USAID’s “IMPACTblog” features a “video of the week” from the State Department’s Feed the Future initiative. In the three-minute video, “[n]arrator Matt Damon discusses U.S. efforts to turn the tide against global hunger and increase agricultural production around the world through Feed the Future,” according to the blog (10/1). The video features comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and examples of efforts to increase food production and access in Malawi, Cambodia, and Honduras (9/25).
US Global Health Policy
In the ONE blog, Kelly Hauser, ONE’s policy manager focusing on agriculture, nutrition and U.S. food aid reform, interviews Anne Peniston, head of the nutrition division at USAID. Peniston discusses “her professional and personal experiences in the U.S. and abroad, her vision for USAID’s nutrition strategy, and the role of NGOs in global nutrition,” according to the blog. In the interview, she said, “I would really like to see the U.S. government’s global nutrition strategy integrated throughout the agency — in agriculture, HIV/AIDS, water, sanitation and hygiene, reproductive health programs, environmental programs and emergency response. This requires bringing together the ‘diaspora’ of nutrition experts in various offices around the agency, to create that collective vision and understand our mission in terms of agency priorities. Additionally, in this constrained budget environment, we need consensus across the government on how we approach nutrition and on what our priorities should be” (9/27).
Domestic Health Reform Receiving More Attention Than Global Health In U.S. Presidential Campaigns, Lancet Reports
The Lancet examines the domestic health positions of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney before briefly outlining their positions on global health. “Compared with domestic health reform, global health has received little attention during the [U.S. presidential] campaign,” the journal reports, adding, “[T]he U.S. budget crisis might have more effect on global health initiatives than presidential politics, some experts say” (Jaffe, 9/29).
World Leaders Address Climate Change, Water, Food Security At Events On Sidelines Of U.N. General Assembly
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday at an event hosted by Qatar on the sidelines of the 67th General Assembly meeting “called again for urgent and concrete action on climate change, as high-level officials gathered at the United Nations to discuss the growing global concern over the impacts of the phenomenon on food and water security,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Climate change is making weather patterns both extreme and unpredictable, contributing to volatility in global food prices, which means food and nutrition insecurity for the poor and the most vulnerable,” the news service writes, noting Ban “has made food security a top priority through the Zero Hunger Challenge he launched at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June” (9/27).
In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for food security, discusses an event, co-hosted on Thursday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Malawi President Joyce Banda, “to highlight both the progress made in the last three years under Feed the Future and the contributions of civil society organizations to advance our food security goals” (9/27). And in a guest post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Klaus Kraemer, director of Sight and Life, highlights recent global progress in fighting hunger and malnutrition, concluding, “Together, we can improve nutrition and give millions of children the opportunity to grow, thrive and reach their full potential” (9/27).
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflects on changes in U.S. global health diplomacy since taking office in this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece. “America had been leading the global health fight for decades,” but “we recognized that to sustain the impact of our work, we needed to change the way we did business,” she writes. “For example, while our agencies were providing tremendous leadership in isolation, they could still do more to collaborate effectively,” she writes, adding, “[W]e weren’t doing enough to coordinate our efforts with other donors or our partner countries,” and “we weren’t building sustainable systems to eventually allow our partner countries to manage more of their own health needs.” She says, “We were unintentionally putting a ceiling on the number of lives we could save.”
NPR’s “Shots” blog profiles Vanessa Kerry, a physician and daughter of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and her work to develop the Global Health Service Partnership to send nurses and doctors to work abroad in exchange for a pay-down in their student loans. The partnership’s goal “is to reduce the severe shortage of medical workers in developing countries,” according to the blog, which adds Kerry “thinks the partnership will also strengthen health care here stateside by infusing U.S. doctors with a worldview centered on making the most of available resources.” The program is working with the Peace Corps and receives funding through PEPFAR, the blog notes (Doucleff, 9/26).
“When President Obama made a landmark speech against modern slavery on Tuesday, many of us in the news media shrugged,” but women survivors of human trafficking “noticed,” Nicholas Kristof writes in his New York Times column. “[T]he world often scorns the victims and sees them as criminals: these girls are the lepers of the 21st century,” he says, adding, “So bravo to the president for giving a major speech on human trafficking and, crucially, for promising greater resources to fight pimps and support those who escape the streets. Until recently, the Obama White House hasn’t shown strong leadership on human trafficking, but this could be a breakthrough. The test will be whether Obama continues to press the issue.”
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, USAID assistant administrator for global health, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” “Recently, we reorganized the [Global Health] Bureau to establish an Office of Health Systems, which will be the hub for the Agency’s worldwide leadership network of technical experts in health systems strengthening.” He continues, “This is a key to focusing our work on country ownership, sustainability, and broadening access to critical health services to the most vulnerable populations, as envisioned by the Global Health Initiative.” Pablos-Mendez notes, “The new office is important for two main reasons: first, it responds to the changing landscape of health and development and second, it will help meet all of other health goals in global health.” He concludes, “[W]e know that strengthening health systems makes it possible to successfully graduate countries that no longer need financial assistance; so work ourselves out of jobs. That is our ultimate measure of success” (9/26).
In this blog post on FeedtheFuture.gov, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, and Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security and deputy coordinator for diplomacy for Feed the Future, answer five questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which was established by the G8 in May 2012. They report on the progress of the New Alliance, “which is a unique partnership between African governments, members of the G8, and the private sector to work together to accelerate investments in agriculture to improve productivity, livelihoods and food security for smallholder farmers.” In addition, they discuss the relationship between Feed the Future and the New Alliance; the role of nutrition in the New Alliance; how the New Alliance will ensure accountability among its partners; and why the New Alliance focuses on Africa (9/26).