Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflects on changes in U.S. global health diplomacy since taking office in this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece. “America had been leading the global health fight for decades,” but “we recognized that to sustain the impact of our work, we needed to change the way we did business,” she writes. “For example, while our agencies were providing tremendous leadership in isolation, they could still do more to collaborate effectively,” she writes, adding, “[W]e weren’t doing enough to coordinate our efforts with other donors or our partner countries,” and “we weren’t building sustainable systems to eventually allow our partner countries to manage more of their own health needs.” She says, “We were unintentionally putting a ceiling on the number of lives we could save.”
“When President Obama made a landmark speech against modern slavery on Tuesday, many of us in the news media shrugged,” but women survivors of human trafficking “noticed,” Nicholas Kristof writes in his New York Times column. “[T]he world often scorns the victims and sees them as criminals: these girls are the lepers of the 21st century,” he says, adding, “So bravo to the president for giving a major speech on human trafficking and, crucially, for promising greater resources to fight pimps and support those who escape the streets. Until recently, the Obama White House hasn’t shown strong leadership on human trafficking, but this could be a breakthrough. The test will be whether Obama continues to press the issue.”
“When we talk about HIV prevention, we tend to frame it as a medical challenge and of course it is one,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “To accelerate the progress in the AIDS response we must reduce transmission and people’s exposure to the virus,” but “ending AIDS is as much a social challenge as a clinical one,” he continues. “One of the clearest lessons of the past three decades is that illiteracy and poverty fuel the spread of HIV and that education can slow it,” he states, adding, “Education — not just sex education but literacy, numeracy, critical-thinking and global citizenship — is the social equivalent of a vaccine, and it’s already available for clinical use.”
“In a speech to the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, [Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney] acknowledged the value of foreign aid and its purpose: providing humanitarian assistance, improving security and encouraging economic growth,” but “we don’t know whether he would really protect the current budget … from further cuts if he is elected,” a New York Times editorial states. “Romney focused most of his attention on overhauling aid programs,” the editorial writes. “Romney’s call for more public-private partnerships on aid projects makes sense,” the editorial says, noting an Obama administration public-private partnership to provide cleaner cookstoves. In addition, “[h]is talk about the potentially transformative nature of American assistance and the need to invest more in small and medium-size businesses that will create jobs and lift ailing economies is also sensible and in line with administration policies,” the editorial states.
“When it comes to getting aid right, an all-too-familiar problem seems to be balancing the priorities of rich governments with what communities actually want,” AlertNet reports in an article examining an essay written by Oxford University researcher Devi Sridhar and published in PLOS Medicine. The essay “assesses the system of financing for health research,” according to the news service (Nguyen, 9/26). “Sridhar argues that since the priorities of funding bodies largely dictate what health issues and diseases are studied, a major challenge in the governance of global health research funding is agenda-setting, which in turn is a consequence of a larger phenomenon — ‘multi-bi financing,'” according to a PLOS press release (9/25). “Multi-bi financing refers to the practice of donors choosing to route non-core funding — earmarked for specific sectors, themes, countries, or regions — through multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank and to the emergence of new multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance,” she writes.
“During these tough budget times, citizens across the world rightfully question the effectiveness of government spending, including funds spent on foreign assistance,” Daniel Yohannes, chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece. “At the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign aid agency with a global investment portfolio of more than $9.3 billion, we believe our assistance should be earned,” he writes. “MCC is an integral part of the administration’s comprehensive efforts to modernize U.S. development policies and programs, placing us at the forefront of foreign aid reform,” he continues, adding, “And one of the most effective tools we have to carry out this mission is the ability to say ‘no.'”
“India has had a positive global impact through its supply of vast quantities of low-cost, good-quality generic medicines, which have saved or prolonged millions of lives … [b]ut there are also many factors that may hinder the continuation of the [country's] role as chief supplier of medicines to developing countries,” Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre in Geneva, writes in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. He examines the history of generic drug production in India and says the 1995 World Trade Organization TRIPS agreement negatively affected the country’s ability to produce generic drugs. Though “India has one of the best patent laws in the world that still gives some space to its producers to make generic drugs, … it is also true that the old policy space has been eroded because many new drugs have, since 2005, been patented by multinational companies that are selling them at exorbitant prices,” Khor writes.
In a post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates writes about traveling to New York this week to deliver a speech to the U.N. on polio eradication, one of the top five global health priorities as described by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “New polio cases are the lowest they’ve ever been and there are currently just three countries, down from 125 in 1988, where polio is still endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan,” Gates notes. He adds, “[T]he world is coming together with the financial resources, the political commitment, and the innovation necessary to do something absolutely extraordinary, to protect every child everywhere from this preventable disease” (9/25).
Following the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in July, “delegates left Washington with a clear focus on achieving an AIDS-free generation,” Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “But in the weeks following, HIV/AIDS and global health have largely disappeared from our political dialogue,” he says, because “[n]ational attention is squarely focused on the November elections, and we haven’t seen the ‘post-conference’ bounce that these issues deserve.” He continues, “Although there was mention of support for PEPFAR and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] at this summer’s conventions, this kind of high-level call to action was noticeably absent in Tampa and Charlotte.”
Noting successes achieved under the Every Woman Every Child campaign and the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog that leaders “have stepped up and stood strong for critical issues on the women’s and children’s health agenda to advance the health Millennium Development Goals and ensure the sustainability of results beyond 2015.” He adds, “Most of all, they have engaged in a radical paradigm shift that places the notion of global solidarity at the core of our work.” With the estimated number of children newly infected with HIV dropping and more women undergoing HIV testing and receiving antiretroviral medications, “[t]hese achievements deserve global attention,” Sidibe says.