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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).

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.”

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.

Senior Adviser To President Reflects On World AIDS Day

“This week, as we gathered in the White House with key scientists, policymakers, and community stakeholders to commemorate World AIDS Day, I was so proud to help highlight the progress we’ve made in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the President, writes in the AIDS.gov blog. Jarrett discusses progress made against the disease in 2012, notes the release of the “PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), and provides a link to a Twitter Q+A with Jarrett and Gayle Smith, senior director for development and democracy (12/3).

USAID Introduces ‘First-Ever’ Guidance On Building Resiliency

On Monday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “announced the launch of the agency’s first-ever policy and program guidance [.pdf] on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis during an event in Washington, D.C.,” according to an USAID press release. “Chronic poverty and recurring shocks drive the same communities into crisis year after year, undermining development gains,” the press release states, adding, “In response to this clear need, and together with our international development partners, USAID has committed, through this policy and program guidance, to better coordinate its development and humanitarian approaches to effectively build resilience in targeted areas of recurrent crisis.” The agency “intends for these efforts to collectively contribute to reduced humanitarian need” over the long-term, according to the press release (12/3).

U.S. Working With Namibia On AIDS Response

U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Wanda Nesbitt writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, “Here in Namibia, the United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is working closely with the people and Government of Namibia to prevent new HIV infections, provide lifesaving HIV treatment to those who need it, and help put an end to AIDS in the country.” She discusses the recently released Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation (.pdf), progress in Namibia’s AIDS response, and the transition period in which Namibia will take full responsibility for its HIV program. “We are proud to work with the government and people of Namibia to do our part toward achieving the goal of creating an AIDS-free generation. By investing smarter and working together, we will win this fight,” she writes (12/3).

Adversity In Childhood Can Shape Long-Term Health Outcomes

Noting the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence,” Neil Boothby, U.S. government special adviser and senior coordinator to the USAID administrator on children in adversity, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” “The science is clear — childhood experiences shape adult outcomes, including long-term health, cognitive development, academic achievement, and one’s ability to be gainfully and safely employed.” He continues, “In the same way that public health efforts have prevented and reduced pregnancy-related complications, infant mortality, infectious diseases and illnesses, so can the factors that contribute to violent and abusive responses — attitudes, behavior and social, economic, political and cultural conditions — be changed.” Boothby notes the U.S. government this week “will release an Action Plan on Children in Adversity [.pdf], the first-ever government-wide strategic guidance for international assistance for children” (12/9).

Innovation In Immunization Programs Can Mean Better Learning, Sharing Of Information

In this Guardian “Global Development Professionals Network” blog post, Robert Steinglass, senior immunization adviser at John Snow, Inc., and immunization team leader for the USAID-funded Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, writes about the importance of innovation to improving childhood immunization programs and health systems. He notes he recently moderated a panel at the GAVI Partners’ Forum, during which participants discussed different approaches.

Continued U.S. Leadership Crucial To Building On Global Progress Against TB

Tuberculosis (TB) “is the second leading cause of death due to infectious disease worldwide; taking approximately 1.4 million lives in 2011 alone,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” adding, “The good news is that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halt and reverse the TB epidemic by 2015 has already been achieved in several regions of the world.” She notes “advances have been made in TB diagnostics with the increased availability of Xpert, a new test that detects the disease — including in HIV-positive people — within 100 minutes.” However, she continues, “we cannot defeat the disease without the introduction of faster drug susceptibility tests and new drugs and vaccines.”

Automatic U.S. Budget Cuts Would Hurt Global Health Efforts

In a post on the PATH blog, Rachel Wilson, senior director for policy and advocacy at PATH, examines the consequences of budget negotiations and “what enacting billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts could mean for people living in poverty around the world.” She continues, “According to a report from the Office of Management and Budget reported on the Kaiser Family Foundation website, if the automatic cuts take effect, global health funding through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department would decrease by $670 million, or 8.2 percent from 2012 levels.” Wilson writes, “These kinds of cuts would have very real consequences,” and she cites estimates from amfAR and the Guttmacher Institute about how cuts would affect access to HIV/AIDS, malaria, childhood disease, and reproductive health prevention and treatment. She concludes, “The United States has contributed to incredible gains in global health. Any retreat from our leadership would set us back in ways that are unimaginable” (12/17).