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Two-Part Blog Series Details Haiti Cholera Outbreak, Response

In the first part of a two-part series in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Alisha Kramer, an intern with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, and Matt Fisher, project coordinator of the CSIS Project on Global Water Policy and a research assistant at the Global Health Policy Center, provide a brief history of Haiti’s cholera outbreak, noting, “Ultimately, by the end of 2011, the outbreak had resulted in over 500,000 infections and 7,000 deaths” (3/6). In the second part, the authors recap the international response to the outbreak, writing, “Despite its physical devastation, the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population — aided by PAHO, the CDC, USAID, and other non-governmental organizations — responded relatively well to the cholera outbreak; the low case-fatality ratio supports this view” (3/7).

Global Health Community Marks Passing Of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne

Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), the first African American elected to Congress from New Jersey, died of complications from colon cancer on Tuesday at age 77, VOA News reports (Simkins, 3/6). “Payne, the highest ranked Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, worked to protect human rights and provide humanitarian aid to developing countries, particularly in Africa,” United Press International writes (3/6). “He was … a founder of the Malaria Caucus in Congress and helped secure billions of dollars in foreign aid for treating HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” the New York Times notes (Hernandez, 3/6).

Progress Made In Talks With North Korea Regarding Food Aid, U.S. Envoys Say

“U.S. envoys said there was progress in talks Wednesday on arrangements for the first U.S. government food aid shipment to impoverished North Korea in three years, part of an agreement aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear programs,” the Associated Press reports. Negotiators reached an agreement last week to provide 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid “in exchange for North Korea agreeing to freeze nuclear activities and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors,” the news agency continues. Special envoy Robert King “and senior aid official Jon Brause said the talks are intended to ensure proper procedures and safeguards are in place to make sure that nutritional aid for about one million North Koreans gets to those who need it most,” including children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the elderly, according to the AP. Officials are expected to meet again Thursday, the AP notes (3/6).

Nature Examines How Funding Shortfalls Are Hindering Efforts To Use Drugs To Curb HIV Spread

Nature examines how funding shortfalls are hampering global efforts to use drugs to curb the spread of HIV, writing, “[A]t this week’s annual Conference on Retro­viruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, Washington, there was growing concern that financial austerity in the United States and elsewhere is eating away at the funding needed for a worldwide prevention effort.” The journal cites proposed reductions “to direct international aid for HIV programs under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)” in President Barack Obama’s FY 2013 budget request and an announcement by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last November that it had cancelled Round 11 grants “until 2014 because of tightening budgets in donor countries.”

Congress Must Protect International Family Planning Funding

“Opponents of birth control don’t just want to limit access in the U.S., they want to slash U.S. support for international family planning programs. It’s a perennial debate, and it’s about to start all over again,” Chloe Cooney, director of global advocacy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, writes in an RH Reality Check blog post. President Obama’s FY 2013 budget “demonstrates the value the administration places on family planning,” as “funding for international family planning programs is preserved,” she writes, noting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent testimony to Congress about the budget proposal, in which “she consistently reiterated the importance of development as a key pillar of our foreign policy and national security strategy” and “the administration’s focus on women and girls as central to these goals.” Cooney concludes, “The president’s budget protects U.S. investments in family planning programs around the world. Now it’s up to Congress to make sure those funds remain intact” (3/5).

Yemen To Launch Measles Vaccination Campaign After Increase In Number Of Cases, Deaths

“Measles has killed 126 children in Yemen since mid-2011, a consequence of the breakdown of basic health services during the year-long political crisis,” and “[i]n response … , the Yemeni government has appealed for international assistance and an outbreak-response vaccination campaign will begin in the hardest-hit regions on 10 March,” IRIN reports. Since mid-2011, “3,767 cases of measles have been confirmed, resulting in 126 deaths,” according to the Ministry of Health, whereas “in the three years from the beginning of 2007 until the end of 2009, the ministry reported a total of 211 cases and no deaths due to measles,” the news service notes.

U.S. Farm Bill Has Global Implications For Food Security

In this ONE Blog post, Jennifer Wynn, an intern with ONE’s policy team, reports on a recent panel discussion held at George Washington University that examined the U.S. Farm Bill and its implications for global hunger and food security. “I would have never thought to make a connection between our farms and farms around the world … [b]ut after an evening with some of the field’s experts, it’s clear to me that domestic policy on agriculture has far-reaching impacts,” she writes. The panel included Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group; Margaret Krome of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute; and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (3/5).

Incorporating Gender Policy In USAID Programs Is ‘Good Business Practice’

USAID Deputy Administrator Ambassador Donald Steinberg writes in the White House Council on Women and Girls blog, “I am proud to say that USAID” last week released “a new policy on gender quality and female empowerment, the Agency’s first in 30 years,” “achieving great strides and reaffirming our commitment to close the gender gap in international development.” He continues, “From Presidential initiatives like Feed the Future (FtF), the Global Health Initiative (GHI), and Global Climate Change to the full range of the Agency’s programs, we are ensuring that gender is not just being included, but fully incorporated. Eliminating gender bias and empowering women isn’t just a question of fairness or equity: it’s simply good business practice” (3/5).

Rep. Sensenbrenner Sends ‘Fact-Finding Letter’ To White House Science Adviser About Bird Flu Studies

“Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), a former head of the House committees on science and the judiciary, and currently vice chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, last week sent a ‘fact-finding letter’ to White House science adviser John Holdren, asking pointed questions about how the U.S. government has handled the controversy” surrounding two studies that showed how H5N1 bird flu virus could be manipulated to become transmissible among ferrets, a model for humans, “and questioning whether it should have funded the two flu studies,” ScienceInsider reports. “The [Obama] Administration’s response has appeared ad hoc, delayed, and inadequate,” Sensenbrenner writes, adding, “An ad hoc approach is inadequate to balance the priorities of public health and the free flow of academic ideas,” according to the article, which includes the full text of the letter.

USAID Committed To Early Action On Sahel Drought, Drawing From Lessons From Horn Response

“A year after the worst drought in 60 years sent 13.3 million people in the Horn of Africa into crisis, we are now facing a rising threat of crisis in the Sahel — an arid belt that stretches from Senegal through Niger and Burkina Faso to Chad,” Nancy Lindborg, head of democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance at USAID, writes in this post in Huffington Post’s “The Blog.” She notes, “Today, rising food prices, another failed rain, and conflict in Mali and Libya, means that between seven and 10 million people are at risk of sliding into crisis as we enter the lean season of the months ahead,” and writes, “As we focus on the rising crisis in the Sahel, we are committed to responding immediately and acting on the most important lessons learned from the Horn response.”