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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY13 Labor, Health, Human Services Spending Bill

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).

White House Fact Sheet Describes Obama Administration Accomplishments In Sub-Saharan Africa

“The new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which is derived from a Presidential Policy Directive, builds on numerous accomplishments of U.S.-Africa policy to strengthen democratic institutions, promote regional peace and security, engage with young African leaders, and promote development, trade, and investment,” a White House fact sheet, titled “Obama Administration Accomplishments In Sub-Saharan Africa,” states. The fact sheet contains information on the Feed the Future initiative, the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. Government’s responses to humanitarian crises and disasters, as well as other programs and engagements (6/14).

Healthy Timing, Spacing Of Pregnancy Essential In Family Planning

“USAID promotes Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy as a vital family planning intervention that helps ensure that pregnancies occur at the healthiest times in a woman’s life,” Maureen Norton, healthy timing and spacing technical adviser for USAID, writes in USAID’s IMPACTblog. “A USAID analysis found that, by preventing closely spaced births, family planning could save the lives of more than 1.6 million children under five annually,” she notes. Norton outlines “three key programmatic actions to strengthen family planning as an essential intervention for child survival,” including educating families on pregnancy timing, expanding the type of available contraceptives, and enacting “policies to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.” She concludes, “Increasing access to family planning is essential to help women … and their children survive and stay healthy” (6/19).

USAID Foreign Assistance Data Available In Online Tool

In a media note, the State Department and USAID announce that “USAID’s foreign assistance obligation and expenditure data is now available on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard (www.foreignassistance.gov).” According to the note, “The Foreign Assistance Dashboard serves as a tool for users to understand the impact of U.S. foreign assistance funding by country, sector, initiative, and agency in an easy-to-understand format. The site provides a visual presentation of foreign assistance data in a standard and user-friendly way, and has become the U.S. Government’s main tool for improving foreign aid transparency.” Data in the tool is from fiscal years 2009 through 2011 and will be updated regularly, the media note states (6/25).

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Discusses Lessons Learned From U.S. Response To HIV/AIDS Worldwide

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby “discussed lessons learned from the U.S. response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic over the past decade at an event hosted by the Brookings Institute Monday morning,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “While calling recent scientific advances in HIV prevention ‘game changers’ that have offered hope of an AIDS-free generation, [Goosby said] that the successful fight against the epidemic relies on recognizing AIDS-specific efforts so far as a foundation for further health gains, on country ownership, and on continuing to build ‘the shared responsibility’ of a multi-donor response,” the blog adds.

Gates Foundation Blog Highlights Work Of CDC Kenya

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, editor Amie Newman, a communications officer at the foundation, highlights the work of “two HIV home-visit health workers who work with the CDC Kenya (Centers for Disease Control) to visit with a family in a remote area in the Nyanza province.” According to the blog, the “center is responsible for most of what goes on when it comes to researching HIV/AIDS in this country: what prevention and treatment methods work, monitoring the number of new HIV/AIDS cases, the number of births, deaths, implementing those treatment and prevention methods (including voluntary medical male circumcision, distribution of condoms, medicine for treatment), and maternal and newborn health issues which are directly connected to HIV (like prevention of mother-to-child transmission)” (6/25).

U.S., Nigeria Inaugurate Defense Reference Laboratory In Abuja

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley spoke on Monday in Abuja at the inauguration of a Defense Reference Laboratory, Leadership reports, noting he said the laboratory, “which is the first of its kind in the sub-region,” was supported by U.S. funding. According to the newspaper, McCulley said the Reference Laboratory Program is part of U.S. assistance to Nigeria through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and Nigeria’s Ministry of Defense (NMOD) through the Walter Reed Program (WRP-N) and the Emergency Plan Implementation Committee (EPIC), which began in 2005 (8/30).

Denmark's Largest Vaccine Maker Faces Factory Closure Pending Smallpox Vaccine Order From U.S.

“Bavarian Nordic A/S (BAVA), the largest vaccine maker in Denmark, will need to fire hundreds of workers and shut down a factory if it doesn’t receive an order for a smallpox vaccine from the U.S. government by January, the company’s chief executive officer said,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “Company officials said they don’t know why the Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t made the order, which they had expected by June,” the news service writes, noting, “The vaccine is meant for people with atopic dermatitis and compromised immune systems, who are at risk of severe adverse reactions to the regular smallpox vaccine.”

White House Issues First-Ever National Biosurveillance Strategy

In an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage, the American Forces Press Service reports on the first U.S. National Strategy for Biosurveillance, issued by the White House “to quickly detect a range of global health and security hazards.” According to the article, “the Defense Department has a running start in implementing the new plan, a senior defense official said,” and “many of the activities described in the strategy are ongoing at DOD.” “So much of what we’re doing is integrating the efforts and working hard on the overlap between global security and global health, in what [President Barack Obama] refers to as global health security,” said Andrew Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, the news service writes (Pellerin, 8/22).

U.S. Announces Additional $12M In Humanitarian Aid To Syria

“The United States announced Thursday it would hike its humanitarian aid to Syria, adding another $12 million to provide food, water, medicine and other necessities for battered and displaced people” affected by violence in the Syrian conflict, the Los Angeles Times blog “World Now” reports. “The increase approved by the Obama administration brings American humanitarian assistance in Syria to more than $76 million, including $27.5 million to the World Food Programme [WFP], roughly $18 million for the United Nations refugee agency and the rest split among other U.N. funds and non-profit groups,” the blog writes (Alpert, 8/2).