The Senate on Thursday passed 64-35 the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, otherwise known as the farm bill, which “funds agriculture, farm and nutrition programs over the next five years,” The Hill’s “Floor Action Blog” reports. “The vote on the bill (S 3240) came immediately after the chamber finished a two-day marathon on consideration of 73 amendments to it,” the blog notes (Strauss, 6/21). On Wednesday, “[t]he Senate voted to continue food aid to North Korea, shooting down an amendment ending that aid and also approving a different one in support of it,” the blog reports in a separate article. According to the blog, “First, the Senate voted on an amendment by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) that was essentially a counter to an amendment by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to cut off U.S. food aid to North Korea. The Kerry-Lugar amendment was approved in a vote of 59 to 40, and Kyl’s amendment failed 43 to 56” (Strauss, 6/20).
US Global Health Policy
In the third of a series of entries in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, titled “A Daughter’s Journey,” Tracy Jarrett, a GlobalPost/Kaiser Family Foundation global health reporting fellow, visits a USAID-funded HIV clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. The clinic’s Perinatal HIV/AIDS Research Unit (PHRU) focuses on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) with funding from USAID and PEPFAR, she states, noting that the “clinic has been a game changer for mothers in Soweto [township] and an example for other PMTCT clinics throughout South Africa” (6/21). Jarrett, whose mother died of AIDS-related complications, is traveling “from Chicago to New York to South Africa to report on what is being done to keep babies and their mothers alive, to fight against stigma and to help those infected while reporting on what is still left to do to achieve an ‘AIDS-free generation,’” according to the first post in her series (6/15). The second post also is available online (6/19).
In an effort to “raise awareness around the U.S. global response to HIV/AIDS,” the AIDS.gov blog has republished a post by U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby in which he discusses the XIX International AIDS Conference, taking place in the U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years from July 22-27. He notes, “The conference theme, Turning the Tide Together, underscores the pivotal moment in which AIDS 2012 is taking place,” and discusses the role that the U.S. has played in achieving scientific progress in the fight against AIDS since it was identified 30 years ago (6/21).
The U.S. journal Science on Thursday published the results of a controversial study in which researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands “identified five mutations apparently necessary to make the [H5N1] bird flu virus spread easily among ferrets, which catch the same flus that humans do,” the New York Times reports (McNeil, 6/21). “The publication of [the] research had been delayed by several months after the U.S. government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) warned that the information should be censored to avoid being misused, for example by terrorists,” the Guardian writes, noting, “Last month, Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published details of another form of the bird flu virus that can pass between people, which was created by merging a mutated strain with the swine flu virus that sparked a human pandemic in 2009” (Jha, 6/21).
“In the 1990s, when the U.S. shifted its aid policy away from family planning, and from Latin America, the Brazilian NGO Bemfam found itself with a yearly funding hole of $2 million,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports in a profile of the NGO and family planning in Brazil. But the organization, which focuses on family planning and sexual and reproductive health, used $3 million in drawback funding from USAID to “set up a not-for-profit condom and lubricant business, Prosex,” the newspaper writes. The company “has proved so successful that it generates around $4 million a year for the NGO — about 40 percent of its funding — and is the fifth most popular condom brand in Brazil,” according to the newspaper. Bemfam “provides sex education to young people, promotes sexual and reproductive rights, and provides family planning services and counseling,” the Guardian writes (Ford, 6/20).
“In an exciting move for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) community, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2011 (S 641), bringing the bill one step closer to becoming a law,” PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog reports (Petoskey, 6/20). “The bill, introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), has broad bipartisan support in the Senate,” the ONE Blog notes, adding, “If enacted, the bill would provide better access to clean water and sanitation to the world’s poorest communities through an efficient and cost effective strategy” (Brennan, 6/20). “The House [HR 3658] and Senate versions of the legislation have some differences, but ultimately, both seek to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for millions of people, largely by improving upon the 2005 Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act and making the way that the United States provides foreign aid on water and WASH projects more efficient,” advocate Elizabeth Shope writes in the Natural Resource Defense Council’s “Switchboard” blog. She asks representatives to “call on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to move the bill” (6/20).
“USAID promotes Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy as a vital family planning intervention that helps ensure that pregnancies occur at the healthiest times in a woman’s life,” Maureen Norton, healthy timing and spacing technical adviser for USAID, writes in USAID’s IMPACTblog. “A USAID analysis found that, by preventing closely spaced births, family planning could save the lives of more than 1.6 million children under five annually,” she notes. Norton outlines “three key programmatic actions to strengthen family planning as an essential intervention for child survival,” including educating families on pregnancy timing, expanding the type of available contraceptives, and enacting “policies to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.” She concludes, “Increasing access to family planning is essential to help women … and their children survive and stay healthy” (6/19).
In this post in the Forbes “Leadership” blog, blog contributor Rahim Kanani interviews USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah regarding “the intersection of philanthropy and development, effective public-private partnerships, why openness and transparency increase aid effectiveness, the role of social entrepreneurs and social innovators in accelerating progress, and why cross-sector collaboration is absolutely critical to tackling today’s most intractable development challenges.” The blog notes, “Since being sworn in on December 31, 2009, Administrator Shah managed the U.S. Government’s response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, co-chaired the State Department’s first-ever review of American diplomacy and development operations, and now spearheads President Obama’s landmark Feed the Future food security initiative” (6/19).
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed the FY 2013 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill by 16-14, The Hill’s “On the Money” blog reports. “Overall, the spending bill provides $158.8 billion for 2013, $8.8 billion more than the House is expected to provide in its bill, which is heading for a markup as soon as next week,” according to the blog (Wasson, 6/14). “A report [.pdf] released by the committee provided the funding levels for global health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which comprises a portion of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) budget, and the John E. Fogarty International Center. Additional funding for global health programs and research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is not yet available,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” (6/14). The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports that the bill “maintains funding for the CDC’s Global AIDS Program at its current funding level of $117.118 million” (Barton, 6/15).
“The new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which is derived from a Presidential Policy Directive, builds on numerous accomplishments of U.S.-Africa policy to strengthen democratic institutions, promote regional peace and security, engage with young African leaders, and promote development, trade, and investment,” a White House fact sheet, titled “Obama Administration Accomplishments In Sub-Saharan Africa,” states. The fact sheet contains information on the Feed the Future initiative, the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. Government’s responses to humanitarian crises and disasters, as well as other programs and engagements (6/14).