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Obama To Announce New Initiative Aimed At Boosting African Agriculture In Advance Of G8 Summit This Weekend

On Friday, President Barack Obama is expected to announce “new investments in African agriculture in a speech in Washington … as a precursor to the weekend Group of Eight [G8] summit at Camp David, Maryland,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Bjerga, 5/18). “The president is scheduled to speak to African leaders at a summit on food security Friday,” VOA News writes, adding, “[The] new initiative is expected to target 50 million food-insecure people by boosting agricultural investments” (5/17). According to NPR’s “Morning Edition,” “The leaders of Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana are among those in Washington to launch the new food security initiative, which [USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah] says will include several billion dollars in investments from private companies” (Kelemen, 5/18). “We are never going to end hunger in Africa without private investment,” Shah said, the New York Times writes (Strom, 5/17).

International Community Must Organize, Commit Financial Resources To Win War On Polio

In this editorial in the International Herald Tribune’s “Express Tribune,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon examines the global push to eradicate polio, highlighting progress in the “world’s war on polio” since it was declared nearly a quarter century ago but warning that “we are in danger of falling victim to our own success,” as “the world is now populated by a generation which has either never been exposed to polio or has been inadequately vaccinated.” However, “[w]ith a determined push, the international community can wipe out polio once and for all,” Ban continues, adding, “To do so, … it must organize and commit the required financial resources.” Ban highlights two upcoming meetings — the G8 summit at Camp David this week, and a meeting of World Health Assembly in Geneva the following week — as opportunities for world leaders to push for polio eradication on the international agenda.

House Appropriations Committee Releases Draft Report On FY13 State, Foreign Operations Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill on Thursday, The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports (Pecquet, 5/17). On Wednesday, the committee released the State and Foreign Operations Draft Committee Report (.pdf), which provides additional information on funding through the appropriations bill for U.S. global health programs at USAID and the State Department, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Policy Tracker. “This funding comprises a significant portion of the Global Health Initiative budget (total funding for the GHI is not currently available as some funding provided through USAID, HHS, and DoD are not yet available),” the website writes. The House Appropriations State and Foreign Affairs subcommittee released the draft bill on May 8 and approved it on May 9, according to the website.

Ugandan AIDS Activists Concerned Over Proposed Cuts In Nation's Health Budget

AIDS activists in Uganda are worried about a proposed reduction in the country’s health budget, as Parliament begins “a months-long budgeting process for the … next fiscal year,” VOA News reports. “AIDS activists have expressed concern that Uganda’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes a six percent cut in health funding to $307.5 million,” which “is less than 10 percent of the country’s overall budget,” the news service writes. Joshua Wamboga of The AIDS Support Organization said a lack of financial commitment from the government could undermine efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in the country, VOA notes, adding, “Government officials said the cut to the health budget reflects construction projects in that sector that have been completed and no longer require funding.” According to VOA, “The budget is months away from being finalized and activists hope there is still time to increase funds” (Green, 5/15).

Proposed FY13 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Has 'Mixed Results' For USAID's Global Health Programs

“On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee will vote on a State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013, which will include funding levels for global health and other programs at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),” Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) writes in the coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “Overall, the subcommittee’s bill had mixed results for global health and other programs at USAID: while some programs were sustained at FY 2012 levels, others saw significant budget cuts that will affect the agency’s efforts worldwide,” Bennett says, concluding, “As the House Appropriations Committee votes on the SFOPS bill on Thursday and the budget process continues, Congress will have to decide whether it should boldly support USAID’s goal of developing new health tools — tools that are projected to save millions of lives — or withdraw this support and risk halting scientific advancement in its tracks” (5/16).

U.N. Appeals For More Than $500M In Emergency Aid For South Sudan; WFP Says $360M Shortfall To Address Food Insecurity In Sahel

The U.N. is calling for $505 million in emergency aid for the people of South Sudan, with the bulk of the funding going “toward providing food to tens of thousands of South Sudanese, many of whom are returning home from Sudan,” VOA News reports (Doki, 5/15). “It is uncertain whether the appeal will be fully funded, given the status of last year’s humanitarian appeal,” Devex writes, noting that “[o]nly one-third of the nearly $800 million appeal in 2011 has been funded as of May 16” (Ravelo, 5/16). Lisa Grande, the U.N. humanitarian aid program coordinator in South Sudan, “said the amount of food needed for the region has doubled compared to last year,” according to VOA (5/15).

Driving Food, Nutrition Security To Top Of Global Agenda

In a guest post in the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought” blog, Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), examines global efforts to promote food security, noting, “WFP is deploying game-changing initiatives to build capacity, reduce hunger, and eliminate malnutrition through our groundbreaking partnerships with national governments, U.N. agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.” She writes, “Thanks to tireless studies and technological advancements, our toolbox to solve hunger is large, life-changing, and cost-effective.” She concludes, “The world’s nearly one billion people who woke up hungry this morning have not seen the proposed agenda for the upcoming G8 summit. They are counting on people like you and me to drive food and nutrition security to the top of the global agenda” (5/14).

U.S. Support For Global Fund May Be 'America's Greatest Global Health Legacy'

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world’s most powerful tool in the fight against the three pandemics,” Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images, Inc., writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog, adding, “Since 2002, the Global Fund has saved and improved millions of lives.” Klein notes the Board of the Global Fund convened in Geneva, Switzerland, for its 26th meeting last week, where Board members “discussed progress to date on the current transformation of the Global Fund from emergency response to long-term sustainability.”

Immediate Response Required To Curb Spread Of Artemisinin-Resistant Malaria In Burma

In this Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Jay Winsten, associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Trish Stroman, a principal at the Boston Consulting Group, examine “the emergence in Southeast Asia of malarial parasites resistant to artemisinin — the current gold-standard drug for treating the disease,” writing it “poses grave new challenges.” Winsten and Stroman recount a brief history of artemisinin resistance in the region and note, “While many affected countries in the region are taking swift countermeasures, the situation remains serious in Burma,” also known as Myanmar.