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Experts Worried Political Commitment, Health Services Delivery Still Lacking Despite Efforts To Improve Family Planning In Uganda

“Family planning advocates in Uganda have scored some major financial and policy wins this year, but experts remain concerned that inadequate political commitment and poor health services will continue to impede women’s and girls’ access to contraceptives,” IRIN reports. With one of the fastest growing populations in the world, Uganda’s “President Yoweri Museveni announced that his government would increase its annual expenditure on family planning supplies from $3.3 million to $5 million for the next five years” and he “pledged to mobilize an additional $5 million from the country’s donors,” the news service writes. In addition, the “Ministry of Health has laid out a roadmap for providing universal access to family planning, involving the integration of family planning into other health services,” the news service notes.

Leaders Announce Expansion Of Successful Maternal, Child Health Program In Tanzania

“Tanzania has made significant advances in cutting maternal deaths thanks to a United Nations-sponsored program that brings public and private sectors together to resolve one of the most stubborn but preventable woes afflicting the developing world,” but more must be done to scale up efforts to save lives, leaders involved in the program said during a news conference on Tuesday at U.N. Headquarters, the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Helen Agerup, head of the H&B Agerup Foundation, attended the conference, where they discussed results from the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, according to the news service (10/2).

Advocacy Group's Aid Transparency Index Shows More Openness But Room For Improvement

“As a major international deadline on foreign assistance transparency draws closer, a new index shows that while donors are becoming more open with their data, still less than half of foreign aid information is openly available,” Inter Press Service reports. “‘Progress is being met, things are getting better, but that progress is modest,’ David Hall-Matthews, the managing director of Publish What You Fund, a global initiative advocating for aid transparency, said in unveiling the organization’s Aid Transparency Index 2012 … in Washington on Monday,” the news service writes (10/2). According to the Guardian, the group “ranked 72 organizations and scored each for one of 43 indicators of aid transparency,” which “have then been grouped into scores for organizational transparency, their openness in country and in their activities” (Rogers, 10/1).

Obama Should Promote, Invest More In PMI To Gain Votes

Leading up to the debates this month and the November presidential election, “President Obama would be wise to talk up our effective aid programs and the soft power they provide with regional allies,” particularly the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), Roger Bate, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, and Kimberly Hess, a researcher with Africa Fighting Malaria, write in a New York Daily News opinion piece. “Pointing to the enormous success of this program — and announcing a budget increase — would score valuable points with swing voters and potentially even help Democrats pull some of them off the fence,” they write. Seven years after former President George W. Bush launched PMI, the program “stands among the most effective government programs in recent history — and a rare, genuinely bipartisan foreign policy achievement,” the authors state, noting “under-five mortality rates have declined by 16-50 percent in 11 PMI target countries in which surveys have been conducted.”

Kaiser Family Foundation Report Provides First Comprehensive Look At Defense Department's Role In Global Health

“The Department of Defense is estimated to have spent more than half a billion dollars to support a variety of global health-related activities in fiscal year 2012 — more than either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health dedicated to global health in the same year, according to a new report [.pdf] from the Kaiser Family Foundation,” a report summary on the foundation’s webpage states. According to the summary, the report offers “the first comprehensive look at the department’s role in global health, examining its organizational structure, activities, strategy, policy, and budget for activities related to global health”; “provides a full assessment of the department’s global health engagement across the entire organization”; and “discusses key issues for policymakers and global health stakeholders at this time of transition in national security strategy and defense policy, as they consider how the Defense Department fits into the larger global health landscape” (10/2).

Conflicts Straining U.N. Resources To Respond To Refugees, Displaced Persons

“A combination of major new conflicts and unresolved ones around the world are increasingly straining humanitarian resources at unprecedented levels, the head of the United Nations refugee agency warned” on Monday, the U.N. News Centre reports. Speaking at the UNHCR’s annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres “said [.pdf] UNHCR’s capacity to help the world’s forcibly displaced was being ‘radically tested’ by the acceleration of the crises, with more than 700,000 people having fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Sudan, and Syria this year alone,” according to the news service. He said, “Our operations in Africa, in particular, are dramatically underfunded. … At this moment, we have no room for any unforeseen needs. No reserves available. In today’s unpredictable operating environment, this is a cause for deep concern,” the news service notes (10/1).

Aid Organization Urges More Aid Focus On Disaster Prevention Rather Than Reaction

Islamic Relief Worldwide on Monday “urged the U.N. to establish a global contingency fund for disaster prevention as it is cheaper to help prepare for floods and drought than spend billions on emergencies,” the Guardian reports. In a report, titled “Feeling the Heat,” “the charity also called on governments and aid agencies to completely rethink their priorities and put disaster risk reduction at the heart of all aid programs,” according to the newspaper. The report notes Australia, the European Commission, and the U.K. “have put resilience at the center of their aid efforts, while Colombia, Indonesia and other at-risk countries are developing strong disaster programs,” the Guardian writes, adding, “Research from the U.S. government says $1 of risk reduction spending can result in as much as a $15 decrease in disaster damage” (Tran, 10/1). A press release from Islamic Relief states, “Emergency relief saves lives and assists recovery, but too often it treats the symptoms of the profound problems poor communities face without addressing the root causes. Islamic Relief believes the answer lies in disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects — initiatives such as cereal banks and microdams to conserve food and water in drought-affected areas, or storm shelters and raised housing to prepare for cyclones and floods” (10/1).

Scientific American Examines Intersection Of Humanitarian Aid, Economic Development, Climate Change

Scientific American examines the intersection of humanitarian aid, economic development, and climate change, saying, “Environmental, humanitarian, and economic challenges do not exist in isolation, but that is how the world most often deals with them.” The article quotes several speakers who attended an event on “resilient livelihoods” held on September 25 at the Rockefeller Foundation. Shrinking water supplies and increased urbanization continue to affect agriculture outputs, and hunger remains a problem worldwide, “[s]o finding new ways to fund environmental improvement and economic development at the same time will be crucial,” the news magazine writes.

IRIN Examines Allegations Of Global Fund Grant Misuse In Uganda

IRIN reports on allegations that a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to Uganda was misused. “Evidence of the mismanagement of a $51 million malaria grant to Uganda from the Global Fund resulted in the July arrest of three Ministry of Health employees and prompted a police investigation into the matter,” the news service writes, adding, “In September, the organization called for the refund of any ineligible expenses under the grant and the strengthening of safeguards to prevent future misappropriation of funds.”

Case Stories Describe Technical Support For Global Fund Grant Recipients

On its website, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance describes a new publication, titled “Of Spices and Silk: Sharing Stories of Technical Support to Global Fund Grants in Asia,” which presents 11 case stories showing how the Alliance’s regional Technical Support Hubs have provided assistance to Global Fund grant recipients (9/27). “The case stories were written during a writeshop held in Bangkok in August 2012 where participants were invited to use a narrative structure to reflect on and draw out their experiences working as consultants providing technical support for Global Fund grants,” the report homepage states (9/25).

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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.