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Though Progress Made, Global Burden Of HIV/AIDS Requires Greater, ‘Better’ Response

“Optimism and momentum has been building around the real possibility that an AIDS-free generation is imminent. … Yet, the most recent estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence and of AIDS-related mortality released by UNAIDS, together with data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the Lancet, make it clear that AIDS is not over,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Mark Dybul, incoming executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, write in a Lancet opinion piece. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and UNAIDS data “highlight a persistent, significant, and egregious burden of avoidable death,” the authors write, noting global statistics and recent success in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and incidence rates worldwide.

Outgoing Rep. Berman Introduces Bill To Reform Foreign Aid With Emphasis On Partnerships

“California Rep. Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, unveiled a 923-page bill on Wednesday that would replace the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a framework for providing developmental and economic U.S. aid,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports, noting, “Berman’s Global Partnerships Act of 2012 would change the aid system to focus on mutually agreed goals instead of the emphasis on donor-recipient ties, increase accountability and oversight, and eliminate duplication” (Cassata, 12/12). “Aside from this shift from donor-recipient relations to partnerships, the bill proposes a stronger focus on results, the revitalization of [USAID], elevation of human rights in U.S. foreign policy and aid programs, improvement of U.S. capacity to prevent and address conflicts, and expansion of the scope of debt-for-nature programs,” according to Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog.

Some Diplomats, U.N. Observers Express ‘Concerns’ Over U.N. Appeal For Haitian Cholera Aid, Al Jazeera Reports

Following U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s announcement on Tuesday of a new initiative appealing for $2.2 billion over 10 years to fight cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Al Jazeera reports “there are concerns by some diplomats and U.N. observers that the funds necessary for the program would not be forthcoming from donors.” As part of the larger appeal covering the island of Hispaniola, in Haiti “[t]he new program dedicates $215 million from donors along with $23.5 million from U.N. funds towards programs in public health, capacity building, public education, and clean water systems,” according to the news service. However, “Haiti will need $500 million over the next two years for its own national cholera plan,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The funds allocated in the program would therefore cover only one year.”

Will Private Sector Investment In Food Aid Promote Dependency?

Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in a Guardian opinion piece, “In order to support investment in agriculture, governments have … come to rely on private sector investment and development aid — and increasingly a partnership of the two,” and he notes “[t]he New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, proposed by [U.S. President] Barack Obama and the U.S. Agency for International Development and launched in May 2012, will draw more than $3 billion of private sector investment into food security plans in Africa.” He continues, “One potential danger of development aid, and particularly of private-led projects, is that the goals of poverty reduction and rural development can be relegated below the goal of raising food production.”

New Global Disease Burden Data Should Inform Global Health Spending

“On Dec. 14, the Lancet together with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation [IHME] will release their study on global burden of disease, injuries and risk factors in 2010,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International, writes in a Devex opinion piece, adding, “These ‘gold standard’ data will quantify the world’s health problems by examining statistics for 291 diseases and injuries and 67 different risk factors for 21 regions across three time periods — 1990, 2005 and 2010.” Hofmann says, “The new health burden data are reference points for the units of currency that help us measure our impact, such as on the years of protection against unintended pregnancy, episodes of disease prevented, deaths averted, and years of healthy life saved, among many others.” He adds, “As global health implementers, it is important that these metrics inform our work, define our impact and demonstrate our value to donors, and more importantly, to those we serve.”

Exploring New USAID Resilience Guidance Goals

On the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) blog, Ashley Chandler, deputy policy director at the USGLC, discusses USAID’s new guidance on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis, writing that the policy “is about using existing development dollars more effectively in disaster prone regions, so that less humanitarian assistance is needed in the future.” She asks, “But what’s the ultimate goal?” and continues, “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says success will be measured by whether USAID is able ‘to put ourselves out of business’ by reducing the number, volume, and length of time of the ‘infusions of humanitarian assistance needed in the future.'” Chandler concludes, “As America strives to get our own fiscal house in order, the fact of the matter is that we’re also nearing a critical mass for relief and development funding. Meaning, ‘doing more of the same,’ to quote Administrator Shah, is no longer an option. Nor should it be” (12/12).

IRIN Examines HIV/AIDS Response In Guinea-Bissau

IRIN reports on the HIV/AIDS response in Guinea-Bissau, writing, “One year after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria reduced funding to the Guinea-Bissau government body in charge of coordinating HIV prevention and treatment activities, health centers outside the capital are facing medicine shortages, patients are not receiving the treatment they need, and the transport of patients to treatment centers has been cut.” According to the news service, “The Global Fund stopped most of its funding to the Secretriado National de Luta Contra le Sida (SNLS), the government structure in charge of coordinating the HIV response, at the end of 2011, because of poor performance management and a lack of transparent fiduciary controls.”

U.N. Emergency Fund Receives $384M In Pledges To Respond To Natural Disasters, Crises In 2013

“United Nations member states pledged $384 million on Tuesday to an emergency fund that will allow the world body to respond quickly to natural disasters and other crises in 2013, U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos said,” Reuters reports. “The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) … has raised more than $2.8 billion since it was launched in 2006,” and “[s]o far in 2012, the fund has allocated $465 million for humanitarian aid in 49 countries, including Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Haiti and Pakistan,” the news agency notes (12/11). At a high-level conference on the CERF, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “From flood zones to war zones, CERF stops crises from turning into catastrophes. … The Fund does this through quick, targeted support when an emergency starts or by injecting funds in stubbornly under-funded situations,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “The rapid and flexible support offered by the CERF makes it a central pillar of the U.N. agencies’ humanitarian response,” Amos said at the conference, the news service notes (12/11).

African Scientists Gather In Kenya To Discuss Global Response To NTDs

“African scientists from key research institutions and universities have challenged governments to take serious the issues of neglected and tropical disease to curb millions of deaths among the poor,” Xinhua reports. More than 50 researchers met this week in Kisumu, Kenya, at the 6th Annual Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Symposium, where they “said action is needed from the government, donors, and drug companies to reduce death associated with NTDs,” the news service writes. “The researchers said even with massive deaths associated with NTDs, challenges remain in reaching those affected,” as the diseases are “perceived to only affect the poor who are regarded as less important in the society” and do not have the ability to purchase treatments, Xinhua adds, and writes, “The meeting was centered on the theme making elimination feasible, [and] ‘neglect no more’ in line with [Kenya Medical Research Institute] efforts to control the effects of neglected tropical diseases in the region” (12/11).

New Collaborative Model For Drug Discovery Can Ensure Antibiotics Are Not Lost To Resistance

Noting “[m]ultidrug-resistant organisms are showing up in top-flight hospitals” around the world, Carl Nathan, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, writes in this New York Times opinion piece, “What makes the rapid loss of antibiotics to drug resistance particularly alarming is that we are failing to make new ones.” He continues, “We are emptying our medicine chest of the most important class of medicines we ever had. And the cause can be traced, for the most part, to two profound problems.”

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