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U.S. Should Assume Leadership Role In Saving Global Fund

A funding shortfall led the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to announce in November that “it won’t make any grants to fund programs for at least two years,” a Deseret News editorial notes and calls on the U.S. to take a leadership position in saving the fund. The editorial states, “Few worldwide initiatives have the success record of the Global Fund …, but those breakthroughs may not have much chance to save many lives,” and notes that the non-profit lobbying group “Results is calling for the Obama administration to assemble an emergency meeting of donor nations this spring to find ways to ensure that the fund and its programs are able to continue and to provide new medicines where they are needed most.”

Blog Covers Experts’ Comments At Country Ownership Roundtable

This post in the Ministerial Leadership Initiative’s (MLI) “Leading Global Health” blog is “the third of a series of perspective pieces on country ownership from the ‘Advancing Country Ownership for Greater Results’ roundtable organized last week by” MLI, a program of Aspen Global Health and Development. “This third of four pieces covers the comments from several participants,” including Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and co-moderator of the session; Mark Dybul, former U.S. global AIDS ambassador, and current co-director at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law; Pape Gaye, president and CEO of IntraHealth; Paul O’Brien, vice president for Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam America; Salif Samake, director of Mali’s Health, Planning, and Statistics Unit in the ministries of Health, Social Development, and the Promotion of Women, Children and Family; and Francis Omaswa, MLI senior adviser, executive director of the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation, and co-moderator of the session (Donnelly, 1/19).

Cutting Military Medical Research Funding Would Jeopardize Health Of U.S. Troops, World’s Poorest

“In recent months, many politicians and presidential hopefuls have called for budget reductions, and many have specifically targeted military spending for cutbacks,” Peter Hotez and James Kazura, past president and president, respectively, of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, write in this Atlantic opinion piece. “[P]rograms such as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) often find themselves low on the priority list despite their crucial role in saving the lives of our troops on the battlefield and here at home,” they write, adding, “Today, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still face formidable tropical disease threats. … For over 100 years, WRAIR has been the U.S. military’s premier institution for preventing these types of tropical infections.”

Lives Lost In Horn Of Africa Because Of Late Response To Famine Early Warnings, Report Says

“Scientists and aid organizations gave the world plenty of time to prepare, but a late response by the world’s donor nations cost 50,000 to 100,000 lives during last year’s drought in the Horn of Africa region,” the Christian Science Monitor’s “Global News Blog” writes about a report (.pdf) released on Wednesday by Save the Children and Oxfam (Baldauf, 1/18). “The two agencies blame ‘a culture of risk aversion’ among donors and NGOs, which meant the specially-built early warning system, FEWSNET, worked but was ignored until it was too late,” GlobalPost’s “Africa Emerges” blog writes (McConnell, 1/18). “A food shortage had been predicted as early as August 2010, but most donors did not respond until famine was declared in parts of Somalia last July,” the Associated Press/New York Times notes (1/18).

USAID’s Worldwide Polio Eradication Coordinator Addresses India’s Polio Progress, Global Efforts

GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog interviews Ellyn Ogden, USAID’s worldwide polio eradication coordinator since 1997, about India’s progress in eradicating polio as it marked one year without a confirmed case and discusses what the overall eradication fight looks like today. Ogden said she believes global eradication of polio is possible, adding, “We pretty much owe it to India to give this effort some time. They worked so hard to get 172 million kids vaccinated. There are always skeptics. But it doesn’t get much more difficult than in India. If they can do it here, we should be able to do it anyplace with the tools and strategies we have” (Donnelly, 1/17).

U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Warns Of Potential For Famine In Sudan

“The United States and Sudan traded accusations [on Tuesday] over the humanitarian situation in the [border] states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, embattled since the north and south of Sudan split into two nations last summer,” the New York Times reports (MacFarquhar, 1/17). U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on Monday sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council warning that food security could decline to an emergency level and could result in famine if action is not taken by the government in Khartoum, according to VOA News (Besheer, 1/17). Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Rice said, “The proximate cause of the problem … is that the government of Sudan has deliberately denied access to international NGOs, the United Nations, and international humanitarian workers to the most affected populations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile” and called the situation “unconscionable and unacceptable,” according to a transcript (1/17).

Questions Raised Over Accuracy Of Afghanistan Mortality Survey Data

“A U.S.-sponsored mortality survey released last year announced huge improvements in health across Afghanistan. But the gains are so great that experts are still arguing about whether it’s correct,” NPR’s All Things Considered reports. The 2011 $5 million Afghanistan Mortality Survey, which was funded by USAID with a contribution from UNICEF, showed huge gains in life expectancy and maternal and child mortality compared with data from 2004, NPR says, noting, “But believing the new numbers are accurate probably means accepting that the old numbers were way off, which makes it impossible to say exactly how much health has really improved.”

U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Food Agencies, Ertharin Cousin, Appointed To Head WFP

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva on Tuesday announced the appointment of Ertharin Cousin, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.’s Rome-based food agencies, to head the U.N. World Food Programme, the Associated Press/CBS News reports (1/17). “Cousin … will succeed Josette Sheeran, also of the United States, who has held the post since 2007,” Reuters notes.

Blog Covers USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s Comments At Country Ownership Roundtable

This post in the Ministerial Leadership Initiative’s (MLI) “Leading Global Health” blog is “the first of a series of perspective pieces on country ownership from the ‘Advancing Country Ownership for Greater Results’ roundtable organized last week by” MLI. “The first of four pieces covers the comments of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah,” the blog writes, noting, “Shah opened MLI’s meeting by saying that the U.S. government was committed to country ownership, but that it needed to find ways to improve its support of country-led plans” (Donnelly, 1/17).

U.S. To Provide Nearly $1B Over Five Years To Bangladesh For Poverty, Health, Agriculture Programs

A U.S. Embassy statement on Saturday said the U.S. would provide nearly $1 billion to Bangladesh over the next five years “towards alleviating poverty and malnutrition, as well as family planning and the fight against infectious diseases,” Reuters reports. “The funds will also be used to support research in improving farm productivity and deal with the impact of climate change,” the news service writes, adding, “As of 2011, the U.S. government has provided over $5.7 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh” (Quadir, 1/14).