With controversy still raging over national health reform in the United States, the media is paying little attention to an international debate on global health policy that is of major importance to the world’s poorest people. Both debates revolve around a similar theme, which President Barack Obama neatly summarized in his recent landmark address to Congress as "the appropriate size and role of government" in the provision of health services.
As the swine flu threat level grew at the end of April, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said, “it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”
The capacity of sports to contribute to social change must not be overstated but history has proven that possibilities for change do exist. Sports have changed individuals’ lives and, more importantly, contributed to and facilitated larger social change within and across societies.
Eighteen American war veterans kill themselves every day. One thousand former soldiers receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs attempt suicide every month. More veterans are committing suicide than are dying in combat overseas.
Standing in the student section of Penn State’s Beaver Stadium during football season always felt like witnessing a war unfold before your eyes. First the band would enter, marching in military-like formation and literally drumming up support from the crowd, while the cheerleaders would start up the most boastfully imposing chant in all of college sports: "We Are…Penn State." Then our four-star general, Coach Joe Paterno would run on the field flanked by his army of All-American linebackers and various other defensive backs, ends, and tackles because offense was always second to a strong defense in JoePa’s book. Even as a student, during perhaps the bleakest years of an otherwise dominating half-century of college football, I knew Pennsylvania State University was just as likely to be called "Linebacker U" as Penn State.
Seventy-five years ago, major media outlets have reminded us over recent weeks, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal had its American debut. But when exactly did the New Deal end? The American Journal of Public Health has just published a fascinating article that suggests a surprising answer.
The rise in popular support for Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy reflects the growing skepticism among Democratic and independent voters regarding both the Bush administration’s and the Democratic Party establishment’s foreign policies. Indeed, on issues ranging from Iraq to nuclear weapons to global warming to foreign aid, as well as his general preference for diplomacy over militarism, Obama has also staked out positions considerably more progressive than the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Back in the 1980s, AIDS activists employed this technique of “birdogging” (going to the public appearance of a target and trying to get him or her to commit to a new policy) to put the HIV/AIDS crisis on the map. We were preparing to use the same strategy. Now, however, our demand was not limited to just domestic policy, but rather has evolved, as the global epidemic has evolved, to demand that our foreign policy has to act on the international HIV/AIDS crisis. More specifically, in this particular instance, our goal was targeted at Presidential hopefuls Obama and Edwards to get them to commit to $50 billion dollars over the next 5 years to fight AIDS, a funding level that experts agree will be needed to turn the tide of the AIDS epidemic.
A whole generation into the AIDS pandemic, we now have significant (though still insufficient) knowledge of how to combat the disease. But while the world’s collective understanding is gradually advancing, U.S. AIDS policy remains mired in a right-wing economic and social vision that is curtailing progress and costing lives.