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Obama Administration Issues New Guidance On Aid To Drought-Stricken Somalia

The Obama administration on Tuesday issued new guidance stating “the U.S. would not prosecute relief agencies for delivering aid to parts of Somalia controlled by the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, despite concerns that unrestricted aid in the failed state would be diverted to the wrong hands,” Inter Press Service reports (Hough, 8/2).

Famine Will Spread In Somalia Unless 'Massive' Response Mounted, U.N. Says

The famine in the Horn of Africa is getting worse, and unless there is “a massive increase in the response, the famine will spread to five or six more regions” in Somalia, Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters on Monday, Reuters reports. Amos said the U.N. needs an additional $1.4 billion to help those in need and that the African Union would soon hold a funding conference, the news agency notes (Charbonneau, 8/1).

Cutting Foreign Aid Is Shortsighted Solution To U.S. Budget Woes

“Haggling in Congress over bills to fund the state department and foreign operations in 2012 are worrying for those of us seeking to address global poverty and climate change, and respond to famine and other disasters,” Samuel Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”

Global Democracy Promotion Act 'Would Help Keep Ideology In Check'

The Global Democracy Promotion Act (.pdf), recently introduced in the House by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), “would bar the use of U.S. foreign aid to restrict people’s liberty … [and] says that organizations accepting U.S. assistance cannot be forced to quash perfectly legal activities in return,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America Vice President Latanya Mapp Frett writes in a New York Daily News opinion piece. She says the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s recent vote to reinstate and expand the so-called “global gag rule” would “foste[r] unintended pregnancy, increasing the need for abortion and endangering women’s health.”

Wall Street Journal Examines India's Public Health Infrastructure

The Wall Street Journal and the newspaper’s “India Real Time” blog published stories on Saturday examining India’s health care system. “Indian government officials say the country’s public health infrastructure is sorely deficient, but they argue it is improving because of several initiatives underway,” the blog reports. “They acknowledge the government has spent too little – around 1 percent of gross domestic product – on public health. But they say India will likely double that proportion to at least 2 percent in the five-year plan beginning in 2012,” the blog notes (Anand/Sahni/Sharma, 7/30).

Political, Economic Tensions In Malawi Threaten New HIV/AIDS Strategy

In a guest post on the GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, describes the Malawian government’s “plans to launch a ‘test and treat’ program in which all HIV-infected pregnant women will immediately be put on antiretroviral treatment (ART) drugs for life.” But she adds that “[t]he growing political and economic crisis in Malawi, highlighted by the government’s use of force against peaceful demonstrators last week, could also imperil the groundbreaking expansion of Malawi’s national HIV/AIDS program.”

French Maternal And Child Health Clinics Threatened By Poor Economy

NPR’s KQED on Wednesday examined how France’s 60-year-old network of preventive health clinics for children and parents, which provides care free-of-charge, is being threatened by the nation’s flailing economy. “[W]hile it’s unlikely that France will abandon its maternal and child health programs, it remains an open question whether social changes and economic reality might intrude into such a sacred French ideal,” the article states (Varney, 7/27).