The World Affairs Council of Atlanta, CARE USA, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) last week held a conference “on how the United States, even in the midst of fiscal austerity and political division, can best advance the world’s health,” CSIS’ “Smart Global Health” blog reports (5/17). According to CSIS, “This Atlanta Summit addresses how the next U.S. Congress and presidential administration can best sustain United States leadership in improving world health, with a particular focus on the role of safe water and sanitation.” A new report by the three sponsoring agencies, titled “The Atlanta Declaration: U.S. Leadership in Improving the World’s Health,” is available online (5/21).
“Yemen is not only one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it’s also home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the grim numbers offered today by State Department officials,” ABC News reports. “The United States is providing more than $73 million of humanitarian assistance to Yemen, which is being used for food aid, food vouchers, water and sanitation programs, and medical clinics,” ABC News writes, noting, “Yemen has not had a proper government for nearly a year, since the fall of President Ali Abdullah Saleh” (Hughes, 5/21).
Delegates and officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Thailand representing their health and medical research councils on Tuesday in New Delhi concluded a three-day South Asian Forum for Health Research (SAHFer) hosted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Pharmabiz.com reports. “India has asked the members of [SAFHer] to explore ways for strengthening collaboration by sharing innovative methods for tackling the problems faced by the countries,” Pharmabiz.com writes. According to the news service, the regional meeting discussed a wide range of subject areas, including vector-borne diseases, drug resistance, influenza, and non-communicable diseases, among other topics, an official release said (2/7).
“[T]oday, with the national debt approaching $14.7 trillion, Americans rightly demand fiscal responsibility. Yet efforts in Congress to cut billions from the president’s proposed budget for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are short-sighted,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He adds that “all of our foreign aid programs and foreign policy initiatives — from sending diplomats to Afghanistan to helping reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa — cost less than one-tenth of our annual military expenditures” and “comprises a mere 1.5 percent” of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request.
Republican Presidential Candidate Santorum Could Be Beneficial To Global Health Programs If Elected President
In the Republican campaign for the presidential nomination, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), “the most religiously conservative candidate, surprisingly, is the most fervent advocate for U.S. global health diplomacy,” Jack Chow, former U.S. ambassador on global HIV/AIDS and former assistant director-general of WHO on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Santorum has staked out global health as one of his preferred instruments of asserting American power abroad” and “seems determined to lay the groundwork for a global health agenda that is not only far more extensive than his competitors’, but would surpass both [George W.] Bush and Barack Obama in advancing U.S. interests abroad through fighting disease,” Chow writes.
AllAfrica correspondent Cindy Shiner recently interviewed Vanessa Kerry, CEO of the Global Health Service Corps, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene taking place in Atlanta this week. Next year, volunteer doctors and nurses will travel through the Service Corps to Tanzania, Malawi, and Uganda to work in partnership with the Peace Corps, according to AllAfrica. In the interview, Kerry said the program grew out of a desire on the part of physicians and other health care workers to help in resource-poor countries, as well as calls from those countries for more U.S. assistance in building health system capacity. Kerry discusses the focus of the program, how it works as a private partner with public programs, and how the first countries were chosen (11/13).
Science Academies Issue Statements To Inform G8 Leaders On Water, Energy, Resiliency To Natural Disasters
“Scientists from 15 countries are calling for a better political response to the provision of water and energy to meet the challenge of feeding a world of nine billion people within 30 years,” Reuters reports. The leaders of “some of the world’s leading science academies” issued several statements on Thursday “ahead of the G8 summit in the United States” as “part of the annual lobbying effort aimed at focusing the attention of world leaders on issues the scientific community regards as crucial,” the news agency writes (Wickham, 5/11).
PRI’s “The World” profiles Gabon’s Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which “is struggling to achieve the goals of its founder while adapting to a new century and a different Africa.” The story recaps the hospital’s history and its board’s recent efforts to address what one board member described as locals’ “dependency” on historically European directors. However, Lachlan Forrow, a doctor at Harvard Medical School and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the only American on the hospital’s board, recently became president of the board, and he has worked to establish “a new relationship between locals and outsiders — blacks and whites,” PRI reports. Forrow “found an experienced Gabonese hospital administrator — Antoine Nziengui –” who is now the Schweitzer Hospital director, an African “for the first time since the hospital was founded 99 years ago,” the news service writes, adding that the hospital “still faces huge obstacles: a million-dollar budget deficit, antiquated facilities, a rising burden of HIV and tuberculosis” (Baron, 5/17).
Briefly recapping a history of foreign aid policy since 1920, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) write in a Politico opinion piece, “Credit for America’s global leadership role belongs to both major political parties and Americans of all stripes” who “have always been guided by the notion that all lives have equal value, regardless of where someone was born.” Because of the current economic recession, “[w]e understand that there might be temptation to cut back on U.S. humanitarian programs and investments abroad,” they write, continuing, “However, the cost of cutting back on such programs is not worth it,” as such cuts would amount to less than one percent of the federal budget, “affect too many peoples’ lives and damage American economic and national security interests at a time our world is more interconnected than ever.”
A post on the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTDs) “End the Neglect” blog describes how representatives of the Global Network recently “traveled through Europe to raise the profile for NTDs and encourage support from European bilateral aid agencies, policymakers and other key stakeholders in France, Germany, Denmark, and Norway.” The blog describes meetings among government and health officials in the three countries and says additional information on European policy engagement is available on the Global Network’s website (10/5).