Mary Beth Hastings, vice president of the Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog that despite “the pervasive myth that no one wants female condoms,” “[d]emand is increasing because female condoms provide men and women with something they want: more options when it comes to protecting themselves.” USAID officials “were surprised to hear evidence of an unmet demand for female condoms,” Hastings says, adding, “[W]hen presented with evidence to the contrary, USAID started talking with different institutions about meeting the demand.” She continues, “To its credit, the U.S. government is a global leader on female condoms. But there is still room for improvement.”
US Global Health Policy
“Barack Obama was elected to a second presidential term Tuesday, defeating Republican Mitt Romney,” the Washington Post reports (Farenthold, 11/6). Reuters writes, “President Barack Obama returns from the campaign trail on Wednesday with little time to savor victory, facing urgent economic and fiscal challenges and a still-divided Congress capable of blocking his every move” (Holland/Spetalnick, 11/7). “The president’s second-term foreign policy agenda … looks set to largely build on what he’s already begun,” The Atlantic states (Maher, 11/7). “Obama faces the departure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said she isn’t planning to serve in a second Obama term,” Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle notes. The news service adds that some officials speculate the “leading candidates to succeed Clinton as secretary of state may be Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice” (Nichols, 11/7).
As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features a guest post by Allan Clear, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, in which he highlights an existing “WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS Technical Guide [.pdf] for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users.” The guide “outlines nine interventions that, if implemented, could stop HIV in its tracks,” he says, writing, “At minimum, I would add two other interventions to that list: outreach to drug users and overdose prevention and response programs. After all, why work with populations at risk of contracting HIV only to have them die from drug overdoses?” (Barton, 11/6).
After President Barack Obama’s re-election on Tuesday, the following blog posts addressed possible foreign policy priorities during the next administration.
“The U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID] has unveiled plans to harmonize its funding and efforts surrounding nutrition,” Devex reports. “The agency is working on a comprehensive strategy that will make the issue a priority in ‘high-impact interventions’ with nutrition as a component, such as in agriculture, health and humanitarian aid, Robert Clay, deputy assistant administrator at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, announced Nov. 5 at an event hosted by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network in Washington, D.C.,” the news service writes.
“With $2.5 trillion in mineral reserves, South Africa has the largest mining sector in the world,” but “[t]he work can be devastatingly toxic for the body,” with “inhumane and untenable” working conditions, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “South Africa’s 500,000 mine workers have the highest recorded rate of [tuberculosis (TB)] among any demographic in the world,” he states, noting that cramped working and living conditions put them at an increased risk of the disease. Overall, “mine-associated TB gives rise to 760,000 new cases annually in Africa,” and “costs South Africa alone $886 million each year in health care costs and in impoverishment when family providers are too sick to work, or die,” according to a study conducted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tutu writes. Therefore, the 15 SADC nations this summer pledged to take “concrete steps” to fight the disease, he notes.
As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an opinion piece by Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School and Partners In Health. With an estimated 1,000 people with HIV dying of tuberculosis (TB) every day, “[i]t is clear that our current approaches to addressing the global tuberculosis pandemic are inadequate,” he writes. Keshavjee says, “First, bold targets for reducing tuberculosis incidence and zero TB-HIV deaths must be prioritized in the blueprint. … Second, known strategies for stopping the spread of tuberculosis have to be actively implemented. … Lastly, any effective strategy has to ensure that HIV advocates at the community level are educated about the threat of tuberculosis,” and he describes each of his points in detail. He concludes, “The United States has shown visionary leadership in the area of HIV treatment and changed the lives of countless people for the better. It is time to take on tuberculosis with the same moral and pragmatic vigor” (Barton, 10/31).
The Feed the Future blog features an interview with Roger Thurow, senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a ONE Campaign fellow. Thurow says, “Securing the global food system is also one of the biggest — if not the biggest — challenge facing us in the coming decades. … And it is important to not just focus on increasing production, but to put nutrition — growing a cornucopia of more nutritious food — at the center of our efforts as well.” He discusses Feed the Future and says two “important aspects” of the program are “an emphasis on long-term agricultural development (rather than solely focusing on short-term emergency food aid relief) and a focus on the smallholder farmers of the developing world” (11/20).
The White House on Thursday released a statement by President Barack Obama commemorating World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1. Noting progress made against the disease in the past year, Obama said in the statement, “As we continue this important work with our partners around the world and here at home, let us remember the lives we have lost to AIDS, celebrate the progress we have made, and, together, recommit to ourselves to achieving our shared vision of an AIDS-free generation” (11/29). Additionally, President Obama on Thursday signed a Presidential Proclamation recommitting the U.S. “to preventing the spread of this disease, fighting the stigma associated with infection, and ending this pandemic once and for all” (11/29).
Noting the U.S. government on Thursday “unveiled a major new strategy for pushing towards achieving an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” Inter Press Service writes, “The far-reaching new blueprint for what’s known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is being widely lauded, yet little attention has been given to a document, published in October, that stipulates how new PEPFAR funding can be used.” The news service notes, “[a]ccording to that guidance, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities.'” “The language in the guidance was put there to make clear what exactly (PEPFAR) could and couldn’t pay for — that’s problematic,’ Mary Beth Hastings with the Center for Health and Gender Equity, a Washington advocacy group, told IPS,” the news service writes. An unnamed spokesperson from PEPFAR “told IPS … that ‘there are other entities, particularly USAID, that meet that need [for family planning]. We’re very interested in integrating our services,'” the news service writes (Biron, 11/29).