“As the nations of the world attend the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week, the World Health Organization is in a budget crisis and continuing to struggle for relevancy among better-funded, more agile philanthropic foundations and disease-specific initiatives,” Thomas Bollyky, senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), writes in this CFR expert brief. “Survival for the institution is possible, but only if WHO reinvents itself as a twenty-first century international institution that can adapt to changing global health needs and thrive in austere times,” he writes (5/23).
Programs, Funding & Financing
“[E]vidence shows that family planning prevents the needless deaths of women worldwide,” which should “be cause to sustain or even increase U.S. investments in these programs,” Chloe Cooney, director of global advocacy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), writes in this RH Reality Check blog post. “Yet, once again, the House Appropriations Committee voted to let politics interfere with life-saving health care for women,” she continues, adding, “Last week, the House Appropriations Committee proposed to cut funding for international family planning programs and impose harmful restrictions on women’s access to essential health care.” Cooney notes that the Senate version of the bill “increases support for international family planning without attaching restrictions that would undercut these efforts.” She cites a recent U.N. report that “confirms that birth control and reproductive health services are essential to saving women’s lives,” and concludes, “The impact of the decisions made by this Congress will be felt in the lives of women and families around the world” (5/22).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, communications officer and blog editor Amie Newman reports on a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, released Monday, that examines Americans’ views on U.S. global health issues. Newman details a number of the survey’s findings, including that the poll found that “roughly half of Americans (52 percent) now say the news media spends too little time covering global health issues, up from 41 percent in 2010.” She writes, “It’s critical that our news media cover these issues in a way that touches people, and helps people to understand exactly what’s happening in the countries, cities, villages, towns, health centers and homes of people around the world.” She notes that both KFF President and CEO Drew Altman, in a column discussing the survey results, and Gates Foundation Director of Global Brand and Innovation Tom Scott, in a recent blog post, have stressed the importance of properly communicating successful aid stories and data (5/21).
“[P]articipants at a symposium held last week by the U.K. Consortium on AIDS and International Development warned that [progress on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) vaccines] could be jeopardized by the recent downturn in global health funding,” BMJ reports. The journal summarizes comments made at the meeting by researchers and advocacy group representatives, who stressed that successful vaccines for HIV and TB would save millions in existing research investments and long-term treatment costs (Moszynski, 5/22).
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on Tuesday approved a $52.1 billion FY 2013 spending bill for state and foreign operations, The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports (Pecquet, 5/22). The subcommittee also released a bill summary (5/22). “The bill includes funding for U.S. global health programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department comprising a significant portion of funding for the Global Health Initiative (GHI),” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker.”
“This week in Geneva, health ministers from governments around the world will meet at the 65th World Health Assembly (WHA) for their annual meeting to discuss health issues that affect everyone everywhere,” Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Among the resolutions they will consider is one supporting the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a road map to ensure that by the end of this decade, every child, everywhere enjoys the full benefits of immunization,” he notes.
“Opening the 65th annual World Health Assembly (WHA) [on Monday in Geneva], World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said she sees a bright future for health development, despite financial crises that many countries are facing, which has shrunk support for many initiatives,” CIDRAP News reports. According to the news service, “Chan said the WHO can leverage its leadership role to make the most of small and wise investments” and that “[u]niversal health coverage is the best way to maintain health gains that have been made over the past decade” (Schnirring, 5/21). Focusing on innovations that bring social benefit rather than profit, as well as research and development into new treatments, also are important, Chan noted, Devex reports (Ravelo, 5/22).
“Yemen is not only one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it’s also home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the grim numbers offered today by State Department officials,” ABC News reports. “The United States is providing more than $73 million of humanitarian assistance to Yemen, which is being used for food aid, food vouchers, water and sanitation programs, and medical clinics,” ABC News writes, noting, “Yemen has not had a proper government for nearly a year, since the fall of President Ali Abdullah Saleh” (Hughes, 5/21).
The U.S. Government, through USAID, is providing $30 million in emergency assistance to people affected by conflict and food insecurity in South Sudan, United Press International reports. The money will be delivered through the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), according to a USAID press release, the news service notes (5/21). The money will help WFP position food supplies across the country before many of the roads become impassable because of the rainy season, according to the press release. “The U.S. Government is the largest supporter of WFP’s operation in South Sudan, and including this donation, has contributed more than $110 million in 2012 to WFP’s emergency operation in the country,” the press release notes (5/21).
Key Player In Obama Administration's Plan To Fight Hunger In Africa Under Criminal Investigation, Blog Reports
“Last week, at the opening of the G8 conference hosted by the United States, President Barack Obama announced a $3 billion, largely private sector plan aimed at fighting hunger in Africa,” KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog reports, adding, “Now we learn that the top player on Obama’s private sector plan to fight…