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Report Examines Foreign Affairs Budget Reforms In Light Of Austerity

“The United States should be more selective about where and how it spends foreign assistance,” according to a new report (.pdf), titled “Engagement Amid Austerity: A Bipartisan Approach to Reorienting the International Affairs Budget,” co-authored by John Norris of the Center for American Progress and Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development (CGD), the CGD website notes. The report “identifies four flagship reforms that would help U.S. foreign affairs institutions to better reflect national interests and reduce ineffective spending,” including “[a]ccelerat[ing] cost-sharing arrangements with upper middle income recipients of” PEPFAR and “[o]verhaul[ing] U.S. food aid laws and regulations,” according to the website (5/8).

NCATS Initiative To Use Abandoned Experimental Drugs For Other Uses ‘A Step In The Right Direction’

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) — a new plan to help speed drug development by making abandoned experimental drugs available to researchers who can look for alternative uses — “is an indication that the Obama administration and the medical research enterprise are thinking out of the box,” Michael Manganiello, a partner at HCM Strategists, writes in a Huffington Post “Politics Blog” opinion piece. Manganiello — who says the drug AZT, which originally was developed to treat cancer, helped him live long enough to reap the benefits of new drugs developed in the mid-1990s to treat HIV infection — joined HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and NIH Director Francis Collins this week in launching the initiative, which he says “is a step in the right direction and it is critical that industry collaborate with patient groups and their constituents.”

International Community, U.S. Should Increase Resources, Mandate For Fighting NCDs In Developing World

In this Foreign Affairs essay, Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow for global health, economics and development at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines the increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the developing world, writing, “When most people in developed countries think of the biggest health challenges confronting the developing world, they envision a small boy in a rural, dusty village beset by an exotic parasite or bacterial blight,” but “NCDs in developing countries are occurring more rapidly, arising in younger people, and leading to far worse health outcomes than ever seen in developed countries.” He notes, “According to the World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Risks report, these diseases pose a greater threat to global economic development than fiscal crises, natural disasters, corruption, or infectious disease.”

House Appropriations Subcommittee Releases FY 2013 State And Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee on Tuesday released a draft (.pdf) of its FY 2013 appropriations bill, Devex reports (Mungcal, 5/8). “The bill, to be marked up by the subcommittee Wednesday morning, would provide $40.1 billion for the base budget of the State Department, USAID, and international affairs programs in other agencies, in addition to $8.2 billion for diplomatic and development programs related to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan in what’s known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account,” Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” writes, noting, “If enacted, the legislation would represent a 12 percent cut from the administration’s $54.71 billion budget request” (Rogin, 5/8).

Center For Global Development Blog Post Examines Debate On Whether Health Is 'Fungible'

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, David Roodman, a research fellow at CGD, writes about “the debate on whether health is ‘fungible,’ i.e., whether giving money to governments to spend on health leads them to cut their own funding for [the] same, thereby effectively siphoning health aid into other uses.” He writes, “Two years ago, a team of authors mostly affiliated with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle concluded in the Lancet (gated) that health aid has been highly fungible,” but “two physician-scholars at Stanford have reanalyzed IHME’s data in PLoS Medicine (quite ungated) and judged the Lancet findings to be spuriously generated by bad and/or extreme data points.” Roodman notes that he is continuing to analyze data from both studies and plans to “get to the bottom of the latest research on health aid fungibility” (5/14).

To Maintain Growth, Africa Needs To Improve Food Security, UNDP Report Says

“Africa needs to boost agricultural productivity and address the debilitating hunger that affects 27 percent of its population if it is to sustain its economic boom, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said [in a report] on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Migiro, 5/15). In its first-ever “Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future,” UNDP “notes that with more than one in four of its 856 million people undernourished, sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s most food insecure region,” the Guardian writes. According to the newspaper, the report says, “Hunger and extended periods of malnutrition not only devastate families and communities in the short term, but leave a legacy with future generations which impairs livelihoods and undermines human development.”

With Limited Budget, Prioritizing Investments In Projects To Advance Human Welfare Is Critical

“If you had $75 billion to spend over the next four years and your goal was to advance human welfare, especially in the developing world, how could you get the most value for your money?” Bjorn Lomborg, an author and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, asks in this opinion piece in Slate Magazine’s “Copenhagen Consensus 2012” section. “That is the question that I posed to a panel of five top economists, including four Nobel laureates, in the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 project,” he writes, noting, “The panel members were chosen for their expertise in prioritization and their ability to use economic principles to compare policy choices.”

‘Taboo’ Surrounding Toilets, Sanitation Hindering Progress Toward Improved Access

“Governments are failing to fund projects to improve access to toilets and other sanitation services in poor countries because the subject remains ‘taboo,’ a director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Monday,” Reuters reports. “About 1.1 billion people across the world still defecate in the open because they have no toilets, according to the United Nations,” Reuters writes. “It’s the last big taboo and as a result more than one million kids die every year. Diarrhea is the second largest cause of death after respiratory infections in young children,” Frank Rijsberman, director of water, sanitation and hygiene at the foundation, said at the Global Water Summit 2012 conference in Rome, the news service notes.

Guttmacher Institute Media Update Examines Impact Of U.S. Family Planning Assistance Abroad

The Guttmacher Institute on Friday released a media update examining the impact of U.S. international family planning assistance. The update highlights the benefits supported by $610 million “appropriated for U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs for FY 2012” and states, “These gains would be seriously jeopardized if this already modest funding for the program were to be cut again,” noting that “reductions of different magnitudes would have proportional effects” (4/27).

Preventing Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV Is ‘Smart Investment’

“Each year, nearly 400,000 children are born with HIV globally, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is a particular challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, an area characterized by weak health systems,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in the State Department “DipNote” blog. “Last year PEPFAR and UNAIDS joined with other partners to launch the Global Plan, an initiative to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive,” Goosby writes and reflects on a two-day mission to Nigeria with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe last week. He concludes, “Preventing new HIV infections in children is a smart investment that saves lives, and the United States is proud to partner with Nigeria and other countries in this cause” (4/30).