The Center for Global Health and Development (CGHD) at Boston University on Thursday delivered its report (.pdf) on the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), released in February, to the U.S. Congress, IIP Digital reports, noting the “independent evaluation team finds that the [PMI] has been ‘very successful’ in reducing children’s deaths from the mosquito-borne parasitic disease, but also warns that the program must gear up if those gains are to be sustained.” The news service adds, “The CGHD report recommends a re-evaluation of malaria prevention methods, including insecticide use, which, the researchers find, covers a fraction of the at-risk population at a high cost” (6/6).
US Global Health Policy
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the Water for the World Act (S 641) to the Senate for a floor vote, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to vote on a companion bill, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012 (HR 3658), PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog notes, adding that “a coalition of CEOs of NGOs have published an open letter [.pdf] encouraging the House Foreign Affairs Committee to allow the bill to be voted upon in the House floor” (6/28). The letter states, “HR 3658, like its companion S 641, has strong bipartisan support, does not seek new funds, and builds on decades of successful USâ€led programs to make even better use of existing resources. This is the year to ensure that the bill becomes law,” and continues, “Because it builds on the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, the Water for the World Act of 2012 is a costâ€free approach to benefiting families, communities, and even the global economy.” The letter concludes by asking members of Congress to co-sponsor the House bill and urge the House committee to pass it (6/20).
“The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved a $16.2 billion State Department authorization bill [.pdf] after reaching bipartisan consensus,” The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports, adding, “The bill passed by voice vote in under a minute, in stark contrast with last year’s record 30-hour markup where Democrats and Republicans battled on everything from funding for abortion providers to aid to Pakistan” (Pecquet, 6/27). The FY13 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR 6018) “authorizes FY13 appropriations for the State Department and a few other International Affairs programs at largely current (FY12) funding levels, a very positive development in the current budget environment,” according to a U.S. Global Leadership Coalition budget update (Lester, 6/27). The hearing’s opening statement from Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and a summary of the bill are available online (6/27).
Noting that polio is endemic in only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, and the WHO recently declared the disease a “programmatic emergency” to “galvanize work” in those three countries, a Washington Post editorial states, “A renewed campaign [against the disease] will be costly.” The editorial notes, “The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, set up in 1988 by the WHO, UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Rotary International, says that it needs an additional $945 million for a total budget of $2.19 billion this year and next.”
The two-day Child Survival Call to Action, “a conference hosted by the government in collaboration with Ethiopia, India and UNICEF to recognize and promote efforts to curtail child mortality,” began in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports, noting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Ben Affleck, founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, “were two of more than 80 governmental, civil society and business leaders slated to speak at the conference Thursday and Friday.” During her speech, Clinton said improving child health “cannot be just a job for governments,” and she “announced that more than 60 faith-based organizations from 40 countries were joining the fight to end preventable childhood deaths through promotion of breastfeeding, vaccines and health care for children,” the news service writes (6/14).
“Two new task forces being [established] by U.S. Africa Command [Africom] have set their sights on one of the biggest killers on the continent: the mosquito,” the American Forces Press Service reports in an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage. “Ninety percent of the world’s malaria-related deaths are reported in Africa, and the disease kills some 600,000 African children each year,” the news service notes, adding, “Africom incorporates malaria prevention into much of its theater engagement, distributing mosquito nets and teaching new diagnostic techniques during training events throughout Africa.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed the FY 2013 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill by 16-14, The Hill’s “On the Money” blog reports. “Overall, the spending bill provides $158.8 billion for 2013, $8.8 billion more than the House is expected to provide in its bill, which is heading for a markup as soon as next week,” according to the blog (Wasson, 6/14). “A report [.pdf] released by the committee provided the funding levels for global health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which comprises a portion of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) budget, and the John E. Fogarty International Center. Additional funding for global health programs and research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is not yet available,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” (6/14). The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports that the bill “maintains funding for the CDC’s Global AIDS Program at its current funding level of $117.118 million” (Barton, 6/15).
“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.”
David Winder, chief executive of WaterAid USA, highlights the findings of the recently released UNICEF report on child mortality in this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post, saying the decrease in annual number of child deaths “is great news, but is tempered by sobering statistics, especially for children in sub-Saharan Africa,” who continue to face high rates of mortality. “However all is not lost and much can be done to ameliorate the situation. Improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is a key step in preventing many of these needless deaths,” he writes, adding, “Known collectively as WASH, these three basic services are important factors in preventing pneumonia and diarrhea, the leading causes of mortality among children between one month and five years of age.”
“For all its importance to human well-being, agriculture seems to be one of the lagging economic sectors of the last two decades,” Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. “That means the problem of hunger is flaring up again, as the World Bank and several United Nations agencies have recently warned,” and in Africa, for example, “[t]he expansion of the … middle class and the decline in child mortality rates are both quite real, but the advances have not been balanced — and agriculture lags behind,” he states.