U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “administered polio vaccination drops to children in New Delhi on Friday as India marked one year since its last case of the crippling disease,” the Associated Press reports (1/13). The Hill’s “Healthwatch” reports that “[o]fficials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] say U.S. funding and experience were key to beating back the disease,” but “[t]he news comes as federal funding for global health programs now faces sharp cuts from Tea Party lawmakers and others worried about the deficit” (Pecquet, 1/12). “ÂGlobally, the U.S. government has provided $2 billion for the polio eradication campaign, Rotary International has raised about $1 billion from its members, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $1 billion,” and the CDC “weighed in with crucial expertise,” the Washington Post writes (Denyer, 1/12).
US Global Health Policy
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes, “In 2012, there is a presidency at stake — so what does that mean for women’s health and rights in the coming year? How will political posturing and the race for votes affect what really matters?”
A Congressional delegation consisting of six senators and one representative arrived in Africa on Thursday for an eight-day trip that “includes oversight of Department of Defense, Department of State, and USAID activities in Africa,” the Daily Republic reports (Lawrence, 1/8). “According to [Sen. Lindsay Graham’s (R-S.C.)] office, the delegation assessed ‘the impact of U.S. sponsored counter-terrorism programs and projects relating to health, economic development, and strengthened trade relationships with African nations,'” the ONE blog writes.
“Scientists and aid organizations gave the world plenty of time to prepare, but a late response by the world’s donor nations cost 50,000 to 100,000 lives during last year’s drought in the Horn of Africa region,” the Christian Science Monitor’s “Global News Blog” writes about a report (.pdf) released on Wednesday by Save the Children and Oxfam (Baldauf, 1/18). “The two agencies blame ‘a culture of risk aversion’ among donors and NGOs, which meant the specially-built early warning system, FEWSNET, worked but was ignored until it was too late,” GlobalPost’s “Africa Emerges” blog writes (McConnell, 1/18). “A food shortage had been predicted as early as August 2010, but most donors did not respond until famine was declared in parts of Somalia last July,” the Associated Press/New York Times notes (1/18).
“As the World Economic Forum kicks off this week in Davos, Switzerland, the importance of global health — and the health of the globe — is getting special attention,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International (PSI), writes in this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “The world’s still massive bottom of the economic pyramid — some 2-3 billion people — represents a potential $5 trillion in purchasing power,” but without access to “quality health care and services, … their global economic impact suffers. Imagine if by simple investments in health, we turned these struggling individuals and families into healthy, active consumers and producers.”
The Washington Post’s “In the Loop” blog reports that USAID has released a draft form of a plan to create research and development (R&D) teams at colleges and universities across the country aimed at tackling problems of global development. “USAID characterized the plan … as a way of tapping into the collective wisdom of academia,” according to the blog, which notes, “They’ve suggested setting up an unnamed number of centers — some at individual colleges and universities, some comprised of several such institutions.” The blog adds, “They say no budget has been set, but an individual college might get a million or so, while a collaborative center made up of a few schools could get $4 million to $5 million” (Heil, 1/24).
During a briefing on Tuesday, U.S. officials said famine conditions in Somalia have improved, but more than 13 million people in the Horn of Africa remain in need of emergency food, shelter or other aid, the Associated Press reports. “David Robinson, acting assistant secretary for population, refugees and migration, told reporters Tuesday the flow of refugees out of Somalia into neighboring countries has diminished, but thousands are still trying to get out and new camps are opening in Ethiopia and Kenya,” the news agency writes (Birch, 1/24). Bruce Wharton, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy for the Bureau of African Affairs, noted the U.S. has provided about $870 million in humanitarian aid to the region, with about $205 million going specifically to Somalia, according to the briefing transcript (1/24).
Leading up to Mother’s Day on May 13, the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” section, in partnership with Mothers Day Every Day, an initiative of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE, is publishing opinion pieces from a diverse group of people. The following are summaries of two of those opinion pieces.
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.”