“As the nations of the world attend the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week, the World Health Organization is in a budget crisis and continuing to struggle for relevancy among better-funded, more agile philanthropic foundations and disease-specific initiatives,” Thomas Bollyky, senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), writes in this CFR expert brief. “Survival for the institution is possible, but only if WHO reinvents itself as a twenty-first century international institution that can adapt to changing global health needs and thrive in austere times,” he writes (5/23).
Programs, Funding & Financing
Aid Groups Warn Yemen Needs Immediate Assistance To Prevent Food Security 'Crisis'; Donors Pledge $4B For Development
“Seven aid groups on Wednesday warned Western diplomats that Yemen was on the brink of a ‘catastrophic food crisis’ and urged them to bolster efforts to salvage the situation as they meet in Riyadh for an international conference to help the nation,” Agence France-Presse reports (5/23). The meeting of the so-called “Friends of Yemen” is expected to focus on political transition and improving security, but “[i]n their warning, the aid agencies — CARE, International Medical Corps, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, and Save the Children — say this focus is preventing action to alleviate poverty and hunger,” BBC News writes (5/22). Reuters notes that the “United States, European Union, France, Egypt, and Russia were attending the Riyadh summit on Wednesday, as were Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman” (Kane, 5/23). The donors have promised $4 billion to support development projects and stabilization efforts in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia pledging $3.25 billion of the total, Devex reports (Mungcal, 5/24).
In this article on the Feed the Future initiative’s webpage, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, and Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security and deputy coordinator for diplomacy for Feed the Future, ask and answer five questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched last week by the Obama Administration. The authors discuss the participants in the initiative, the specific commitments of these participants, as well as the costs of the initiative (5/23).
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the largest provider of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are calling for the gap between the need for and access to ART in the country to be closed, the Guardian reports. Approximately 240,000 people live with HIV in Burma, and doctors say half are in need of “urgent” ART, but national data estimates less than 30,000 were receiving ART in 2010, the newspaper writes, adding, “In a country where nearly 33 percent of people live below the poverty line, thousands of Burmese are unlikely ever to be able to afford ART, which, according to [MSF], cost $30 a month.”
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “expects to have an additional $1.6 billion to fund projects in 2012-2014, [the fund’s General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo] said on Wednesday, a turnaround from a funding freeze last year,” Reuters reports (Miles, 5/9). “The new funds are a result of ‘strategic decisions made by the Board, freeing up funds that can be invested in countries where there is the most pressing demand,’ a statement by the fund said,” according to PlusNews (5/10). “The money includes funds from new donors, from traditional donors who are advancing their payments or increasing contributions and from some donors, such as China, that have offered to support projects in their own country to free up cash for more pressing needs elsewhere, Jaramillo said,” Reuters notes (5/9). “This forecast is better than expected, and it comes from the fantastic response we are getting to our transformation,” Jaramillo said, adding, “But we need more to get the job done. Countries that implement our grants are saving more and more people, but demand for services is still enormous,” according to the statement (5/9).
In an article published in the May 8 edition of PLoS Medicine, Rajaie Batniji, an affiliate of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and Eran Bendavid of FSI’s Stanford Health Policy, found that a 2010 Lancet study by researchers at the University of Washington that “concluded that about half the money given to international governments for providing health care services isn’t used as intended” is “flawed” and “should not be used to guide decisions about how much money to give and who should get it,” according to a Stanford University news story. “Once Batniji and Bendavid excluded conflicting and outlying data, such as huge discrepancies between WHO and [International Monetary Fund] estimates and information about countries that were getting very small amounts of money from other countries, ‘There was no significant displacement of foreign aid,’ Bendavid said,” the article states (Gorlick, 5/8).
The Millennium Villages Project (MVP), established in Africa to determine what improvements can be made when programs addressing health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are implemented simultaneously, published its first results in the Lancet on Tuesday. The following opinion piece and editorial address the findings.
Gates Foundation Announces New Grants For Global Health Development Proposals Through Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, [on Wednesday] announced over 100 new grants of $100,000 each to support innovative global health and development proposals that have the potential to unlock transformative, life-saving solutions in the developing world,” a foundation press release reports. “Additionally, the Gates Foundation announced additional funding of up to $1 million each for six existing Grand Challenges Explorations projects to enable grantees to continue to advance their ideas towards global impact,” the press release adds (5/9).
In a report (.pdf) released on Tuesday, the non-governmental organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, said a new $10 billion global vaccination plan “fails to address the 20 percent of babies — some 19 million infants — who never receive basic, life-saving shots,” and that, “[r]ather than pushing for novel vaccines, the plan should focus more concretely on strategies to get existing vaccines to children,” Nature’s “News Blog” reports (Maxmen, 5/15). The “‘Global Vaccine Action Plan’ has been designed to implement the ‘Decade of Vaccines’ project and will be considered by health ministers gathering next week in Geneva for the 65th World Health Assembly,” according to an MSF press release, which adds, “MSF welcomed the increased emphasis on vaccines stimulated by the ‘Decade of Vaccines’ but expressed concern that some key challenges are being glossed over” (5/15).
GlobalPost reports on the GBCHealth Conference, which took place in New York City on Monday and where “panelists at a session titled ‘AIDS@30’ were asked how they would fulfill U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call late last year for an ‘AIDS-free generation.'” According to the news service, “Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, said the key will likely be a combination HIV prevention strategy” that “includes expansion of treatment to help prevent new infections; major scale-up of male circumcision; and treating all HIV-positive pregnant women to end the transmission of HIV from mother to child.” GlobalPost adds, “Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director, said the way to defeat AIDS had to include more financial contributions from developing countries.” GlobalPost quotes several other conference attendees (Donnelly, 5/15).