Writing in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Nicola Pardy, an editorial intern at GlobalPost, reflects on the closure of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) office announced in July, noting that the government announced the establishment of a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy. She asks, “So, what has changed in this next phase of the initiative?” Pardy quotes Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” and the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blogs, which commented on the announcement. She also cites a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation that examines how countries are responding to and implementing the women, girls, and gender equality principle of the GHI; highlights two case studies on GHI reproductive health-related activities in Guatemala (.pdf) and Ethiopia (.pdf) released by the Change Center for Health and Gender Equity in June; and notes an analysis of the GHI published in the Lancet this month. She concludes, “GHI’s lofty objectives have yet to come to fruition. Now it’s time to see whether the initiative has both the momentum and leadership to get there” (10/26).
US Global Health Policy
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog interviews Kenneth Mayer, founding medical research director of Fenway Health, as part of its “Blueprint” series, which examines issues surrounding the creation of a blueprint for an AIDS-free generation commissioned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July. In the interview, Mayer discusses what he thinks should be key elements of the blueprint, highlights interventions he feels are critical components of combination prevention, and comments on the role research should play in the blueprint, among other topics (Barton, 10/9).
OMB Report On Budgetary Impact Of Sequestration Estimates Global Health Funding Would Decrease By 8.2%
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Friday released a report (.pdf) describing the budgetary impacts of sequestration “mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act,” which would require an annual reduction in government spending of $109 billion per year for nine years, National Journal reports. “Sequestration will go into effect starting Jan. 2 unless Congress can reach a deficit-reduction deal to head it off,” the news service notes (O’Donnell et al., 9/14). “According to the report, global health funding through USAID and State Department, which comprises the majority of U.S. global health funding, would decrease by $670 million, or 8.2 percent, from the FY 2012 level of $8,168 million,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” (9/14).
Noting the U.S. “recently announced plans to create an Office of Global Health Diplomacy at the State Department, designed to promote the use of diplomacy to advance U.S. global health efforts and support the next phase of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) in the diplomatic arena,” the Kaiser Family Foundation on Tuesday published an issue brief that “provides an overview of global health diplomacy, including how it has been defined and used historically both globally and in the U.S.,” according to a summary on the foundation’s webpage. “The brief also examines potential challenges that may arise when foreign policy goals and efforts to achieve better health outcomes are at odds,” the summary notes (9/18).
In a guest post on USAID’s “IMPACT Blog,” Rachel Cohen, regional executive director of DNDi North America, writes, “The United States government and its country partners should be commended for the tremendous achievements in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) NTD Program” and the National Institutes of Health. “However, not all NTD research is created equal,” she writes, adding, “Beyond basic research, much more research and development (R&D), including late-stage product development, for new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics is urgently needed for those NTDs where adequate tools do not exist.” Noting that African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) “are not yet included in the USAID NTD Program,” Cohen says “greater commitment to developing new NTD treatments and other tools is sorely needed if disease control or elimination is to be achieved” (9/18).
NPR’s “Shots” blog profiles Vanessa Kerry, a physician and daughter of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and her work to develop the Global Health Service Partnership to send nurses and doctors to work abroad in exchange for a pay-down in their student loans. The partnership’s goal “is to reduce the severe shortage of medical workers in developing countries,” according to the blog, which adds Kerry “thinks the partnership will also strengthen health care here stateside by infusing U.S. doctors with a worldview centered on making the most of available resources.” The program is working with the Peace Corps and receives funding through PEPFAR, the blog notes (Doucleff, 9/26).
In this blog post on FeedtheFuture.gov, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, and Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security and deputy coordinator for diplomacy for Feed the Future, answer five questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which was established by the G8 in May 2012. They report on the progress of the New Alliance, “which is a unique partnership between African governments, members of the G8, and the private sector to work together to accelerate investments in agriculture to improve productivity, livelihoods and food security for smallholder farmers.” In addition, they discuss the relationship between Feed the Future and the New Alliance; the role of nutrition in the New Alliance; how the New Alliance will ensure accountability among its partners; and why the New Alliance focuses on Africa (9/26).
Noting the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children on Wednesday “released 10 bold recommendations which, if achieved, will ensure women and children will have access to 13 life-saving commodities,” Jennifer Bergeson-Lockwood, a maternal health adviser with USAID, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” that the agency is working “to integrate systems across commodities to better and more efficiently serve women and children everywhere, and scale up programs to have nation-wide impact.” She adds, “Country leadership is also a vital component to successfully addressing many of the Commission’s recommendations.” Saying that integration and country ownership “form the cornerstones of our work,” she continues, “With our host country partners in the lead, we are working to strengthen supply chains for commodities, which include use of mHealth solutions; support local market shaping; improve the quality of medicines; and increase demand by mothers for necessary medicines” (9/26).
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, USAID assistant administrator for global health, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” “Recently, we reorganized the [Global Health] Bureau to establish an Office of Health Systems, which will be the hub for the Agency’s worldwide leadership network of technical experts in health systems strengthening.” He continues, “This is a key to focusing our work on country ownership, sustainability, and broadening access to critical health services to the most vulnerable populations, as envisioned by the Global Health Initiative.” Pablos-Mendez notes, “The new office is important for two main reasons: first, it responds to the changing landscape of health and development and second, it will help meet all of other health goals in global health.” He concludes, “[W]e know that strengthening health systems makes it possible to successfully graduate countries that no longer need financial assistance; so work ourselves out of jobs. That is our ultimate measure of success” (9/26).
“When President Obama made a landmark speech against modern slavery on Tuesday, many of us in the news media shrugged,” but women survivors of human trafficking “noticed,” Nicholas Kristof writes in his New York Times column. “[T]he world often scorns the victims and sees them as criminals: these girls are the lepers of the 21st century,” he says, adding, “So bravo to the president for giving a major speech on human trafficking and, crucially, for promising greater resources to fight pimps and support those who escape the streets. Until recently, the Obama White House hasn’t shown strong leadership on human trafficking, but this could be a breakthrough. The test will be whether Obama continues to press the issue.”