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RedCrossRedCrescent 2Despite significant improvements in health outcomes over the past decade, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faces many challenges in meeting the growing health needs of the population, due to changing demographic and epidemiological profiles.

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johnBaird healthcareSecurityEnsuring that the millions of people affected by instability, armed conflict and natural disasters have safe access to critically needed health care services has never been easy, but in much of today’s world, the obstacles can seem even more challenging.

In countries experiencing conflict, like Syria, Somalia or Sudan, violence is often inflicted against patients and the health care personnel trying simply to save lives.

Ongoing insecurity compounds the problem of poor access to health care. Health care professionals struggle to reach the most vulnerable people, particularly those in rural areas, which, in turn, impedes our ability to reach our Millennium Development Goals of improving child and maternal health and eliminating diseases like polio.

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borderWithMexicoIf we needed any further evidence that we are a deeply divided nation all you would need to do is speak out about Mexico or immigration reform in the U.S. Past Republican champions of immigration reform have vanished. Senator John McCain and other leaders have ducked any attempt at much needed reform, as some of their most vocal constituents back home have dug in their heels, vigorously opposing anything that allows those that entered illegally (the vast majority are Mexican) to stay. Republican presidentialcandidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have felt the sting of criticism from the right-wing of the GOP for advocating the "normalization" of the status of long-time undocumented aliens in the U.S. or for providing in-state college tuition for children of undocumented aliens. On the other side of the political spectrum, Progressives and Latino organizations in the U.S. are losing hope that President Obama and congressional Democrats will propose immigration reform bills anytime soon. In fact, the Democratic Party is betting that the strong anti-immigrant sentiment within the Republican Party will be the deciding influence for the growing numbers of Latino voters to opt for Democrats in the 2012 November elections, notwithstanding any real efforts on their part to move immigration reforms into law.