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).
US Global Health Policy
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.
“As the importance of [America’s] foreign assistance has grown, so has the number of mechanisms to dispense it,” Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, write in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. The authors note that “more than 24 different agencies play some role in our development and assistance efforts,” including USAID, PEPFAR, and the Department of Defense. They continue, “Policymakers have for some time recognized that we need to bring better strategic guidance and coordination to this system,” adding, “In particular, we need a better way to monitor and evaluate these programs to make sure they are working well and fulfilling their policy goals.”
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog interviews Kenneth Mayer, founding medical research director of Fenway Health, as part of its “Blueprint” series, which examines issues surrounding the creation of a blueprint for an AIDS-free generation commissioned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July. In the interview, Mayer discusses what he thinks should be key elements of the blueprint, highlights interventions he feels are critical components of combination prevention, and comments on the role research should play in the blueprint, among other topics (Barton, 10/9).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on a letter [.pdf] sent by 12 organizations and institutions to U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, detailing the ways a U.S. global AIDS blueprint, proposed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the XIX International AIDS Conference in July, can address the concerns of key populations, such as injection drug users and men who have sex with men. The letter is signed by representatives of Johns Hopkins University, amfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research, the Open Society Foundations, ACT V: The End of AIDS, and others, the blog notes and discusses the letter in detail (Barton, 10/8). The PSI “Impact” blog summarizes a different letter sent by the Global AIDS Policy Partnership (GAPP), comprising 27 organizations, to Goosby addressing the blueprint. According to the blog, “We believe ‘[t]he Blueprint should be designed to leverage greater global leadership and guide U.S. interaction with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other multilateral and international stakeholders'” (10/2).
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog examines the issue of HIV/AIDS in the presidential election, writing, “This campaign season, the fight against HIV/AIDS has been absent from the press materials released by both President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt] Romney — as well as from the conversation.” The blog provides examples of Obama’s actions addressing HIV domestically and abroad and summarizes remarks on the epidemic made by Romney during the campaign. The blog includes quotes from several experts and officials (Judem, 10/8).
“One of the most urgent global public health problems is the increasing capability of bacteria to resist antibiotic drugs,” a Washington Post editorial states. “The specter of a world without effective antibiotics has been looming for years, but recent evidence suggests that the superbugs are evolving ever faster,” the editorial continues. “Meanwhile, the pipeline of new antibiotics is running dry, leaving some patients with no effective treatment for life-threatening disease,” it adds.