“The Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday theme for this week is prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT),” an e-mail alert from USAID reports, noting, “PMTCT provides HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services for the whole family and is the most effective way to create an HIV-free generation.” According to USAID, “when a mother receives antiretroviral therapy, the risk of mother-to-child transmission drops from about 40 percent to near zero.” The e-mail states, “USAID and the global community are committed to accelerating progress and scale-up of PMTCT, with the goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections by 2015 and improving maternal, newborn, and child survival and health in the context of HIV” (5/29).
US Global Health Policy
In a two-part series in his Slate blog “The Reckoning,” author Michael Moran examines the “silo” effect of Western aid to improve health in Africa, writing in the first part, “Charities know that raising money for exotic disease eradication in the West is a good deal easier than, say, funding upgrades to substandard cardiac facilities. Yet the later is the real win in the long run.” He references an article published recently in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Bollyky, which Moran summarizes by saying, “Bollyky argues coordinated action to confront communicable crises like HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis must be part of the world’s approach to global health. But by ignoring far greater, non-communicable problems, he says, we doom Africans to low life expectancies and fail to create the impetus for reform and behavioral changes that could be transformational” (5/28).
Officials At WHA Fail To Agree On Convention To Encourage R&D Into Health Issues In Developing Countries
Health officials attending last week’s World Health Assembly “failed to come to an agreement on a binding convention on stimulating research and development [R&D] focusing on the health problems of developing countries,” BMJ reports. The negotiations focused on an April report by the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on R&D, which included a recommendation “that all countries — developing and developed — should commit around 0.01 percent of their gross domestic product to research into and development of treatments for the health problems of developing countries,” the news service notes. However, “[t]he United States (despite the fact that it already meets this target), the European Union, and Japan blocked this recommendation, and instead member states agreed on the final day of the assembly that the report would be discussed at regional committee meetings in the next few months,” BMJ writes, noting that “WHO will hold a global meeting later in the year that will report back to WHO’s executive board meeting in January” and that “[n]ew proposals will be put on the agenda for next year’s assembly” (Gulland, 5/28).
Aid Agencies Warn April's Steep Increases In Grain Prices Will Affect Sahel Nations During Lean Season
“Unexpectedly sharp price rises in April for local cereals like millet, rice, and maize in parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad mean many vulnerable people in the drought-hit Sahel could find it even harder to get enough to eat,” IRIN reports. “Prices are expected to keep rising until the end of August — during the lean season — but the size of recent hikes has surprised food price analysts and humanitarian aid personnel,” the news service writes (5/25). In an article detailing the situation in Senegal, the Associated Press notes, “More than one million children under five in this wide, arid swath of Africa below the Sahara are now at risk of a food shortage so severe that it threatens their lives, UNICEF estimates” (Larson, 5/27).
Following President Barack Obama’s announcement of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition at a food security summit last week, “USAID launched a Food Security Open Data Challenge that invites technologists, agriculture stakeholders, entrepreneurs, academics, and others to determine the most creative and wide-reaching use of open data for food security solutions and better, cheaper, and faster results,” Maura O’Neill, chief innovation officer at USAID, and Kat Townsend, special assistant for engagement at USAID, write in a post in the agency’s “DipNote” blog (5/27). “Over the next few months, the Food Security Open Data Challenge will have three key components,” including “an Ideation Jam where technologists and agriculture stakeholders will identify key innovation opportunities by focusing on the overlap of food security priorities and the potential of available data”; “a Codeathon to create and finalize solutions that are available for investment”; and “a Datapalooza, hosted by USAID Administrator Raj Shah, to announce challenge winners and showcase some of the best ideas for data-based solutions to food security,” Hillary Chen, a senior adviser to the deputy director of global development at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, writes in this post in the White House Blog (5/25).
“This G8 summit was, yet again, a missed opportunity for international leaders to make a real commitment to long-term food security and support for African and developing world farmers,” Eva Clayton (D-N.C.), a former Congresswoman and former assistant director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “The World” blog. “In the realm of food security, the G8 had an ideal opportunity to provide a clear solution that embraces trade and opportunity, a new paradigm if you will, in international development and food security,” she continues, adding, “Unfortunately, G8 leaders emerging from Camp David still spoke of the same old aid commitments without any backbone, all the while ignoring the impact that trade barriers and U.S. and European multi-billion dollar subsidies have on food production in those countries most in need of development.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a $52.1 billion appropriations bill to fund U.S. state and foreign operations in FY 2013, Devex reports. “The committee voted 29-1 to send the … bill to the full Senate floor for consideration,” the news service writes, adding, “It is still unclear when the bill will be scheduled for a full Senate vote” (Mungcal, 5/25). “The Senate bill would provide $8.5 billion to the [Global Health Initiative (GHI)], which is approximately $600 million more than the President’s FY13 request ($7.9 billion) and $500 million more than the House FY13 appropriations bill [.pdf] ($8.0 billion),” the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” writes, noting, “It is also approximately $300 million above the FY12 amount ($8.2 billion)” (5/24).
In this Lancet opinion piece, Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Josh Michaud, principal policy analyst at the Foundation, examine the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), which “represents the bulk of the U.S. global health budget and bilateral activities in more than 80 countries.” Kates and Michaud provide a brief overview of the initiative, identify the principles upon which it was founded and say that four years into the GHI, “The picture is one of both successes and challenges.”
In this article on the Feed the Future initiative’s webpage, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, and Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security and deputy coordinator for diplomacy for Feed the Future, ask and answer five questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched last week by the Obama Administration. The authors discuss the participants in the initiative, the specific commitments of these participants, as well as the costs of the initiative (5/23).
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on Tuesday approved a $52.1 billion FY 2013 spending bill for state and foreign operations, The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports (Pecquet, 5/22). The subcommittee also released a bill summary (5/22). “The bill includes funding for U.S. global health programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department comprising a significant portion of funding for the Global Health Initiative (GHI),” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker.”