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Evaluating Priority Setting For Health

“[W]hen facing a limited budget (as most low- and middle-income countries are) how can countries best sort multiple priorities into effective, sustainable policies?” Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Kate McQueston, a program coordinator at CGD, ask in the CGD’s “Global Health Policy” blog. They note CGD’s “working group on Priority Setting Institutions for Health has been evaluating this question,” and state, “There are substantial gains that can be achieved by shifting the current distribution of public funding to more cost effective interventions.” The authors highlight several CGD papers on the topic and note the working group’s final report will be released this summer (4/19).

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Tells GlobalPost State Department Reviewing Nearly $1.5B In Unused PEPFAR Funding

Prompted by an inquiry from GlobalPost, U.S. officials have said the Obama administration called for a $550 million reduction — an 11 percent cut — for its global AIDS program in its FY 2013 budget request because the “government didn’t need more money because there has been nearly $1.5 billion stuck in the pipeline for 18 months or more,” GlobalPost reports. According to the news service, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, headed by Ambassador Eric Goosby, “said this week it will immediately start a consultation period with Congress, its partners across the U.S. government and AIDS advocates to address a key question: What should they do with $1.46 billion?” GlobalPost reports that Goosby “explained that $1.46 billion designated to fight AIDS hasn’t been used because of inefficient bureaucracies; major reductions in the cost of AIDS treatment; delays due to long negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities; and a slowdown in a few countries because the AIDS problem was much smaller than originally estimated” (Donnelly, 4/17).

World Bank To Strengthen Social Safety Net Programs To Support Those In Developing World Vulnerable To Economic Volatility

“The World Bank plans to strengthen its social safety net to help the 60 percent of people in the developing world who lack adequate protection from the impact of global financial volatility and rising food and fuel prices,” Bloomberg reports. “Expanding cash transfers, food assistance, public works programs and fee waivers to help nations respond to crises and fight persistent poverty will be the center of the agenda for the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Development Committee meeting on April 21, the bank said [Wednesday] in Washington,” according to the news agency (Martin, 4/18). “Safety nets can transform people’s lives and provide a foundation for inclusive growth without busting budgets. … Effective safety net coverage overcomes poverty, and promotes economic opportunity and gender equality by helping people find jobs and cope with economic shocks, and improving the health, education, and well-being of their children,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said, the Guardian notes (Elliott, 4/18).

U.N. SG Ban Warns Of ‘Cascading Crisis’ Of Drought, Conflict In African Sahel

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week “called on the global community to act quickly to address what he described as a ‘cascading crisis’ sweeping the Sahel region of West Africa, where 15 million people have been affected by the drought and conflict-related crisis in the area,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Speaking to the Luxembourg Parliament on Tuesday, Ban said, “I call upon the world to respond. Simply put, we must do more — and do it quickly” (4/17). On Wednesday, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake appeared on BBC World News to discuss the drought and malnutrition among children. “Lake tells the BBC’s Jane O’Brien that his organization is trying to fight ‘donor fatigue,’ after years of crises in the region by” portraying the success stories of children in the region and through a social media campaign to raise awareness and funds, the news service notes (4/18).

Blog Examines Potential Effects Of AIDS Funding Cuts, Shortfalls

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines a memorandum (.pdf) from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), distributed “to a targeted list of congressional leaders with jurisdiction over PEPFAR or the appropriations committees that fund it,” “that makes the case for continued funding for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program at least at fiscal year (FY) 2012 funding levels.” The blog uses the “HIV/AIDS funding summaries [.pdf] of the Department of State Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations” and a recent report from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to examine how budget cuts and a funding shortfall for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria may affect funding for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Kenya (Mazzotta, 4/18).

Studies Suggesting Limited Impact Of Clean Cookstoves Demonstrate Need For More Research

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s “Views from the Center” blog, Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center, responds to an article published in the Washington Post on Monday, which highlighted the results of a recent MIT/Harvard study on the public health benefits of clean cookstoves. He writes that “the results of the MIT study will come as a disappointment to the clean cookstove movement,” but “they shouldn’t come as a surprise.” He highlights several previous studies on the issue and writes, “[T]he record of limited impact does suggest that we’ve got a long road ahead before we figure out what works and where when it comes to reducing indoor air pollution” (4/18).

Guardian Blog Examines Potential Impact Of Global Fund Reform On Organization’s Future

In this post in her Global Health Blog, Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley examines the potential impact of reform within the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on the organization’s future. She writes, “It’s been only seven weeks since banker Gabriel Jaramillo took over as general manager of the [fund], but it is already clear the worthy organization set up by Kofi Annan to channel money to treat and prevent diseases in poor countries is a leaner, meaner machine.” She continues, “Jaramillo, former chair and chief executive of Sovereign Bank, brings a tougher attitude to the organization.”

Trust, Invest In African Ministries Of Health To Create Sustainable Health Care Solutions

“During the 1990s it had taken a while for the rest of the world to wake up to the tragedy of AIDS in Africa, but belatedly the alarm call had come,” John Wright, a consultant in clinical epidemiology at Bradford Royal Infirmary in England, writes in a BMJ opinion piece. “Global funding and international action achieved something quite miraculous, bringing the most expensive and innovative drugs in the world to the poorest people on the planet; a triumph of science and health policy that made the discovery of penicillin look quaint,” he says. “The new health colonialists have come from across the globe with admirable intentions and boundless energy in a new scramble for Africa. Dozens of well meaning health providers are falling over each other to help — but crucially also to justify their efforts to their sponsors back home,” he writes.

CSIS Report Examines Future Of Global Health Agenda

In a new report examining the future of the global health agenda, published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday, J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Center on Global Health Policy and a senior vice president at CSIS, writes, “The naught decade (2000–2009) saw remarkable, explosive growth, concentrated in low- and lower-middle-income countries, in dollars delivered to infectious diseases — HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis, along with maternal and child health, and health systems.” He continues, “Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, we can already safely predict that, barring an unlikely quick turn to robust economic growth among advanced industrial economies, the global health agenda will remain in very difficult straits into the future.” The report, titled, “The End of the Golden Era of Global Health?,” is part of the CSIS “2012 Global Forecast” [.pdf], according to the report summary (4/17).

Large Childhood Immunization Campaign Begins In Haiti, With Support From U.S., Other International Partners

Haiti, the U.S. and other international partners on Monday launched “a nationwide vaccination campaign in the Caribbean country that seeks to curb or prevent infectious diseases, health officials said,” the Associated Press/Fox News reports. The campaign will include immunizations against measles, rubella and polio, as well as the pentavalent vaccine, which is effective against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b, according to the news agency. Immunization rates are low in Haiti, with the WHO reporting slightly more than half of the population immunized for measles and polio, but the current campaign aims to vaccinate 90 percent of Haiti’s youth population, according to Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume, the news agency notes.

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