In this post on the Council on Foreign Relation’s “The Internationalist” blog, Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow and director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, addresses what he calls myths about foreign aid amid this year’s primary season, writing, “GOP presidential candidates regularly bash it, echoing ‘Mr. Republican’ Robert Taft — who dismissed overseas assistance more than six decades ago as ‘pouring money down a rat hole.'” Patrick cites a number of polls measuring U.S. citizens’ attitudes toward foreign aid spending, writing, “[P]ublic opposition to providing foreign aid is one of the hoariest misconceptions in U.S. foreign policy. In fact, U.S. citizens support foreign aid, particularly when it is targeted to alleviating poverty and humanitarian suffering.” He quotes a number of GOP presidential candidates with relation to foreign aid spending and notes, “Indeed, among the remaining GOP candidates, only former Senator Rick Santorum has rejected ‘zeroing out’ foreign aid, describing it as a form of ‘pandering'” (1/25).
Programs, Funding & Financing
“The global economic downturn and the euro-zone crisis may stand in the way of efforts to reduce poverty and disease around the world,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Wednesday in a talk at the London School of Economics sponsored by the Global Poverty Project, Bloomberg reports. Gates noted that “‘incredible progress’ had been made toward reducing poverty and disease,” and said, “There are many things going on in terms of the euro-zone crisis, budget cutbacks, that would make it easy to turn inward and actually reduce the financing that has led to so much progress,” according to the news service.
Gates Urges Governments, Wealthy Donors Not To Cut Aid To Poor Countries; Annual Letter Sets Foundation’s Priorities
In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “told European lawmakers in Brussels not to cut aid to poor countries despite the economic and budgetary problems facing” European Union (E.U.) countries, Agence France-Presse reports. Gates “praised the [E.U.] whose support in health and development he said has been greater than that of the United States,” AFP notes (1/24). On Wednesday, Gates “will be at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where he plans to exhort wealthy donors — especially governments — to keep funding a range of crucial projects in the developing world, from tuberculosis drugs and antimalaria bed nets to maternal care and vaccines,” the Wall Street Journal writes. Gates “plans to make his case by showcasing ideas, backed by his foundation, that have helped cost-effectively tackle problems in global health,” according to the newspaper (Naik, 1/25).
During a briefing on Tuesday, U.S. officials said famine conditions in Somalia have improved, but more than 13 million people in the Horn of Africa remain in need of emergency food, shelter or other aid, the Associated Press reports. “David Robinson, acting assistant secretary for population, refugees and migration, told reporters Tuesday the flow of refugees out of Somalia into neighboring countries has diminished, but thousands are still trying to get out and new camps are opening in Ethiopia and Kenya,” the news agency writes (Birch, 1/24). Bruce Wharton, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy for the Bureau of African Affairs, noted the U.S. has provided about $870 million in humanitarian aid to the region, with about $205 million going specifically to Somalia, according to the briefing transcript (1/24).
“As the World Economic Forum kicks off this week in Davos, Switzerland, the importance of global health — and the health of the globe — is getting special attention,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International (PSI), writes in this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “The world’s still massive bottom of the economic pyramid — some 2-3 billion people — represents a potential $5 trillion in purchasing power,” but without access to “quality health care and services, … their global economic impact suffers. Imagine if by simple investments in health, we turned these struggling individuals and families into healthy, active consumers and producers.”
The Washington Post’s “In the Loop” blog reports that USAID has released a draft form of a plan to create research and development (R&D) teams at colleges and universities across the country aimed at tackling problems of global development. “USAID characterized the plan … as a way of tapping into the collective wisdom of academia,” according to the blog, which notes, “They’ve suggested setting up an unnamed number of centers — some at individual colleges and universities, some comprised of several such institutions.” The blog adds, “They say no budget has been set, but an individual college might get a million or so, while a collaborative center made up of a few schools could get $4 million to $5 million” (Heil, 1/24).
“The U.K. government has announced a fivefold increase in spending on combating neglected tropical diseases [NTDs] as part of an international effort to help rid the world of a group of infectious diseases that currently affect one billion people and kill more than half a million every year,” BMJ reports (Moszynski, 1/23). “International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien said funding for [NTDs] is to increase from Â£50 million to Â£245 million [approximately $381.5 million] between 2011 and 2015 as part of a global push to eradicate diseases including river blindness and elephantiasis,” the Press Association writes.
In the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Prosperity Wonkcast,” Lawrence MacDonald this week interviews Amanda Glassman, a CGD research fellow and director of the center’s global health policy program. Glassman “offers four recommendations for how major health donors — mainly the GAVI Alliance and the Global Fund — could better-target aid to poor people,” including “dropping country-income thresholds as the main criteria for allocating global health funding”; “setting up regional pooled procurement or pricing mechanisms”; “building evidence-based priority-setting institutions”; and “establishing increased accountability mechanisms,” according to the blog (1/23).
Commenting on the latest data on global health spending from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in this post on the Global Health Council’s (GHC) “Blog 4 Global Health,” Craig Moscetti, a policy manager in the council’s policy and government relations department, writes “some of the latest tracking data shed light on some interesting trends, prompting many key questions.” He poses several questions, including, “Are developing countries stepping up?” and “Is health sector spending the more efficient and effective way to produce health?,” and answers each (1/19).
A funding shortfall led the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to announce in November that “it won’t make any grants to fund programs for at least two years,” a Deseret News editorial notes and calls on the U.S. to take a leadership position in saving the fund. The editorial states, “Few worldwide initiatives have the success record of the Global Fund …, but those breakthroughs may not have much chance to save many lives,” and notes that the non-profit lobbying group “Results is calling for the Obama administration to assemble an emergency meeting of donor nations this spring to find ways to ensure that the fund and its programs are able to continue and to provide new medicines where they are needed most.”