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USAID Announces Awards To 7 Universities To Help Innovate, Design Low-Cost Solutions To Health, Poverty, Conflict

“In a further move to bolster the role of science and technology in foreign aid, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) [on Thursday] announced major awards at seven universities in the United States and abroad to support ‘development labs’ that will design innovative, low-cost approaches to improving health and reducing poverty and conflicts,” ScienceInsider reports. The new program, called the Higher Education Solutions Network, is set to provide up to $130 million over five years, with the universities expected to provide at least a 60 percent match, according to the news service, which notes, “Each of the seven institutions will receive grants of up to $5 million a year for projects aimed at developing useful technologies” (Stokstad, 11/8).

USAID Unveils Plans To Harmonize Nutrition Efforts

“The U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID] has unveiled plans to harmonize its funding and efforts surrounding nutrition,” Devex reports. “The agency is working on a comprehensive strategy that will make the issue a priority in ‘high-impact interventions’ with nutrition as a component, such as in agriculture, health and humanitarian aid, Robert Clay, deputy assistant administrator at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, announced Nov. 5 at an event hosted by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network in Washington, D.C.,” the news service writes.

International Community Must Step Up Fight Against TB In Southern African Region

“With $2.5 trillion in mineral reserves, South Africa has the largest mining sector in the world,” but “[t]he work can be devastatingly toxic for the body,” with “inhumane and untenable” working conditions, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. “South Africa’s 500,000 mine workers have the highest recorded rate of [tuberculosis (TB)] among any demographic in the world,” he states, noting that cramped working and living conditions put them at an increased risk of the disease. Overall, “mine-associated TB gives rise to 760,000 new cases annually in Africa,” and “costs South Africa alone $886 million each year in health care costs and in impoverishment when family providers are too sick to work, or die,” according to a study conducted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tutu writes. Therefore, the 15 SADC nations this summer pledged to take “concrete steps” to fight the disease, he notes.

President Barack Obama Re-Elected For Second Term

“Barack Obama was elected to a second presidential term Tuesday, defeating Republican Mitt Romney,” the Washington Post reports (Farenthold, 11/6). Reuters writes, “President Barack Obama returns from the campaign trail on Wednesday with little time to savor victory, facing urgent economic and fiscal challenges and a still-divided Congress capable of blocking his every move” (Holland/Spetalnick, 11/7). “The president’s second-term foreign policy agenda … looks set to largely build on what he’s already begun,” The Atlantic states (Maher, 11/7). “Obama faces the departure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said she isn’t planning to serve in a second Obama term,” Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle notes. The news service adds that some officials speculate the “leading candidates to succeed Clinton as secretary of state may be Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice” (Nichols, 11/7).

Blog Series On Global AIDS Blueprint Features Post About Harm Reduction

As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features a guest post by Allan Clear, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, in which he highlights an existing “WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS Technical Guide [.pdf] for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users.” The guide “outlines nine interventions that, if implemented, could stop HIV in its tracks,” he says, writing, “At minimum, I would add two other interventions to that list: outreach to drug users and overdose prevention and response programs. After all, why work with populations at risk of contracting HIV only to have them die from drug overdoses?” (Barton, 11/6).

Failure To Renew U.S. Farm Bill Would Be Missed Opportunity To Help End Global Hunger

“The U.S. Farm Bill that was up for renewal in September in the House of Representatives could have included policies to support farmers in developing countries in their efforts to grow enough food to feed the local population,” but “Congress allowed the Farm Bill to expire on Sept. 30,” Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Religion” blog. “If Congress does not act quickly after the election to pass a new Farm Bill, the money that exists for emergency food aid will run out in 2013,” potentially putting “up to 30 million hungry people at risk in the event of a crisis,” she continues, adding, “The failure to renew and reform the Farm Bill would also mean a missed opportunity to help end global hunger in the long term through sustainable solutions.”

USAID Newsletter Focuses On TB

The November 2012 issue of USAID’s “Global Health News” newsletter focuses on tuberculosis (TB). The newsletter features a link to a video titled “Voices of TB,” an infographic (.pdf) on innovations in TB diagnostics, and links to an IMPACTblog piece and a USAID press release discussing TB diagnostics (November 2012).

Blog Series On Global AIDS Blueprint Interviews NIH Investigator

As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an interview with Rochelle Walensky, a member of the Cost-effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications (CEPAC) and of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the NIH/DHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. According to the transcript, she discusses the key elements she feels should be a part of the blueprint, notes the interventions she feels would be critical components of a combination prevention package, and examines the role research should play in the blueprint, among other topics (Barton, 11/1).