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ONE Blog Interviews USAID Deputy Administrator About Upcoming G8 Summit

ONE Blog interviews Ambassador Donald Steinberg, deputy administrator at USAID, about the upcoming G8 Summit. Steinberg discusses the importance of growth in the agricultural sector for food security, how the upcoming summit’s food security and nutrition focus relates back to the commitments made at the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila, and what it will take in the years ahead to advance food and nutrition security, according to the blog (5/16).

Proposed FY13 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Has 'Mixed Results' For USAID's Global Health Programs

“On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee will vote on a State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013, which will include funding levels for global health and other programs at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),” Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) writes in the coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “Overall, the subcommittee’s bill had mixed results for global health and other programs at USAID: while some programs were sustained at FY 2012 levels, others saw significant budget cuts that will affect the agency’s efforts worldwide,” Bennett says, concluding, “As the House Appropriations Committee votes on the SFOPS bill on Thursday and the budget process continues, Congress will have to decide whether it should boldly support USAID’s goal of developing new health tools — tools that are projected to save millions of lives — or withdraw this support and risk halting scientific advancement in its tracks” (5/16).

House Appropriations Committee Releases Draft Report On FY13 State, Foreign Operations Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill on Thursday, The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports (Pecquet, 5/17). On Wednesday, the committee released the State and Foreign Operations Draft Committee Report (.pdf), which provides additional information on funding through the appropriations bill for U.S. global health programs at USAID and the State Department, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Policy Tracker. “This funding comprises a significant portion of the Global Health Initiative budget (total funding for the GHI is not currently available as some funding provided through USAID, HHS, and DoD are not yet available),” the website writes. The House Appropriations State and Foreign Affairs subcommittee released the draft bill on May 8 and approved it on May 9, according to the website.

Opinion Pieces Discuss Global Action On Food Security

The Hill’s “Congress Blog” on Friday published two opinion pieces addressing global food security, the G8 summit, and the New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security. The following are summaries of the pieces.

Obama Announces $3B Food Initiative For Africa

In a Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on Friday, President Barack Obama “announced a plan to accelerate investments in developing world agriculture to meet rising food demands and improve nutrition, calling the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition a moral, economic and security imperative,” IIP Digital reports (Porter, 5/18). The new program, unveiled “in conjunction with African leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania, will parlay more than $3 billion in private assistance into a public-private partnership with an ambitious goal: lifting 50 million people from poverty over 10 years,” according to USA Today’s “The Oval” (Wolf, 5/18). The initiative “will constitute the next phase of a groundbreaking program begun during the 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy,” Inter Press Service writes (Brion, 5/18). More than 45 companies have pledged to invest in the initiative, Devex notes (Ravelo, 5/10). A fact sheet on the New Alliance is available on the White House website (5/18).

Bill Introduced In U.S. Senate Is Latest Push To Award Prizes For New Drug Development

“As Washington prepares for a major international AIDS conference this summer, developments on the drug front are once again elevating the subject of the continuing epidemic in the public eye,” CQ HealthBeat reports. The article mentions an FDA panel’s recent recommendation for the approval of Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV among healthy people at risk of contracting the virus and a bill (S 1138) introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) aimed at reducing the cost of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). The bill, which is focused on the cost of ARVs in the U.S., would “create a $3 billion ‘prize fund,’ through which [pharmaceutical] firms that bring a new HIV or AIDS medicine to market would get awards” in exchange for relinquishing patent rights to the drug, according to CQ (Norman, 5/18).

Humanitarian Crisis Worsening In Yemen, State Department Officials Say

“Yemen is not only one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it’s also home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the grim numbers offered today by State Department officials,” ABC News reports. “The United States is providing more than $73 million of humanitarian assistance to Yemen, which is being used for food aid, food vouchers, water and sanitation programs, and medical clinics,” ABC News writes, noting, “Yemen has not had a proper government for nearly a year, since the fall of President Ali Abdullah Saleh” (Hughes, 5/21).

Blogs Report On Kaiser Family Foundation Survey On U.S. Role In Global Health

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on the findings of a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey released on Monday that examines Americans’ views on U.S. global health efforts. The survey found that two-thirds of Americans say that the U.S. “is spending too little or about the right amount on global health aid,” “with one in five saying the U.S. spends too much,” the blog writes. The blog discusses additional survey findings and notes, “This is the fourth survey in a series that KFF has conducted to determine the attitudes of Americans toward U.S. spending on improving the health of those living in low-resource countries” (Mazzotta, 5/21). In addition, PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog reports on the findings of the survey, writing, “Overall, the survey findings are very positive, … suggest[ing] that a case can be made for increased development spending, and the audience is receptive. The challenge is reaching Americans to build a broad-based level of support” (Murphy, 5/21).

U.S. To Provide $30M In Assistance Through USAID To World Food Programme For South Sudan

The U.S. Government, through USAID, is providing $30 million in emergency assistance to people affected by conflict and food insecurity in South Sudan, United Press International reports. The money will be delivered through the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), according to a USAID press release, the news service notes (5/21). The money will help WFP position food supplies across the country before many of the roads become impassable because of the rainy season, according to the press release. “The U.S. Government is the largest supporter of WFP’s operation in South Sudan, and including this donation, has contributed more than $110 million in 2012 to WFP’s emergency operation in the country,” the press release notes (5/21).