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Executive Order Signed Last Week Should Be 'First Of Several Steps' Taken Against Human Trafficking

A New York Times editorial reflects on “a strong executive order aimed at ending human trafficking activities by government contractors and subcontractors,” announced by President Obama on September 25 “in a passionate address on the issue … at the Clinton Global Initiative.” The editorial states, “This should be the first of several steps to bolster the attack on a scourge that Mr. Obama described as ‘modern slavery.'” “Among other things, Mr. Obama should put the weight of his office behind a bipartisan bill in Congress, the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act,” the editorial continues, adding, “The bill would strengthen the administration’s executive initiative by embedding into law safeguards against substandard wages, abusive working conditions and sexual and labor exploitation.”

Food Prices Rise In September After Two Months Of Relative Stability, FAO Says

“Global food prices rose by 1.4 percent in September after holding steady for two months as cereals, meat and dairy prices climbed, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization [FAO] said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/4). “[T]he FAO Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, rose to an average of 216 points in September after remaining stable at 213 points in August, the FAO said in its monthly update,” according to Reuters (Hornby, 10/4). “Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, said that food prices were likely to remain high and volatility could increase,” BBC News writes (10/4). Bloomberg Businessweek notes “[t]he U.S. State Department estimates that surging food prices triggered more than 60 riots worldwide from 2007 to 2009” (Ruitenberg, 10/4). “Despite the rise in food prices, the United States Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome released a statement on Thursday saying it had agreed with other countries that a meeting of the emergency Rapid Response Forum under the G20 agriculture body [Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS)] was not necessary at the moment,” Reuters states (10/4).

Little Difference Between Obama, Romney On Foreign Assistance

In the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Sarah Jane Staats, director of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking Foreign Assistance Initiative, compares the foreign assistance positions of President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “The U.S. presidential campaign has been more about saving jobs at home than saving lives abroad,” but “America’s role in the world was center stage at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last week, where President Barack Obama decried modern slavery and Mitt Romney unveiled his vision for foreign assistance,” she writes. “The surprise: so far, Romney sounds a lot like Obama on foreign aid,” she continues.

Blog Summarizes Analyses Examining Possible Effects Of Sequestration On Global Health, Science Research

The Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog examines “the likely devastating impact of sequestration on U.S.-funded global health, research, science, and development programs” and summarizes several recently released reports on potential budget cuts. The blog outlines the findings of an updated analysis from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, which examines the possible human and global health impacts of budget sequestration; a new analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that says sequestration would “no doubt have significant impacts on federal funding of science, research, and innovation”; a document (.pdf) from Bread for the World that examines the potential impact of sequestration on the international affairs budget; and an updated analysis (.pdf) from Research!America looking at how sequestration could affect health research and science at several U.S. agencies (Lufkin, 10/4).

Lancet Examines Obama Administration's Global Health Initiative

The Lancet examines the history of the Obama administration’s attempt to “reform the way the country delivers development assistance for health abroad” by establishing the Global Health Initiative (GHI). “Despite unusual bipartisan support in Congress and broad consensus among development practitioners about the goals of reform, it proved surprisingly difficult for the multiple entities involved in U.S. global health assistance to agree on a way forward,” the journal states, noting that GHI leadership and the three core entities of GHI — USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR — announced the closure of the GHI office and an end to the initiative’s current phase on July 3. The Lancet outlines several challenges the initiative faced, including collaboration among the three agencies, leadership, and external factors, such as “the austere budgetary climate.”

Obama Should Promote, Invest More In PMI To Gain Votes

Leading up to the debates this month and the November presidential election, “President Obama would be wise to talk up our effective aid programs and the soft power they provide with regional allies,” particularly the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), Roger Bate, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, and Kimberly Hess, a researcher with Africa Fighting Malaria, write in a New York Daily News opinion piece. “Pointing to the enormous success of this program — and announcing a budget increase — would score valuable points with swing voters and potentially even help Democrats pull some of them off the fence,” they write. Seven years after former President George W. Bush launched PMI, the program “stands among the most effective government programs in recent history — and a rare, genuinely bipartisan foreign policy achievement,” the authors state, noting “under-five mortality rates have declined by 16-50 percent in 11 PMI target countries in which surveys have been conducted.”

Kaiser Family Foundation Report Examines Country-Level Response To U.S. GHI's Women, Girls, & Gender Equality Principle

“A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation examines how countries are responding to and implementing the women, girls, and gender equality principle of the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI),” an email alert from the Foundation states, noting, “This principle, one of seven core principles of the GHI, aims to sharpen the focus on women and girls across U.S. government global health efforts.” According to the alert, the report is “[b]ased on interviews conducted by the Foundation with representatives from 15 GHI country teams” and “identifies nine key themes and trends that could help inform U.S. policy discussions and the future directions of efforts related to the health of women and girls.” The alert adds, “The report builds on earlier work by the Foundation on the women, girls, and gender equality principle, including a roundtable discussion and an analysis of ‘GHI Plus’ country strategies” (10/19).

Improving Global Maternal Mortality, Women's Health And Related U.S. Foreign Policy

In the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Phillip Nieburg, senior associate of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses a recent report (.pdf) he wrote, titled “Improving Maternal Mortality and Other Aspects of Women’s Health: The United States’ Global Role,” “that addresses key challenges to improving maternal mortality and women’s health worldwide and talks about what the related priorities of U.S. foreign policy should be.” He says, “Rather than continuing what appears to me as a piecemeal approach to global aspects of reproductive health, with separate programs to address, e.g., gender-based violence, women and HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, family planning, cervical cancer, girls’ education, etc., I argue in my report that the United States should develop and implement a comprehensive global plan for women’s health that includes males as well as females, using coordinated prevention and care programming for each stage of the reproductive health life cycle” (10/25).

ONE Blog Interviews USAID Nutrition Chief

In the ONE blog, Kelly Hauser, ONE’s policy manager focusing on agriculture, nutrition and U.S. food aid reform, interviews Anne Peniston, head of the nutrition division at USAID. Peniston discusses “her professional and personal experiences in the U.S. and abroad, her vision for USAID’s nutrition strategy, and the role of NGOs in global nutrition,” according to the blog. In the interview, she said, “I would really like to see the U.S. government’s global nutrition strategy integrated throughout the agency — in agriculture, HIV/AIDS, water, sanitation and hygiene, reproductive health programs, environmental programs and emergency response. This requires bringing together the ‘diaspora’ of nutrition experts in various offices around the agency, to create that collective vision and understand our mission in terms of agency priorities. Additionally, in this constrained budget environment, we need consensus across the government on how we approach nutrition and on what our priorities should be” (9/27).

Blog Recaps U.S. Global Food Security Team's Activities

“As the Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security, I lead U.S. diplomacy on food security and nutrition, and last week was a particularly busy one for the food security team,” Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for Global Food Security, writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. He details a number of food security-related activities that happened throughout the week, beginning with World Food Day, and writes, “Ending world hunger will require a collective effort among governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society” (10/27).