In a Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on Friday, President Barack Obama “announced a plan to accelerate investments in developing world agriculture to meet rising food demands and improve nutrition, calling the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition a moral, economic and security imperative,” IIP Digital reports (Porter, 5/18). The new program, unveiled “in conjunction with African leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania, will parlay more than $3 billion in private assistance into a public-private partnership with an ambitious goal: lifting 50 million people from poverty over 10 years,” according to USA Today’s “The Oval” (Wolf, 5/18). The initiative “will constitute the next phase of a groundbreaking program begun during the 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy,” Inter Press Service writes (Brion, 5/18). More than 45 companies have pledged to invest in the initiative, Devex notes (Ravelo, 5/10). A fact sheet on the New Alliance is available on the White House website (5/18).
US Global Health Policy
The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved its FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill (.pdf), which would provide $40.1 billion in regular discretionary funding and an additional $8.2 billion in funding for ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, The Hill’s “On the Money” blog reports (Wasson, 5/17). Taken together, the bill would provide about $5 billion, or nine percent, less than FY 2012 funding levels, a committee press release notes (5/17). “The bill contains tough new limitations on aid,” including cutting all funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and reinstating the Mexico City policy, also known as the “global gag rule,” which prohibits foreign aid from going to any organization that performs abortions or provides information about or referral for the procedure as a method of family planning, according to The Hill.
Loss Of U.S. Funding For UNFPA 'Would Be Devastating' To Family Planning Services In Developing Countries
“By voting to ban any U.S. contribution to UNFPA” in the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday “made a judgment call that saving the lives of women and girls around the world is simply not a U.S. priority,” Valerie DeFillipo, president of Friends of UNFPA, writes in a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. She notes that “[c]ommittee members voted against amendments that would permit funding to UNFPA for preventing and treating obstetric fistula, ending female genital mutilation, and providing family planning services and contraceptive supplies in nine sub-Saharan African countries with high rates of poverty and maternal mortality where USAID does not provide family planning assistance.”
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) President and CEO Margaret McGlynn discusses new modeling data from IAVI and the Futures Institute, with support from USAID, which “illustrates how a safe, preventive HIV vaccine that is accessible and affordable can help us end the AIDS pandemic.” The information, released in recognition of World AIDS Vaccine Day, also known as HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, “is available in a series of publications and an interactive web tool,” according to McGlynn. She writes, “The world must continue to scale up and improve the response to HIV by using powerful prevention tools that are currently at our disposal. … Our new models show that a vaccine can build on these existing tools and take us down the last mile to the end of the AIDS pandemic” (5/18).
The June/July issue of USAID’s “Frontlines” focuses on the agency’s efforts to improve child survival and its portfolio of projects in Ethiopia, according to an overview of the issue in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” In his “Insights” column, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes, “Over the past decade, we’ve made tremendous strides to reduce child mortality across the world, thanks in large part to the scaled up distribution of proven interventions and new technologies that are making it easier to reach and save more children,” noting, “In Ethiopia, where families have had to contend with one of the highest rates of infant and child mortality in the world, we’ve seen a dramatic and rapid decline” (Rucker, 5/17).
House Appropriations Committee Releases Draft Report On FY13 State, Foreign Operations Spending Bill
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill on Thursday, The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports (Pecquet, 5/17). On Wednesday, the committee released the State and Foreign Operations Draft Committee Report (.pdf), which provides additional information on funding through the appropriations bill for U.S. global health programs at USAID and the State Department, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Policy Tracker. “This funding comprises a significant portion of the Global Health Initiative budget (total funding for the GHI is not currently available as some funding provided through USAID, HHS, and DoD are not yet available),” the website writes. The House Appropriations State and Foreign Affairs subcommittee released the draft bill on May 8 and approved it on May 9, according to the website.
Proposed FY13 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Has 'Mixed Results' For USAID's Global Health Programs
“On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee will vote on a State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013, which will include funding levels for global health and other programs at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),” Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) writes in the coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “Overall, the subcommittee’s bill had mixed results for global health and other programs at USAID: while some programs were sustained at FY 2012 levels, others saw significant budget cuts that will affect the agency’s efforts worldwide,” Bennett says, concluding, “As the House Appropriations Committee votes on the SFOPS bill on Thursday and the budget process continues, Congress will have to decide whether it should boldly support USAID’s goal of developing new health tools — tools that are projected to save millions of lives — or withdraw this support and risk halting scientific advancement in its tracks” (5/16).
ONE Blog interviews Ambassador Donald Steinberg, deputy administrator at USAID, about the upcoming G8 Summit. Steinberg discusses the importance of growth in the agricultural sector for food security, how the upcoming summit’s food security and nutrition focus relates back to the commitments made at the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila, and what it will take in the years ahead to advance food and nutrition security, according to the blog (5/16).
A recent randomized trial by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers looking at how well clean cookstoves worked in real-world settings found that while there was “a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation in the first year after a stove was installed, … [o]ver a longer period … they saw no health benefits and no reduction in fuel use” because families did not maintain or repair broken stoves, a Bloomberg editorial notes, adding, “This doesn’t suggest the clean cookstove campaign should be abandoned so much as slowed down. It would be wise to test various designs in real-life settings, and, where necessary, take more time to human-proof models.”
“[A] new and complementary agreement between Liberia and USAID, called the Fixed Amount Reimbursement Agreement (FARA),” is “quite revolutionary,” Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Jacob Hughes, write in CGD’s “Global Health Policy” blog. They note a recent working paper they authored with Walter Gwenigale in which they “describe Liberia’s unique experience in pooling donor funds for health in a post-conflict setting, with good results.” They ask why USAID did not make payments directly into the Health Sector Pool Fund mechanism, stating, “The FARA contribution to the pool could have created complementary, virtuous incentives to achieve the pool fund results as efficiently as possible, which would be a credit to the government and all the participating donors, and would set a precedent for USAID to participate in pooling in other countries” (5/11).