time, especially if they are in one or the other of our major metros and especially Delhi-NCR and Mumbai (and more recently Bangalore).

For those new to this subject, here are the reasons that I have since early May 2020 called it a stage-managed ‘epidemic’, with its main props being face masks and the PCR ‘test’. (1) Before December 2019 never for any disease outbreak or epidemic or pandemic were the healthy immobilised and quarantined. (2) ‘Lock down’ was never and is not a public health measure, nor are any of the associated restrictions. (3) The face mask/covering is never to be used by anyone other than patients or hospital workers in a hospital/institutional care setting. (4) The PCR is a laboratory process and was never to be used as a diagnostic. PCR can neither find a virus nor can it measure infectiousness. Its ‘positive’ has no clinical meaning. (5) ‘Social distancing’ because of ‘asymptomatic transmission’ was and is false as a public health measure. (6) No medical research centre anywhere in the world has been able to prove that any virus, let alone Sars-CoV-2, survives our outdoors climatic conditions of +35C, +65% humidity, direct sunlight and moving air laden with organic and other particulate matter.

Some points to consider:

What happened in January and February 2020? There were less than 500 so-called “confirmed cases” worldwide outside China and most of these were said to be in South Korea and Italy. On 30 January 2020 the WHO declared a worldwide public health emergency. Yet the campaign to develop vaccines was initiated prior to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of worldwide public health emergency and it was first announced at the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos (21-24 January).

The WHO has been corrupt throughout the tenure of the predecessor of Tedros – Margaret Chan (who served two terms). The WHO brought in through various channels the interests of the global pharma MNCs, of the biggest philanthropic foundations and international financial institutions. Under Tedros (backed by PR China), this control increased. One of these foundations is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which at the 21-24 January 2020 Davos meeting announced with the World Economic Forum the vaccines campaign. On 24 February 2020 a new company called Moderna announced that its experimental mRNA vaccine was ready for human testing. On 28 February 2020 the WHO vaccination campaign was announced by Tedros who said that more than 20 vaccines were being developed globally.

The Government of India did not demand to know from WHO on what basis a worldwide public health emergency had been declared, and did not demand to know how experimental vaccines had already been prepared for a virus that wsa still called “novel”. Instead, three weeks later India’s national ‘lock down’ was imposed.

Concerning the two main props of the ‘epidemic’:

A massive expert review was published on 20 April 2021 assessing reports on 65 studies showing the medical harms of face masks. The key findings: the concentration of oxygen in the air under the masks was significantly lower (minus 12.4 in volume %) compared to oxygen in a room. At the same time, the health-critical value of carbon dioxide concentration in the air under the masks increased by a factor of 30 (!!) compared to normal room air was measure. The study said that this caused “a statistically significant increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) blood content in mask wearers”. In addition to the increase in the wearer’s blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, another consequence of masks that has been proven is a significant drop in blood oxygen saturation. This has the effect of an accompanying increase in heart rate as well as an increase in respiratory rate have been proven.

On the PCR test, the Public Health Agency of Sweden in April 2021 said: The PCR technology used in tests to detect viruses cannot distinguish between viruses capable of infecting cells and viruses that have been rendered harmless by the immune system, and therefore these tests cannot be used to determine whether someone is infectious or not. RNA from viruses can often be detected for weeks (sometimes months) after infection but does not mean that a person is still infectious. The recommended criteria for assessing freedom from infection are therefore based on stable clinical improvement with freedom from fever for at least two days and at least seven days since the onset of symptoms. For those with more pronounced symptoms, at least 14 days since onset of illness and for the sickest, individual assessment by the treating physician.

Neither the Indian central government nor state governments have reviewed or reconsidered any of their ‘epidemic’ measures for what they have done, since March 2020, and what they continue to do to the largest section of the population, that is children and teenagers.

How large is this section? The estimates (UN Population division) for 2020 are: age 0-4 years, 116 million; age 5-9 years, 117 million; age 10-14 years, 126 million, age 15-18 years, 126 million. The 18 and under population is about 485 million. They have been kept out of school and college for 13 months, in cities they have been kept largely away from their friends and peers for 13 months, in cities they have been kept away from extended family for 13 months, they have not pursued sports nor outdoor play, no hobbies and no cultural activities, they have been “taught” and “given lessons” through computer screens, and for those in cities and towns, have been confined in apartments often together with parents who are “working from home”. Their psychological condition is unknown. The effects of the non-stop, around the clock barrage of fear-mongering by the television channels on their young psyches is unknown and unremarked. This is a section nearly equivalent to the entire population of the European Union. They have been seriously mentally scarred for 13 months, with cognitive and learning abilities impaired in way that are neither inquired into nor understood.

Teachers and education authorities have been caught up in the hysteria of fear promoted around covid19 and many have lost all sense of proportion. Where schools were opened, the wearing of face masks by children and teenagers was made mandatory. This is completelty false and is an abomination. Children, teenagers and the youth have a susceptibility to Sars-CoV-2 that is so negligible as to be nearly statistically zero. No school or college can adopt such flawed government or local authority “guidance” on face coverings without failing properly to consider the impact on the children and staff (which they are obliged to do).

Where did the so-called “second wave” come from, especially when until January 2021 the central government was advertising that India’s recovery rate was >96%?

India’s urban population is generally more unhealthy thaan its rural population. Those who live in the major metros are generally more unhealthy than thosw who live in smaller towns. In regions like Delhi-NCR and a large part of the urbanised middle Gangetic belt, the quality of air is very poor. The Delhi-NCR region has had the worst air quality in the world (!) for the last three years running (!). The lungs and respiratory tracts of these urban residents is anyway weak because of cumulative exposure to airborne pollutants, year after year. Then they have been ‘locked down’ and denied what small exercise they could normally have. They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when outside, in temperatures of more than 40C or humidity of more than 80% (in Mumbai and Chennai). They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when it rains and wear wet cloth right next to their nasal passage. Damp cloth breeds bacteria which travel directly into the upper respiratory tract. A number of the 18 symptoms of covid19 are common to India’s existing respiratory diseases. Not a single agency of the central government and no state government has till date studied the effects of mask wearing on the health condition of an average urban resident.

These are the people who have been injected with vaccines under the “vaccination drive” or the macabrely named “tika utsav“. They have not been told what effect these injected substances will have on their existing ailments, they have signed no free, prior and well informed consent document to say they have been properly explained the risks and consequences, general and specific, of the injections and agree to be injected. They have not been informed about a process of lodging complaints about possible post-injection side effects nor about a process of compensation should they suffer a lasting debilitating effect, and they have not been informed about either a change in the status of their health insured lives nor compensation for serious vaccine-related injury or death.

These vaccination injections have immediately – because that is the intention of the western medical rationale for vaccine – lowered their natural immunity. Those who are healthier and fitter have had few or no effects. Others have taken ill, some seriously ill. The effect of a rapidly lowered natural immunity on those who are already unhealthy in cities, and whose respiratory tracts are already weakened, becomes clear. When they seek institutional medical help, the allopathic doctors, to allay fever, chills, cough, tiredness and shortness of breath are prescribed an armada of antiviral and antibiotic drugs. Some of these substances that can have fatal side effects even when taken alone. I know of several people who become even more ill with 500mg a day of such drugs but have been prescribed more than 4,000mg a day! Those who do not survive are counted statistically as “covid19 death” attributed to Sars-CoV-2 but not attributed to overwhelming reactions to toxic drugs, that is, iatrogenic deaths (whcih for years has been one of the largest causes fo death in USA).

Whereas in 2020 it was said by government propaganda and the media that “covid19 deaths” are “any death within 28 days of a ‘positive’ PCR test result”, in 2021 deaths one or more days after vaccine injections are counted as “with pre-existing conditions”.

The central and state governments, the PMO, the Ministry of Health, the Home Ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ministry of Science and Technology, have all repeated over and over again that vaccination is the only exit from the ‘epidemic’. India’s traditional medicinal systems – ayurveda, yoga, unani tibb, siddha, homoeopathy, sowa-rigpa, naturopathy and tribal and indigenous medicinal practices – have been all but outlawed. The wholly illegal “vaccination drive” of the government and supported by the BJP and all political parties (whether opposition or allies) is said to be “protective”.

This justification is false and deceiving. It is very well known in international medicinal science circles that on 1 December 2016, a verdict was given by the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court in Germany and upheld by the German Federal Court of Justice. This is called the measles virus trial verdict. It said that the first publication about the measles virus, the publication of the Nobel Prize winner, John Franklin Enders and his colleagues in 1954, does not constitute proof of the alleged existence of the suspected “measles virus”.

What makes this so important is that this publication is the sole and exclusive basis of all other approximately 30,000 “scientific” publications on the subject of “measles virus”, “infection” of measles and “protective vaccination” against measles. All statements thereafter on the “measles virus”, the transmissibility of measles and measles vaccination are based exclusively and only on this publication. Since the 2016 verdict it is now case law that this 1954 publication does not contain any evidence for the alleged existence of the assumed measles virus, hence it is clear that all 30,000 specialist publications on these topics are without foundation.

This is exactly the situation with the so-called simulated ‘modelling’ of the likely spread and toll of the ‘pandemic’ that was done by Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College, London, and Christian Drosten of Berlin Charité – the WHO backed both, and the government of India slavishly adopted the fake projections of these ‘models’.

Before December 2019, “lock down” did not exist in the world’s recorded practice and history of public health for respiratory and other disease outbreaks and epidemics. “Lock down” was invented by the Chinese Communist Party and propagated around the world by the WHO and its partners and sponsors, including its primary funders the Gates Foundation and GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, which is made up of the pharma and medical technology MNCs). All associated measures – mass testing, social distancing, contact tracing, health surveillance, and vaccination – for the ‘epidemic’ have come from the same source, the CCP.

India’s so-called ‘right wing’ media and groups – all supporters of the BJP – were very active in 2020 to call Sars-CoV-2 the “Wuhan virus” or the “China virus”. None called ‘lock down’ the CCP ‘lock down’ and none has till date. India’s record of public health has no instance of such a measure, ever, for any disease outbreak. The BJP government implemented, from 25 March 2020, a Chinese communist measure of social control. There has been not a single ruling party or opposition party Member of Parliament who asked why, neither during the September 2020 Lok Sabha session nor the February 2021 session. MPs asked about the availability of vaccines and medicines, but not about a communist measure that has been used at least once following the national ‘lock down’, and in several places more than once, by state governments.

It is the CPIM that is demanding “vaccination for all”. It is the same with the Democrat Party of the USA and its enormous left-liberal network of foundations, media and celebrities. It is the INC that is doing the same. It is the TV channels and newspapers that belong to the major media houses that are doing the same. And it is the BJP that is using all the muscle of the state to show that its implementation of a totalitarian agenda is better than what even China has done.

See for example: “India is the fastest country in the world to administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. India achieved the feat in 85 days whereas USA took 89 days and China reached the milestone in 102 days. The Prime Minister Office tweeted: ‘Strengthening the efforts to ensure a healthy and COVID-19 free India’.”
And: ” ‘Tika Utsav’ is beginning of second major war against Corona: PM
Make targets at personal, social and administration level for ‘Tika Utsav’ and make effort to achieve them: PM”

Why the forcing through punitive measures of not breathing naturally (masks) and denying the sun (stay indoors)?
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2, 3) says: “As long as the vayu (prana) remains in the body there is life, Death occurs when the vayu leaves the body, therefore retain the vayu
The face mask/covering will not let you retain the vayu.

‘Prana and Pranayama’, by the Bihar School of Yoga, 2009, says:
“Inside a closed room in a modern city there may be less than 50 negative ions per square foot and in the mountains there are about 5,000. It is now an established scientific fact that depletion of negative ions leads to discomfort, enervation, lassitude and some degree of mental and physical inefficiency. Negative ions are therapeutic partly because they kill germs. In human beings, they act on the capacity to absorb oxygen, accelerating the blood’s delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues. Negative ions are not prana, but when one inhales them the level of prana in the body increases. In this context it is interesting that negative ions work only so long as they are being inhaled. It has also been observed that the ability to assimilate negative ions goes up during yogic practices such as pranayama.”

Recall the 12 mantras that accompany the 12 positions taken during suryanamaskar:
Om mitraya namaha, Om ravaye namaha, Om suryaya namaha, Om bhanave namaha, Om khagaya namaha, Om pushne namaha, Om hiranya garbhaya namaha, Om marichaye namaha, Om adityaya namaha, Om savitre namaha, Om arkaya namaha, Om bhaskaraya namaha
These are the life-giving and life-affirming bhutas. We cannot be separate from them. India and Indians cannot be ruled by a monstrous totalitarian-communist system such as we have seen being formed in India since 24 March 2020.

Written by makanaka

May 11, 2021 at 20:04

India and the illiteracy of fear

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The great dislocation of public and family life began in India in February 2020. Events since late February 2021 show that the Indian public now urgently needs to better understand what is called the ‘epidemic’. Here are some points to consider. From mid-March 2021 several states began to report a rise in ‘covid19 cases’. This has led to an sharp increase in the fearfulness of the general public about what is claimed to be a ‘second wave’. Grossly irresponsible reporting by the print and broadcast media – they have done nothing else since February 2020 – has fanned the panic-hysteria.

During the last three weeks we have seen state governments and also city municipal corporations take shocking decisions that have no basis whatsoever in public health and are completely contrary to India’s record (until 2019) in managing disease outbreaks. The municipal corporations of Indore, Pune and Surat issued orders to private companies to have their employees tested with the PCR ‘test’ every week or twice a week, or to have their employees vaccinated, else they would face fines. Centres of education – the IITs and IIMs – have hardly been wiser, with IIT Gandhinagar coercing some 900 students into having themselves vaccinated.

The migrant labour population of Mumbai began taking trains to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and elsewhere from late March, fearing a repeat of the disastrous ‘lock down’ imposition of March 2020. The state government of Maharashtra did nothing then and has done nothing since to reassure labour in the city that their work and livelihoods will not be affected. On the contrary, the state government has for more than a fortnight been threatening a state-wide ‘lock down’. That this has happened in Mumbai and in Maharashtra is not happenstance. Mumbai is the financial centre of India. What affects its markets affects the country. Handicapping Mumbai and several other cities all over India has exactly the same effect as economic warfare. Wholly distracted by the round-the-clock fear-mongering of the media and municipal officials, Hindu samaj has failed to see and understand this.

In several states, there have been numerous confrontations between small businesses, neighbourhood and ward shops, single propreitor services, vendors, autorickshaw drivers etc and police and/or municipal officials who try to forcibly close down their business, which is their only livelihood. Several times these have become violent and at least once (Indore) these confrontations have resulted in death. The crippling of the economy at the levels in which most of the working and productive population is active, can be seen in every single city, town and district.

Since June 2020, when ‘unlock regulations’ were issued, the economic and livelihood effects of the ‘lock down’ have been blamed, gratuitously, on the ‘epidemic’/’pandemic’. This is false but has been repeated since many times by the central government through statements and the Ministry of Information’s Press Information Bureau, and repeated many hundreds of times by a press and broadcast media. The effects are entirely because of ‘lock down’ and allied restrictions, not because of a purported ‘epidemic’.

The completely illegal “vaccination drive” promoted by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Indian Council of Medical Research, together with health departments in the states began in late January 2021 using unassessed, untested, dangerous, experimental substances falsely called ‘vaccine’ (this term has a pharmacological definition, which must include testing, with test terms of reference being in public domain, and test data being ditto, and testing for all possible recipient ages and conditions). Central and state governments ran and still run mass vaccination drives in complete violation of every international and inter-governmental bioethics and health convention signed by India.

The vaccination of several million people has been carried out and continues to be in complete violation of the requirement that likely recipient of a vaccine can only have agreed to be vaccinated after free, prior and informed consent. In no government hospital nor private hospital or clinic anywhere in India has this been assured let alone fulfilled. The “vaccination drive” – or the BJP’s “tika utsav” ‘(vaccination festival!) in a distasteful and grotesque simulation of election sloganeering (which is very obviously the BJP’s only obsession) – has metamorphosed so that the outlet from the ‘epidemic’ is a ‘vaccine’, except it isn’t. In a country that says it belongs to a civilisation that has a profoundly well-developed view and practice of all dimensions of life and living, temporal and spiritual, how has it come to be that there a ‘vaccine’ (an alien concept to our system of medicine in every way) is the only remedy. It is a nostrum if ever there was one.

State government administrations – whether or not there has been election campaigning – have since March 2021 issued orders that restrict normal public movement and gathering such as curfew, the imposition of Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code citing the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, bans on religious gatherings and observances, etc. None of these are supported by any public health evidence whether from India or anywhere in the world. These are measures of social control, they have nothing whatsoever to do with an alleged ‘epidemic’. They amount to the partial suspension of our Constitutional rights and civil liberties. The ‘right wing’ dislikes the term ‘civil liberties’, associating it with movements that are against the state, but the ‘right wing’ does not know that social, cultural, religious and customary rights and freedoms are associated with and part of civil liberties, and that what the centre and state governments have done since March 2020 and continue to do is partially or wholly suspend Hindu social, cultural, religious and customary rights and freedoms.

The absurd measures introduced together with the 25 March 2020 ‘lock down’ imposition – face masks and coverings, ‘social distance’, PCR ‘test’, isolation and quarantine – have no basis in the public health management of any respiratory disease outbreak and have, from May 2020, been shown to be false and debunked by the foremost authorities in medical science the world over (and more particularly from Europe, whose section of medical professionals with integrity is sizeable).

Not once since March 2020 has the ICMR, for example, proven how a face mask/covering halts any particle of the size of a virus (when the fabric gap of the N95 mask is >100 times the size of a virus particle), nor has it or any Indian government-sponsored or private medical research organisation investigated the directly hazardous effect on the respiratory and pulmonary system of the individual by binding a mask over one’s nose and mouth in India’s warm and humid climate. This officially sanctioned assault on the respiratory health of the Indian citizen – enforced by lathi-swinging policement and by municipal fines – is directly responsible for the health degradation of tens of millions of Indians (but especially children, teenagers, the elderly, the infirm), who were by February 2021 far more susceptible to respiratory ailments than they were a year earlier.

The mainstream English and non-English press and broadcast media have run a 24×7 campaign of fanning fear hysteria synchronous with what is seen in Europe and elsewhere. The Indian press and broadcast media has completely blacked out the many, repeated, demonstrations and protest marches in a large number of European cities which began in December – after a majority of European country goverments “cancelled” Christmas – and which continue till today. The only medical sources India’s media quote are allopathic doctors, the Indian Medical Association (which with well over 4 million members is an Asian fortress for the global pharmaceutical transnationals), and the leadership of the ICMR, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and India’s largest private hospitals.

In the land of its birth, ayurveda has been practically outlawed. Several important surveys and cases involving several hundred respiratory patients each with successful outcomes through ayurveda and a combination of ayurveda and yoga, remain ignored by Indian media, but also by the Ministry of Health, the ICMR, the PMO and state health departments. Ayurveda vaidyas carry out their treatment clandestinely through social media. Several ayurveda treatment centres have been forced to have their vaidyas and staff submit to vaccination in order to continue working.

These points, which only signal but in no way properly describe the calamitous turn taken by Indian society during the past three months, should be treated as a great red warning beacon flashing. The Indian public has been swept up by the crazed fear-hysteria which has altogether replaced any reasoning view and any reasoned method. Acute schizophrenia of the central government has been the norm since February 2020, but never more so that the January-February 2021 period, when in January it was still boasting a “recovery rate” of more than 96%, but then went on to push with the full force of all state machinery “the world’s largest vaccination drive”. A “drive” for what, when very obviously all those who have recovered from the set of symptoms called covid19 have done so by using cheap, safe and effective ayurveda, or siddha, or unani, or homoeopthy, or naturopthy, or allopathy (in the form of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin or even more ubiquitous drugs used for influenzas)?

There has been not a trace – from the Indian public, let alone the central and state governments and their utterly corrupted agencies – of a traditional medicinal knowledge view about what was presented, by the WHO in early March 2020, as a ‘pandemic’. The precept of proper examination before treatment has been entirely thrown out. It needed aptopasadesa (instruction), pratyaksha (direct observation), anumana (inference) to be able to decide line of treament for which ‘dosas‘, ‘desa‘ (habitat), ‘kala‘ (period), ‘bala‘ (strength), ‘sarira‘ (body), ‘ahara‘ (diet) and ‘agni‘ (digestive fire), ‘satmya‘ (suitability), ‘satwa‘ (endurance), ‘prakriti‘ (psychosomatic constitition) and age have to be considered carefully.

Instead, Indians have raced into the technological trap of ‘track and trace’ and vaccine and the completely bogus PCR ‘test’ – a ‘test’ that can find neither an alleged virus, nor infection nor infectiousness but which has been rammed through our pliant public health system monitors to altogether replace even western medicine’s physical diagnosis, let alone the ayurveda vaidya’s lengthy and exacting direct physical diagnosis.

The Indian public has failed ayurveda, eyes wide open but seeing nothing. And that is why vaidyas are being driven underground, which is what happened in the 1860s and 1870s as the British Presidency medical colleges grew and strengthened their hold on medicine in India. Thirteen months after the imposition of ‘lock down’ in India on completely spurious grounds, central and state governments are again bringing in restrictions based only on paralysing fear-hysteria about ‘variant’ and ‘mutant’. Not once have India’s medical researchers mentioned existing natural immunity. Not once in 13 months. The ayurvedic vaidyas have, throughout, but they are deliberately unheard by the PMO, the Ministry of Health, the ICMR, AIIMS, Ministry of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology and all state health administrations. Indians should have heard them too, if they were not rushing in all directions to get themselves vaccinated.

In these 13 months, the Indian public has not asked about the effect of the ‘lock down’ and restrictions on mobility on those who have blood disorders but have not had their regular treatments, those with cardiac and pulmonary disorders but who have not had their regular treatments, those with gastrointestinal disorders, those with immune system disorders, those with muscle and tissue disorders, those with neurological disorders, those with psychiatric disorders, those with renal and urinary disorders, those with reproductive disorders. How many deaths has this induced negligence caused? What effect will the vaccines have on those with one or more of these conditions, for whom treatment has been interrupted and sporadic over the last 13 months? No questions, no answers.

Since February 2020 and with greater intensity since late January 2021, all sections of Indian urban and rural society has consumed uncritically the lies, propaganda, deceit and manipulation that is broadcast, around the clock, on televisions and by the same organisations, through their social media channels. There are the broadcasters that the ‘right wing’ have for several years disliked and abused. Yet the pro-‘right wing’ channels broadcast the same fiction, the same scare-mongering, about the ‘epidemic’. What the left-liberal press does, the ‘right wing’ press does, the only difference being that whereas the left-liberal press calls for more ‘lock down’, more testing, more restrictions, the ‘right wing’ press defends the BJP-NDA’s asinine decisions on the ‘epidemic’ to claim that it is being well handled. Neither side has displayed even the slightest professional interest in even providing views other than those given sanction by the global pharma industry, let alone tackle more fundamental questions of medical science.

Nor has the Indian public seen and understood that ‘second wave’ (as fictitious as the ‘first’) is designed to be a hammer blow by the global industrial pharma establishment which since 1860 has caused the world’s traditional, indigenous, tribal and natural medicinal systems to be marginalised or outlawed. Ayurveda is squarely within their target sights. For the medical-global infotech giants, who have collaborated on this nightmare project with the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organisation, the extinguishing of ayurveda would be a blip on the wider radar screen. That wider screen is the economic gutting of whole sectors of the economies of countries, the bankruptcy of their public and private sectors, followed by the acquisition of mainly public assets at throwaway prices. This is the World Bank and IMF’s structural adjustment speeded up by a large factor – The World Bank has a ‘Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health systems Preparedness Project’ that is to run until December 2024. Now I have given you a clue about how long this ‘epidemic’-‘lock down’-‘vaccine’ circus could run – if not challenged.

The WEF globalists – the Davos set – have had an important role in the setting of India’s ‘development’ agenda for the last 20 years. The contours of the annual Union budget are drafted by the international banksters, pension funds, the Bank for International Settlements, and the India country managers of the multilateral development banks. India’s monetary economists are peons who push and pull the levers as required. In the same way that the ‘top doctors’ of Fortis, Medanta, Apollo, Narayana Health, Escorts, Max, Columbia etc are crammed full of the very latest in western advanced medical terminology which they regurgitate to a wide-eyed and dumbed-down public, the ‘top’ economists and monetary wizards and ‘development’ technocrats are crammed full of the very latest in western advanced finance terminology and the same performance follows.

This is not about an ‘epidemic’. India had better awaken right now.

Written by makanaka

April 22, 2021 at 08:02

A beginning to Monsanto’s end

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Monsanto_TribunalEnough is enough. Just under a year from now, the Monsanto Tribunal will sit in Den Haag (The Hague), Holland, to assess allegations made all over the world against Monsanto, and to evaluate the damages caused by this transnational company.

The Tribunal will examine how and why Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products and “maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment”. This it has done for years, the Tribunal has said in an opening announcement, by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, by manipulating the press and media. As we know in India, that is only a part of its bag of very dirty tricks; others are even more vile.

The history of this corporation – representative of a twisted industrial approach to crop, food, soil, water and biodiversity which we today collectively call ‘bio-technology’ – is constitutes a roster of impunities. Like its peers and its many smaller emulators, Monsanto promotes an agro-industrial model that is estimated to contribute a third of global greenhouse gas emitted by human activity, a lunatic model largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources on every continent, a model so utterly devoted to the deadly idea that finance and technology can subordinate nature that species extinction and declining biodiversity don’t matter to its agents, a model that has caused the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide.

Monsanto_Tribunal2In this demonic pursuit Monsanto – like its peers, its emulators and as its promoters do in other fields of industry and finance – has committed crimes against the environment, and against ecological systems, so grave that they need to be termed ecocide. In order that the recognition of such crimes becomes possible, and that punishment and deterrence at planetary scale becomes possible, the Tribunal will rely on the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ adopted at the United Nations in 2011, and on the basis of the Rome Statue that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002. The objective is that Monsanto become criminally liable and prosecutable for crimes against the environment, or ecocide.

“Recognising ecocide as a crime is the only way to guarantee the right of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected,” the Tribunal has said. Since the beginning of the 20th century Monsanto has developed a steady stream of highly toxic products which have permanently damaged the environment and caused illness or death for thousands of people. These products include:

* PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that affect human and animal fertility.
* 2,4,5 T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant, Agent Orange, which was used by the US Army during the Vietnam War and continues to cause birth defects and cancer.
* Lasso, an herbicide that is now banned in Europe.
* RoundUp, the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the source of the greatest health and environmental scandal in modern history. This toxic herbicide, designated a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, is used in combination with genetically modified (GM) RoundUp Ready seeds in large-scale monocultures, primarily to produce soybeans, maize and rapeseed for animal feed and biofuels.

Monsanto_Tribunal3The Tribunal has: Corinne Lepage, a lawyer specialising in environmental issues, former environment minister and Member of tne European Parliament, Honorary President of the Independent Committee for Research and Information on Genetic Engineering  (CRIIGEN); Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Co-Chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food); Gilles-Éric Séralini, professor of molecular biology since 1991, researcher at the Fundamental and Applied Biology Institute (IBFA); Hans Rudolf Herren, President and CEO of the Millenium Institute and President and Founder of Biovision; Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade; Arnaud Apoteker, from 2011 to 2015 in charge of the GMO campaign for the Greens/EFA group at the European Parliament; Valerie Cabanes, lawyer in international law with expertise in international humanitarian law and human rights law; Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association (USA) and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica; Andre Leu, President of IFOAM Organics International, the world umbrella body for the organic sector which has around 800 member organisations in 125 countries; and Marie-Monique Robin, writer of the documentary (and book) ‘The World According Monsanto’, which has been broadcast on 50 international television stations, and translated into 22 languages.

Holding our breath in India’s cities

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India's cities and PM2.5 - the official response has been to reject the WHO findings

India’s cities and PM2.5 – the official response has been to reject the WHO findings

The findings by the World Health Organisation on the quality of air in India’s cities are the strongest signal yet to our government (old and new, for the results of the 2014 general election will become known on 16 May) that economic ‘growth’ is a weapon that kills citizens through respiratory tract diseases and infections.

Amongst the 124 Indian cities in the new WHO database on urban air quality worldwide, one city only is at the WHO guideline for PM2.5 and one city only is just above the guidelines for PM10. As a bloc, the quality of air in India’s cities are at alarmingly high levels above the guidelines, above Asian averages (poor as they are, and even considering China’s recklessly poor record) and above world averages.

This is not a singular matter. Already, the WHO has warned that India has a high environmental disease burden, with a significant number of deaths annually associated with environmental risk factors. The Global Burden of Disease for 2010 ranked ambient air pollution as the fifth largest killer in India, three places behind household air pollution. Taken cumulatively, household and ambient air pollution constitute the single greatest risk factor that cause ill health -leading to preventable deaths – in India.

The WHO database contains results of ambient (outdoor) air pollution monitoring. Air quality is represented by ‘annual mean concentration’ (a yearly average) of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5, which means particles smaller than 10 or 2.5 microns). The WHO guideline values are: for PM2.5 – 10 micrograms/m3 annual mean; for PM10 – 20 micrograms/m3 annual mean. The two charts show just how dangerously above the WHO guidelines the air quality of our cities are.

India's cities and PM10 - it is the latest amongst many signs that India's GDP growth fever is a killer.

India’s cities and PM10 – it is the latest amongst many signs that India’s GDP growth fever is a killer.

Half of India’s urban population lives in cities where particulate pollution levels exceed the standards considered safe. A third of this population breathes air having critical levels of particulate pollution, which is considered to be extremely harmful. “We are also running out of ‘clean’ places. Small and big cities are now joined in the pain of pollution,” commented Down To Earth, the environment magazine.

Typically, the official Indian response was to question the WHO findings (these were carried out in the same way in 91 countries, and we don’t hear the other 90 complaining) and to reject them. The reason is easy to spot. Global offender Number One for air pollution amongst world cities is New Delhi, a city that has been pampered as the showcase for what the Congress government myopically calls “the India growth story”.

Hence government scientists are reported to have quickly said that WHO overestimated air pollution levels in New Delhi. “Delhi is not the dirtiest… certainly it is not that dangerous as projected,” said A B Akolkar, a member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board.

The same recidivist line was parroted by Gufran Beig, chief project scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (which otherwise does good work on the monsoon and on climate change). He is reported as having said that New Delhi’s air quality was better than Beijing’s, and that pollution levels in winter are relatively higher in New Delhi because of extreme weather events. Beig said: “The value which has been given in this (WHO) report is overestimating (pollution levels) for Delhi … the reality is that the yearly average is around 110 (micrograms).”

The WHO database has captured measurements from monitoring stations located in urban background, residential, commercial and mixed areas. The world’s average PM10 levels by region range from 26 to 208 micrograms/m3, with a world average of 71 micrograms/m3.

PM affects more people than any other pollutant. The major components of PM are sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water. It consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air. The most health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less, which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs. Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer.

Central and state governments show no inclination to join the obvious dots. These are, that with more fuels being burned to satisfy the electricity and transport needs of a middle class now addicted to irresponsible consumption, the ‘India growth story’ is what we are choking to death on.

Beating the drums of war early in 2013

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The Algerian army has beefed up its positions on the border with war-torn Mali to prevent incursions by armed rebels fleeing north. Algeria, which had always opposed military intervention in Mali, was reluctantly drawn into the conflict when it agreed to let French warplanes use its airspace, and closed its 1,400-kilometre southern border shortly afterwards. Photo: Reuters

The Algerian army has beefed up its positions on the border with war-torn Mali to prevent incursions by armed rebels fleeing north. Algeria, which had always opposed military intervention in Mali, was reluctantly drawn into the conflict when it agreed to let French warplanes use its airspace, and closed its 1,400-kilometre southern border shortly afterwards. Photo: Reuters

Little noticed by the world’s media, the Munich Security Conference has in 2013 has just concluded. Its organisers and sponsors call it “the major security policy conference worldwide”. In this year’s conference – attended by about 400 participants from nearly 90 countries – a speech was delivered by the Vice President of the USA, Joseph Biden.

Biden mixed deception with aggression. This is what he said about current conflict the USA is prosecuting:

Today, we’re in the process of turning the page on more than a decade of conflict following the September 11, 2001 attack, and we ended the war in Iraq responsibly. And together we’re responsibly drawing down in Afghanistan, and by the end of next year, the transition will be complete.”

And here is what Biden has threatened:

… we took the fight to core Al Qaeda in the FATA, we were cognizant of an evolving threat posed by affiliates like AQAP in Yemen, al-Shabaab in Somalia, AQI in Iraq and Syria and AQIM in North Africa.”

The USA is estimated to have from 700 to over 1,000 military bases of all kinds in the world.

The USA is estimated to have from 700 to over 1,000 military bases of all kinds in the world.

At the Munich Security Conference leading political, military and defence industry representatives of the major powers, along with invited officials from other nations, met to discuss current and future military operations and geo-strategic issues.

That’s the sanitised version. The unsanitised version is plain to see in the speeches, such as Biden’s, and the statements. What this perverse gathering of war-mongers demonstrated is the consensus that exists among the countries of western Europe, amongst the USA and its allies, for an expanded political and military drive to install puppet governments and seize control of land, water and energy in the Middle East, in Central Asia and in the African continent. [See the map of US military bases, courtesy of the New Humanist.]

Biden in his speech revealed the growing darkness of widening conflict planned by this group:

As President Obama has made clear to Iranian leaders, our policy is not containment – it is is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court, and it’s well past time for Tehran to adopt a serious, good-faith approach to negotiations …”

And:

“The United States is taking difficult but critical steps to put ourselves on a sounder economic footing. And I might add, it’s never been a real good bet to bet against America.”

The American vice president then went on to allege that “Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation”.

Who in truth is responsible for that deprivation, what is the human cost of that designed deprivation and isolation?

US Vice President Joe Biden in a helicopter over Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 11, 2011.  Photo: White House

US Vice President Joe Biden in a helicopter over Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 11, 2011. Photo: White House

Less than a week before this Munich Security Conference began, Iranian Mothers for Peace in an open letter to Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, and Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Heath Organization, alerted them to the critical shortage of vital medication due to the US/EU-led sanctions on Iran and their deadly impact on the lives and health of the Iranian population.

Excerpts from the letter written by the Iranian Mothers for Peace:

Dear Dr. Margaret Chan
As you know, the illegal and inhumane actions led by the US and the EU, targeting the country and the population of Iran, with the stated intention to put pressure on the government of Iran, have intensified in the past two years and increasingly harsher sanctions are imposed almost on a monthly basis. The regulations governing these inhumane and arbitrary sanctions are executed with such strict inflexibility that Iran is now excluded from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) and the sanctions on banking transactions are preventing Iran from even purchasing its needed medical supplies and instruments. On the other hand, to avoid suspicion for dealing with Iran, the European banks are fearful not to engage in any kind of financial transactions with Iran and, therefore, in practice, refuse any transfer of payment for medical and health-related items and raw materials needed for the production of domestic pharmaceutical drugs, even payment for well-recognized drugs for the treatment of Special Diseases, which are not of dual use.”

We ask you: What could possibly be the intended target of the wealthy and powerful US and European statesmen’s ‘targeted’ and ‘smart’ sanctions but to destroy the physical and psychological health of the population through the increase of disease and disability? The right to health and access to medical treatment and medication is one of the fundamental human rights anywhere in the world. Please do not allow the killing of our sick children, beloved families, and fellow Iranians from the lack of medicine, caught in instrumental policies of coercion and power.”

The Munich Security Conference 2013 in session,

The Munich Security Conference 2013 in session,

Unheeding of the clamour for peace worldwide and blind to the appalling cost in life, the gathering of war-mongers in Munich listened to Biden:

“That’s why the United States applauds and stands with France and other partners in Mali, and why we are providing intelligence support, transportation for the French and African troops and refueling capability for French aircraft. The fight against AQIM may be far from America’s borders, but it is fundamentally in America’s interest.”

Representatives of the countries of western Europe – of the same governments bent on now impoverishing their own people just as surely as they have wreaked havoc in the countries of the South with neo-liberal mutations of the ‘structural adjustment’ doctrine of the 1980s – made clear that they were only too willing to participate in the re-colonialisation of the Middle East and North Africa in cooperation with the USA. The German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere stressed the importance of cooperation with the US and their support for the Western intervention in Syria, as well as the war in Mali.

Scholar Horace Campbell in his new book, ‘Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya‘, has argued that the military organisation is the instrument through which the capitalist class of North America and Europe seeks to impose its political will on the rest of the world, “warped by the increasingly outmoded neoliberal form of capitalism”. The intervention in Libya, he said, characterised by bombing campaigns, military information operations, third party countries, and private contractors, exemplifies this new model.

At the time, they called it ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya, they tolerated suppression in Bahrain and Yemen, and then they supported civil war incitement and escalation of violence in Syria. The results have been: dangerous new urban geopolitics and the militarisation of city spaces as can be seen in Aleppo, Benghazi, Cairo and Manama; the privatisation of state violence through private security firms and mercenaries; the overuse of the democratic carrot and the economic sticks of debt, fiscal discipline, and international investment; the violence with which new forms of political and social participation, organisation, and representation (which include women, the unemployed, the urban poor) are met. This is the militarised world that has been described anew by the Biden speech.

Pakistan, India and people’s responsibility

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Relief work in the districts of Jaffarabad and Nasirabad in Balochistan. Photo: UNOCHA

Relief work in the districts of Jaffarabad and Nasirabad in Balochistan. Photo: UNOCHA

For a month the government of India, aided by its media and propaganda units (urban-centric English language dailies and magazines, and a dangerously partisan group of television channels) has bombarded the Indian public with its view of Pakistan.

This is a view that is full of threat and anger. There is in no communication of the government of India (not from the office of the prime minister of India, not from the cabinet, not from Parliament, not from its major ministries which share concerns, such as water and food, and not from its paid servants, a wastrel gaggle of self-important think-tanks) that says, in effect, yes we understand the troubles your peoples have, for we have the same, and let us find ways to aid one another.

There is plenty of reason to do so.

Let us look first at floods and natural disasters, which India has a great deal of experience in dealing with, both through those government agencies that possess an iota of integrity and through voluntary groups and NGOs. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by September monsoon flooding in Pakistan have not yet moved back into their homes, according to aid groups. Three of Pakistan’s four provinces were hit, affecting over 4.8 million people and damaging over 630,000 houses, according to the latest situation report by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Humanitarian Snapshot Pakistan - Complex Emergency and Floods 2012 (as of 18 December 2012). The 2012 monsoon floods affected 4.8 million people, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Western Balochistan, southern Punjab and northern Sindh provinces were the worst affected. As of 18 December, more than 774,594 people remain displaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to a complex emergency that has affected region since 2008. Moreover, 1.7 million refugees require assistance as do many of the 1.3 million people who returned to FATA since 2010. Source: UNOCHA

Humanitarian Snapshot Pakistan – Complex Emergency and Floods 2012 (as of 18 December 2012). The 2012 monsoon floods affected 4.8 million people, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Western Balochistan, southern Punjab and northern Sindh provinces were the worst affected. As of 18 December, more than 774,594 people remain displaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to a complex emergency that has affected region since 2008. Moreover, 1.7 million refugees require assistance as do many of the 1.3 million people who returned to FATA since 2010. Source: UNOCHA

Three months after the floods, 97 percent of those displaced have returned to their towns and villages. Nearly all of them, however, continue to live in makeshift shelters next to damaged homes. Aid groups and government officials say they still need critical assistance to help them through the winter. In the absence of adequate shelter and provisions, aid workers say, the cold weather in flood-hit areas is likely to put the affected population under more stress. [You can download a full-sized version of the Humanitarian Snapshot map above, from here (png, 1.8MB).]

Next is the matter of population, economic support for a growing population and sustainable alternatives to the ‘growth is best’ nonsense that South Asian ruling cliques foster with the help of their industrialist compradors. Internal pressures in the country with the world’s sixth largest population are likely to get worse before they get better: At 2.03 percent Pakistan has the highest population growth rate in South Asia, and its total fertility rate, or the number of children born per woman, is also the highest in the region, at 3.5 percent. By 2030, the government projects that Pakistan’s population will exceed 242 million.

“The failure to adequately manage demographic growth puts further pressure on the current population, who already lack widespread basic services and social development,” said the IRIN analysis. Pakistan’s health and education infrastructures are poorly funded, and experts have questioned the quality of what is being provided with existing budgets. With a weak economy and low growth, food insecurity and unemployment present further challenges. “The problem is that if you have a population that is illiterate and does not have proper training, a large segment cannot participate meaningfully in the economy,” IRIN quoted economist Shahid Kardar, a former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, as having said.

A polio worker on the outskirts of Peshawar in Pakistan delivers vaccine drops, but many workers are now too scared to go into the field. Photo: IRIN, Tariq Saeed

A polio worker on the outskirts of Peshawar in Pakistan delivers vaccine drops, but many workers are now too scared to go into the field. Photo: IRIN, Tariq Saeed

And then there is the very worrisome aspect of violence, against the poor and vulnerable as much as against women. I find it a macabre coincidence that during the weeks when polio workers in Pakistan were being shot at and killed, women in various parts of India were being gang-raped and murdered.

Over the past few weeks there has been an upsurge in attacks on aid workers in Pakistan, many of them linked to a national polio eradication campaign in one of the world’s last three countries where the disease remains endemic. In December 2012 the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) suspended their anti-polio vaccination campaign after nine workers were killed in attacks in Karachi and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Polio workers, including those working for the UN, were also targeted earlier in 2012. Beyond the polio campaign, aid workers in general are starting to feel more hostility to their work. In an attack on 5 January, two aid workers with Al-Khidmat Foundation, an NGO working in education, were shot dead in the northwestern city of Charsadda. There was similarly no warning when gunmen killed seven aid workers with local NGO Support With Working Solution (SWWS) in the Swabi District of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province on 1 January.

And still the same old tiresome drums continued to beat, as they still do, Look at the reactions from India (and the jingoistic treatment given them by a rabid media):

India Today – “Military encounter on the LoC last week is threatening to erode the hard-fought gains in relaxing trade and visa regimes by India and Pakistan in recent times. The rhetoric is shrill in India, which claims it has been grievously wronged.”

Economic Times“India has ruled out high-level talks with Pakistan to de-escalate hostilities and normalise bilateral relations, people familiar with the situation said. The position is in line with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement…”

Times of India“India will maintain a tough outlook on Pakistan even as the LoC quietened after a fortnight of bruising skirmishes. At a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Thursday, it was agreed that India would not respond immediately…”

BBC“India’s foreign minister says he will “not rush” into talks with his Pakistani counterpart to defuse military tensions in Kashmir. Salman Khurshid’s remarks came after Hina Rabbani Khar’s call for a dialogue between the two ministers.”

DNA“India’s army chief threatened to retaliate against Pakistan for the killing of two soldiers in fighting near the border of the disputed region of Kashmir, saying he had asked his commanders there to be aggressive in the face of provocation.”

Lost altogether in this teeth-gnashing mêlée of trouble-making are the efforts made by Pakistani and Indian people, such as the India Pakistan Soldiers Initiative (IPSI) for peace when they met at the Pakistan Red Crescent Society offices in Pakistan. Peace between the peoples of Pakistan and India that has nothing to do with the red-eyed posturing over the Line of Control and over Jammu and Kashmir will be our own responsibility.

Food crisis in the Sahel

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UN-OCHA map of vulnerability to food insecurity in the Sahel.

ReliefWeb has a series of backgrounders, assessment reports and maps to explain the malnutrition and food crisis in the Sahel. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that the Sahel is characterised by long standing chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, poverty and extreme vulnerability to drought. “The localised deficit recorded for the agropastoral season 2011-12 and increasing cereals prices in Mali and Niger could bring millions of people at risk of food insecurity,” said the UN-OCHA briefing.

Throughout the Sahel, acute malnutrition in children reaches its annual peak during the hunger season. Children under two years of age have the highest risk of becoming sick or dying during this period. Malnutrition is caused by inadequate food quality and quantity, inadequate care, as well as unhealthy household environment and lack of health services.

The prevalence of global acute malnutrition met or exceeded the critical threshold of 10% in all of the surveys conducted in the hunger season of 2011 (from May to August). If food security significantly deteriorates in 2012, the nutrition conditions for children could surpass emergency levels throughout the Sahel region.

Affected countries are: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia (the), Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the), Nigeria and Senegal.

Food insecurity and malnutrition chronically affect a significant part of the Sahel population. However, several events came in 2011 which exacerbate this vulnerability:

1. In 2011 many parts of the region received late and poorly distributed rains, resulting in average harvests and serious severe shortfall in some areas. Consequently, the Government of Niger as an example has estimated that the 2011 agro pastoral season will record a deficit of 519,600 tons of cereals and of over ten million tons of fodder for livestock.
2. In Mauritania, authorities expect a decrease of more than 75% of the agriculture production and a strong fodder deficit.
3. In areas where harvests are weak, households will run out of food stocks faster than usual and will be forced to rely on markets for supplies, contributing to maintaining the already high prices at the same level.

UN-OCHA map of expected cases of severe acute malnutrition in the Sahel.

Furthermore, the purchasing power of the most vulnerable populations is likely to deteriorate. In addition the lean season is estimated to begin earlier than usual, probably as early as January 2012 in Chad, two months in advance. As the situation gets worse by spring 2012, there will be an increase of infant acute malnutrition, already beyond emergency thresholds in four wilayas in southwestern Mauritania.

Several countries in the Sahel have already announced measures taken to curb the negative effects of the food insecurity and malnutrition on vulnerable populations; who have not had enough time to recover from the 2009-10 crisis, despite the good harvest registered last year. Three countries (Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Mali) have also requested for assistance from the humanitarian community. In late November, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), administered by OCHA, allocated US$ 6 million to three organisations in Niger – the World Food Program, UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization – for emergency operations to fight food insecurity and malnutrition.

According to a ‘Humanitarian Dashboard – Sahel’ dated 12 January 2012 released by UN-OCHA, early indicators point to a likely food crisis in localised areas of the Sahel in 2012, with people at particularly high risk in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, and localized areas of Senegal. These are:

1. Acute food insecurity already noted in southeastern Mauritania.
2. Deficits in 2011, in agro-pastoral production led to higher market prices, resulting in an earlier than usual need for food aid.
3. Resilience to food insecurity is low in most vulnerable groups.
4. High poverty level in Sahel (51%) impacting on food accessibility due to high prices.

Totally drug-resistant tuberculosis in India

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Several reports have been published in India over the last week about a strain of tuberculosis (TB) that is resistant to all existing TB drugs. Here is a preface and early links to new reports. Go to the page on Totally drug-resistant tuberculosis in India for new background, full text of news reports and links, sources and backgrounders (most provided by ProMED-mail, a programme of the International Society for Infectious Diseases).

New Scientist has reported: “We currently have 12 confirmed cases, of which three are dead,” says Zarir Udwadia of the Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Mumbai, and head of the team whose diagnoses of four cases has just been published. The emergence of the disease in such a densely populated city is a major concern as it could spread so easily. “We know one patient transmitted it to her daughter,” Udwadia told New Scientist. “It’s estimated that on average, a tuberculosis patient infects 10 to 20 contacts in a year, and there’s no reason to suspect that this strain is any less transmissible,” he warns.

For patients, the outlook is grim. “Short of quarantining them in hospitals with isolation facilities till they become non-infectious – which is not practical or possible – there is nothing else one can do to prevent transmission,” says Udwadia. The worry is that if it continues spreading, TB will become incurable again and patients will have to rely on their immune system, rather than medical intervention, to overcome the illness – a scenario last seen a century ago.

A communication on ProMED has said: “[Multidrug-resistant TB or MDR-TB refers to tuberculosis that is caused by a strain of _Mycobacterium tuberculosis_ resistant to 2 of the most effective drugs used to treat TB, isoniazid (INH) and rifampin. Extensively drug-resistant TB or XDR-TB refers to a subgroup of MDR-TB strains that are additionally resistant to any of the fluoroquinolone class of drugs (e.g., levofloxacin. moxifloxacin, or gatifloxacin) and any of the 3 injectable drugs used to treat tuberculosis (capreomycin, kanamycin and amikacin).”

Report – Following the discovery of 4 cases of totally drug resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB) in a Mumbai hospital 3 days ago, 2 confirmed cases with the deadly new strain of TB have been detected at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) in Bangalore. But the scarier scenario is this: one among them, a 56-year-old man (the hospital has not disclosed his name), has gone absconding, raising the threat perception many levels higher, considering that he could infect others with the deadly strain.

Report – Even as 2 cases of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB) have been detected in Bangalore, one of the patients is missing. This poses a grave threat of rapidly spreading the deadliest strain of _Mycobacterium tuberculosis_, the bacterium that causes the disease.

Report – According to Udwadia, the drug-resistant nature of the TB-causing _Mycobacterium tuberculosis_ increases with mutations of the strain often catalysed by incorrect and erratic administration of 2nd-line drugs. “An audit of the patients’ prescriptions showed that 3 of the 1st 4 patients received unsupervised 2nd-line drugs often in incorrect dosages by private practitioners in an attempt to treat their multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). By the time they were referred to us, they had moved from the MDR stage and the XDR stage to TDR-TB,” he said.

Report – News of some of the cases was published on 21 Dec 2011 in an ahead-of-print letter to the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. That letter describes the discovery and treatment of 4 cases of TDR-TB since last October [2011]. On Saturday [7 Jan 2012], the Times of India disclosed that there are actually 12 known cases just in one hospital, the P. D. Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre; in the article, Hinduja’s Dr. Amita Athawale states: “The cases we clinically isolate are just the tip of the iceberg.” And, as a follow up, the Hindustan Times reported yesterday [8 Jan 2012] that most hospitals in the city — by extension, most Indian cities — don’t have the facilities to identify the TDR strain, making it more likely that unrecognized cases can go on to infect others.

FAO’s World Food Day sermon, well balanced with a few blind spots

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This is worth a close read for it reflects, in my view, the pull and tug of various opinions and convictions inside the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the single entity that we rely on the most to inform us about the state of cultivators, what they’re growing in our world, and who isn’t getting enough of those crops as food.

I have extracted some important paragraphs of this publication [get it here as a pdf], and commented on them. Here goes:

“At the level of individuals, people living on less than US$1.25 a day may need to skip a meal when food prices rise. Farmers are hurt too because they badly need to know the price their crops are going to fetch at harvest time, months away. If high prices are likely they plant more. If low prices are forecast they plant less and cut costs.”

Yes and no. The one-dollar-a-day global poverty line really ought to be done away with. It means nothing at national level and less within countries. Trying to equate real prices and actual consumption (in grams or hundred grams a day) with purchasing power parity-adjusted international dollars is generally a pointless exercise that generates lists and rankings that distract rather than inform. Anyway, the important part of what FAO said here is that when they’re under a certain daily income line, people can’t buy food to eat what they need to. The comment on farmers making decisions based on expected prices is a good one, something that most people miss, assuming that farmers are as interested in food security as academics are – which is quite untrue. For a farming household, sowing a field is a cost, and that cost needs to be more than recouped in order to make the decision to sow a good one.

“Rapid price swings make that calculation much more difficult. Farmers can easily end up producing too much or too little. In stable markets they can make a living. Volatile ones can ruin them while also generally discouraging much-needed investment in agriculture. Recognizing the major threat that food price swings pose to the world’s poorest countries and people, the international community, led by the G20, moved in 2011 to find ways of managing volatility on international food commodity markets. Under the presidency of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, the world’s 20 largest economies agreed that any strategy directed to that purpose should have the protection of vulnerable countries and groups as its main priority.”

Now here’s the FAO getting to grips with today’s problem. Rapid price swings is what we tend to call volatility – this can be volatility in retail food prices, or in input prices for farmers, or in offtake (purchase at the farm gate or local market) prices of harvested crops. I don’t see any stable markets the FAO is referring to here. Under Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) the stability is constructed by coordinating a monstrous array of incentives and subventions – causing instability elsewhere in the world and particularly when that ‘elsewhere’ is importing (under duress) European agri products and processed food. But that’s another though related story.

The idea of “much-needed investment in agriculture” is an ill-defined one. The best investment a farmer can make, so goes an old Indian proverb, is that she walks the soil of her field every day with her bare feet – and that means for the farmer to till her land and come face to face with her natural resources and biodiversity. It is not the sort of investment the ‘market’ can understand. But FAO ought to, especially since it also has a Save And Grow programme aimed at addressing the organic, low input, community side of cultivation. This is an example of the contradictions in this FAO document. The “international community” is a tired and non-existent label, describing nothing while pretending to be collegial. Mediocre editorial writers still use it but no realists do. The G20 statement this time around may be a little less wishy-washy than it was last year, but that is scant comfort to the hungry or to the cultivators of small plots.

“Today’s turbulent commodities markets contrast sharply with the situation that characterized the last 25 years of the twentieth century. Between 1975 and 2000 cereal prices remained substantially stable on a month-to-month basis, although trending downwards over the longer term. For despite rapid population growth – world population doubled between 1960 and 2000 – the Green Revolution launched by Dr Norman Borlaug in the 1960s helped food supply to meet and even exceed demand in many countries, including India, thanks to the work of M. S. Swaminathan, then Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute.”

Oh dear. This is one step forward and three back for the FAO. It should not – not – go looking at Green Revolution history in an attempt to encourage beleaguered small farmers and consumers battered by food price inflation. Yes, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and CIMMYT (the CGIAR International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre) will establish the Borlaug Institute for South Asia in India. This institute will be at the forefront of the so-called Second Green Revolution in eastern India (and thereafter sub-Saharan and East Africa). The kind of infrastructure demanded by the first Green Revolution by way of irrigation canals, dams with extensive command areas, provision of rural electricity to run pumpsets with, heavily subsidised inorganic fertilisers produced by a monolithic industry closely allied to the petro-chemicals industry and fossil fuel suppliers – all these were overlooked in the rush to raise yield per hectare. We do not want to see that being attempted again with public monies. It is this investment – rather this big fat public money pipe – which kept cereal prices “substantially stable on a month-to-month basis” in what used to be called the First World. It is not possible there now, it is not possible here (Asia and Africa) now. And that’s what FAO should have said, clearly and bluntly.

“In fact there was, in the Western Hemisphere at least, an over-abundance of food, caused in no small part by the generous subsidies which OECD countries paid to their farmers. But the picture today is a very different one. The global market is tight, with supply struggling to keep pace with demand and stocks are at or near historical lows. It is a delicate balance that can easily be upset by shocks such as droughts or floods in key producing regions.”

So it does try to say this, in a push-me-pull-you sort of way, but the truth is there is no delicate balance. Markets do not tolerate delicate balances because investors have no time for such niceties.

“In order to decide how, and how far, we can manage volatile food prices we need to be clear about why, in the space of a few years, a world food market offering stability and low prices became a turbulent marketplace battered by sudden price spikes and troughs.”

Hear, hear.

“The seeds of today’s volatility were sown last century when decision-makers failed to grasp that the production boom then enjoyed by many countries might not last forever and that continuing investment was needed in research, technology, equipment and infrastructure. In the 30 years from 1980 to date the share of official development assistance which OECD countries earmarked for agriculture dropped 43 percent. Continued under-funding of agriculture by rich and poor countries alike is probably the main single cause of the problems we face today.”

Why does the FAO continue stubbornly to see “investment” as an output of only, and exclusively, national agricultural research systems that are in the vast majority of countries government departments with little real connection to growers and household consumers, or are adjuncts of industrial agriculture multinationals? The seeds of volatility (FAO’s pun, not mine) were planted when commodity exchanges invented commodity futures in collusion with banks and investment consulting companies – production booms were not, in the ecological economics framework of measuring things, booms of any kind, nor were they seen in many countries other than the subvention-drunk OECD of the 1970s and 1980s. In this para, FAO has blundered clumsily by now apportioining some blame to “continued under-funding” while having already mentioned the “generous subsidies” years in the West.

“Contributing to today’s tight markets is rapid economic growth in emerging economies, which means more people are eating more meat and dairy produce with the need for feedgrains increasing rapidly as a result. Global trade in soymeal, the world’s leading protein feed for animals, has grown 67 percent over the past 10 years.”

Hear, hear. Type 2 diabetes and the burden of non-communicable diseases (see the WHO’s recent campaign) have also increased dramatically as a result of the wanton carpet-bombing of “emerging economies” (another revolting label) by the food-agbiotech-retail MNCs.

“Population growth, with almost 80 million new mouths to feed every year, is another important element. Population pressure is compounded by the erratic and often extreme meteorological phenomena produced by global warming and climate change. A further contributing factor may be the recent entry of institutional investors with very large sums of money into food commodity futures markets. There is evidence to suggest that food prices may have surged partly as a result of speculation. But there is considerable debate over the issue.”

Yes and no. FAO is right about the impact of population growth, about climate change (it has an enormous amount of documentation on the subject), about institutional investors and how they distort prices and about food speculation and its effects on street prices. There is plenty of evidence. There is not “considerable debate”, unless the FAO thinks that the angry bleatings of bankers to the contrary is some sort of debate. If so, it should consult its fellow UN agency, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which this year released a study titled ‘Price Formation in Financialized Commodity Markets: The Role of Information’. The UNCTAD experts who wrote this paper concluded that the commodities market isn’t functioning properly, or at least not the way a market is supposed to function in economic models, where prices are shaped by supply and demand. But the activities of financial participants, according to the study, “drive commodity prices away from levels justified by market fundamentals”. This leads to massively distorted prices, which are not influenced by real factors but by the expectation that economic developments will improve or worsen.

“Lastly, distortive agricultural and protectionist trade policies bear a significant part of the blame. In addition, with agriculture now substantially part of the wider energy market, any shock to the latter – such as unrest in a producing country – can have immediate repercussions on food prices. Responding to food price volatility therefore involves two different kinds of measures. The first group addresses volatility itself, aiming to reduce price swings through specific interventions while the other seeks to mitigate the negative effects of price swings on countries and individuals. One measure frequently invoked under the first heading is the setting up of an internationally held food stock able to intervene on markets to stabilize prices. But FAO’s view is that such a stock would be of dubious value, as well as expensive and difficult to operate. Also, government intervention in food markets discourages the private sector and hinders competition.”

Again the FAO push-me-pull-you is at work here, but the premier food agency has made some important points. The connection between agriculture and energy is one – and that means biofuels, which has a para to itself in the FAO document. Conflict is also brought in as a factor affecting prices – in how many food-producing and exporting countries is there now war or armed conflict? The idea of ‘strategic food reserves’ – which countries in South-east Asia and in the Persian Gulf region are pursuing – has been given short shrift, rightly in my view. But once again the FAO makes a tired attempt to placate the pro-WTO groups by bemoaning protectionist trade policies – which in WTO-speak means no barriers to entry for OECD food products anywhere so that all that accumulated legacy subsidy can pay back a little. Not acceptable, FAO folks. And to round off the contradictory para, the FAO statement again criticises “government intervention” as hindering competition. Governments have to serve their citizens according to constitutions and charters – these are internal matters and this is where sovereignty and self-determination come before market. Better believe it FAO. At least, for now.

Joining the dots between economics, income, health and poverty

with 4 comments

The concerns about recession and its impacts on poverty are seen commonly as a question mark over household incomes, over food security and often involve debates about social protection. An aspect that all too often gets ignored in this equation – no doubt because of its complexity – is health and in particular the health of women and children.

Changes in neonatal mortality rates between 1990 and 2009. The map illustrates the change in NMR between the years 1990 and 2009 for each of the 193 countries estimated. PLoS Medicine 8(8): e1001080

This is linked very closely to poverty, however we measure it, and the conditions that either cause poverty to persist (leading to chronic poverty) or cause households at risk to lapse into poverty every now and then (shock). The human development index methodolgy, which is from this year using multi-dimensional indices for poverty for the first time, helps us link health, poverty, income and economic growth (or its opposite).

The question is: is this new understanding, which is more in tune with the way households actually carry on with their lives and are actually affected by wider trends concerning economy, helping integrate the connections? If there is one good reason to ask this question, it is the new study on ‘Neonatal Mortality Levels for 193 Countries in 2009 with Trends since 1990: A Systematic Analysis of Progress, Projections, and Priorities’.

[The World Health Organization (WHO) has a report and summary of the study on this page – ‘Newborn deaths decrease but account for higher share of global child deaths’]
[The full study is available on PLoS Medicine, 1 August 2011 (Volume 8, Issue 8)]

This has shown that every year, more than 8 million children die before their fifth birthday. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries and most are caused by preventable or treatable diseases. In 2000, world leaders set a target of reducing child mortality to one-third of its 1990 level by 2015 as Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4). This goal, together with seven others, is designed to help improve the social, economic, and health conditions in the world’s poorest countries. In recent years, progress towards reducing child mortality has accelerated but remains insufficient to achieve MDG4.

“In particular, progress towards reducing neonatal deaths – deaths during the first 28 days of life – has been slow and neonatal deaths now account for a greater proportion of global child deaths than in 1990. Currently, nearly 41% of all deaths among children under the age of 5 years occur during the neonatal period. The major causes of neonatal deaths are complications of preterm delivery, breathing problems during or after delivery (birth asphyxia), and infections of the blood (sepsis) and lungs (pneumonia). Simple interventions such as improved hygiene at birth and advice on breastfeeding can substantially reduce neonatal deaths.”

Neonatal mortality rates in 2009. The map illustrates the NMR in year 2009 for each of the 193 countries estimated. PLoS Medicine 8(8): e1001080

The researchers used civil registration systems, household surveys, and other sources to compile a database of deaths among neonates and children under 5 years old for 193 countries between 1990 and 2009. They estimated NMRs for 38 countries from reliable vital registration data and developed a statistical model to estimate NMRs for the remaining 155 countries (in which 92% of global live births occurred).

They found that in 2009, 3.3 million babies died during their first month of life compared to 4.6 million in 1990. More than half the neonatal deaths in 2009 occurred in five countries – India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. India had the largest number of neonatal deaths throughout the study. Between 1990 and 2009, although the global NMR decreased from 33.2 to 23.9 deaths per 1,000 live births (a decrease of 28%), NMRs increased in eight countries, five of which were in Africa. Moreover, in Africa as a whole, the NMR only decreased by 17.6%, from 43.6 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 35.9 per 1,000 live births in 2009.

To return to my question concerning the understanding of economics, income, health and poverty, does most current analysis see to integrate these elements, or is it still GDP-income driven? A new (2011 May) paper released by the Brookings Institution indicates that the GDP-income route is still favoured. The paper, ‘Two Trends in Global Poverty’, Geoffrey Gertz and Laurence Chandy, has said that while the overall prevalence of poverty is in retreat, the global poverty landscape is changing. “This transformation is captured by two distinct trends: poor people are increasingly found in middle-income countries and in fragile states. Both trends – and their intersection – present important new questions for how the international community tackles global poverty reduction.”

The two charts show the trajectory of 20 developing countries along three dimensions: number of poor people, degree of fragility and real income per capita. These 20 countries collectively account for 90 percent of the world’s poor in 2005, and thus largely define the evolving state of global poverty. Graphic: Brookings Institution

“The increased prevalence of poverty in middle-income countries is in many ways a trend of success. Over the past decade, the number of countries classified as low-income has fallen by two fifths, from 66 to 40, while the number of middle-income countries has ballooned to over 100. This means 26 poor countries have grown sufficiently rich to surpass the middle-income threshold. Among those countries that have recently made the leap into middle-income status are a group of countries  –  India, Nigeria and Pakistan  – containing large populations of poor people. It  is their “graduation” which has brought about the apparent shift in poverty from the low-income to middle-income country category.”

This categorisation of middle, low and high income was to an extent useful in the 1970s, when the idea of a human development index was being discussed, but we’ve come a long way since. We know that even in smaller countries (rather, countries with populations that are relatively small compared to those whic bear the sort of burdens studied in the PLoS Medicine research) there is a great deal of income disparity. ‘Income’ itself is a condition with a bewildering number of inputs – social science is quite inadequate to the task of being able to recognise all of these, let alone quantify them and rationalise them across countries and regions – which is exactly what studies like this try to do unfortunately.

“In 2005, when more than half the world’s poor lived in such countries, it made some sense to think about fighting poverty in terms of a single developing country paradigm, based on what worked in countries such as Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique or Vietnam,” Gertz and Chandy have said. “This logic was evident in two of the major events of that year which continue to shape today’s development agenda: the G8 meeting at Gleneagles and the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Paris. It was also apparent in Jeffrey Sachs’ influential 2005 best-seller, ‘The End of Poverty’. The legacy of these ideas is scattered throughout the work of the international development community in the design of traditional aid instruments and the standard methods of country engagement.”

The authors of the Brookings paper have said that this approach remains relevant for some countries, but with 90 percent of the world’s poor living in different settings today, its broader application can no longer be justified. Yet they have found that such an admission poses a dilemma. The dilemma exists because one of the reasons the stable low-income paradigm has persisted is because it characterizes an environment in which the international development community feels most comfortable and has the most experience. “The role of external actors in supporting poverty reduction in stable low-income countries is well understood and the standard tools of external assistance – financial and technical assistance – are well suited to them.”

Maplecroft's 2011 food security risk index

What does this mean? Does it give us a hitherto obscured insight into the inner world of aid agencies and international development departments and how they see ‘poor’ countries’ populations? Does it mean that we are burdened with three decades worth of simplistic labelling of populations at risk simply because labelling them any other way makes it difficult to help them? That’s what it looks like to me and I’d like to thank Gertz and Chandy for revealing this. But it’s way past high time this sort of categorisation was ditched, once and for all. It would do us and the battalions of development professionals a huge amount of good to simply be able to say, every so often, “we don’t know enough”.

It is worth being honest about the state of our knowledge concerning the lives of the the majority of households in ‘developing’ countries. Some of the reasons why such honesty will help in the long term are contained in a thoughtful new publication from the World Bank (whose army of development professionals will benefit from its reading). This collection is entitled ‘No Small Matter: The Impact of Poverty, Shocks, and Human Capital Investments in Early Childhood Development’ (The World Bank, 2011) and it has said that, as the 2008 global financial crisis has again demonstrated, economic crises are an unfortunate recurring event in the world and can have severe consequences for household livelihoods.

Progress in key health indicators, UN Human Development Report 2010

‘No Small Matter’ defines economic crises as sharp, negative fluctuations in aggregate income, these being especially common in developing countries, and the frequency with which they occur has been increasing in recent history. We know that declines in household and community resources are not the only risks that arise from an economic crisis because of its aggregate nature. We also know – from fieldwork and by hearing those whom we would wish to help – that at the same time as households cope with the possibility of reduced income from aggregate economic contractions, vital public services may also experience a decline in quality or availability, which in turn may have an additional impact on skill development among children. This is happening now, in more countries than ever before. The economic crisis that hit Latin America in 1982 led to a decrease in public health spending and had a disproportionate effect on the poorest groups. In 2011, the decrease in public health spending exists in many more countries.

A chapter in ‘No Small Matter’, ‘The Influence of Economic Crisis on Early Childhood Development: A Review of Pathways and Measured Impact’, by Jed Friedman and Jennifer Sturdy, is particularly useful.

This has said that “conservative estimates suggest that over 200 million children under five years of age living in developing countries fail to reach their cognitive development potential because of a range of factors, including poverty, poor health and nutrition, and lack of stimulation in home environments”. It is possible, the chapter’s authors have said, that this burden increases during times of crisis as poverty increases and food security is threatened. However, to investigate this claim more carefully it is necessary to understand the pathways through which poverty influences skill acquisition in children.

“The most severe condition affecting ECD (Early Childhood Development) is infant and early child mortality. Sharp economic downturns were associated with increases in infant mortality in Mexico, Peru and India. The mortality of children born to rural and less educated women is more sensitive to economic shocks, which suggests that the poor are disproportionately affected during most economic crises, and perhaps the poor face important credit constraints that bind in tragic ways during large contractions.

Weak relationship between economic growth and changes in health and education, UN Human Development Report 2010

The mortality of girls is also significantly more sensitive to aggregate economic shocks than that of boys. This gender differential exists even in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa that are not particularly known for son preference and indicates a behavioral dimension where households conserve resources to better protect young sons at the expense of daughters.”

Finally, a further note about the extremely valuable PLoS Medicine study ‘Neonatal Mortality Levels for 193 Countries in 2009 with Trends since 1990: A Systematic Analysis of Progress, Projections, and Priorities’. The authors are: Mikkel Zahle Oestergaard1, Mie Inoue1, Sachiyo Yoshida, Wahyu Retno Mahanani, Fiona M. Gore1, Simon Cousens, Joy E. Lawn and Colin Douglas Mathers (on behalf of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation and the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group – World Health Organization, Department of Health Statistics and Informatics; World Health Organization, Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Saving Newborn Lives/Save the Children).

Children of poor households are more likely to die, UN Human Development Report 2010

The study found that of the 40 countries with the highest NMRs in 2009, only six are from outside the African continent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Cambodia). Among the 15 countries with the highest NMRs (all above 39), 12 were from the African region (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Central African Republic, Burundi, Angola, Mauritania, Mozambique, Guinea, and Equatorial Guinea), and three were from the Eastern Mediterranean (Afghanistan, Somalia, and Pakistan). Throughout the period 1990–2009, India has been the country with largest number of neonatal deaths. In 2009, the five countries with most deaths accounted for more than half of all neonatal deaths (1.7 million deaths = 52%), and 44% of global livebirths: India (27.8% of deaths, 19.6% of global livebirths), Nigeria (7.2%, 4.5%), Pakistan (6.9%, 4.0%), China (6.4%, 13.4%), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (4.6%, 2.1%). The top five contributors to the 4.6 million neonatal deaths in 1990 were: India (29.5% of deaths, 19.8% of global livebirths), China (12.3%, 18.0%), Pakistan (5.4%, 3.4%), Bangladesh (5.0%, 2.9%), and Nigeria (4.8%, 3.3%).

As the risk of children dying before the age of five has fallen, the proportion of child deaths that occur in the neonatal period has increased. This increase is primarily a consequence of decreasing non-neonatal mortality in children under five from infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and AIDS. Globally, 41% of under-five deaths now occur in the neonatal period. Over the 20 y between 1990 and 2009, the proportion of global neonatal deaths that occurred in Africa increased. Although Africa is now the region with the highest NMR, the proportion of under-five child deaths that are neonatal remains relatively low in Africa—the fraction increased from 26% to 29% between 1990 and 2009. This apparent anomaly reflects the fact that Africa accounts for approximately 90% of child deaths due to malaria (0.7 million under-five deaths) and HIV/AIDS (0.2 million under-five deaths), resulting in relatively higher post-neonatal child mortality than other regions.