A post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog describes an event to launch a recent report from GHTC and Policy Cures on “data on U.S. investments over the past 10 years in global health research and development (R&D).” The event, co-hosted by Research!America, featured comments from panelists Javier Guzman, director of research at Policy Cures; Lee Hall, chief of the Parasitology and International Programs Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Heather Ignatius, senior manager for policy at the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development; and Eric Easom, program leader for neglected diseases at Anacor Pharmaceuticals, according to the blog (Lufkin, 5/1).
Programs, Funding & Financing
A Wall Street Journal editorial addresses reports published on April 14 in the Guardian alleging that the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID) funded a program in India that “has ‘forcibly sterilized Indian women and men’ — a practice India supposedly left behind in the 1970s,” the editorial states. “DfID issued a statement objecting to the Guardian’s report, saying that its funding was not meant to be going to ‘sterilization’ centers, only to helping ‘women access a mix of reversible methods of family planning,’ such as contraceptive pills, and to ‘improve the quality of services,'” the editorial writes, adding, “DfID says it has also offered technical support to help Indian authorities crack down on forced sterilization.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “A DfID official, who declined to be named, clarified to us that the national Indian program funded by British taxpayers does include voluntary sterilization, but that sterilization specifically is ‘not part of what we fund,'” and “[h]e added that DfID will end its support for the national Indian program next year and will focus family-planning aid only on state governments in India’s poorest regions” (5/1).
The House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee on Wednesday approved, without changes, its version of the FY 2013 U.S. international affairs appropriations bill, Devex reports (Mungcal, 5/10). The bill provides $40.1 billion in regular discretionary funding and an additional $8.2 billion in funding for ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and if enacted would represent a 12 percent cut from the President’s request and a five percent cut from 2012, according to a House Committee on Appropriations press release (5/8). “Despite the cuts, the legislation won bipartisan backing from the Appropriations foreign aid panel, though it’s sure to draw a White House veto threat because it’s in line with a broader GOP spending plan that breaks faith with last summer’s budget and debt pact with President Barack Obama,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (5/9). “The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee, which is expected to vote on it next week,” Devex notes (5/10).
“Algeria will partner with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to build the first HIV/AIDS research center in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Nature Middle East reports. “The center, which should be operational by 2013, will be based in the city of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria” and “will bring together researchers from Africa, Europe and the United States working on treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” the magazine writes.
“Over the next few weeks, appropriators will be engaged in the challenging task of evaluating U.S. foreign assistance funding, including how effectively Congress’ global health investments are being used,” Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Molly Joel Coye, interim president and CEO of PATH; Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children; and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, write in this Roll Call opinion piece. They continue, “As organizations funded in part by the U.S. government to implement global health programs in the field,” we “see firsthand how U.S. global health programs are working, and why now is not the time to cut multilateral and bilateral funding for these efforts.”
As Agriculture Intensifies To Promote Food Security, Prevention Research For Buruli Ulcer Also Must Intensify
“Buruli ulcer could spread as agriculture intensifies in Africa, making prevention research vital,” Rousseau Djouaka, a researcher at the Benin branch of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), argues in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. “The intensification of lowland agriculture has been linked with the increased incidence of human diseases such as malaria, schistosomiasis and Buruli ulcer (BU),” he writes, noting, “Of these, BU remains the least well documented and most neglected in the wet agro-ecosystems of west and central Africa.” He provides statistics regarding infection rates in Africa and notes, “People affected by the skin infection, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans, develop large ulcers which often result in scarring, deformities, amputations, and disabilities, especially when the diagnosis is delayed.”
Speaking at an economic forum in Madrid, Spain, “[t]he head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], Jose Graziano da Silva, warned Thursday of a major funding gap for activities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports. “He added that boosting food security entailed combining emergency action with support for family farming and smallholder production, as well as promoting long term development and reducing vulnerability to extreme events, like drought,” the news agency writes (5/10). According to the U.N. News Centre, Graziano da Silva also called for the involvement of “civil society, private enterprise, international agencies, and the governments of developing and developed countries” to help fight chronic hunger and malnutrition — which affects one of every seven people in the world — because it “is a challenge too great for FAO or any government to overcome alone” (5/10).
In this post on the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Research Fellow Victoria Fan, Director of Global Health Policy Amanda Glassman, and Research Assistant Rachel Silverman of CGD examine what they call the “serious limitations” of a study published recently in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene that looked at the impact of HIV/AIDS funding on Rwanda’s health system. After describing several “shortcomings,” they write, “We understand that the authors likely suffered from significant data constraints; likewise, we recognize the enormous empirical challenges in demonstrating system-wide effects at the national level. Still, it remains important to carefully state results and recognize the limitations of one’s research.” They conclude, “The jury is still out on whether HIV/AIDS funding has displaced or improved efforts on other disease control priorities” (5/10).
PRI’s “The World” profiles Gabon’s Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which “is struggling to achieve the goals of its founder while adapting to a new century and a different Africa.” The story recaps the hospital’s history and its board’s recent efforts to address what one board member described as locals’ “dependency” on historically European directors. However, Lachlan Forrow, a doctor at Harvard Medical School and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the only American on the hospital’s board, recently became president of the board, and he has worked to establish “a new relationship between locals and outsiders — blacks and whites,” PRI reports. Forrow “found an experienced Gabonese hospital administrator — Antoine Nziengui –” who is now the Schweitzer Hospital director, an African “for the first time since the hospital was founded 99 years ago,” the news service writes, adding that the hospital “still faces huge obstacles: a million-dollar budget deficit, antiquated facilities, a rising burden of HIV and tuberculosis” (Baron, 5/17).
Blogs Address Food Security, African Agriculture In Anticipation Of High-Level Meetings In Washington
Several blogs recently have published posts in anticipation of a symposium on food security taking place in Washington on Friday, at which President Barack Obama is expected to speak, and the G8 summit at Camp David in Maryland on Friday and Saturday, both of which will focus on food security and agriculture in Africa.