Noting the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children on Wednesday “released 10 bold recommendations which, if achieved, will ensure women and children will have access to 13 life-saving commodities,” Jennifer Bergeson-Lockwood, a maternal health adviser with USAID, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” that the agency is working “to integrate systems across commodities to better and more efficiently serve women and children everywhere, and scale up programs to have nation-wide impact.” She adds, “Country leadership is also a vital component to successfully addressing many of the Commission’s recommendations.” Saying that integration and country ownership “form the cornerstones of our work,” she continues, “With our host country partners in the lead, we are working to strengthen supply chains for commodities, which include use of mHealth solutions; support local market shaping; improve the quality of medicines; and increase demand by mothers for necessary medicines” (9/26).
US Global Health Policy
“In a speech to the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, [Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney] acknowledged the value of foreign aid and its purpose: providing humanitarian assistance, improving security and encouraging economic growth,” but “we don’t know whether he would really protect the current budget … from further cuts if he is elected,” a New York Times editorial states. “Romney focused most of his attention on overhauling aid programs,” the editorial writes. “Romney’s call for more public-private partnerships on aid projects makes sense,” the editorial says, noting an Obama administration public-private partnership to provide cleaner cookstoves. In addition, “[h]is talk about the potentially transformative nature of American assistance and the need to invest more in small and medium-size businesses that will create jobs and lift ailing economies is also sensible and in line with administration policies,” the editorial states.
“President Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, appeared within hours of each other Tuesday at [the Clinton Global Initiative,] a global charitable gathering hosted by former president Bill Clinton, each focusing on how the United States can better promote prosperity and human rights abroad and at home,” the Washington Post reports (Rucker/Wilson, 9/25). Saying “that decades of foreign aid have not extinguished ‘the suffering and hardship,’ Romney called for big changes in the approach to foreign assistance,” the Associated Press/Fox News writes (9/25). According to Foreign Policy, Romney “pledged … to shift foreign aid toward the private sector and deprioritize humanitarian aid in favor of promoting free enterprise and business development around the world” and “then said he would lower the priority of foreign aid as a means to address humanitarian needs, such as health, as well as foreign aid as a means to promote U.S. strategic interests” (Rogin, 9/25). “His plan, which he called ‘Prosperity Pacts,’ calls for tying development money to requirements that countries allow U.S. investment and remove trade barriers,” the AP adds (9/25).
Following the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in July, “delegates left Washington with a clear focus on achieving an AIDS-free generation,” Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “But in the weeks following, HIV/AIDS and global health have largely disappeared from our political dialogue,” he says, because “[n]ational attention is squarely focused on the November elections, and we haven’t seen the ‘post-conference’ bounce that these issues deserve.” He continues, “Although there was mention of support for PEPFAR and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] at this summer’s conventions, this kind of high-level call to action was noticeably absent in Tampa and Charlotte.”
“No woman should die giving birth, and yet maternal mortality, despite progress, remains one of the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age in developing countries,” Mary Ellen Stanton, senior maternal health adviser for the Global Health Bureau, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” She notes, “Most of these deaths are preventable.” She highlights the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative, writing it “represents a unique partnership through which the United States government has enlisted significant support from key public, private and non-governmental players in the global health field with one collective purpose — to reduce maternal mortality” (9/24).
In a post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” CARE President and CEO Helene Gayle describes a new multi-partner initiative, called “Women and Girls Lead Global,” which aims to spread “the stories of … resilient women and girls” through documentary films that will air in nine countries over three years. The goal of the initiative, which is sponsored by CARE, USAID, the Independent Television Service (ITVS), and the Ford Foundation, “is to educate and inspire the public to take action on the development challenges and gender inequities that girls and women face,” she writes. Gayle concludes, “I encourage you to explore the Women and Girls Lead Global website, where you will find film clips and interactive activities. These girls and women have a story to tell, and with your support, their achievements will start a ripple of change in communities around the world” (9/24).
The State Department provides a transcript of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. In the speech, delivered on Monday, Clinton discussed how “the Obama Administration has elevated development as an essential pillar of our national security alongside defense and diplomacy”; country ownership, which “means that a nation’s efforts are increasingly led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society, and private sector”; and transparency and accountability. “So for nearly four years, this administration has been updating our development assistance with these objectives in mind,” Clinton said, adding, for example, “We designed our Feed the Future food security initiative and our Global Health Initiative with an emphasis on country ownership and investment” (9/24).
In the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a CGD research fellow, and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant for the CGD global health team, examine the potential reasons behind “the U.S. government’s apparent lack of support, particularly its legislated ‘opt-in’ stance,” on the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm), and they note “AMFm’s continued survival [is] all but impossible without an explicit endorsement by the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator (currently Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer) who leads the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).” Fan and Silverman continue, “The question that the U.S. government must face is not only whether there is compelling evidence of AMFm’s success, but whether the termination of AMFm would be more disastrous than AMFm’s continuation, albeit modified.” They conclude, “Most importantly, personal biases and potential conflicts of interest need to be put aside — if not made transparent — for the benefit of evidence-based debate and decision-making and for the many people and children that would have died without AMFm” (9/21).
“A bipartisan pair of senators is expanding an existing working group on malaria issues to become a congressional caucus that will focus on efforts to combat 17 tropical diseases including malaria,” CQ HealthBeat reports (Adams, 9/21). Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) last week “announced that the Senate Working Group on Malaria would join its counterpart in the House of Representatives by adding neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to the group’s agenda,” the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog writes, noting the announcement was made at “a special Congressional Reception celebrating the progress of USAID’s NTD Program” (Garlow, 9/21). At the event, “USAID and more than 40 non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, global health and civil society groups, and pharmaceutical companies gathered in the Russell Senate Office Building to celebrate the numerous successful partnerships that have led to advances in NTD treatment and control,” the blog states in a separate post (Garlow, 9/21). CQ HealthBeat notes, “Although a working group is similar to a caucus, the senators hope that making the group an official caucus will show their colleagues that it is a permanent coalition” (9/21).
Citing President John F. Kennedy’s “moon speech” — in which Kennedy said, “We chooseâ€¦because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win” — Ariel Pablos Mendez, USAID assistant administrator for global health, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” that the speech “rings true of the promise for global health today.” He describes several health improvement efforts, including the Child Survival Call to Action, and says, “For health, ‘reaching the moon’ will advance human progress.” He concludes, “This is a shared vision and opportunity we can all work toward, and neither the moon nor the end to preventable child death are too far away” (9/23).