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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.

Examining The Role Of Ambassador For Global Health Diplomacy

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).

Gates Blog Series On World Contraception Day

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog continues its series, published in partnership with Women Deliver, to recognize World Contraception Day, observed annually on September 26. The following pieces were published recently:

Global Targets For NCD Prevention, Control Must Be Carefully Considered

Noting this week marks the first anniversary of the U.N. High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), a Lancet editorial states, “The meeting was a crucial step for putting diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease high on the global health agenda. However, little action, other than more talking, has been taken since.” The editorial continues, “The key positive development of the past year was the goal to reduce preventable deaths from NCDs by 25 percent by 2025 passed by the World Health Assembly in May,” but “[t]he challenge now is how to meet it.”

Global AIDS Response Provides Lessons For Fighting NCDs

“If left unaddressed, [non-communicable diseases (NCDs)] will lead to more death, disability and the implosion of already overburdened health systems in developing countries at huge cost to individuals, families, businesses and society,” Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and former UNAIDS executive director, writes in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog, adding, “Like AIDS, NCDs are a problem for rich and poor countries alike, but the poor suffer the most.” He continues, “The 2011 U.N. High-Level Meeting on NCDs — only the second time the U.N. had convened a major meeting on a health issue, following the U.N. AIDS Summit in June 2001 — was a landmark event in the short history of the fight against NCDs but was not a tipping point. Much more remains to be done.”

Cholera Vaccine Stockpiles Could Help Save Lives In Future Outbreaks

In a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Helen Matzger, a program officer in new vaccine delivery at the foundation, writes about outbreaks of cholera in Haiti, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and other areas, and says creating stockpiles of a recently WHO-approved cholera vaccine could help save lives in the future. “The creation of a cholera stockpile is not a panacea; … Still, the cholera vaccine works. Though many of us may never need it, millions of people living in some of the poorest regions of the world face cholera outbreaks all too often. We have a way to alter the course of an outbreak and save lives. Let’s use it,” she concludes (9/19).

NCDs Should Be Considered A 'Human Rights Concern'

Noting that “[n]on-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill four times the number of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that they do in high-income countries,” Benn Grover, a health communications specialist who manages policy for the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, and Felicia Knaul, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, write in the Huffington Post Blog, “The right to health of the majority of the world’s inhabitants is severely hampered due to vast inequalities in access to care and many of the social rights that determine their health. These inequalities are not just a matter of health, but issues of social justice and human rights.”

Bill Gates Describes How 'Catalytic Philanthropy' Can Help Bring Vaccines, Medicines To Untouched Markets

In an essay adapted for Forbes magazine from a speech given at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy in June, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses how “[i]nnovations for the poor suffer from … market limitations” and his idea of “catalytic philanthropy.” Gates writes, “The market is not going to place huge bets on research when there are no buyers for a breakthrough. This explains why we have no vaccine for malaria today, even though a million people die from it every year.” Therefore, “when you come to the end of the innovations that business and government are willing to invest in, you still find a vast, unexplored space of innovation where the returns can be fantastic,” he continues.

Challenges, Solutions To Sexual Health Education In South Africa

“South Africa faces significant challenges when it comes to sexual health, and with the high prevalence of rape, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases and infections, schools need to implement strong and informative programs on sexuality and contraceptive use,” Jos Dirkx, founder of Girls & Football SA, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, published in partnership with Women Deliver as part of a series on youth perspectives to recognize World Contraception Day, observed annually on September 26. She discusses some women’s personal experiences with contraception, and concludes, “Girls & Football SA strongly believes that by creating a safe space through our programming, we are able to present girls with the chance to ask questions, get accurate information and start a dialogue about their bodies, their health, and their sexuality” (9/18).

'Greater Commitment' Needed To Fight NTDs

In a guest post on USAID’s “IMPACT Blog,” Rachel Cohen, regional executive director of DNDi North America, writes, “The United States government and its country partners should be commended for the tremendous achievements in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) NTD Program” and the National Institutes of Health. “However, not all NTD research is created equal,” she writes, adding, “Beyond basic research, much more research and development (R&D), including late-stage product development, for new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics is urgently needed for those NTDs where adequate tools do not exist.” Noting that African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) “are not yet included in the USAID NTD Program,” Cohen says “greater commitment to developing new NTD treatments and other tools is sorely needed if disease control or elimination is to be achieved” (9/18).