Islamic Relief Worldwide on Monday “urged the U.N. to establish a global contingency fund for disaster prevention as it is cheaper to help prepare for floods and drought than spend billions on emergencies,” the Guardian reports. In a report, titled “Feeling the Heat,” “the charity also called on governments and aid agencies to completely rethink their priorities and put disaster risk reduction at the heart of all aid programs,” according to the newspaper. The report notes Australia, the European Commission, and the U.K. “have put resilience at the center of their aid efforts, while Colombia, Indonesia and other at-risk countries are developing strong disaster programs,” the Guardian writes, adding, “Research from the U.S. government says $1 of risk reduction spending can result in as much as a $15 decrease in disaster damage” (Tran, 10/1). A press release from Islamic Relief states, “Emergency relief saves lives and assists recovery, but too often it treats the symptoms of the profound problems poor communities face without addressing the root causes. Islamic Relief believes the answer lies in disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects — initiatives such as cereal banks and microdams to conserve food and water in drought-affected areas, or storm shelters and raised housing to prepare for cyclones and floods” (10/1).
NPR’s “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep on Monday interviewed reporter Jason Beaubien, who is traveling in northern Nigeria, about the country’s increase in polio cases this year. Beaubien discussed myths and fears surrounding polio vaccination in Nigeria, including beliefs that the immunization will sterilize children, but also said “one of the most encouraging things … is that the religious leaders in northern Nigeria are now really united. And they are coming out and saying you should get your children vaccinated. And some of them are being quite harsh as well, saying you have to get your children vaccinated.” NPR notes Nigeria has recorded 90 polio cases this year (10/1).
U.N. Refugee Agency Prepared To Send Emergency Aid Into Previously Unreachable Syrian Communities If Cease Fire Holds
The U.N. refugee agency “said Thursday it is ready to send emergency aid to thousands of Syrian families in previously unreachable areas” if a four-day U.N. Security Council-backed ceasefire set to begin Friday holds, Agence France-Presse reports. In an press release, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said, “In all, some 550 tons of supplies are being made available for distribution to up to 13,000 affected families — some 65,000 people — in several previously inaccessible areas,” the news agency notes (10/25). “UNHCR, which currently has more than 350 staff in three offices across Syria, said it has been working closely with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other partners to provide aid,” the U.N. News Centre reports.
“Today about 12 percent of the health work force [in the U.S.] is foreign-born and trained, including a quarter of all physicians,” Kate Tulenko, senior director of health system innovation at IntraHealth International, writes in a New York Times opinion piece, adding, “That’s bad for American workers, but even worse for the foreign workers’ home countries, including some of the world’s poorest and sickest, which could use these professionals at home.” She says expensive schooling and strict credential requirements, which some foreign-trained workers do not have to meet, are keeping U.S. health workers from entering the workforce.
Noting the U.S. “recently announced plans to create an Office of Global Health Diplomacy at the State Department, designed to promote the use of diplomacy to advance U.S. global health efforts and support the next phase of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) in the diplomatic arena,” the Kaiser Family Foundation on Tuesday published an issue brief that “provides an overview of global health diplomacy, including how it has been defined and used historically both globally and in the U.S.,” according to a summary on the foundation’s webpage. “The brief also examines potential challenges that may arise when foreign policy goals and efforts to achieve better health outcomes are at odds,” the summary notes (9/18).
NPR’s “Shots” blog profiles Vanessa Kerry, a physician and daughter of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and her work to develop the Global Health Service Partnership to send nurses and doctors to work abroad in exchange for a pay-down in their student loans. The partnership’s goal “is to reduce the severe shortage of medical workers in developing countries,” according to the blog, which adds Kerry “thinks the partnership will also strengthen health care here stateside by infusing U.S. doctors with a worldview centered on making the most of available resources.” The program is working with the Peace Corps and receives funding through PEPFAR, the blog notes (Doucleff, 9/26).
“The notion that diseases or contamination somehow recognize geographic or political borders is a dangerous illusion. … Fortunately, the United States has a broad, diverse, and world-class range of experience and expertise in dealing with all manner of global health issues,” Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), writes in a perspective piece in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Citing some examples of the government’s work in global health, he continues, “With such a wide array of professionals and departments within HHS working on global efforts to prevent disease, promote health, and strengthen partnerships, we needed to find a way to pull together our work and bring it into a coherent whole.” Therefore, “the Office of Global Affairs recently unveiled the HHS Global Health Strategy (GHS) at the beginning of 2012,” he notes.
U.S. Foreign Aid Critical To Achieving Health Goals, Improving Lives, Strengthening International Relationships
“Day after day, American foreign aid is dramatically improving millions of lives and consequently, impressions of America,” former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and Ray Chambers, chair of the MDG Health Alliance and the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. For example, “[w]hen a mother in malaria prone sub-Saharan Africa puts her child to sleep under a mosquito net that Americans supported, America is building a relationship with that family” they state, noting, “Most Americans, when they realize that our investment in foreign assistance, at less than one percent of our GDP, can provide such transformative benefits, stand firmly behind this support, even in these more difficult economic times domestically.” The authors cite a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll that showed two-thirds of respondents felt U.S. spending on global health was too little or about the right amount.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday “urged a stronger global partnership to advance progress on the development targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, as a new United Nations report finds that significant gains risk slowing due to declining aid,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed on by world leaders at a U.N. summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development,'” the news service notes (9/20). According to the 2012 MDG Gap Task Force Report (.pdf), official development assistance (ODA) from the 23 primary donors in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development dropped by almost three percent (in real terms) in 2011 after reaching a peak in 2010, Agence France-Presse notes. “To reach the U.N. target of 0.7 percent of gross national income devoted to aid, the world’s richest nations should be spending more than $300 billion,” the news service writes (9/20).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, a senior fellow and director of global health policy at CGD, and Jenny Ottenhoff, a policy outreach associate at the center, discuss the closure of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) office and the creation of the Office of Global Health Diplomacy at the State Department, to be “led by an ambassador responsible for ‘champion[ing] the priorities and policies of the GHI in the diplomatic arena,'” according to the announcement. They list “a few roles a global health ambassador could play that may prove a ‘value add’ to the U.S. global health architecture,” and state, “The new ambassador will be entering the position with the deck stacked again them and will need to address many of the institutional constraints of the late GHI office, namely lack of formal budgetary, policy or legal leverage over the many U.S. agencies working in global health.” Noting a recent brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation says an ambassador for global health diplomacy could raise the profile of and provide new opportunities for addressing global health, the blog authors conclude, “[I]n an ever challenging political and fiscal environment, that may be exactly what U.S. global health programs need” (9/20).