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Loss Of U.S. Funding For UNFPA 'Would Be Devastating' To Family Planning Services In Developing Countries

“By voting to ban any U.S. contribution to UNFPA” in the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday “made a judgment call that saving the lives of women and girls around the world is simply not a U.S. priority,” Valerie DeFillipo, president of Friends of UNFPA, writes in a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. She notes that “[c]ommittee members voted against amendments that would permit funding to UNFPA for preventing and treating obstetric fistula, ending female genital mutilation, and providing family planning services and contraceptive supplies in nine sub-Saharan African countries with high rates of poverty and maternal mortality where USAID does not provide family planning assistance.”

Modeling Data Shows Vaccine Can Build On HIV/AIDS Prevention Tools

In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) President and CEO Margaret McGlynn discusses new modeling data from IAVI and the Futures Institute, with support from USAID, which “illustrates how a safe, preventive HIV vaccine that is accessible and affordable can help us end the AIDS pandemic.” The information, released in recognition of World AIDS Vaccine Day, also known as HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, “is available in a series of publications and an interactive web tool,” according to McGlynn. She writes, “The world must continue to scale up and improve the response to HIV by using powerful prevention tools that are currently at our disposal. … Our new models show that a vaccine can build on these existing tools and take us down the last mile to the end of the AIDS pandemic” (5/18).

NCATS Initiative To Use Abandoned Experimental Drugs For Other Uses ‘A Step In The Right Direction’

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) — a new plan to help speed drug development by making abandoned experimental drugs available to researchers who can look for alternative uses — “is an indication that the Obama administration and the medical research enterprise are thinking out of the box,” Michael Manganiello, a partner at HCM Strategists, writes in a Huffington Post “Politics Blog” opinion piece. Manganiello — who says the drug AZT, which originally was developed to treat cancer, helped him live long enough to reap the benefits of new drugs developed in the mid-1990s to treat HIV infection — joined HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and NIH Director Francis Collins this week in launching the initiative, which he says “is a step in the right direction and it is critical that industry collaborate with patient groups and their constituents.”

International Community, U.S. Should Increase Resources, Mandate For Fighting NCDs In Developing World

In this Foreign Affairs essay, Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow for global health, economics and development at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines the increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the developing world, writing, “When most people in developed countries think of the biggest health challenges confronting the developing world, they envision a small boy in a rural, dusty village beset by an exotic parasite or bacterial blight,” but “NCDs in developing countries are occurring more rapidly, arising in younger people, and leading to far worse health outcomes than ever seen in developed countries.” He notes, “According to the World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Risks report, these diseases pose a greater threat to global economic development than fiscal crises, natural disasters, corruption, or infectious disease.”

Increased Investment In Nurses Will Help Strengthen Health Systems Worldwide

“It is in poor countries and communities, where health needs are greatest and physicians are scarce, that nurses take an even greater role in health care delivery, often serving as the sole providers in rural villages or urban slums,” Sheila Davis, director of global nursing at Partners In Health, writes in a Huffington Post “Impact Blog” opinion piece, noting this is International Nurses Week. “But although nurses deliver 90 percent of all health care services worldwide, they remain largely invisible at decision-making tables in national capitals and international agencies. Their absence constitutes a global health crisis,” Davis continues.

Center For Global Development Blog Post Examines Debate On Whether Health Is 'Fungible'

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, David Roodman, a research fellow at CGD, writes about “the debate on whether health is ‘fungible,’ i.e., whether giving money to governments to spend on health leads them to cut their own funding for [the] same, thereby effectively siphoning health aid into other uses.” He writes, “Two years ago, a team of authors mostly affiliated with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle concluded in the Lancet (gated) that health aid has been highly fungible,” but “two physician-scholars at Stanford have reanalyzed IHME’s data in PLoS Medicine (quite ungated) and judged the Lancet findings to be spuriously generated by bad and/or extreme data points.” Roodman notes that he is continuing to analyze data from both studies and plans to “get to the bottom of the latest research on health aid fungibility” (5/14).

Cookstove Technology Needs More Research, Development To Be Effective In Real-World Settings

A recent randomized trial by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers looking at how well clean cookstoves worked in real-world settings found that while there was “a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation in the first year after a stove was installed, … [o]ver a longer period … they saw no health benefits and no reduction in fuel use” because families did not maintain or repair broken stoves, a Bloomberg editorial notes, adding, “This doesn’t suggest the clean cookstove campaign should be abandoned so much as slowed down. It would be wise to test various designs in real-life settings, and, where necessary, take more time to human-proof models.”

Women's Rights To Family Planning Should Not Be Controversial

“There should be #NoControversy about a woman’s right to plan when and how many children to have, to have the opportunity to improve her own health and that of her children, to educate her children and to grow her family’s economic productivity,” Gary Darmstadt, head of the family health division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the family health division, write in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. The authors highlight a recent TEDxChange talk by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, in which “she addresses the issues surrounding birth control and how it is literally life-saving for millions of women and children around the world.” They continue, “But of course, any time politics, religion, and sex are intertwined, controversy tends to emerge,” and discuss several viewpoints that have emerged in media coverage of the issue (5/14).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.