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Global Health Spending Levels Remain Unresolved Under ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal

The “fiscal cliff” deal agreed to by Congress “leaves suspended in mid-air the fates of programs essential to meeting the goals of continued global health responses — including the implementation of PEPFAR’s blueprint for an AIDS-free generation, and whatever promise the new Office of Global Health Diplomacy will offer,” the…

PLoS Medicine Articles Look At HIV Care Disengagement, Development Aid, Mental Health

PLoS Medicine Publications Assistant Michael Morris summarizes several articles published this week in the journal in this PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog post. One study “investigate[s] reasons for missed visits and provide[s] an explanation for disengagement from care,” and an accompanying perspective piece comments on the findings, he writes. Another article looks at “whether giving development…

U.N. Warns Humanitarian Needs Growing In Syria; 2.5M People Need Emergency Food Aid

“The United Nations food relief agency [on Tuesday] warned that humanitarian needs in Syria — especially for food — are growing, with serious bread and fuel shortages across the war-torn country,” the U.N. News Centre reports (1/8). “The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said nearly 2.5 million people — most of them…

Humanitarian Conditions Deteriorating In CAR, Aid Groups Warn

“A rebel takeover of several key towns in the Central African Republic (CAR) has placed additional strain on humanitarian conditions that were already precarious due to years of armed conflict,” IRIN reports (1/4). “Humanitarian groups have expressed alarm at the lack of access to more than 300,000 civilians caught up in the fighting,” the Guardian notes, adding, “The U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and the [U.N.] security council have condemned the attacks and called on the rebels to halt hostilities” (Tran, 1/4). “In many areas, basic health care and education are provided by aid groups or not at all,” IRIN writes (1/4). “The Central African Republic has been wracked by political unrest since gaining independence from France in 1960,” the Guardian notes (1/4).

Al Jazeera Examines HIV In Russia

Al Jazeera continues its coverage of HIV in Russia, where “[t]he latest official figures show that about 200 new cases are being recorded every single day.” The news service writes, “HIV is spreading five times faster in Russia than the global average, with Ukraine and Russia accounting for 90 percent of the region’s cases,” adding, “The main source for 60 percent of new infections is dirty needles used to inject drugs.” However, the country has “resisted so-called harm reduction strategies including funding needle exchange programs, angering health workers and global HIV prevention groups,” Al Jazeera writes, noting, “Activists say social stigma is impeding the fight against HIV in Russia.” An accompanying “Inside Story” video report examines how Russia “plan[s] to stem the rise in HIV” (1/4).

Secretary Of State Nominee Sen. John Kerry Would Continue Administration’s Focus On Global Health, Food Security, Devex Reports

“President Barack Obama’s ‘perfect choice’ for state secretary” — Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) — “is not only expected to advance the administration’s agenda on global health and food security, but he might also lend new heft to efforts to rein in climate change, one of Kerry’s long-time priorities, with a team of advisers that is expected to include several with a background in international development,” Devex reports. “As secretary of state, Kerry can be expected to continue the administration’s reform agenda and reliance on what it calls ‘smart power,’ a mix of diplomacy and development cooperation focused on health, food security and governance through capacity building and engaging with local civil society and the private sector,” Devex continues, adding, “The Massachusetts senator and former presidential candidate laid out his support of a robust U.S. aid budget and what he calls ‘economic statecraft’ in a February 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed …, in which he wrote that ‘energetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries'” (Rosenkranz, 1/2).

Support Innovative Financing Mechanisms For Global Health

“Millions of lives are saved today in developing countries because of bold, innovative financing arrangements over last 10 years. These financing mechanisms are good examples of private sector partnership with public sector for common good,” Taufiqur Rahman, an international health consultant, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He describes several examples, including the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), UNITAID, Clinton Foundation efforts, and the patent pools, Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and Pool for Open Innovation. Rahman concludes, “Our efforts must be to support and expand these innovative financing mechanisms and promote innovation for efficient pricing arrangements. At the same time, we must ensure that these financing mechanisms remain lean, efficient, and transparent” (1/4).

Onset Of Winter, Lack Of Aid Workers Threaten Delivery Of Syrian Humanitarian Aid

Noting that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “estimates that 25 percent of Syria’s population needs humanitarian relief,” Rachel Brandenburg, a U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) program officer for the Middle East, writes in a USIP blog post, “Within Syria and around its borders, residents and those who’ve fled the fighting face dangerous shortages of food, fuel, medical supplies, and shelter.” She says the onset of winter will increase the need for shelter, clothing, and food. Brandenburg notes that two plans call for $1.5 billion in aid during the first half of 2013, but she adds aid workers are in short supply. “As of early December, only 20 international and 100 Syrian national WFP staff remained in-country to support an operation aimed at feeding 1.5 million Syrians,” she says (1/3).

Devex Examines Potential Impact Of ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Legislation On Foreign Aid

“Now that U.S. President Barack Obama … has signed hard-fought legislation to avert the much-dreaded fiscal cliff, details are emerging on what its impact may be on foreign aid spending,” Devex reports. The news service adds, “The quick answer: It’s not entirely clear.” Devex quotes an analysis written by Jeremy Kadden, senior legislative manager for InterAction, and comments made by Jordie Hannum, director of the Better World Campaign, who spoke with the U.N. Dispatch about the legislation. The news service notes, “Negotiations on the fiscal 2013 budget will start earnestly later this month after President Barack Obama unveils his spending proposal” (Rosenkranz, 1/4).

Yearlong Moratorium On H5N1 Research Soon Lifted, New Rules Implemented, Science Reports

“U.S. government officials say they expect to put the finishing touches this month on new rules designed to help funding agencies identify and regulate especially problematic H5N1 studies before they begin,” which would allow influenza researchers “to lift a year-old, self-imposed moratorium on certain kinds of potentially dangerous experiments,” Science reports. “The two developments would essentially end a long and bruising controversy over the risks and benefits of H5N1 research,” the magazine notes, adding the debate was initiated by two research teams that lab-engineered H5N1 strains to be transmissible among mammals. “The issue has been especially sensitive for the U.S. government, because its National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the two studies and is one of the world’s biggest funders of H5N1 research,” Science writes. The magazine discusses the moratorium’s impact on research worldwide and summarizes differing views about its effects (Malakoff, 1/4).

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