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Ambassador Goosby Named Head Of State Department’s New Office of Global Health Diplomacy

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby “was named to lead a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy on Friday, the State Department said,” the New York Times reports, noting, “Goosby will continue to head PEPFAR” (McNeil, 12/15). “The Global Health Diplomacy office was announced last July as the successor to President Obama’s Global Health Initiative,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes. “Goosby will be joined in creating the Global Health Diplomacy office by Leslie Rowe, previously U.S. ambassador to Mozambique, who will be in charge of its day to day operations,” the blog notes (Barton, 12/14).

Two Democratic Senators To Join Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog “continu[es] to look at changes in Washington’s global health leadership in the wake of November’s election,” writing, “While Sen. Dick Durbin [D-Ill.], who played a pivotal role in PEPFAR’s creation, leaves the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two new Democratic members, as announced Wednesday, will join the committee which directs foreign aid.” The new members are Sen.-elect Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen.-elect Tim Kaine (D-Va.), according to the blog, which provides a brief biography of each (Barton, 12/13).

U.S. Government Working To Uphold, Advance LGBT Rights

In this White House blog post, Samantha Power, special assistant to the President and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council, highlights progress made across the U.S. government in implementing “the first-ever Presidential Memorandum to advance the human rights of [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT)] persons.” The memorandum “require[s] all U.S. agencies engaged abroad to ‘ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,’ and to report annually on their progress,” she notes. Power discusses efforts undertaken by the State Department, USAID, the Peace Corps, PEPFAR, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Department of Health and Human Services and other departments, as well as multilateral engagements. She writes, “We will continue to build on this foundation to identify new opportunities to advance and protect the human rights of LGBT persons” (12/13).

Outgoing Rep. Berman Introduces Bill To Reform Foreign Aid With Emphasis On Partnerships

“California Rep. Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, unveiled a 923-page bill on Wednesday that would replace the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a framework for providing developmental and economic U.S. aid,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports, noting, “Berman’s Global Partnerships Act of 2012 would change the aid system to focus on mutually agreed goals instead of the emphasis on donor-recipient ties, increase accountability and oversight, and eliminate duplication” (Cassata, 12/12). “Aside from this shift from donor-recipient relations to partnerships, the bill proposes a stronger focus on results, the revitalization of [USAID], elevation of human rights in U.S. foreign policy and aid programs, improvement of U.S. capacity to prevent and address conflicts, and expansion of the scope of debt-for-nature programs,” according to Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog.

Will Private Sector Investment In Food Aid Promote Dependency?

Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in a Guardian opinion piece, “In order to support investment in agriculture, governments have … come to rely on private sector investment and development aid — and increasingly a partnership of the two,” and he notes “[t]he New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, proposed by [U.S. President] Barack Obama and the U.S. Agency for International Development and launched in May 2012, will draw more than $3 billion of private sector investment into food security plans in Africa.” He continues, “One potential danger of development aid, and particularly of private-led projects, is that the goals of poverty reduction and rural development can be relegated below the goal of raising food production.”

Exploring New USAID Resilience Guidance Goals

On the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) blog, Ashley Chandler, deputy policy director at the USGLC, discusses USAID’s new guidance on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis, writing that the policy “is about using existing development dollars more effectively in disaster prone regions, so that less humanitarian assistance is needed in the future.” She asks, “But what’s the ultimate goal?” and continues, “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says success will be measured by whether USAID is able ‘to put ourselves out of business’ by reducing the number, volume, and length of time of the ‘infusions of humanitarian assistance needed in the future.'” Chandler concludes, “As America strives to get our own fiscal house in order, the fact of the matter is that we’re also nearing a critical mass for relief and development funding. Meaning, ‘doing more of the same,’ to quote Administrator Shah, is no longer an option. Nor should it be” (12/12).

Adversity In Childhood Can Shape Long-Term Health Outcomes

Noting the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence,” Neil Boothby, U.S. government special adviser and senior coordinator to the USAID administrator on children in adversity, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” “The science is clear — childhood experiences shape adult outcomes, including long-term health, cognitive development, academic achievement, and one’s ability to be gainfully and safely employed.” He continues, “In the same way that public health efforts have prevented and reduced pregnancy-related complications, infant mortality, infectious diseases and illnesses, so can the factors that contribute to violent and abusive responses — attitudes, behavior and social, economic, political and cultural conditions — be changed.” Boothby notes the U.S. government this week “will release an Action Plan on Children in Adversity [.pdf], the first-ever government-wide strategic guidance for international assistance for children” (12/9).

Innovation In Immunization Programs Can Mean Better Learning, Sharing Of Information

In this Guardian “Global Development Professionals Network” blog post, Robert Steinglass, senior immunization adviser at John Snow, Inc., and immunization team leader for the USAID-funded Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, writes about the importance of innovation to improving childhood immunization programs and health systems. He notes he recently moderated a panel at the GAVI Partners’ Forum, during which participants discussed different approaches.

Recognizing Reproductive Rights As Human Rights

Noting the recognition of International Human Rights Day on December 9, Purnima Mane, president and CEO of Pathfinder International, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “[E]very person should be able to make decisions about her or his body,” making reproductive rights a human rights issue. “From the London Summit on Family Planning supported by Melinda Gates, where thousands gathered to commit future investments in family planning, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s strong advocacy to ensure U.S. leadership in global health that includes reproductive rights as human rights, to the work that’s happening on the ground in myriad countries around the globe to provide contraception, improve maternal health, ensure HIV prevention and treatment, and much more — progress is happening,” Mane writes, noting some of the barriers and challenges that remain in “[e]stablishing reproductive rights as human rights for all” (12/9).

Governments, Donors Should Follow PMI Model Of Testing Drugs For Quality

“[W]e are losing the global fight against bad medicines,” and though “[s]ome progress is being made,” the “problem is that … crackdowns tend to focus on counterfeit drugs” while a “much bigger public health problem … is substandard drugs that are the result of shoddy manufacturing and handling — or perhaps worse, deliberate corner-cutting,” Roger Bate, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “In poor countries, a frightfully high number of bad drugs reach patients through legitimate supply chains and even donor programs underwritten by U.S. and European taxpayers,” increasing the risk of harm to patients and the development of drug-resistant disease strains.