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U.S. Commitment To Foreign Assistance, Global Health To Rise Or Fall With Presidential Election Outcome

In this Lancet opinion piece, Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines a number of social, political, and financial issues at play ahead of the November 6 U.S. presidential election and their implications for domestic and global health programs. “Fundamentally, the 2012 election reflects a Grand Canyon scale rift through the national psyche over the importance of government, provision of tax-supported public goods, including health care, and who is responsible for the 2008 financial crisis and ongoing economic doldrums,” she writes. “But the biggest concern for America’s future is the budget,” she continues. Garrett discusses how sequestration might affect foreign assistance and global health programs and states, “U.S. commitment to foreign assistance and such international ventures as the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Obama’s signature Global Health Initiative are also likely to rise, or fall with the elections” (9/1).

U.S., Nigeria Inaugurate Defense Reference Laboratory In Abuja

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley spoke on Monday in Abuja at the inauguration of a Defense Reference Laboratory, Leadership reports, noting he said the laboratory, “which is the first of its kind in the sub-region,” was supported by U.S. funding. According to the newspaper, McCulley said the Reference Laboratory Program is part of U.S. assistance to Nigeria through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and Nigeria’s Ministry of Defense (NMOD) through the Walter Reed Program (WRP-N) and the Emergency Plan Implementation Committee (EPIC), which began in 2005 (8/30).

White House Issues First-Ever National Biosurveillance Strategy

In an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage, the American Forces Press Service reports on the first U.S. National Strategy for Biosurveillance, issued by the White House “to quickly detect a range of global health and security hazards.” According to the article, “the Defense Department has a running start in implementing the new plan, a senior defense official said,” and “many of the activities described in the strategy are ongoing at DOD.” “So much of what we’re doing is integrating the efforts and working hard on the overlap between global security and global health, in what [President Barack Obama] refers to as global health security,” said Andrew Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, the news service writes (Pellerin, 8/22).

Denmark's Largest Vaccine Maker Faces Factory Closure Pending Smallpox Vaccine Order From U.S.

“Bavarian Nordic A/S (BAVA), the largest vaccine maker in Denmark, will need to fire hundreds of workers and shut down a factory if it doesn’t receive an order for a smallpox vaccine from the U.S. government by January, the company’s chief executive officer said,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “Company officials said they don’t know why the Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t made the order, which they had expected by June,” the news service writes, noting, “The vaccine is meant for people with atopic dermatitis and compromised immune systems, who are at risk of severe adverse reactions to the regular smallpox vaccine.”

Obama Administration Releases 8 Interim Reports Measuring GHI Results

“The Obama Administration released eight interim reports last week measuring results achieved in core elements of our U.S. global health programs through the Global Health Initiative (GHI),” the ONE Blog reports. “While the targets on each of the eight core areas were specific … the data in the reports was a bit of a muddled mess,” the blog writes, adding, “To their credit, the administration prefaced the release by saying ‘The data is still preliminary inasmuch as our aim is to consult with key stakeholders, in and out of government, on improvements we can make to the methodology, format, and usability'” (Hohlfelder, 8/20).

Blog Examines Potential Health Implications Of Global Child Marriage Act For Women, Girls

In this post in Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog, Belkis Giorgis, senior technical advisor for the Leadership Management and Governance Project at MSH, reports on the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (House Resolution 6087), which “establishes a strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the empowerment of girls.” She writes, “If passed into law, the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act must be implemented in a matter that views the long-term resolution of child marriage as ensuring that young girls are kept in school,” adding, “Most importantly, the legislation must provide effective means to enforce it, to ensure long-term health impact for young women and girls” (8/16).

USAID Blog Examines Structural Issues Fueling HIV Epidemic

“During the recent [XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012)] in Washington, D.C., exciting breakthroughs in HIV prevention, treatment, and care — even a possible cure — took center stage,” but, “despite recent advances, many men and women remain at risk of HIV as a result of structural issues that fuel and have an impact on the epidemic,” Molly Fitzgerald, technical advisor for AIDSTAR-One, writes in this post in USAID’s “Impact Blog.” “Addressing gender inequality, poverty, stigma, and other social, economic, cultural, and legal factors is necessary to create an ‘enabling environment’ for these promising biomedical and behavioral interventions,” she continues, noting, “There is increasing agreement worldwide that structural issues are too often overlooked where HIV prevalence remains high” (8/16).

Haitian Government Hires Former Clinton Administration Official To Discuss Cholera Epidemic With Members Of U.S. Congress

“The Haitian government has hired a one-time Clinton administration official seeking to influence U.S. officials who pledged $3 billion after a 2010 earthquake devastated the impoverished nation’s capital,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “Walter Corley, a former U.S. trade official, said Wednesday that he has been focusing on efforts to stem a cholera outbreak since he was hired by Haiti in April on a one-year contract that pays $5,000 a month,” the news service writes. According to AP, “Corley said he has discussed the cholera epidemic with members of Congressional Black Caucus, including Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Maxine Waters of California” (8/15).

U.S. Military Medical Team Supports HIV Prevention Efforts In Botswana

In an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage, the American Forces Press Service reports on how a U.S. military medical team is helping the Botswana Defense Force “to promote Botswana’s national program of education, HIV screening and male circumcision surgeries to stem what’s become a national epidemic,” according to Army Col. (Dr.) Michael Kelly, an Army Reserve surgeon deployed in Botswana from the Army Reserve Medical Command in Washington. “The Botswana Ministry of Health’s goal, Kelly said, is to bring the number of new HIV diagnoses to zero by 2016, … an ambitious plan, in light of an HIV rate that has skyrocketed since the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in Botswana in 1985,” the news service writes (Miles, 8/14).

U.S. Government Releases First-Ever Strategy To Prevent, Respond To Gender-Based Violence Globally

“On Friday August 10, the U.S. Department of State and [USAID] released the first ever U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally [.pdf], including their implementation plans,” Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, writes in the department’s “Dipnote” blog. “An accompanying Executive Order issued by President Obama was also released, directing all relevant agencies to implement this strategy,” Verveer notes, adding, “These efforts highlight the United States’ commitment to preventing and responding to gender-based violence around the world” (8/14). In a post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg writes that the strategy, “an interagency response to a Congressional request,” “establishes a government-wide approach that identifies, coordinates, integrates, and leverages current efforts and resources” (8/14). A fact sheet on preventing and responding to gender-based violence globally is available on the White House webpage (8/10).