Islamic Relief Worldwide on Monday “urged the U.N. to establish a global contingency fund for disaster prevention as it is cheaper to help prepare for floods and drought than spend billions on emergencies,” the Guardian reports. In a report, titled “Feeling the Heat,” “the charity also called on governments and aid agencies to completely rethink their priorities and put disaster risk reduction at the heart of all aid programs,” according to the newspaper. The report notes Australia, the European Commission, and the U.K. “have put resilience at the center of their aid efforts, while Colombia, Indonesia and other at-risk countries are developing strong disaster programs,” the Guardian writes, adding, “Research from the U.S. government says $1 of risk reduction spending can result in as much as a $15 decrease in disaster damage” (Tran, 10/1). A press release from Islamic Relief states, “Emergency relief saves lives and assists recovery, but too often it treats the symptoms of the profound problems poor communities face without addressing the root causes. Islamic Relief believes the answer lies in disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects — initiatives such as cereal banks and microdams to conserve food and water in drought-affected areas, or storm shelters and raised housing to prepare for cyclones and floods” (10/1).
Programs, Funding & Financing
IRIN reports on allegations that a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to Uganda was misused. “Evidence of the mismanagement of a $51 million malaria grant to Uganda from the Global Fund resulted in the July arrest of three Ministry of Health employees and prompted a police investigation into the matter,” the news service writes, adding, “In September, the organization called for the refund of any ineligible expenses under the grant and the strengthening of safeguards to prevent future misappropriation of funds.”
“A combination of major new conflicts and unresolved ones around the world are increasingly straining humanitarian resources at unprecedented levels, the head of the United Nations refugee agency warned” on Monday, the U.N. News Centre reports. Speaking at the UNHCR’s annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres “said [.pdf] UNHCR’s capacity to help the world’s forcibly displaced was being ‘radically tested’ by the acceleration of the crises, with more than 700,000 people having fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Sudan, and Syria this year alone,” according to the news service. He said, “Our operations in Africa, in particular, are dramatically underfunded. … At this moment, we have no room for any unforeseen needs. No reserves available. In today’s unpredictable operating environment, this is a cause for deep concern,” the news service notes (10/1).
Scientific American examines the intersection of humanitarian aid, economic development, and climate change, saying, “Environmental, humanitarian, and economic challenges do not exist in isolation, but that is how the world most often deals with them.” The article quotes several speakers who attended an event on “resilient livelihoods” held on September 25 at the Rockefeller Foundation. Shrinking water supplies and increased urbanization continue to affect agriculture outputs, and hunger remains a problem worldwide, “[s]o finding new ways to fund environmental improvement and economic development at the same time will be crucial,” the news magazine writes.
Forbes features two interviews with global health leaders. Contributor Rahim Kanani spoke with Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, about GAVI’s impact, innovation, public-private collaboration, and leadership and responsibility. In the interview, Berkley said vaccinating children not only protects them from disease, but it “protects families and whole communities. And it reduces ongoing health care costs, expands educational opportunities and creates a more reliable workforce. This, in turn, creates a more stable community, higher productivity and stronger national economies. Immunization provides an important foundation for political stability and economic growth” (10/4).
In the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Sarah Jane Staats, director of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking Foreign Assistance Initiative, compares the foreign assistance positions of President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “The U.S. presidential campaign has been more about saving jobs at home than saving lives abroad,” but “America’s role in the world was center stage at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last week, where President Barack Obama decried modern slavery and Mitt Romney unveiled his vision for foreign assistance,” she writes. “The surprise: so far, Romney sounds a lot like Obama on foreign aid,” she continues.
Devex features three video segments from an interview with Jonathan Quick, president and CEO of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), in which he discusses health systems innovation and the challenge of addressing non-communicable diseases. In one clip, Quick describes the founding principles of MSH and how the organization works to build local capacity in the communities where it works. In a second clip, he talks about how health systems innovation — organizing people, processes and resources — will help deliver health technologies more quickly and efficiently (Rosenkrantz/Schwetje, 10/3). And in a third clip, Quick says the international community has made “stunning progress” in the past decade against HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, but a growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases are killing more people than those three diseases combined. He says synergies of care and treatment and integration will be important to address these illnesses, instead of the more vertical models that have worked over the past decade (Rosenkranz/Schwetje, 10/2).
Blog Summarizes Analyses Examining Possible Effects Of Sequestration On Global Health, Science Research
The Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog examines “the likely devastating impact of sequestration on U.S.-funded global health, research, science, and development programs” and summarizes several recently released reports on potential budget cuts. The blog outlines the findings of an updated analysis from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, which examines the possible human and global health impacts of budget sequestration; a new analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that says sequestration would “no doubt have significant impacts on federal funding of science, research, and innovation”; a document (.pdf) from Bread for the World that examines the potential impact of sequestration on the international affairs budget; and an updated analysis (.pdf) from Research!America looking at how sequestration could affect health research and science at several U.S. agencies (Lufkin, 10/4).
The Lancet examines the history of the Obama administration’s attempt to “reform the way the country delivers development assistance for health abroad” by establishing the Global Health Initiative (GHI). “Despite unusual bipartisan support in Congress and broad consensus among development practitioners about the goals of reform, it proved surprisingly difficult for the multiple entities involved in U.S. global health assistance to agree on a way forward,” the journal states, noting that GHI leadership and the three core entities of GHI — USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR — announced the closure of the GHI office and an end to the initiative’s current phase on July 3. The Lancet outlines several challenges the initiative faced, including collaboration among the three agencies, leadership, and external factors, such as “the austere budgetary climate.”
This Lancet editorial reflects on a panel discussion held last week at Europe House in London, titled “Beyond the Eurozone Crisis: New Realities for Global Health.” The editorial notes the aim of the meeting “was to discuss opportunities and challenges that Europe faces in the midst of the financial crisis, and how it can reposition itself around policies for global health in the context of a longer term shift in the world economic order, where developing countries have become the engines of growth.” The Lancet writes, “Despite a number of treaties, white papers, and communications around Europe and global health in the past decade, a clear European vision for global health has been strikingly absent,” adding, “The meeting discussed how individual member states have led the way in advancing the global health agenda, for example, the U.K. and its Health is Global strategy.” The editorial concludes, “In a shifting landscape, it is important that Europe reframes its position in global health and aligns itself to gain greater coherence between policies, strategies, and practices. Huge health, economic, and societal benefits for developing countries and Europe can be achieved” (10/6).