In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance” blog, Connie Veillette, director of CGD’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, highlights two recent posts by CGD’s Amanda Glassman and Nandini Oomman on the future of the Global Health Initiative (GHI). She writes, “With the Appropriations Committee weighing in by requiring a status report by mid-February on transitioning GHI to USAID, it is no understatement that the GHI is at an important juncture. Declining budgets for foreign assistance will also require new thinking on where the U.S. provides assistance and for what purpose” (1/31).
US Global Health Policy
In this post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog, “Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the GHTC, offered her take on President Obama’s State of the Union address, including his emphasis on research and innovation.” She writes, “While the President was not as focused on using science to help the United States out-innovate the rest of the world as he was during last year’s State of the Union address, he did re-commit his administration to harnessing the strength of innovation to create an ‘America built to last,'” adding, “He also urged Congress not to cut parts of the budget that will hurt the promise of science and technology” (Bennett, 1/27).
In this post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Christina Lau, USAID health officer for Central Asia, discusses tackling tuberculosis (TB) in migrant populations, writing, “Most migrants are unable to access the health care system because they are undocumented laborers, who lack proper identification documents required for health care treatment, and who fear deportation if their documentation status becomes known.” She notes, “USAID is working in coalition with government and international partners in order to improve access to TB services and treatment for this crucial population” (1/26).
“Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum’s [WEF] Annual Conference in Davos” on Friday, according to a Business Leadership Council press release. “The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world … The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other U.N. Health Millennium Development Goals over the coming months,” the press release states (1/27). “The Social Media Syndicate will coordinate the most influential, individual publishers on the Social Web to share messages and actions needed to welcome a ‘Generation Born HIV Free’ and to achieve all the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” according to a press statement from UNAIDS and PEPFAR (1/27).
“Are we watching the rebirth of the troubled Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, perhaps in a new, more U.S.-flavored guise?” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley asks in her “Global Health Blog.” She writes, “The Fund has been in the mire now for some time after revelations that some of its grants fell into corrupt hands, short of money and unable to agree new grants to developing countries badly in need of disease-fighting programs,” adding, “But the dramatic events of the past few days suggest the Global Fund’s fortunes might be on the turn as it hits its tenth anniversary.”
In this post on the Council on Foreign Relation’s “The Internationalist” blog, Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow and director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, addresses what he calls myths about foreign aid amid this year’s primary season, writing, “GOP presidential candidates regularly bash it, echoing ‘Mr. Republican’ Robert Taft — who dismissed overseas assistance more than six decades ago as ‘pouring money down a rat hole.'” Patrick cites a number of polls measuring U.S. citizens’ attitudes toward foreign aid spending, writing, “[P]ublic opposition to providing foreign aid is one of the hoariest misconceptions in U.S. foreign policy. In fact, U.S. citizens support foreign aid, particularly when it is targeted to alleviating poverty and humanitarian suffering.” He quotes a number of GOP presidential candidates with relation to foreign aid spending and notes, “Indeed, among the remaining GOP candidates, only former Senator Rick Santorum has rejected ‘zeroing out’ foreign aid, describing it as a form of ‘pandering'” (1/25).
During a briefing on Tuesday, U.S. officials said famine conditions in Somalia have improved, but more than 13 million people in the Horn of Africa remain in need of emergency food, shelter or other aid, the Associated Press reports. “David Robinson, acting assistant secretary for population, refugees and migration, told reporters Tuesday the flow of refugees out of Somalia into neighboring countries has diminished, but thousands are still trying to get out and new camps are opening in Ethiopia and Kenya,” the news agency writes (Birch, 1/24). Bruce Wharton, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy for the Bureau of African Affairs, noted the U.S. has provided about $870 million in humanitarian aid to the region, with about $205 million going specifically to Somalia, according to the briefing transcript (1/24).
“As the World Economic Forum kicks off this week in Davos, Switzerland, the importance of global health — and the health of the globe — is getting special attention,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International (PSI), writes in this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “The world’s still massive bottom of the economic pyramid — some 2-3 billion people — represents a potential $5 trillion in purchasing power,” but without access to “quality health care and services, … their global economic impact suffers. Imagine if by simple investments in health, we turned these struggling individuals and families into healthy, active consumers and producers.”
The Washington Post’s “In the Loop” blog reports that USAID has released a draft form of a plan to create research and development (R&D) teams at colleges and universities across the country aimed at tackling problems of global development. “USAID characterized the plan … as a way of tapping into the collective wisdom of academia,” according to the blog, which notes, “They’ve suggested setting up an unnamed number of centers — some at individual colleges and universities, some comprised of several such institutions.” The blog adds, “They say no budget has been set, but an individual college might get a million or so, while a collaborative center made up of a few schools could get $4 million to $5 million” (Heil, 1/24).
In part one of a two-part blog post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” USAID Worldwide Polio Eradication Coordinator Ellyn Ogden reports on the “hard work and dedication of the Indian government at the national, state, district, block and panchaiyat levels” that was required for the country to have a year free of polio. “Over two million health workers, mobilizers, and volunteers have contributed to this success and deserve to be seen as heroes in their communities,” she writes (1/20). In part two of the post, Ogden recaps polio vaccination efforts and challenges, discusses the last recorded case of polio, and writes that going forward, “Guarded optimism prevails” as the country “is still at risk of importations from countries that have not yet stopped polio transmission” (1/23).