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Scientists Researching Ebola Virus Say Vaccine 'Unlikely' Due To Funding Restraints

“Scientists researching the lethal Ebola virus have told [BBC News] that a commercial vaccine to prevent the onset of infection may never be developed,” the news service reports. “Efforts to develop a vaccine have been funded in the main by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health,” which “have poured millions of dollars into scientific research because of concerns that the virus could be turned into a biological weapon,” the news service writes. But in recent days, two companies that had begun human safety trials of their vaccines, Sarepta and Tekmira, “have been told by the Defense Department to temporarily stop work on their vaccines due to funding constraints.”

U.S. Government Releases First-Ever Strategy To Prevent, Respond To Gender-Based Violence Globally

“On Friday August 10, the U.S. Department of State and [USAID] released the first ever U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally [.pdf], including their implementation plans,” Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, writes in the department’s “Dipnote” blog. “An accompanying Executive Order issued by President Obama was also released, directing all relevant agencies to implement this strategy,” Verveer notes, adding, “These efforts highlight the United States’ commitment to preventing and responding to gender-based violence around the world” (8/14). In a post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg writes that the strategy, “an interagency response to a Congressional request,” “establishes a government-wide approach that identifies, coordinates, integrates, and leverages current efforts and resources” (8/14). A fact sheet on preventing and responding to gender-based violence globally is available on the White House webpage (8/10).

South Africa To Become First PEPFAR Country To 'Nationalize' AIDS Program

“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a visit to South Africa that Pretoria will begin taking more of the responsibilities for its HIV/AIDS program, part of a broader effort to overhaul the U.S. global plan for AIDS relief launched under former President George W. Bush,” Reuters reports. “On Wednesday, Clinton is expected to sign a deal to rework South Africa’s programs under [PEPFAR], allowing the government to better use the funding in its fight against the virus,” the news service writes.

Haitian Government Hires Former Clinton Administration Official To Discuss Cholera Epidemic With Members Of U.S. Congress

“The Haitian government has hired a one-time Clinton administration official seeking to influence U.S. officials who pledged $3 billion after a 2010 earthquake devastated the impoverished nation’s capital,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “Walter Corley, a former U.S. trade official, said Wednesday that he has been focusing on efforts to stem a cholera outbreak since he was hired by Haiti in April on a one-year contract that pays $5,000 a month,” the news service writes. According to AP, “Corley said he has discussed the cholera epidemic with members of Congressional Black Caucus, including Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Maxine Waters of California” (8/15).

USAID NTD Program Funding Cut By Nearly 25% In Proposed FY13 Budget

“The United States Government has played a major role in ensuring that patients with certain [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)] receive urgently needed treatments through the [USAID] NTD Program, while simultaneously being the largest funder of basic research for NTDs through the National Institutes of Health,” Rachel Cohen, regional executive director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) of North America, writes in this post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “However, today U.S. Government funding for NTDs is under threat,” as the “recently announced U.S. fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request from the Obama Administration has slashed the USAID NTD Program budget, which was already miniscule at $89 million, by nearly 25 percent to $67 million. … This isn’t trimming the fat — it’s cutting into muscle,” she adds (Lufkin, 3/28).

Three Nominees For World Bank Presidency Commence Race With Statements

Several news outlets published articles recapping comments made Wednesday by the three nominees for the World Bank presidency. “In a written commentary released by the U.S. Treasury as he embarked on a global tour to sell his candidacy, … Jim Yong Kim, the Korean-American physician nominated by Washington to lead the World Bank, said Wednesday his science training will help him make the Bank more responsive to the needs of developing countries,” and that “the Bank needs to be ‘more inclusive’ and listen more to poor countries’ own ideas about how to solve their problems,” Agence France-Presse reports (3/28). On the two-week tour, Kim will visit “cities including Addis Ababa, New Delhi and Brasilia to seek advice about priorities for the bank, which lent $57 billion last fiscal year,” Bloomberg News notes.

USAID’s Shah Provides ‘Critical Leadership’ In Global Health

Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) Communications Officer Kim Lufkin discusses USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s second annual letter in this GHTC “Breakthroughs” blog post, writing, “Shah rightly emphasizes the role of science, technology, and innovation in meeting USAID’s international health goals.” She adds, “It’s exciting to see that Shah continues, time and again, to recognize how science and innovation can overcome some of the world’s long-standing global health problems,” concluding, “It’s heartening to have a leader at USAID who is so committed to the power of research, and who continues to provide such critical leadership” (3/12).

Yemen To Launch Measles Vaccination Campaign After Increase In Number Of Cases, Deaths

“Measles has killed 126 children in Yemen since mid-2011, a consequence of the breakdown of basic health services during the year-long political crisis,” and “[i]n response … , the Yemeni government has appealed for international assistance and an outbreak-response vaccination campaign will begin in the hardest-hit regions on 10 March,” IRIN reports. Since mid-2011, “3,767 cases of measles have been confirmed, resulting in 126 deaths,” according to the Ministry of Health, whereas “in the three years from the beginning of 2007 until the end of 2009, the ministry reported a total of 211 cases and no deaths due to measles,” the news service notes.

Incorporating Gender Policy In USAID Programs Is ‘Good Business Practice’

USAID Deputy Administrator Ambassador Donald Steinberg writes in the White House Council on Women and Girls blog, “I am proud to say that USAID” last week released “a new policy on gender quality and female empowerment, the Agency’s first in 30 years,” “achieving great strides and reaffirming our commitment to close the gender gap in international development.” He continues, “From Presidential initiatives like Feed the Future (FtF), the Global Health Initiative (GHI), and Global Climate Change to the full range of the Agency’s programs, we are ensuring that gender is not just being included, but fully incorporated. Eliminating gender bias and empowering women isn’t just a question of fairness or equity: it’s simply good business practice” (3/5).

U.S. Farm Bill Has Global Implications For Food Security

In this ONE Blog post, Jennifer Wynn, an intern with ONE’s policy team, reports on a recent panel discussion held at George Washington University that examined the U.S. Farm Bill and its implications for global hunger and food security. “I would have never thought to make a connection between our farms and farms around the world … [b]ut after an evening with some of the field’s experts, it’s clear to me that domestic policy on agriculture has far-reaching impacts,” she writes. The panel included Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group; Margaret Krome of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute; and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (3/5).