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U.K.’s DfID, USAID, Others Announce Commitments To Improving Water, Sanitation Worldwide

U.K. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on Friday “announced a doubling of the U.K.’s effort to provide clean water and sanitation to the world’s poorest countries,” the Guardian reports (Elliot, 4/20). At a High-Level Meeting on Water and Sanitation in Washington, D.C., Mitchell “announced that the U.K., through [the Department for International Development (DfID)], would double the number of people it reached with aid in water, sanitation and hygiene education in the next two years, going from 30 to 60 million people globally by 2015,” according to a UNICEF press release (4/20).

USAID’s Shah Urges Cooperation To Improve Child Health, Survival

“Seeing a child die from pneumonia, diarrhea or a mosquito bite is simply unimaginable to most parents. But that is the sad reality for many families each day,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes in a Huffington Post Blog opinion piece, noting, “Last year over seven million children under five died of largely preventable causes.” He continues, “Today, the global community has the knowledge and the affordable tools to change the course of history,” including bednets, vaccines, and childbirth assistance. “At the current annual rate of decline of 2.6 percent, the gap in child death between rich and poor countries would persist until nearly the end of this century. But we are capable of much more. By working closely with countries and continuing our results-oriented investments in global health, we can bring the rate of child mortality in poor countries to the same level it is in rich countries,” he states.

Assessment Of Sahel Humanitarian Assistance Finds U.S., Partners Learning From Past Crises

In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” blog administrator Mark Phelan recounts his recent visit to Niger and Mauritania, in Africa’s Sahel region, where he was “assessing nutrition-focused humanitarian assistance.” He writes, “We are indeed facing a crisis, but I am encouraged by what is being done differently, by ways we have applied lessons learned in the Sahel during food crises in 2010 and 2005, though we still have a long way to go.” He concludes, “I am encouraged that we have learned some important lessons from past crises. The U.S., in partnership with other donors, has taken early action in response to early warnings, and together, we are saving lives” (4/20).

USAID Administrator Shah To Launch Social Media Campaign To Garner Support For Foreign Aid

“Under the slogan ‘Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday,’ [USAID] on Monday is launching a social media campaign featuring childhood pictures of Ashley Judd, Mandy Moore and Anna Kournikova, along with those of global health leaders and lawmakers, including Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.],” with the aim of “build[ing] support to fight preventable deaths of children,” CQ HealthBeat reports. “‘By asking others to remember their own fifth birthdays, we want to remind people that more than seven million children each year never get the chance to celebrate that milestone,’ USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement,” the news service writes, noting, “Children who reach age five are much more likely to become adults, experts say.”

USAID, Israel Sign MOU To Provide Agricultural Assistance To Four African Countries

“USAID and MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have signed a memorandum of understanding [MOU] to increase cooperation on the topic of food security in Africa,” Globes reports. “The agreement is part of USAID’s ‘Feed the Future’ initiative” and will allow “for closer cooperation on the issue of food security in four countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda,” the news service writes (Dagoni, 4/19). The MOU is “the first of its kind, according to MASHAV head Daniel Carmon, though he stressed that ‘this MOU is not the start of the relationship; it’s the continuing and the strengthening of the relationship,'” according to the Jerusalem Post. “The assistance will include help with food production and crop cycles, as well as addressing environmental issues that go beyond the agricultural sector, Carmon said,” the newspaper notes (Krieger, 4/19).

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Tells GlobalPost State Department Reviewing Nearly $1.5B In Unused PEPFAR Funding

Prompted by an inquiry from GlobalPost, U.S. officials have said the Obama administration called for a $550 million reduction — an 11 percent cut — for its global AIDS program in its FY 2013 budget request because the “government didn’t need more money because there has been nearly $1.5 billion stuck in the pipeline for 18 months or more,” GlobalPost reports. According to the news service, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, headed by Ambassador Eric Goosby, “said this week it will immediately start a consultation period with Congress, its partners across the U.S. government and AIDS advocates to address a key question: What should they do with $1.46 billion?” GlobalPost reports that Goosby “explained that $1.46 billion designated to fight AIDS hasn’t been used because of inefficient bureaucracies; major reductions in the cost of AIDS treatment; delays due to long negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities; and a slowdown in a few countries because the AIDS problem was much smaller than originally estimated” (Donnelly, 4/17).

Guardian Blog Examines Potential Impact Of Global Fund Reform On Organization’s Future

In this post in her Global Health Blog, Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley examines the potential impact of reform within the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on the organization’s future. She writes, “It’s been only seven weeks since banker Gabriel Jaramillo took over as general manager of the [fund], but it is already clear the worthy organization set up by Kofi Annan to channel money to treat and prevent diseases in poor countries is a leaner, meaner machine.” She continues, “Jaramillo, former chair and chief executive of Sovereign Bank, brings a tougher attitude to the organization.”

NSABB Calls For Global Guidelines For Conducting, Communicating Research Involving Dangerous Pathogens

NewScientist reports on the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity’s (NSABB) recommendation that revised versions of two controversial studies on H5N1 avian flu be published in scientific journals, reversing its previous recommendation that the studies only be published if certain details were withheld. According to the news service, dissent among the board members over the issue has prompted the committee to “propos[e] talks to draft global guidelines for doing and communicating work involving dangerous pathogens.”

April Issue Of USAID’s ‘PRH Connect’ Available Online

The April issue of USAID’s “PRH Connect” e-newsletter features a round-up of top news articles; a partnership profile of the Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health; notes from the field highlighting the DELIVER Project’s new photo blog, and links to various resources, publications and research. Lastly, USAID provides a link to an interactive map of high-impact practices in family planning (HIPs), requesting that readers add information regarding their own programs (April 2012).

U.S. Delegation Expresses Support For Two Vaccination Campaigns While In Haiti

“A campaign to introduce new childhood vaccines to Haiti will save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade, [CDC Director] Dr. Thomas Frieden told [NPR's health blog 'Shots'] at the end of a two-day tour of the beleaguered country,” the blog reports. “Frieden was part of a delegation to Haiti that included his boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,” according to the blog, which notes, “When the U.S. delegation arrived, a different vaccination campaign had just gotten started — a pilot project to immunize against cholera” (Knox, 4/17). According to another article in “Shots,” “U.S. health officials have been cool to that pilot project behind the scenes,” but Sebelius expressed support for the project.