In this opinion piece in the Kansas City Star’s “As I See It,” Nancy Lindborg, USAID assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance and a guest speaker at this week’s International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City, discusses food aid and highlights USAID’s response to last year’s food crisis in the Horn of Africa. She writes, “None of this would have been possible without the hard work and generosity of the American public, and especially the farmers, manufacturers and shippers that I am honored to meet with again this week in Kansas City.”
Programs, Funding & Financing
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.”
The Globe and Mail examines the sustainability of Sierra Leone’s free health care system, writing, “The reform has been hugely successful and the death rate has dropped sharply. … [But t]he country’s hospitals are overwhelmed with new patients, the drug supply can’t keep up, the medical staff are overloaded, and it’s unclear if the $36-million program would survive without foreign donations.” According to the newspaper, “The principle of free health care is a sharp break from earlier ideology” that supported “‘cost recovery’ — a system of user fees in hospitals” — which leaders thought “would generate money to fix their badly underfunded health systems.” However, the user fees “were widely criticized, they failed to solve the funding problems, and they created a new barrier to health care” for many without the means to pay, the Globe and Mail writes.
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.”
The House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee on Tuesday released a draft (.pdf) of its FY 2013 appropriations bill, Devex reports (Mungcal, 5/8). “The bill, to be marked up by the subcommittee Wednesday morning, would provide $40.1 billion for the base budget of the State Department, USAID, and international affairs programs in other agencies, in addition to $8.2 billion for diplomatic and development programs related to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan in what’s known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account,” Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” writes, noting, “If enacted, the legislation would represent a 12 percent cut from the administration’s $54.71 billion budget request” (Rogin, 5/8).
Millennium Villages Project Research Yields Positive Results, But Some Researchers Question Methods Used
“Death rates among children under five at the [Millennium Villages Project (MVP)] — set up in Africa to demonstrate what is possible if health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are tackled simultaneously — have fallen by a third in three years compared with similar communities, according to the project’s first results,” published in the Lancet on Tuesday, the Guardian reports (Boseley, 5/8). The study “offers quantitative evidence of the success of the MVP model at nine Millennium Village sites in sub-Saharan Africa,” Nature News writes, adding, “Between 2006 and 2009, mortality in under-fives fell by an average of 22 percent, reaching a level roughly two-thirds of that in control villages not involved with the project, where child mortality seemed to rise.”
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).
“The U.K. Department for International Development [DfID] is reviving its budget support to the Malawian government after rerouting aid to non-governmental organizations last year,” Devex reports. “Ten million pounds ($16 million) will go to the country’s health system, according to a [DfID] press release [.pdf] published Saturday,” Devex writes, noting, “This is part of the 110 million pounds [$140.7 million] DfID previously agreed to provide in support of Malawi’s Health Sector Strategic Plan, which runs 2011 to 2016” (5/14).
“Africa needs to boost agricultural productivity and address the debilitating hunger that affects 27 percent of its population if it is to sustain its economic boom, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said [in a report] on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Migiro, 5/15). In its first-ever “Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future,” UNDP “notes that with more than one in four of its 856 million people undernourished, sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s most food insecure region,” the Guardian writes. According to the newspaper, the report says, “Hunger and extended periods of malnutrition not only devastate families and communities in the short term, but leave a legacy with future generations which impairs livelihoods and undermines human development.”
“If you had $75 billion to spend over the next four years and your goal was to advance human welfare, especially in the developing world, how could you get the most value for your money?” Bjorn Lomborg, an author and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, asks in this opinion piece in Slate Magazine’s “Copenhagen Consensus 2012” section. “That is the question that I posed to a panel of five top economists, including four Nobel laureates, in the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 project,” he writes, noting, “The panel members were chosen for their expertise in prioritization and their ability to use economic principles to compare policy choices.”