Speaking at an economic forum in Madrid, Spain, “[t]he head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], Jose Graziano da Silva, warned Thursday of a major funding gap for activities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports. “He added that boosting food security entailed combining emergency action with support for family farming and smallholder production, as well as promoting long term development and reducing vulnerability to extreme events, like drought,” the news agency writes (5/10). According to the U.N. News Centre, Graziano da Silva also called for the involvement of “civil society, private enterprise, international agencies, and the governments of developing and developed countries” to help fight chronic hunger and malnutrition — which affects one of every seven people in the world — because it “is a challenge too great for FAO or any government to overcome alone” (5/10).
Programs, Funding & Financing
As Agriculture Intensifies To Promote Food Security, Prevention Research For Buruli Ulcer Also Must Intensify
“Buruli ulcer could spread as agriculture intensifies in Africa, making prevention research vital,” Rousseau Djouaka, a researcher at the Benin branch of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), argues in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. “The intensification of lowland agriculture has been linked with the increased incidence of human diseases such as malaria, schistosomiasis and Buruli ulcer (BU),” he writes, noting, “Of these, BU remains the least well documented and most neglected in the wet agro-ecosystems of west and central Africa.” He provides statistics regarding infection rates in Africa and notes, “People affected by the skin infection, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans, develop large ulcers which often result in scarring, deformities, amputations, and disabilities, especially when the diagnosis is delayed.”
“Algeria will partner with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to build the first HIV/AIDS research center in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Nature Middle East reports. “The center, which should be operational by 2013, will be based in the city of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria” and “will bring together researchers from Africa, Europe and the United States working on treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” the magazine writes.
The House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee on Wednesday approved, without changes, its version of the FY 2013 U.S. international affairs appropriations bill, Devex reports (Mungcal, 5/10). The bill provides $40.1 billion in regular discretionary funding and an additional $8.2 billion in funding for ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and if enacted would represent a 12 percent cut from the President’s request and a five percent cut from 2012, according to a House Committee on Appropriations press release (5/8). “Despite the cuts, the legislation won bipartisan backing from the Appropriations foreign aid panel, though it’s sure to draw a White House veto threat because it’s in line with a broader GOP spending plan that breaks faith with last summer’s budget and debt pact with President Barack Obama,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (5/9). “The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee, which is expected to vote on it next week,” Devex notes (5/10).
“Over the next few weeks, appropriators will be engaged in the challenging task of evaluating U.S. foreign assistance funding, including how effectively Congress’ global health investments are being used,” Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Molly Joel Coye, interim president and CEO of PATH; Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children; and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, write in this Roll Call opinion piece. They continue, “As organizations funded in part by the U.S. government to implement global health programs in the field,” we “see firsthand how U.S. global health programs are working, and why now is not the time to cut multilateral and bilateral funding for these efforts.”
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the largest provider of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are calling for the gap between the need for and access to ART in the country to be closed, the Guardian reports. Approximately 240,000 people live with HIV in Burma, and doctors say half are in need of “urgent” ART, but national data estimates less than 30,000 were receiving ART in 2010, the newspaper writes, adding, “In a country where nearly 33 percent of people live below the poverty line, thousands of Burmese are unlikely ever to be able to afford ART, which, according to [MSF], cost $30 a month.”
The Millennium Villages Project (MVP), established in Africa to determine what improvements can be made when programs addressing health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are implemented simultaneously, published its first results in the Lancet on Tuesday. The following opinion piece and editorial address the findings.
In an article published in the May 8 edition of PLoS Medicine, Rajaie Batniji, an affiliate of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and Eran Bendavid of FSI’s Stanford Health Policy, found that a 2010 Lancet study by researchers at the University of Washington that “concluded that about half the money given to international governments for providing health care services isn’t used as intended” is “flawed” and “should not be used to guide decisions about how much money to give and who should get it,” according to a Stanford University news story. “Once Batniji and Bendavid excluded conflicting and outlying data, such as huge discrepancies between WHO and [International Monetary Fund] estimates and information about countries that were getting very small amounts of money from other countries, ‘There was no significant displacement of foreign aid,’ Bendavid said,” the article states (Gorlick, 5/8).
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “expects to have an additional $1.6 billion to fund projects in 2012-2014, [the fund’s General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo] said on Wednesday, a turnaround from a funding freeze last year,” Reuters reports (Miles, 5/9). “The new funds are a result of ‘strategic decisions made by the Board, freeing up funds that can be invested in countries where there is the most pressing demand,’ a statement by the fund said,” according to PlusNews (5/10). “The money includes funds from new donors, from traditional donors who are advancing their payments or increasing contributions and from some donors, such as China, that have offered to support projects in their own country to free up cash for more pressing needs elsewhere, Jaramillo said,” Reuters notes (5/9). “This forecast is better than expected, and it comes from the fantastic response we are getting to our transformation,” Jaramillo said, adding, “But we need more to get the job done. Countries that implement our grants are saving more and more people, but demand for services is still enormous,” according to the statement (5/9).
Gates Foundation Announces New Grants For Global Health Development Proposals Through Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, [on Wednesday] announced over 100 new grants of $100,000 each to support innovative global health and development proposals that have the potential to unlock transformative, life-saving solutions in the developing world,” a foundation press release reports. “Additionally, the Gates Foundation announced additional funding of up to $1 million each for six existing Grand Challenges Explorations projects to enable grantees to continue to advance their ideas towards global impact,” the press release adds (5/9).