In the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Phillip Nieburg, senior associate of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses a recent report (.pdf) he wrote, titled “Improving Maternal Mortality and Other Aspects of Women’s Health: The United States’ Global Role,” “that addresses key challenges to improving maternal mortality and women’s health worldwide and talks about what the related priorities of U.S. foreign policy should be.” He says, “Rather than continuing what appears to me as a piecemeal approach to global aspects of reproductive health, with separate programs to address, e.g., gender-based violence, women and HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, family planning, cervical cancer, girls’ education, etc., I argue in my report that the United States should develop and implement a comprehensive global plan for women’s health that includes males as well as females, using coordinated prevention and care programming for each stage of the reproductive health life cycle” (10/25).
US Global Health Policy
“It’s not much of a surprise that Monday night’s presidential debate, which focused on foreign policy, was consumed by a discussion of defense spending, and security and trade policies,” but “it’s still disappointing that both [President] Barack Obama and [Republican presidential nominee Gov.] Mitt Romney were relatively silent on issues like global health, research, and international aid,” Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) Communications Officer Kim Lufkin writes in the GHTC’s “Breakthroughs” blog. She summarizes some “brief mentions during the debate season of the role of science and technology,” including some media coverage of the lack of mention of global health. “With the election now less than two weeks away … it seems increasingly unrealistic that either candidate will offer up much on global health, research, or other development topics soon,” she writes, concluding, “But no matter what the outcome is in two weeks, the next president must demonstrate more support for global health and foreign aid than the candidates displayed during Monday night’s debate” (10/24).
In a post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, examines the need to include tuberculosis (TB) in the global AIDS response blueprint that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), writing, “At present one in four AIDS-related deaths is precipitated by TB. … All people living with HIV need to get tested for TB and receive TB treatment if they have the disease.” She continues, “We urge PEPFAR to include in the blueprint explicit TB/HIV indicators and activities,” and she provides five examples (10/23).
In the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, notes that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the XIX International AIDS Conference in July that all women should be able to decide “when and whether to have children” and that PEPFAR, in a guidance [.pdf] released last week, said, “Voluntary family planning should be part of comprehensive quality care for persons living with HIV,” and referred to family planning as a human right. “Then, in bold type, they punctuated it with, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities,'” she writes. “They take it a step further with a caveat that before anyone decides they’d like their program to have anything to do with family planning, they had best consult relevant U.S. legal counsel first,” she adds. “To be fair, they do say that PEPFAR programs can just refer women to a different program that offers family planning,” but those programs are not always available, Sippel writes, adding, “So the suggestion is flawed from the start.”
Noting that the Global Health Initiative (GHI) leadership and the three core entities of GHI — USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR — announced the closure of the GHI office and an end to the initiative’s current phase on July 3, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog that “the three agencies will be responsible for ensuring that the GHI principles are implemented in the field to achieve global health goals.” She continues, “A focus on the GHI principles — especially principles of health sector integration, equal rights for women and girls, country ownership, and health systems strengthening — is indeed necessary to ensure U.S. global health programs are effective. The principles are the most important piece of GHI, and what has given global health advocates optimism since it was launched in 2009.”
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah last week released the first progress report for the U.S. global food security program, Feed the Future, which “has helped 1.8 million food producers adopt improved technologies or management practices that can lead to more resilient crops, higher yields and increased incomes,” IIP Digital reports. “The report notes that Feed the Future has also reached nearly nine million children through programs to prevent and treat malnutrition and improve child survival,” the news service states, noting Shah released the report at the World Prize Events in Des Moines, Iowa. IIP Digital summarizes several Feed the Future efforts Shah outlined at the report’s launch (McConnell, 10/19).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement on Monday “announced an extra $58 million in aid for Horn of Africa countries,” Agence France-Presse/Times Live reports (10/23). “Clinton said the humanitarian situation in the region is fragile, with more than nine million people in need of assistance because of conflict, flooding, drought, and economic problems,” VOA News writes, noting, “The U.S. State Department says the United States has given $1.3 billion in emergency assistance since 2011 to affected people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti” (10/22). “The U.S. ‘is also fighting chronic food insecurity by helping vulnerable communities diversify and adapt their livelihoods, improve smallholder agricultural and other efforts so they can become more resilient,’ [Clinton] said,” according to AFP (10/23).
The non-profit Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), a consortium of General Mills, Cargill and DSM, on Thursday announced a new agreement with USAID that “will enable PFS to expand the reach of the technical and business expertise it provides to small and growing food processors in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to a PFS press release. Under the new agreement, which “builds on a public-private partnership between USAID, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and General Mills, formed in 2010,” Solutions to African Food Enterprises (SAFE), USAID and PFS “will deepen their collaboration to improve African food security by bringing expertise, knowledge and resources to the continent’s food processing sector,” the press release states (10/18).
“What should President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney talk about during [Monday’s] foreign policy debate? The force that can make or break a foreign policy: food,” author William Lambers, who partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme on the book “Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World,” writes in a Tennessean opinion piece. “There are 870 million people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” he notes, adding, “As former Army chief and Secretary of State George Marshall said, ‘Food is a vital factor in our foreign policy. And the attitude of Americans toward food can make or break our efforts to achieve peace and security throughout the world.'”
Briefly recapping a history of foreign aid policy since 1920, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) write in a Politico opinion piece, “Credit for America’s global leadership role belongs to both major political parties and Americans of all stripes” who “have always been guided by the notion that all lives have equal value, regardless of where someone was born.” Because of the current economic recession, “[w]e understand that there might be temptation to cut back on U.S. humanitarian programs and investments abroad,” they write, continuing, “However, the cost of cutting back on such programs is not worth it,” as such cuts would amount to less than one percent of the federal budget, “affect too many peoples’ lives and damage American economic and national security interests at a time our world is more interconnected than ever.”