In this post on the State Department’s DipNote blog, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten discusses the June 26 signing of the Partnership Framework to support Haiti’s Health Strategy between the Government of Haiti (GOH) and the U.S. Government (USG). “The purpose of this Partnership Framework is to refocus the cooperation between the USG and GOH, and their respective partners, to support Haiti’s efforts to improve its health system and to reach the Millennium Development Goals, including promoting maternal and child health, and reinforcing the fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases,” he states, noting that the “signing of this agreement illustrates that the USG has established a new way of working with the GOH on health issues, as the Haitian government begins to take greater ownership of its health program” (7/5).
US Global Health Policy
Obama Administration Announces GHI Office Closure, Says Work Will Move To Office Of Global Diplomacy
The Obama administration on Tuesday announced the closure of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) office, and GHI Executive Director Lois Quam told GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog in an interview that the office’s work is being “elevated” to the State Department’s Office of Global Diplomacy, a move that “lifts up the GHI to the highest levels of diplomacy in the U.S. government,” she said (Donnelly, 7/3). In a joint message released on Tuesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, and Quam provided an update on the next phase of GHI, saying, “At the State Department, the GHI Office (S/GHI) will close and the Office of Global Health Diplomacy (S/GHD) will be stood up.” According to the joint statement, GHI “will continue as the priority global health initiative of the U.S. Government” and “will continue to function with a collaborative leadership structure headed by the three core entities — USAID, CDC, OGAC — and with the enduring mandate of ensuring the GHI principles are implemented in the field to achieve our ambitious GHI goals” (7/3).
Noting “the United States wants to accelerate the pace of male circumcisions to support 4.7 million procedures in the developing world by the end of next year, up from one million at the beginning of this year,” GlobalPost, as part of its AIDS Turning Point special report, examines the adult male circumcision campaign in Swaziland. “Based on evidence from other African countries that female-to-male transmission of the virus can be reduced by 60 percent if men are circumcised, PEPFAR last year added an additional $15.5 million in funding for an ambitious ‘accelerated saturation initiative’ to circumcise 80 percent of HIV-negative men between ages 15 and 49” in Swaziland, GlobalPost notes, adding, “A year later, 23 percent had undergone the procedure.”
The U.S. State Department’s Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator last week published a fact sheet on the U.S. government’s global health work in Haiti. The fact sheet discusses the U.S. strategy and accomplishments in providing health services in the country, as well as challenges being faced (6/28).
In order to “fill food gaps in the 70 most food deficient countries, … the U.S., through the Food for Peace program and other food aid programs, provides approximately two million tons of American-grown food donations to 50 million starving people every year,” James Henry, chair of USA Maritime, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “This food, delivered on ships proudly flying the U.S. flag in bags stamped ‘From the American People,’ provides a tangible symbol of our generosity that helps generate goodwill toward our nation,” and “we all should agree that our willingness to help others in need is one of our country’s proudest achievements.” Henry writes that though food aid programs account for less than one half of one percent of the federal budget and “impact the lives of millions of hungry people around the world every year,” they “are in jeopardy as some policymakers are considering eliminating funding for international food aid.”
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, reports on the “Saving Mothers, Giving Life” (Saving Mothers) initiative, launched by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a health conference in Norway in June. “A partnership between the Government of Norway, Merck for Mothers, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), and Every Mother Counts, ‘Saving Mothers’ was forged to help reduce maternal mortality in countries that experience extremely high rates of maternal deaths,” she writes, adding, “Providing $200 million in financial and in-kind resources, ‘Savings Mothers’ will push to reduce maternal deaths by up to 50 percent in country districts where maternal mortality is highest” (6/29).
In this post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog, GHTC Senior Policy Associate Ashley Bennett reviews recent action “on the federal budget and other pieces of legislation that could have implications for global health research and development (R&D)” and discusses “what the next several weeks could bring.” She says that the Supreme Court’s Friday decision on the Affordable Care Act, “as well as the rapidly heightening politics surrounding the presidential campaign, could affect progress on finalizing a FY 2013 budget and securing a deal to avoid total sequestration,” and she concludes, “With everything that Congress needs to complete before the end of the calendar year, we may know the election result before we know next year’s final funding levels for key global health R&D programs” (6/28).
“[T]he House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) [on Wednesday] approved the FY 2013 Foreign Relations Authorization Act [.pdf] that it hopes will be the first authorizing bill to pass Congress in a decade,” Casey Dunning of the Center for Global Development (CGD) writes in this post in the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance” blog. “The bill aims to provide direction and guidance to appropriators and the administration as they fund and execute U.S. foreign affairs,” however, “[i]n an effort to pass an authorizing bill, the committee decided to completely excise the assistance part of its portfolio — 65 percent of the international affairs budget! — and authorize only State Department operations (aka, the other 35 percent),” she notes. Dunning concludes, “In keeping the focus solely on State Department mechanics and FY 2012 funding levels this year, they were able to avoid contentious debates on issues like aid to Pakistan and funding family planning, muster bipartisan support, and move the bill forward, sans a foreign assistance section. But it means they also avoid an opportunity to influence U.S. foreign aid” (6/28).
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the Water for the World Act (S 641) to the Senate for a floor vote, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to vote on a companion bill, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012 (HR 3658), PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog notes, adding that “a coalition of CEOs of NGOs have published an open letter [.pdf] encouraging the House Foreign Affairs Committee to allow the bill to be voted upon in the House floor” (6/28). The letter states, “HR 3658, like its companion S 641, has strong bipartisan support, does not seek new funds, and builds on decades of successful USâ€led programs to make even better use of existing resources. This is the year to ensure that the bill becomes law,” and continues, “Because it builds on the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, the Water for the World Act of 2012 is a costâ€free approach to benefiting families, communities, and even the global economy.” The letter concludes by asking members of Congress to co-sponsor the House bill and urge the House committee to pass it (6/20).
“The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved a $16.2 billion State Department authorization bill [.pdf] after reaching bipartisan consensus,” The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports, adding, “The bill passed by voice vote in under a minute, in stark contrast with last year’s record 30-hour markup where Democrats and Republicans battled on everything from funding for abortion providers to aid to Pakistan” (Pecquet, 6/27). The FY13 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR 6018) “authorizes FY13 appropriations for the State Department and a few other International Affairs programs at largely current (FY12) funding levels, a very positive development in the current budget environment,” according to a U.S. Global Leadership Coalition budget update (Lester, 6/27). The hearing’s opening statement from Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and a summary of the bill are available online (6/27).