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Focusing On Small-Scale, ‘Hyper-Local’ Activities More Effective Than Traditional Aid Models

In this Atlantic opinion piece, Joshua Foust, an author and a fellow at the American Security Project, examines the use of a non-traditional aid model known as the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) in Pakistan, where “heavy rains and devastating flooding … displaced upwards of 20 million people” in July 2010. Though USAID “is very good at quickly mobilizing assistance,” including medical, shelter, food, and water aid, “to disaster-afflicted communities, it carries a lot of political baggage — so much so in places like Pakistan that the U.S might be better off in the long run by downsizing USAID’s direct activities there and working through alternative programs,” he writes. Therefore, “the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, a consortium of NGOs that work in Pakistan, … submitted an official request to the U.S. government to re-brand their aid” as a result of political tension, according to Foust, who notes the RSPN, founded by the Agha Khan Network in 1982, “reach[es] millions of the poorest homes across a vast swath of Pakistan.”

U.S. Government Celebrates ‘Remarkable’ Country-Level Success In Improving Maternal Health

In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Chris Thomas, a health and development officer at USAID, reports on an event held on Capitol Hill on Tuesday during which “the U.S. Government celebrated remarkable country-level success in saving the lives of women during pregnancy and childbirth.” “Health ministers from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, and the head of maternal and child health from Rwanda took center stage on Capitol Hill,” where “each told a unique and personal story,” he writes, noting, “USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah keyed in on drivers of successful maternal health programs and how such efforts can be accelerated and sustained throughout the developing world” (4/27).

Farm Bill Could Do More To Improve Food Aid

“The policy changes in the [Senate’s draft Farm Bill] represent improvements to U.S. food aid policy, but we think Congress could do more,” Kelley Hauser, a policy analyst with ONE, writes in this post on the Care2 blog. She describes a letter sent by ONE to U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), “asking them to buy emergency food aid closer to where it is needed — to save on shipping and food costs, as well as to speed up delivery” and “to require more efficiency when organizations sell U.S.-grown food in developing countries to fund development projects.” She concludes, “By increasing the impact of our food aid dollars and making monetization more efficient, we can save more lives and help more people break the cycle of malnutrition and poverty as part of ONE’s Thrive campaign” (Matsuoka, 4/27).

Capitol Hill Event Highlights U.S. Advancements In Malaria Science, Technology

This post in Malaria No More’s “Malaria Policy Center” blog reports on a two-part event held on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, April 25, World Malaria Day, titled, “U.S. Advancements in Science and Technology in Malaria: A Showcase of Domestic Research & Development to Save Lives and Keep Americans Safe.” During the event, which featured the “co-chairs of the Senate Working Group on Malaria and Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases as honorary hosts,” “20 universities, private companies, and research institutions highlighted cutting-edge scientific and technological advancements in malaria that could save millions of lives around the world, protect U.S. military service members, and create jobs here in their own states,” the blog writes, noting, “USAID Administrator Raj Shah also spoke about the impressive scientific achievements and the development of new tools that can be used in the fight against malaria” (Waltman, 4/27).

Report Applauds U.S. Government Agencies For Food Security Leadership, Highlights Areas Of Concern

“A new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs applauds U.S. government agencies for food security leadership but calls on them to up the game in the face of rising global challenges and shrinking aid budgets,” Connie Veillette, director of the Center for Global Development’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, writes in the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog,” adding, “While it is a positive assessment, the report highlights some areas of concern that could affect U.S. leadership in future years” (4/27). John Glenn, policy director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, notes in the organization’s blog that Chicago Council “co-chairs Catherine Bertini and Dan Glickman called for the progress made to be institutionalized with Congressional authorization. Significant increases in food production, they suggested, will only be visible after a decade, which would require sustaining the commitments of the past three years for another seven years” (4/27).

U.S. Government Is Largest Funder Of Global Health R&D, Report Shows

“The U.S. government is the largest funder of global health research and development [R&D] in the world, spending $12.7 billion over the past 10 years,” according to a report (.pdf) released by the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) and Policy Cures on Friday, United Press International reports. The report, titled “Saving Lives and Creating Impact: Why investing in global health research works,” “found each year the U.S. government provided around 45 percent of the total global investment and 70 percent of all government investment worldwide in global health research and development,” the news service writes. “The U.S. funding helped lead to the development of more than half of the 45 new health products — including vaccines, drugs, diagnostics — in the last decade that have been used to save lives around the world, the report said,” according to UPI.

Global Fund Deputy GM Says Organization ‘Not In Crisis’ At Roundtable Discussion

“Although coming off a rocky year in 2011, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is ‘not in crisis,'” Inter Press Service reports, referring to comments made by the organization’s deputy general manager, Debrework Zewdie, at a roundtable hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday. Zewdie noted the resumption of commitments to the fund from bilateral donors, despite the international economic crisis and last year’s allegations of mismanagement, the news service adds.

Funders Should Follow Lead Of U.S. In Creating Policies For Scientific Research Oversight

“[T]he controversy over the research into the genetic modification of the H5N1 flu virus, finally approved for publication, should offer a reminder of the importance of debate” over dual-use technology, a Nature editorial states. “[D]ual-use basic research is a special case because its implications, for good and bad, are often viewed with the greatest clarity by only a small minority of people,” and often only “[t]he scientists involved (and they are increasingly specialists in very small fields) … can fully understand the risks posed by a line of research,” according to the editorial. “There are disadvantages to leaving it up to outsiders to initiate debate about risks, benefits and ethics,” the editorials states, noting three disadvantages, including the risk of misconceptions and a lack of knowledge about how to handle some research.