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).
“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).
“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).
“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).