Following the conclusion of a two-day meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week — meant “to gather feedback from flu researchers, others in the science community, and the public on its draft framework for funding H5N1 gain-of-function studies and to continue an international dialogue on issues related to benefits and risks of the research” — “experts anticipated that a voluntary moratorium on work with lab-modified strains that have increased transmissibility might end soon,” CIDRAP News reports (Schnirring, 12/18). “That’s because officials at the National Institutes of Health say they will be moving swiftly to finalize a new process for deciding whether or not to fund proposed experiments that could potentially create more dangerous forms of the bird flu virus H5N1,” NPR’s “Shots” blog notes.
National Security and Bioterrorism
“Global health is not often thought of as a national security issue, but development professionals and military leaders have been coming together in the belief the two are ‘closely tied together,'” Zach Silberman, a policy associate with the U.S. Global Leadership Council (USGLC), writes in the organization’s blog. He discusses a recent report, “Global Health as a Bridge to Security,” by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Military leaders have been among the strongest voices in recognizing that global health has a positive impact on stability abroad,” but “[e]nhancing security through global health efforts … does not require a military solution,” Silberman writes, concluding, “Bringing together American compassion and security demonstrates the impact of smart power in development” (11/14).
A recent video from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on global health and national security discusses the importance of military and non-military health partnerships with middle- and low-income countries, the American Public Health Association’s “IH-Blog” reports. The video features commentary from leaders in security and health, according to the blog (11/9). A CSIS report titled “Global Health as a Bridget to Security” is available online (11/1).
The Global Washington blog summarizes a discussion about the role of U.S. foreign aid that took place last week in Columbus, Ohio, between former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and former Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.). While the discussion, convened by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and moderated by Ohio Public Radio and Television Bureau Chief Karen Kasler, focused on the future role of Ohio in global development, Frist said humanitarian aid is an important component of U.S. foreign policy and “encouraged the audience to see U.S. policies as ‘replacing desperation and disease and poverty with health and hope and opportunity,'” according to the blog. “Senator Frist and Governor Richardson were emphatically positive about the future of U.S. foreign aid, and both encouraged the audience to keep up with global health and business developments over the next few months,” the blog notes (Jensen-Clem, 11/1).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday released a 268-page annual report that “profiles a wide range of CDC influenza-related projects around the world, from flu surveillance in Indonesia to vaccine effectiveness studies in El Salvador and epidemiology training in Ghana,” CIDRAP News reports. The report also “describes the CDC’s collaborations with the World Health Organization (WHO), outlines projects it supports in about 40 countries, … describes specific studies undertaken in many of those countries,” “lists international training conferences it has sponsored, and describes the CDC program for sharing diagnostic test kits and reagents,” the news service writes. “Over the past six years the [international] program has undergone remarkable growth and has expanded to provide support to over 40 countries, all WHO regional offices and WHO headquarters,” the report notes, according to CIDRAP. “The report, covering 2011, is the third annual account of the agency’s global flu activities, which have expanded greatly in the past decade,” the news service adds (Roos, 10/30).
“What should President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney talk about during [Monday’s] foreign policy debate? The force that can make or break a foreign policy: food,” author William Lambers, who partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme on the book “Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World,” writes in a Tennessean opinion piece. “There are 870 million people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” he notes, adding, “As former Army chief and Secretary of State George Marshall said, ‘Food is a vital factor in our foreign policy. And the attitude of Americans toward food can make or break our efforts to achieve peace and security throughout the world.'”
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.”
The non-profit advocacy group Research!America on Monday released a list titled “Top 10 Reasons To Invest In Global Health R&D,” which “provides compelling reasons why the investments are critical, from the humanitarian benefits to being a powerful driver of U.S. economic activity,” according to an e-mail alert (10/15). The list’s webpage states, “The U.S. needs to strengthen its investment in this important research, not only because it saves millions of lives worldwide but because it benefits the health of Americans, spurs new businesses and jobs in the U.S., helps protect our troops on the ground, and promotes global stability and security. Federal funding for global health R&D is the smart thing to do for the U.S. and the right thing to do for the world” (10/15).
“African countries are most at risk of social unrest and famine stemming from food shortages and rising prices, according to risk advisory firm Maplecroft,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The news service writes, “Africa accounts for 39 of the 59 most at-risk countries in Maplecroft’s Food Security Risk Index and has nine of the 11 nations in the ‘extreme risk’ category, the Bath, England-based company said in a statement today” (Almeida, 10/9). “Despite strong economic growth, food security remains an issue of primary importance for Africa, according to a new study by [the] risk analysis company …, which classifies 75 percent of the continent’s countries at ‘high’ or ‘extreme risk,'” according to the statement (10/1). “African countries at ‘extreme risk’ include Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Comoros, and Sierra Leone, according to Maplecroft,” Bloomberg notes (10/9).
The State Department provides a transcript of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. In the speech, delivered on Monday, Clinton discussed how “the Obama Administration has elevated development as an essential pillar of our national security alongside defense and diplomacy”; country ownership, which “means that a nation’s efforts are increasingly led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society, and private sector”; and transparency and accountability. “So for nearly four years, this administration has been updating our development assistance with these objectives in mind,” Clinton said, adding, for example, “We designed our Feed the Future food security initiative and our Global Health Initiative with an emphasis on country ownership and investment” (9/24).