In a post on the Action for Global Health blog, Tim Roosen, coordinator of Action for Global Health, discusses a new report, launched Wednesday in conjunction with the Medical Mission Institute (MMI), examining official development assistance (ODA) from European countries. “Our findings show that many of Europe’s biggest economies are not living up to their commitments on ODA and that many are also not reaching the 0.1 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) target for global health, set by the WHO a decade ago,” the blog states. The report, titled “Results or Rhetoric: What you didn’t know about Europe’s aid for health,” “culminates in a number of recommendations to donors, the OECD and civil society,” according to the blog (11/14).
Programs, Funding & Financing
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said in a statement Thursday that its board had terminated the employment of Inspector General John Parsons ‘after a careful review of his performance, which was found to be unsatisfactory,'” the Associated Press reports (11/15). “The decision … , which was effective immediately, was based on a review by the board, an independent external peer review of the audit function, and a report by the group’s audit and ethics committee,” Reuters notes (Nebehay, 11/15). In a statement, the Global Fund said, “The Board confirms its full support for an independent and strong Office of the Inspector General.” The statement continues, “The Board said that it recognized the need to maintain continuity in the work of the audits and investigations currently underway, while the Global Fund conducts a search for a new Inspector General.” That process is expected to take about six months, and an interim Inspector General will be appointed soon, according to the statement (11/15).
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Wednesday said an investigation by the group’s Inspector General into grants in Cambodia “uncovered credible and substantive evidence of serious financial wrongdoing, on procurement and other issues,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/15). In a statement, the organization said, “Immediate action has been taken to protect the health of people supported by Global Fund grants in Cambodia, by adopting safeguards in procurement, financing and management” and added it “is committed to maintaining its grants in Cambodia and to expanding safeguards to protect its investments.” The statement adds, “An investigation report by the Office of the Inspector General is being finalized, and is expected to be publicly released once it is completed in the coming weeks” (11/14). According to AFP, “The mismanaged money amounts to under $1 million and was allocated to Cambodian officials to spend on anti-malaria programs, said a source with knowledge of the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity” (11/15).
Improving access to family planning for the 222 million women who lack such services would bring many benefits, including helping to reduce maternal mortality and improve infant survival, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin says in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, citing the recently released State of the World Population 2012 report. However, “[i]n many poor countries, contraceptives may not be available or families may lack the money to buy them,” and “social barriers and family resistance are also powerful barriers,” he says, adding, “So too is the lack of proper health or distribution systems or trained workers to give confidential advice.” He continues, “This huge unmet need comes despite the fact that there is almost universal agreement that access to family planning is a human right. By denying this right, we are putting other basic rights at risk across the world.”
With recent suggestions “of privatizing the [U.S.] government’s emergency response capability for natural and human-caused disasters and infectious diseases,” Henry (Chip) Carey, an associate professor of political science at Georgia State University in Atlanta, writes in the World Policy Blog, “One might want to look at Haiti for a case study in the effects of bypassing the government health sector for private organizations.” He continues, “In Haiti, the result of decoupling the state from health care has been across the board decreases in water and sanitation quality.” Carey reviews the history of Haiti’s health system and conditions surrounding the 2010 cholera outbreak. He concludes, “What is needed are comprehensive, low-tech sanitation systems and clean, common water sources throughout the country, overseen by the Haitian government. In the past three decades, the U.S. has not given Haiti’s leaders the chance to show us that they can rise to the occasion. It is high time we change course and help the Haitians help themselves” (11/14).
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, USAID assistant administrator for global health, writes in the agency’s IMPACTblog about his recent trip to Burma and the challenges the country faces as it transitions to an open society. “Hope springs anew for a transformative era of peace, prosperity and development for a country that’s just emerging from isolation from the international community,” he says, adding, “[W]hile maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, [tuberculosis (TB)] and malaria are obvious targets for investment, there was a strong emphasis on the importance of strengthening health systems and stemming the growing problem of chronic diseases and injuries.” Pablos-Mendez continues, “New commitments in health” from the country’s leadership, the U.S., and other partners “hold promise for the Burmese people” (11/14).
In the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy at CGD, and Denizhan Duran, a CGD research assistant in global health, examine a new report (.pdf) by the IMS Institute, which focuses on how countries can advance the responsible use of medicines. “Today, one-fifth of total health spending goes to medicines,” they write, adding, “Figuring out how to realize efficiencies in medicines spending is therefore crucial for every country, and for the international funders that support them.” They discuss the conclusions and limitations of the report, which supports the findings “of our recent work on priority-setting in health.” In effect, they say improved health technology assessment (HTA) agencies “could weigh cost-effectiveness, affordability and other factors in order to decide which medical interventions should receive higher priority in the allocation of scarce public and donor money” (11/14).
Writing in Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog, Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the board of the TB ACTION Group, notes “countries from north and south, U.N. organizations, private sector companies and [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] are meeting in Geneva [this week] at the Board meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to discuss how best to invest available resources against the three killer diseases.” She highlights “a new approach to fight AIDS, which basically could lead to the end of the global pandemic,” noting, “UNAIDS calls it ‘the people-centered investment approach.'” Chesire interviews Bernhard Schwartlander, director of evidence, innovation and policy at UNAIDS, about this new approach.
Speaking at the World Bank on Wednesday, “Irish rock star and anti-poverty activist Bono said thousands of people could die from AIDS if the United States cuts development assistance to reduce the budget deficit,” Reuters reports. Bono is in “Washington this week to urge politicians to spare U.S. development aid, as Congress is embroiled in negotiations aimed at preventing looming tax hikes and spending cuts known as the ‘fiscal cliff,'” the news agency writes. Citing “figures from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research,” Bono said “a shrinking U.S. budget for global health would leave more than 275,000 people without treatment for the autoimmune disease, leading to 63,000 more AIDS-related deaths,” the news service writes (Yukhananov, 11/14). “We know there’s going to be cuts. … We understand that. But not cuts that cost lives,” Bono said, according to the Wall Street Journal (11/14). “Bono … also spoke to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Wednesday about the need for transparent data to fight corruption, and the deadline for eliminating poverty,” Reuters adds (11/14). “According to Bono, who peppered his serious speech with jokes, guaranteeing transparency would be the biggest ‘turbo-charger’ to the fight against extreme poverty,” the Manila Bulletin reports (11/15). Business Insider provides video footage of Bono’s discussion with Kim (Ro, 11/14).
UNFPA Calls Family Planning An ‘Essential Human Right,’ Says Meeting Unmet Need Could Save More Than $11B Annually
In its annual State of the World Population 2012 report, the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday “called family planning an ‘essential human right’ and urged the world’s nations to help meet the needs of 222 million women in developing countries,” The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports (Pecquet, 11/14). According to Inter Press Service, the report “says the huge unmet need for family planning persists, ‘despite international agreements and human rights treaties that promote individuals’ rights to make their own decisions about when and how often to have children'” (11/14). However, “[i]t is the first time the … annual report explicitly describes family planning as a human right,” the Associated Press notes, adding, “It effectively declares that legal, cultural, and financial barriers to accessing contraception and other family planning measures are an infringement of women’s rights” (11/14). “UNFPA insists that family planning is not optional; it is a fundamental right, and the obligation to fulfill it is a formal treaty obligation,” IRIN writes (11/14). But “[i]t is not binding and has no legal effect on national laws,” CBS News notes (11/14).