NPR’s “Shots” blog profiles Vanessa Kerry, a physician and daughter of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and her work to develop the Global Health Service Partnership to send nurses and doctors to work abroad in exchange for a pay-down in their student loans. The partnership’s goal “is to reduce the severe shortage of medical workers in developing countries,” according to the blog, which adds Kerry “thinks the partnership will also strengthen health care here stateside by infusing U.S. doctors with a worldview centered on making the most of available resources.” The program is working with the Peace Corps and receives funding through PEPFAR, the blog notes (Doucleff, 9/26).
Programs, Funding & Financing
“In a speech to the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, [Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney] acknowledged the value of foreign aid and its purpose: providing humanitarian assistance, improving security and encouraging economic growth,” but “we don’t know whether he would really protect the current budget … from further cuts if he is elected,” a New York Times editorial states. “Romney focused most of his attention on overhauling aid programs,” the editorial writes. “Romney’s call for more public-private partnerships on aid projects makes sense,” the editorial says, noting an Obama administration public-private partnership to provide cleaner cookstoves. In addition, “[h]is talk about the potentially transformative nature of American assistance and the need to invest more in small and medium-size businesses that will create jobs and lift ailing economies is also sensible and in line with administration policies,” the editorial states.
The U.N. on Wednesday “presented a plan to make life-saving health supplies more accessible, while a new report found that, despite impressive reductions in maternal and child mortality in the past decade in some countries, millions of women and children still die every year from preventable causes,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “With its new plan, the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children aims to improve access and use of essential medicines, medical devices and health supplies that effectively address causes of death during pregnancy, childbirth and into childhood,” the news service writes (9/26). “Prices for long-acting contraception will be halved for 27 million women in the developing world through [the] new partnership, former President Bill Clinton and other world leaders announced” on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the Associated Press writes. “The deal will help avoid almost 30 million unwanted pregnancies and save an estimated $250 million in health costs, the partnership said,” according to the AP (DePasquale, 9/26).
“When it comes to getting aid right, an all-too-familiar problem seems to be balancing the priorities of rich governments with what communities actually want,” AlertNet reports in an article examining an essay written by Oxford University researcher Devi Sridhar and published in PLOS Medicine. The essay “assesses the system of financing for health research,” according to the news service (Nguyen, 9/26). “Sridhar argues that since the priorities of funding bodies largely dictate what health issues and diseases are studied, a major challenge in the governance of global health research funding is agenda-setting, which in turn is a consequence of a larger phenomenon — ‘multi-bi financing,'” according to a PLOS press release (9/25). “Multi-bi financing refers to the practice of donors choosing to route non-core funding — earmarked for specific sectors, themes, countries, or regions — through multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank and to the emergence of new multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance,” she writes.
“Women and children shared the spotlight at the 27th session of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports (Ravelo, 9/26). At the high-level event at the U.N. in New York, “U.N. Women, the United Nations body for female empowerment and gender equality, called for stronger action from world leaders to prevent and punish sexual violence in conflict,” Inter Press Service writes (Bergdahl, 9/26). “Representatives from Member States, U.N. agencies and more than 30 non-governmental organizations took part in the discussion, which also drew the participation of women Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi from Iran, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, and Jody Williams from the United States,” the U.N. News Centre notes (9/25).
“Britain’s National Audit Office (NAO), akin to the US Government Accountability Office or GAO, is applauding the Department for International Development’s Multilateral Aid Review,” Sarah Jane Staats, director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Program at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in this post in the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog.” She continues, “The United States would be wise to follow Britain’s lead and conduct its own multilateral (or even bilateral) aid review to inform tough budget decisions ahead,” adding, “Until the United States conducts its own review, the U.K. experience affirms that the Unites States should — at a minimum — keep pushing for better aid data, including reporting to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Dashboard and the International Aid Transparency Initiative’s (IATI) standards” (9/24).
“During these tough budget times, citizens across the world rightfully question the effectiveness of government spending, including funds spent on foreign assistance,” Daniel Yohannes, chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece. “At the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign aid agency with a global investment portfolio of more than $9.3 billion, we believe our assistance should be earned,” he writes. “MCC is an integral part of the administration’s comprehensive efforts to modernize U.S. development policies and programs, placing us at the forefront of foreign aid reform,” he continues, adding, “And one of the most effective tools we have to carry out this mission is the ability to say ‘no.'”
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has released initial details on its new funding model, … [b]ut as the fund works to finalize the model before next year, civil society is criticizing the process for being untransparent and rushed,” IRIN reports in an article examining the draft model and reaction to it. Some groups have expressed concern over the fund’s decision to “base funding allocations for each diseases on previously used levels for up to one year,” while “many African civil society organizations have expressed dissatisfaction with the speed and transparency of the process,” IRIN writes. “The Global Fund board is expected to make a final decision on the model at its November board meeting,” the news service notes (9/25).
“President Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, appeared within hours of each other Tuesday at [the Clinton Global Initiative,] a global charitable gathering hosted by former president Bill Clinton, each focusing on how the United States can better promote prosperity and human rights abroad and at home,” the Washington Post reports (Rucker/Wilson, 9/25). Saying “that decades of foreign aid have not extinguished ‘the suffering and hardship,’ Romney called for big changes in the approach to foreign assistance,” the Associated Press/Fox News writes (9/25). According to Foreign Policy, Romney “pledged … to shift foreign aid toward the private sector and deprioritize humanitarian aid in favor of promoting free enterprise and business development around the world” and “then said he would lower the priority of foreign aid as a means to address humanitarian needs, such as health, as well as foreign aid as a means to promote U.S. strategic interests” (Rogin, 9/25). “His plan, which he called ‘Prosperity Pacts,’ calls for tying development money to requirements that countries allow U.S. investment and remove trade barriers,” the AP adds (9/25).
On Monday in Maputo, Mozambique, U.S. Ambassador Douglas Griffiths signed funding agreements with 29 community-based organizations that will receive a total of $1.4 million through PEPFAR’s small grants program “to strengthen health systems, boost professional training and implement income generating activities for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS,” the Mozambique News Agency/AllAfrica.com reports. “Because of your local knowledge, we can reach the most affected communities and spread messages about preventing HIV, treatment, and the available care and support,” Griffiths said, according to the news service, which notes the money “from the U.S. embassy for the fight against HIV/AIDS is not new” (9/24).