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U.N. Appeals For $1.5B In Humanitarian Aid For Syria

“The United Nations and its humanitarian partners [on Wednesday] appealed for $1.5 billion to assist civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria over the next six months, including those inside the country as well as those taking refuge beyond its borders,” the U.N. News Centre reports (12/19). “The twin appeals are for $519.6 million to help four million people within Syria and $1 billion to meet the needs of up to one million Syrian refugees in five other countries until July 2013,” Reuters writes (Nebehay/Charbonneau, 12/19). “Collectively they comprise the largest short term humanitarian appeal ever,” a UNOCHA press release states (12/19).

Voluntary Moratorium On H5N1 Avian Flu Research Likely To End Soon

Following the conclusion of a two-day meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week — meant “to gather feedback from flu researchers, others in the science community, and the public on its draft framework for funding H5N1 gain-of-function studies and to continue an international dialogue on issues related to benefits and risks of the research” — “experts anticipated that a voluntary moratorium on work with lab-modified strains that have increased transmissibility might end soon,” CIDRAP News reports (Schnirring, 12/18). “That’s because officials at the National Institutes of Health say they will be moving swiftly to finalize a new process for deciding whether or not to fund proposed experiments that could potentially create more dangerous forms of the bird flu virus H5N1,” NPR’s “Shots” blog notes.

‘Repackaging’ Of U.N. Cholera Initiative Detracts Attention From Epidemic’s Origin

“Those following the two-year-old saga of the United Nations and cholera in Haiti were startled by” the U.N.’s announcement last week of a $2.2 billion initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, freelance journalist Jonathan Katz and Tom Murphy, editor of the development blog “A View From the Cave,” write in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Since [the crisis began in October 2010], scores of epidemiologists — including those appointed by the U.N. itself — have unearthed overwhelming evidence supporting the hypothesis that [U.N. peacekeepers] carried the disease and introduced it to Haiti through negligent sanitation,” they continue, adding, “In response, U.N. officials have ignored, dismissed, or mischaracterized it all.”

Seattle Times Examines Partnership Between Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Uganda Cancer Institute

The Seattle Times examines a partnership between the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). In 2008, “the two institutes formally agreed to collaborate on clinical care and research projects, and more recently a major building project at Uganda’s only cancer-research center,” the newspaper writes. Corey Casper, director of the UCI/Fred Hutchinson Research Center Cancer Alliance, “says [the partnership] has the potential to demonstrate ‘that you can do first-rate research that can alter the impact of cancer care in the developing world, and that the craft of oncology can be practiced as well in Africa as it is in the developed world, just like it is with HIV,'” according to the Seattle Times (Silberner, 12/16).

Continued U.S. Leadership Crucial To Building On Global Progress Against TB

Tuberculosis (TB) “is the second leading cause of death due to infectious disease worldwide; taking approximately 1.4 million lives in 2011 alone,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” adding, “The good news is that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halt and reverse the TB epidemic by 2015 has already been achieved in several regions of the world.” She notes “advances have been made in TB diagnostics with the increased availability of Xpert, a new test that detects the disease — including in HIV-positive people — within 100 minutes.” However, she continues, “we cannot defeat the disease without the introduction of faster drug susceptibility tests and new drugs and vaccines.”

CSIS Paper Examines U.S. Role In Global Polio Eradication

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has published a paper (.pdf), titled “The U.S. Role In Global Polio Eradication,” that “provides an overview of the global polio eradication effort, emphasizing the U.S. role,” according to the paper’s summary. The paper, authored by CSIS Global Health Policy Center Fellow Nellie Bristol, aims “to explain how the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) came to where it is today and discuss plans for moving it forward.” The summary continues, “The focus on the United States is not meant to detract from the enormous international investments or essential contributions of individuals from other countries. But by highlighting American involvement, the paper aims to help U.S. policymakers understand the costs, benefits, and challenges of polio eradication and plans to complete eradication and transition GPEI methods and resources into other programs” (12/17).

Automatic U.S. Budget Cuts Would Hurt Global Health Efforts

In a post on the PATH blog, Rachel Wilson, senior director for policy and advocacy at PATH, examines the consequences of budget negotiations and “what enacting billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts could mean for people living in poverty around the world.” She continues, “According to a report from the Office of Management and Budget reported on the Kaiser Family Foundation website, if the automatic cuts take effect, global health funding through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department would decrease by $670 million, or 8.2 percent from 2012 levels.” Wilson writes, “These kinds of cuts would have very real consequences,” and she cites estimates from amfAR and the Guttmacher Institute about how cuts would affect access to HIV/AIDS, malaria, childhood disease, and reproductive health prevention and treatment. She concludes, “The United States has contributed to incredible gains in global health. Any retreat from our leadership would set us back in ways that are unimaginable” (12/17).

Malaria Progress At Risk As Funding For Global Response Levels Off, WHO Report States

“The remarkable gains made in the treatment of malaria over the past decade are under threat because of insufficient increases in funding over the past two years, according to an annual progress report by the World Health Organization,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 12/17). In its World Malaria Report 2012 (.pdf), the [WHO] notes that rapid expansion in global funding for malaria prevention and control between 2004 and 2009 leveled off between 2010 and 2012,” the U.N. News Centre writes (12/17). “Global funding for malaria control remained at $2.3 billion in 2011, the WHO said” in the report, Bloomberg notes, adding, “Money available for combating the mosquito-borne disease is expected to peak at about half of the $5.1 billion that’s needed annually to provide bed nets, tests and drugs to all the people who need them, the WHO said” (Bennett, 12/17). “This means that millions of people living in highly endemic areas continue to lack access to effective malaria prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment,” according to a WHO press release (12/17).

House, Senate Pass Reproductive Health Bill In Philippines

“Lawmakers on Monday approved legislation calling for government-funded contraception and sex education classes in the Philippines, a first in the heavily Catholic nation,” CNN reports (12/17). The House of Representatives and the Senate … approved the Reproductive Health (RH) bill on third and final reading, pushing the controversial bill a step closer to being signed into law,” the Philippine Star writes (Diola/Cerda, 12/17). “Voting 13-8 with no abstention, the Senate passed the RH bill on third and final reading,” Inquirer News notes, adding, “At the House of Representatives, lawmakers voted 133 to 79 with seven abstentions to approve its version of the measure” (Ager/Santos, 12/17).

Global Fund, Nigeria Sign Grants For HIV, TB Initiatives

“On Thursday (Dec. 14), [Nigeria] signed five grant agreements with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” with some of the money going “to provide for antiretroviral therapy treatment and prevention services, particularly on mother-to-child HIV transmission,” Devex’s “The Development Newswire” blog reports. Of the total $335 million, $265 million will go toward HIV/AIDS activities, while $70 million will be used for TB initiatives, the blog notes (Ravelo, 12/14). “For Nigeria, [the] grant agreements address a tremendous need: Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world and only 30 percent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving antiretroviral therapy,” a Global Fund press release states (12/13).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.