“Outside of immediate crisis relief,” such as the administration of measles vaccinations or oral rehydration therapy for children affected by diarrheal diseases, the U.S. government’s “past investments clearly are paying off” in the fight against drought and famine the Horn of Africa, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “U.S.-supported early-warning networks identified the famine threat a year ago,” the government is working with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. to lessen the risk of corruption and looting of food aid, and “the multi-year, multi-agency Feed the Future program [is] stimulat[ing] research into making plants more nutritious and crops more drought-resistant,” he notes.
Programs, Funding & Financing
In response “to an urgent appeal from the WHO,” Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said on Monday that the country’s government is releasing $143 million “in frozen funds from Moammar Qaddafi’s regime and sending the money to the World Health Organization to buy medicine for the Libyan population,” according to Associated Press/Forbes. “Rosenthal said Monday he was able to free up the money only after [the] United Nations approved the plan, which will see medicines distributed to civilians in towns and cities held by both rebels and forces loyal to Qaddafi,” the AP writes (8/15).
A shrinking Department of Defense (DOD) budget and a shift in the focus of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to “more traditional military threats” to national security, such as “preventing terrorist safe havens on the continent,” could affect the department’s HIV prevention programs, Stars and Stripes reports. While officials say there currently is no intent to cut HIV prevention programming, “those initiatives will come under more scrutiny as AFRICOM operates in a tougher budget environment, according to command officials,” the news service writes.
In the wake of the agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, and “[w]ith 20 percent cuts already on the table, the international affairs budget is in for a tough fight throughout the fall,” Richard Parker, director of communications for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, writes in a post on Devex’s “Obama’s Foreign Aid Reform” blog, stating, “It is more critical than ever for the development community to demonstrate how strategic and effective its programs are for U.S. national security, for our own economy, and as a demonstration of our leadership in the world.”
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, U.S. representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, writes about her recent visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. “There is something remarkable about seeing how U.S. contributions â€“ both from our government and the private sector â€“ can be transformed into something as concrete and life-saving as a simple meal for a little girl. Washington has committed around $580 million to the relief effort. Hopefully that will save a lot more children here in Dadaab and around the Horn. The international community has provided around $1.4 billion, but it’s not enough â€“ I know that and we continue to push for more support from other donors. But it is a start and it is making a real and lasting difference,” she writes (8/12).
“Even now, eight years after our civil war ended, Liberia faces a huge uphill battle,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf writes in a Washington Post opinion piece, adding that “[w]ith support from the United States, we have been able to make progress. â€¦ It is critical that this aid continues in next year’s budget.”
The August 8 visit of a U.S. delegation to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa “was important in terms of shedding light on the important efforts that are under way and the importance of continued support from the international community,” Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric Schwartz said on Tuesday during a briefing on the trip, IIP Digital reports (Babb, 8/9).
BMJ News examines financing for and efforts to reform the WHO, which “are raising concerns over conflict of interest.” The article looks at a reform package announced in May by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan at the World Health Assembly, as well as the first World Health Forum, set for November 2012. The forum, which aims to discover the expectations of global health players, “has yet to gain the formal approval of the [WHO] executive board, which will discuss it at its November meeting and again next January,” according to BMJ (Hawkes, 8/9).
The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that 1.5 to 2 million more people in Afghanistan likely will be pushed into food insecurity later this year because of ongoing drought in the northern, northeastern and western parts of the country, IRIN reports. Seven million people in the country already are facing food shortages, according to the article.
U.S. Delegation in South Africa To Renew Bilateral Relationship, Create Sustainable Partnerships in Health
This post on the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)’s Commission on Smart Global Health Policy blog examines tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa, “which has the highest tuberculosis infection rate per population and accounts for 5 percentÂ of the global TB burden.” The post isÂ part of a seriesÂ to be posted…