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President Obama Invites Four African Leaders To G8 Summit To Discuss Food Security

President Barack Obama has invited the leaders of four African nations “to join the G8 leaders’ summit at Camp David later this month for a session on food security, the White House said on Thursday,” Reuters reports. White House spokesperson Jay Carney said in a statement that Obama invited Benin President Yayi Boni, Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana President John Mills and Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, according to the news service (MacInnis, 5/3). They will join other leaders of G8 member nations — which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — at the summit, scheduled for May 18-19, CNN notes. The leaders are expected to discuss food security “amid fears of famine and drought in some parts of Africa,” the news service writes (Karimi, 5/4).

USAID Provides Testing Equipment To Vietnam To Help Speed Diagnoses Of Drug-Resistant TB

USAID on Monday said it has “delivered the first two of 17 planned laboratory devices” to help quickly diagnose drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB), VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports. “It says the machines allow for technicians to diagnose multi-drug resistant tuberculosis within as little as two hours, instead of the previous time requirement of several months,” the blog writes. The “new lab devices, along with 12,000 testing cartridges, will be given to tuberculosis hospitals and clinics in more than 10 Vietnamese provinces,” according to the news service (2/6).

Action Needed To Reach Ambitious Targets Set Forth In President’s World AIDS Day Speech

President Barack Obama’s December 1 World AIDS Day speech “could be pivotal, but only if it is followed by changes in how we tackle global AIDS,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. “Obama signaled a renewed U.S. commitment to funding for global AIDS programs at a time when resources at home are constrained and other countries are backing away from the fight,” he writes, adding, “Now it’s time to plot a course for implementing the president’s vision.”

Debate Continues Over Needle/Syringe Exchange Programs

Matt Fisher, a research assistant at the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, summarizes the ongoing debate in Congress over needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs) in this post on the SmartGlobalHealth.org blog. He presents a history of NSEPs and notes, “President Obama recently signed the FY12 omnibus spending bill that, among other things, reinstated the ban on the use of federal funds for needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs); this step reversed the 111th Congress’ 2009 decision to allow federal funds to be used for these programs.” He concludes that despite scientific evidence that NSEPs are an effective public health intervention, “ideological and moral opposition remains,” and therefore, “the issue of federal funding will continue to be actively debated” (2/6).

State Department, USAID Blog Posts Support Elimination Of FGM/C

In support of the ninth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, and David Robinson, acting assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, outline several examples of U.S. advocacy and funding related to stopping the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. They call on governments and international donors to “overturn deeply entrenched social norms that are not only harmful to women and girls, but to our communities and societies” (2/6). In a post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Sandra Jordan, communication and outreach adviser for USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, writes, “The single most important aspect of ending this practice is involving the community. USAID focuses on enabling and empowering communities to make their own collective choice to abandon FGM/C” (2/6).

Administration Officials Announce New Initiatives To Promote Innovations In Global Development

In a White House briefing on Wednesday, “senior Administration officials announced a series of new initiatives to promote game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges” in response to President Obama’s “call to harness science technology, and innovation to spark global development,” Gayle Smith, special assistant to the president, and Tom Kalil, senior adviser for science, technology, and innovation, write in this post in the White House Blog (2/8). “The new collaborations we’re launching today will help save lives from hunger and disease, lift people from poverty and reaffirm America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being,” President Barack Obama said at the briefing, according to a White House press statement, which details several new public and private sector initiatives announced at the meeting (2/8).

Republican Win In 2012 Election Could Spell End Of International Family Planning Programs

“If a Republican becomes president, … say goodbye to international programs providing birth control to women in desperately poor countries such as Liberia,” senior contributing writer Michelle Goldberg writes in this Daily Beast opinion piece. Goldberg notes that birth control has become a “significant issue in the U.S. presidential campaign,” writing, “All of the Republican candidates have slammed the administration’s refusal to give religious institutions a broad exemption from the mandate that insurance cover family planning.”

Officials Meet To Discuss L’Aquila Agreement On Global Food Security

More than “50 food security officials from 30 countries, and international and regional organizations” are meeting at the State Department in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security, which was endorsed at the 2009 G8 Summit and “mark[ed] a turning point for international efforts to achieve sustainable global food security,” according to a State Department media note. Participants “will discuss coordination efforts between partner and donor governments; investments in research to improve food security; tracking progress toward meeting the L’Aquila commitments; and using Managing for Development Results to enhance the impact of investments in food security,” the media note states (2/2).

USAID-Supported Programs Fighting TB, HIV In Brazil

In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Ed Scholl, AIDSTAR-One project director, writes about HIV and tuberculosis (TB) care in Brazil, where “USAID has partnered with the Brazilian Ministry of Health to improve early TB detection, increase HIV counseling and testing, and provide medical treatment for both infections.” He continues, “AIDSTAR-One, a USAID-funded project, is also conducting outreach in Brazilian prisons, which are often at high risk of TB and HIV epidemics.” He concludes, “Through partnerships like USAID and AIDSTAR-One, we can effectively fight TB and HIV across Brazil and Latin America, to improve the health of countless people and ultimately save lives” (2/7).

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).