Politico Pro examines the reaction to a speech delivered by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at a TEDxChange conference in Berlin on April 5. “Gates’s speech was primarily focused on explaining why family planning is important in the developing world,” according to the news service. Gates said lack of access to modern contraceptives is “a life and death crisis” because with family planning, the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and children could be saved annually, the news service notes. “But multiple global health experts heard her comments as an intentional effort to push back on the politicization of birth control in the United States following the Obama administration’s new contraception coverage policy, which they fear could spill over into global health policy,” the news service writes. However, “Gates Foundation spokesman Chris Williams said Gates was simply reiterating her long-standing support for family planning and that viewing these remarks in light of domestic politics would be ‘using the wrong lens,'” the article notes.
US Global Health Policy
“The U.S. will halt planned shipments of thousands of tons in food aid to North Korea after the reclusive Asian nation’s launch of a long-range rocket, two Obama administration officials said,” Bloomberg News reports (Talev, 4/13). “Under a recent food deal with the United States, North Korea agreed to refrain from long range missile launches and nuclear tests,” CNN’s “1600 Report” writes (Yellin, 4/12). “North Korea’s rocket launch was a failed effort that nonetheless violated international law and jeopardized regional security, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said,” according to Bloomberg (4/13).
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Kirsten Gagnaire, global partnership director of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), discusses the program’s operations in Bangladesh. The program, “[o]ne of the most prominent mHealth initiatives, launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton on Mother’s Day last year,” is supported by IDEA/Mobile Solutions, “an office at USAID that champions the use of mobile technology for development issues,” the blog notes. Gagnaire writes, “In March, MAMA board representatives visited Bangladesh to meet with MAMA country partners and conduct field visits to meet pregnant women, new mothers and family members who have subscribed to the MAMA mobile phone service, which is called ‘Aponjon’ in Bangladesh” (4/11).
“[A]nti-poverty advocates [are] urg[ing] President Obama to ‘find political will to end global hunger’ during the upcoming G8 Summit at Camp David,” Inter Press Service reports. Members of ActionAid last week held signs in front of the White House “that read ‘Obama: Find the Will to be a Hunger Hero at the G8,’ next to a cutout of the president in a superhero suit,” the news service writes (Panagoda, 4/7). And “[a] new report by ONE Campaign said increased donor support for agricultural investment plans in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Central America could lift about 50 million people out of extreme poverty,” Reuters notes. “ONE said it would launch its ‘Thrive’ campaign in France, Germany, Britain and the United States to highlight the need to tackle the causes of hunger,” the news service notes.
In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby provides an update on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stating, “I am buoyed by the reform that is happening at the Fund under the leadership of new General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo.” He adds, “When PEPFAR and the Fund coordinate, our investments against AIDS are expanded both geographically and programmatically. Simply put, a strong PEPFAR requires a strong Global Fund.” Goosby concludes, “I am proud of the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, in part because it is a commitment to the work of PEPFAR. We have a unique opportunity in a tight fiscal environment to support the Fund at this critical juncture” (4/9).
The State Department on Monday published a fact sheet detailing bilateral health cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil. “For several decades the United States and Brazil have participated in a bilateral dialogue that provides a formal venue for discussing our mutual interests in medical research, disease surveillance, and improving public health,” the fact sheet states, adding, “President Obama and President Rousseff have further advanced our bilateral health cooperation through the U.S.-Brazil Working Group on Public Health, under the U.S.-Brazil Joint Commission on Science and Technology.” The fact sheet details several key collaborations (4/9).
“The advancement of women’s health and their rights is one of the core principles of President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative,” a VOA editorial states, adding, “And so it is that the United States has rolled out a new initiative that will tackle one of the greatest threats to women’s health, HIV/AIDS, by attacking another scourge: gender-based violence [GBV].” According to the editorial, “Physical violence or the threat of physical violence and coercion are all associated with HIV transmission for women of all ages,” which is why “[i]n mid-March, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby announced an initiative to provide $4.65 million in small grants to grassroots organizations to address gender-based violence issues.”
Legislation In Congress Is ‘Good Start’ To Raising Awareness Of, Preventing Attacks On Medical Workers
Attacks, kidnappings, and the murders of health care workers in the uprisings taking place across the Arab world violate principles held in the Geneva Conventions and international human rights treaties, Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, writes in this Global Post opinion piece. “Recently I briefed the U.S. Congress on eight proximate causes — which I describe below — for the recent rise in such abuses across the Arab world,” he says. The eight causes include the unaccountability of military forces; medical workers have first-hand knowledge of the extent and responsible party of attacks; health care workers sometimes are viewed as “helping the enemy” and are attacked out of retribution; “perceived political activism”; “discrimination based on religious identity”; and “[o]f course error is a possible cause for violations of medical neutrality,” he notes.
U.S. Must Embrace Competitive Election Process For World Bank Presidency To Support Kim’s Nomination
In this New York times opinion piece, Thomas Bollyky, senior fellow for global health, economics and development at the Council on Foreign Relations, comments on the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the World Bank presidency, writing, “For the first time since the World Bank’s creation at the end of World War II, the United States is facing a real challenge over the bank’s leadership. Leaders of some developing and emerging economies have refused to support President Obama’s unexpected choice of Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College, to lead the bank.” However, “[a]s the bank’s executive board prepares to vote on April 18, the Americans are likely to get their way, since an 85 percent supermajority of the bank’s voting shares are needed to appoint a president, and the United States is the largest shareholder,” he continues.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “says development assistance to Ethiopia’s health sector has helped save thousands of children’s lives in the past year,” VOA News reports, noting, “The progress came even as the Horn of Africa was hit by the worst drought in more than half a century.” “Twenty years ago, every fifth child died by the age of five. Today, 10 out of 11 make it past their fifth birthday,” the news service writes, noting, “Shah says the results are a credit to Ethiopia’s effective use of aid dollars.”