“When President Barack Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney debate Monday in Boca Raton for the final time, on foreign policy issues, I hope they will give us a chance to compare their visions of our country’s role in global health,” John May, chief medical officer of Armor Correctional Health Services in Miami, writes in a Palm Beach Post opinion piece. “It is a topic they have yet to address and have only touched on in their party platforms, perhaps because they are reluctant to discuss spending money in other countries,” but “it is important for voters to understand that, at about one-fourth of one percent of the federal budget, global health spending has little impact on the deficit while it addresses tremendous challenges,” he continues.
US Global Health Policy
Kaiser Family Foundation Report Examines Country-Level Response To U.S. GHI's Women, Girls, & Gender Equality Principle
“A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation examines how countries are responding to and implementing the women, girls, and gender equality principle of the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI),” an email alert from the Foundation states, noting, “This principle, one of seven core principles of the GHI, aims to sharpen the focus on women and girls across U.S. government global health efforts.” According to the alert, the report is “[b]ased on interviews conducted by the Foundation with representatives from 15 GHI country teams” and “identifies nine key themes and trends that could help inform U.S. policy discussions and the future directions of efforts related to the health of women and girls.” The alert adds, “The report builds on earlier work by the Foundation on the women, girls, and gender equality principle, including a roundtable discussion and an analysis of ‘GHI Plus’ country strategies” (10/19).
“During the first presidential debate, neither President [Barack] Obama nor [Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt] Romney addressed the issue that affects half the world’s population: women’s reproductive rights,” Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. “As the two square off on foreign policy, women’s reproductive rights must be addressed because whomever becomes president will not only determine U.S. women’s personal, economic and educational choices, but also those of women worldwide,” she writes, adding, “The candidates’ positions on women’s reproductive rights couldn’t be starker.”
NPR’s “Shots” blog on Monday began a series of stories “reporting on the fight to eradicate the last few pockets of polio,” which begins “with a look back at how the U.S. and the rest of the world wiped out the virus for good.” The article examines the history of poliovirus in the U.S., how the disease became a national focus through the efforts of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, and the development of vaccines by Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. Thanks to the success of the vaccines, both of which are still in use today, the WHO set a goal to eliminate polio in 1988, and the last case recorded in the Western hemisphere was in Peru in 1991, the blog reports, noting fewer than 200 cases of polio have been recorded worldwide so far this year (Beaubien, 10/15).
“The Peace Corps has announced a strategic partnership with the Water and Development Alliance (WADA) — a long-standing public-private partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coca-Cola Company (Coca-Cola) — to improve local capacity to deliver sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for the reduction of waterborne disease around the world,” a Peace Corps press release reports. According to the press release, “WADA will work with the Peace Corps’ WASH initiative to raise awareness and build capacity among Peace Corps and community trainers around sustainable water supply and sanitation services, as well as improved hygiene behaviors” (10/12). “The training package will equip more volunteers to help communities create and strengthen WASH efforts in their homes, in schools, and in health facilities,” Jill McGrath-Jones, program specialist for the Peace Corps Office of Global Health and HIV, writes in the AIDS.gov Blog. She adds, “Key actions promoted in the training include building tippy-taps to increase access to water, maintaining latrines, ensuring safe water supplies, and educating others about hygienic practices and behaviors” (10/15).
USAID recognizes the fifth annual Global Handwashing Day on Monday, noting on its webpage that “[s]tudies show that washing hands with soap is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diseases,” with the ability to “cut deaths from diarrhea by almost half and from acute respiratory infections by a quarter.” The webpage states handwashing “is an essential behavior to help children and families survive and thrive” and lists several resources for additional information (10/15).
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby is “expected to announce a new initiative between the U.S. government, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and 14 American medical schools at a press conference Monday in Kigali, Rwanda,” the New York Times reports. “The Human Resources for Health program will send 100 faculty members from eight medical colleges, five nursing and midwifery schools, and one health management school to Kigali where they will train health professionals and medical students, according to a statement from the Clinton Global Initiative,” the newspaper writes. “The two governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the universities have committed $152 million to the seven-year program,” the newspaper notes (Lau, 10/14).
Negotiators from the United States and 10 other countries last month concluded a 14th round of private talks in Leesburg, Va., “to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, poised to become the largest trade deal in U.S. history,” the Charlotte Observer reports. The talks “involve a tussle over how far to go to protect intellectual property rights and, with them, the finances of brand-name drug companies,” according to the newspaper, which adds, “If drug companies get their way in protecting brand-name drugs in a new international trade deal, critics say, millions of AIDS patients in poor countries will go untreated, losing access to cheaper generic drugs that could keep them alive.”
On the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Tokyo on Thursday, Japan and South Korea each pledged an additional $30 million over three years for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), established in 2010 to help improve food security in low-income countries, Reuters reports (10/12). U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “stated that the United States is prepared to contribute an additional $1 to GAFSP for every $2 contributed by other donors, up to a total U.S. contribution of $475 million, … and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation indicated its intent to double its commitment,” a World Bank press release states, adding, “The U.S. will also include the pledges made earlier this year — from Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom — in this challenge, bringing total financial commitments to GAFSP to date to $1.3 billion” (12/11). “U.S. President Barack Obama ‘took the view that the durable solutions to crisis of chronic hunger had to be … more than just delivering food aid. It had to be about promoting sustainable economic growth in agriculture,’ Geithner said,” according to the China Post (10/13).
A report (.pdf) released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation outlines the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) global health work, “present[ing] the first comprehensive analysis of DoD’s activities and budget in this area” and “aim[ing] to contribute to discussions about DoD’s role in global health, understandably regarded as controversial by many observers,” a Lancet editorial states. “The report notes that DoD’s work in global health is varied,” “[n]o overarching policy or strategic document guides the department’s global health-related efforts and there is no single budget for such activities,” the Lancet writes. The report estimates that DoD’s budget for global health work in FY 2012 was more than half a billion dollars, more “than the global health budgets for either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health during the same period”; however, “the effectiveness of this investment is unclear,” according to the editorial.