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).
US Global Health Policy
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.
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).
“[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.
“Science is at the center of efforts to design and implement more effective preventative and care programs for HIV/AIDS set out in a blueprint published by a U.S. government initiative that fights the disease,” SciDev.Net reports, referencing the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation that was released November 29. “Using science to evaluate initiatives, develop new interventions and find ways to keep people in treatment are some of the suggestions in the report,” the news service writes. “The blueprint is an attempt to take this science and translate it into policy and programs in a much more aggressive way,” David Haroz, special assistant to the principal deputy U.S. global AIDS coordinator and a co-author of the report, said, according to SciDev.Net. The news service discusses the contents of the blueprint and continues, “All actors, from regional governments to international organizations, such as the World Bank and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria], need to apply its principles if it was to have the necessary impact, [Haroz] adds” (Piotrowski, 12/7).
“After three decades of global emergency responses and a series of scientific breakthroughs in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is now tempting to ask if we are marching towards the end of AIDS,” an editorial in the Lancet states. Noting the November 29 release of the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation, the Lancet writes, “The first and foremost signal the report has sent is that the U.S. commitment to the global AIDS response will continue to be ‘strong, comprehensive and driven by science,'” and the report “calls on partner countries, civil society, donors, foundations, multilateral institutions, and people living with HIV to step up together and make concrete commitments.” The editorial continues, “The vision of ‘an AIDS-free generation’ in the blueprint relies heavily on scientific and technological feasibility … However, eradicating a disease goes far beyond scientific advances, which will go unrealized without strong social support and public health actions as well as substantial and sustainable investments.”
U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced the new top Democrats on House committees, Bloomberg reports (Rowley, 12/5). “Two key global health leaders are among the picks … [for] the Democratic Ranking Members for 113th Congress House Committees,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes. “Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) will succeed Howard Berman (D-Calif.) as the top Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee which has programmatic jurisdiction over all global health programs,” the blog notes, adding, “Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) will assume the top Democratic post on the all-important House Appropriations Committee — the committee charged with making annual funding decisions for all federal discretionary programs, including funding for [PEPFAR], global [tuberculosis (TB)] and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” (Lubinski, 12/5).
Through travel to Africa and “[a]s chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, we’ve seen firsthand the enormous toll of HIV/AIDS on families, communities and economies,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) write in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. “On December 1st, we marked World AIDS Day by honoring the lives lost to the scourge of AIDS and by recommitting ourselves to building an AIDS-free generation and ending this pandemic once and for all,” they write, adding, “Although we come from different political parties, we stand together in our belief that the United States should remain a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
Last week, the U.S. government announced up to $7.5 million in grants over the next two years to fund “implementation science projects exploring how to achieve the goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections while keeping mothers alive,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Barton, 12/5). According to a State Department press release, “Implementation science is critical to ensure that evidence-based and scalable interventions address current barriers to effective PMTCT programs. The results from successful operational and implementation science research are essential to improved program and health system performance” (11/28).
Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog reports on reaction from the international development community to the release last week of the “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf). “In general, aid groups welcomed the release of the blueprint and urged other donors to follow the United States’ lead,” the news service writes, adding, “There are, however, some groups that were disappointed with the lack of concrete funding commitments, among other details.” Devex provides reaction from DAI, Management Sciences for Health, and World Vision and quotes representatives of Save the Children, Abt Associates, and UNAIDS (Mungcal/Valdez, 12/4).