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Russia Pledges Money To Support HIV, TB Programs In Neighboring Countries

“Russia plans to step up its international role in fighting infectious disease across eastern Europe and central Asia, in what some observers see as the latest effort by the Kremlin to reassert its political influence over its former Soviet neighbors,” the Financial Times reports. “Arkady Dvorkovich, economic aide to President Dmitry Medvedev, pledged money for a new international development agency to support programs against HIV and tuberculosis (TB)” at the Millennium Development Goal 6 Forum hosted in Moscow last week, the newspaper notes.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Approves Bill To Withhold Up To Half Of U.S. Funding To U.N.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday approved legislation (HR 2829) that would withhold up to half of non-voluntary U.S. contributions to the United Nations “if, in two years, the United Nations is not collecting 80 percent of its regular budget in voluntary contributions,” Agence France-Presse reports. The panel “approved Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-Fla.) bill by a party-line 23-15 vote after an angry debate over whether such a move would enhance or diminish U.S. global influence,” the news service writes. “The proposal could pass the Republican-led House of Representatives but faces stiff opposition in the Democratic-held Senate and from President Barack Obama, all but certainly dooming the measure,” AFP notes (10/14).

Focusing On Disease Eradication Rather Than Control 'Can Pay Off'

“Work on malaria suggests that focusing on the science and technology required to eliminate a disease, rather than just control it, can pay off — and that such approaches could be applied to other diseases,” SciDev.Net Editor David Dickson writes in a SciDev.Net editorial, adding that “programs can place greater emphasis on research into transmission pathways, not just the treatment of patients,” and “can also increase pressure to generate epidemiological data to demonstrate the effectiveness of elimination campaigns and compare control strategies.”

Facing National Deficit While Preserving Foreign Assistance

Noting some of the successes of U.S. foreign assistance in the area of global health, Christopher Elias, president and CEO of PATH, and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., write in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” “Unfortunately, … American aid is being threatened with severe cuts, though it makes up less than one percent of the federal budget.” They continue, “When we also consider food aid, disaster assistance, and economic development, it is clear that millions upon millions of people are able to live healthy, productive lives today because of the goodwill of everyday Americans.”

Preserve Millennium Challenge Corp. By Transforming It Into A Multilateral Agency

In this Washington Post opinion piece, Raj Kumar, president of Devex and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and John Hewko, the general secretary and chief executive of Rotary International, report on the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), a government “corporation” established in 2004 under the George W. Bush administration “on the premise that U.S. foreign assistance would have the greatest impact if offered on a non-political basis to developing countries that adopt sound economic and social policies.” They write, “Congress has appropriated about $10 billion to the MCC over the past seven years, but the prudent agency has disbursed just a few billion,” and “the agency is now a takeover target.”

U.S. NGOs Call For Obama Administration To Explain Delays In U.S. Food Aid To North Korea

“As South Korean President Lee Myung-bak continued his state visit to the United States on Friday, a group of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) wants the Obama administration to explain what they call unconscionable delays in deciding whether to resume U.S. food assistance to North Korea,” Reuters reports. “Rising global commodities prices coupled with summer floods and typhoons have compounded the emergency this year, and the United Nations estimated in March that more than six million North Koreans urgently need food help,” the news agency writes.

Health Groups Urge Secretary Of U.S. Army To Sustain Funding For Military HIV Research Program

“Speaking out against a potential $16 million cut in the Army’s base research and development budget for HIV, leaders of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) sent a letter (.pdf) Thursday to the Secretary of the U.S. Army, John McHugh, making the case for sustaining the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP),” according to the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog. In the letter, IDSA President James Hughes and HIVMA Board Chair Kathleen Squires “urged the secretary … to continue the modest investment in the MHRP, which also sustains more than 100,000 HIV-infected people in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique and Thailand on lifesaving antiretroviral therapy through the [PEPFAR] program,” the blog writes (10/13).

U.S., South Korea Continue To Delay Food Aid To North Korea Despite 'Proven' Ability To Monitor Food Distribution

In this Christian Science Monitor opinion piece, Jim White, vice president of operations at Mercy Corps, and Matt Ellingson, director of program development at Samaritan’s Purse, who “co-led a team from five U.S.-based aid organizations that traveled to North Korea to deliver flood relief supplies” last month, ask why the U.S. and South Korea continue to delay food aid to North Koreans affected by the country’s food crisis despite the fact that “aid groups have a proven ability to monitor the way food is distributed in North Korea.”

Survey Measures What Americans Know About The U.S. Foreign Aid Budget

This post in Population Services International’s (PSI) “Healthy Lives” blog reports the results of a “survey of 507 Americans [administered] at the end of September [that] sought to capture what, exactly, Americans know about the foreign aid budget.” According to the blog, the PSI survey asked participants how important it is for the U.S. to provide aid for foreign countries, what the most important reason for U.S. investment in global health and development is and whether it is important for the U.S. to invest in these sectors because recipient countries will become significant consumers of U.S. goods, and concluded that “[a] strong majority of Americans believe foreign aid is a good thing” (10/12).