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A daughter's journey: Reflections from Cape Town on World AIDS Day

Tracy Jarrett returns to Cape Town, two years after she first reported there for GlobalPost to learn about the disease that took her mother's life and forever changed her own.
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(Emily Judem/GlobalPost)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The taxi ring looked the same. Rows of white minibuses waiting to be packed with people headed to town, women selling chickens to hungry passersby, and the white building with blue trim where I’d first met the ladies of Langa in 2012.

Nerves surged up in my stomach. I was sure there was no way anyone here would remember me — it had been more than two years and I had not kept in touch.

A man pulled up in his car, “Are you here to see Sheila?” We were. Unlike when I first began my journey, I was not alone.

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Lessons from Ebola: Health care in Africa needs a PEPFAR-like approach

Commentary: With Ebola hysteria fading in the US, we now risk losing sight of a critical larger issue — the need to build strong health care systems in the poorest parts of Africa. World leaders would do well to take their cues from the PEPFAR program.
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US President George W. Bush holds Baron Mosima Loyiso Tantoh as Tantoh's mother Manyongo Mosima Kuene Tantoh (L), who suffers from AIDS, and Bishop Paul Yowakim (2nd L) look on, after Bush spoke about the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief on May 30, 2007, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

BOSTON — With the declaration that Texas is now Ebola-free, the last potentially infected person having cleared the 21-day monitoring period, the United States is quickly shifting focus to other hot-burner topics.

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Scientists call for more African-led research and development

Experts say that HIV prevention research should be growing in the places that bear the biggest burden of the disease.
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A lab technician at the AIDS Research Center of the Treichville hospital in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire explains HIV viral load testing (VLT) on Sept. 13, 2013. African-led research and development has been gaining ground across the continent in recent years. (SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — A rising call for African-led research has permeated Cape Town this week as HIV researchers and scientists from around the world flooded the city for the first HIV Research for Prevention Conference.

As we move toward an AIDS-free generation, experts say, research should be growing in the places that bear the biggest burden of the disease. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, South Africa’s minister of science and technology, announced at the conference’s opening, “We want customers. We don’t want to be anyone’s client any longer.”

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How labor unions can help beat Ebola

Commentary: Rubber tappers in Liberia are helping with prevention and detection, representing an effective new approach.
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Family members gather outside a home in the West Point neighborhood where a man's dead body awaited the arrival of an Ebola burial team to take him for cremation on Oct. 17 in Monrovia, Liberia. The World Health Organization says that more than 4,500 people have died due to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa with a 70 percent mortality rate for those infected with the virus. (John Moore /Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — As the United States military heads to Liberia to aid in the fight against Ebola, officials should not overlook an unlikely but potentially powerful ally: the rubber tappers who help make their tires.

It may seem an unlikely alliance to have a union of rubber tappers — some of the poorest people in the world — helping the US military and international relief organizations. But they have two invaluable assets: the trust of the local population and the potential to continue supporting programs the relief agencies put in place.

They are making significant contributions even as the disease poses an increasing threat to community leaders and their families.

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Why maternal health and mortality matters

The issue could be losing out to other global health concerns, but advocates insist it should be a top priority.
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The four panelists (from left) at an Oct. 7 webcast on the impact of maternal health on children, families and communities: Amy Boldosser-Boesch, interim president and CEO of Family Care International; Jeni Klugman, senior adviser at The World Bank Group and fellow at Harvard Kennedy School; Alicia Yamin, lecturer on Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health and policy director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University; and Aslihan Kes, economist and gender specialist at the International Center for Research on Women. (Jessica Mendoza/GlobalPost)

BOSTON – The world could be a lot less safe for mothers after 2015. As the deadline for the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, advocates for maternal health say the issue is in danger of fading in future models of sustainability.

“There’s a real concern that the more targeted, focused goals [for maternal health] will be absorbed into broader objectives, and that they will then disappear,” said Martha Murdock, vice president for regional programs at Family Care International (FCI), a New York-based nonprofit that works for safer pregnancy and childbirth worldwide.

That concern set the tone for an Oct. 7 strategy meeting and later a panel webcast of women’s and maternal health advocates, researchers and implementers at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in Boston.

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With no cure in sight, living with Ebola becomes a community effort

Mobilizing for education, sanitation, local engagement can help halt spread of disease.
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A boy pushes a woman in a wheelchair past a wall bearing information about Ebola in Monrovia on September 25, 2014. World leaders were asked to pledge urgently-needed aid to battle Ebola in West Africa as Sierra Leone quarantined one million people in a desperate bid to beat back the deadly virus. (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The news coming out of West Africa is nothing if not sobering. The number of dead and infected with Ebola continues to rise, and the outbreak shows no sign of abating any time soon. As President Obama mentioned in his remarks on Ebola, the situation will get worse before it gets better.

By putting so much emphasis on the awful effects of Ebola, are we misplacing our effort to treat the crisis? Judging from the images we are seeing in the media, there are only three types of people in West Africa: the dead, the dying, and the Hazmat-suited workers caring for them.

The reality of course is far more complex: millions of individuals are not infected, and are simply doing their best to go about their lives under these extraordinary circumstances. Any response that fails to take this into account, and focuses solely on treatment of those already infected, will undoubtedly fall short.

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Lessons from FDR can help regain public trust during Ebola crisis


How Roosevelt led US out of Depression is a model for countries confronting Ebola.
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A man sits on a cross in the Tweh farm cemetery on September 30, 2014 in Monrovia, where burials have been halted due to the Ebola outbreak. (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

EVANSTON, Illinois — As a crowd recently stoned local officials and health education workers to death in Guinea, American households were tuning in to the PBS documentary series, "The Roosevelts."

Himself the victim of a debilitating disease and a chief executive during the international crises of the Great Depression and World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt held an unwavering commitment to mobilizing government to better the lives of the governed. Memory of his record evokes comparisons and criticisms of national and international leadership contending with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa today.

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In Tanzania, Coke improves medical distributions

A successful Coca-Cola partnership in Tanzania to better distribute medicine across the country shows that not all public-private partnerships have to be self-serving.
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A worker offloads medicine at Tanzania's Medical Stores Department warehouse in Dar es Salaam. The Coca Cola company used its expertise delivering its products to all corners of the country to help the department more efficiently distribute medicine. (Jacob Kushner/GlobalPost)

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage retailer, has an unparalleled ability to get its goods to anyone and everyone. The company’s products can be found in 200 countries, even North Korea, and are consumed daily by 1.7 billion people from urban megacities to the most remote parts of the globe.

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Across Africa, Coke is empowering women — to sell Coke products

Is a $100 million partnership between Coke and the International Finance Corporation empowering women - or just helping to sell Coke?
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A worker shovels garbage and dirt from a bridge along the Mlalakua River in Dar es Salaam. Coca-Cola sponsored the project because its local bottling plant is located along the banks, which is incorrectly perceived by residents to be contributing to the river's contamination. (Jacob Kushner/GlobalPost)

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Last year, Coca-Cola announced a $100 million partnership with the International Finance Corporation to provide business skills training and micro-loans to “empower” women — those who sell Coca-Cola products, that is.

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'Humanure' may be an answer to Haiti’s tragic cholera epidemic

Commentary: Converting human waste into fertilizer would be a low cost source to boost farming.
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People play in a camp for survivors of the January 2010 quake in Haiti which killed 250,000 people, on February 28, 2013 in Port-au-Prince. The UN has in Haiti a huge mission of peacekeepers led by Brazil, helping the impoverished country with its political strife and the impact the devastating 2010 quake. Hundreds of thousands are still living rough in squalid makeshift camps, and they now face rampant crime, a cholera outbreak and the occasional hurricane. (VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

DENTON, Texas — Haiti has never fully recovered from the devastating earthquake of 2010. Widespread homelessness, impassable roads, food insecurity, and access to clean drinking water continue to hinder recovery efforts.

But perhaps the biggest problem is created by one of the most basic human functions—defecation.
Cholera, though eliminated before the earthquake, has come roaring back and shows little sign of abating. This deadly disease is spread through contact with infected feces. Despite public awareness campaigns, thousands in cities like Cap Haitien and Port-au-Prince, are still using the “flying toilet” – a plastic bag – and spreading the disease from person to person, house to house.

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