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In The News

Britain To Invest £50 Over 5 Years In Global Development Innovation Ventures

“Britain will invest £50 million [$78 million] over five years in Global Development Innovation Ventures, [a new fund that] is expected to unlock further investment from the private sector and other governments,” The Guardian reports. “Speaking on Friday ahead of next week’s U.K.-hosted G8 summit in Northern Ireland, David Cameron will say the fund would enable entrepreneurs, academics and [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] to secure financial backing for solutions to the most pressing problems facing the developing world,” the newspaper writes, noting U.K. International Development Secretary Justine Greening, “who is looking at ways of giving her department a sharper entrepreneurial focus, said: ‘This new organization means that the U.K. will play a key role in ushering in a new era of innovative, cost-effective development which can help deliver a safer, more prosperous world'” (Elliott/Stewart, 6/14).

According to Tech City News, Global Development Innovation Ventures has four specific goals: “to find, develop and test innovations that have the potential to generate significant social impact and economic returns”; “to develop a pipeline of investment-ready innovations, providing a focus for social investors and unlocking commercial capital”; “to create a marketplace to broker co-investment and collaboration between investors and innovators alike”; and “to ‘crowd-in’ a global network of partner governments, private investors, foundations and donors with resources to bring proven concepts to widespread adoption” (Hesse, 6/14).

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Ahead Of G8 Summit, Science Ministers Agree To Coordinate Greater Efforts Against Antibiotic Resistance

“Science ministers of the G8 countries, meeting in London ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, agreed to coordinate a wider-ranging global onslaught on antibiotic resistance … the eight ministers said in a joint statement on Thursday,” the Financial Times reports. “Part of the solution lies in curbing the misuse of antibiotics in people, animals and the environment, the ministers said,” according to the newspaper (Cookson, 6/13). “Additional activities will include … supporting targeted research to understand the development of resistance, and developing diagnostics to better inform antimicrobial drug usage,” Agri-Plus notes (6/13). Speaking at the meeting at the Royal Society in London on Tuesday, British “[s]cience minister David Willetts urged his counterparts to impose restrictions, claiming the spread of antibiotic resistance could be as damaging to humanity as climate change,” the Daily Mail writes (Martin, 6/12).

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Feed The Future Working Group Launched To Engage Civil Society

“Feed the Future — [USAID's] global food security initiative — has formed a working group tasked with finding ways to engage more effectively with civil society both at home and abroad,” Devex reports. “While little is yet known about the specific goals, focal areas, or even how the panel is defining ‘civil society,’ working group members said they will produce an ‘action plan’ structured around ‘very specific action items’ for civil society engagement under Feed the Future by Sept. 18,” according to the news service. The working group was launched on Tuesday at the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid’s quarterly public meeting, the news service notes, adding, “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah admitted the agency has so far ‘underperformed’ its responsibility to clearly and transparently communicate programmatic priorities to the American public,” including building civil society support for ending hunger.

“Members of the panel suggested the action plan address chronic messaging problems by ultimately structuring its recommendations around one or two high-profile, cross-cutting issues,” Devex writes. “In his closing remarks at [the] meeting, Shah urged the working group to ‘tackle controversies’ and build shared understanding in order to fulfill his aspiration that Feed the Future become an ‘open platform’ that invites a wide range of participants to the cause of ending hunger,” the news service writes (Igoe, 6/13). IIP Digital reviews Shah’s participation in several recent meetings surrounding nutrition issues. At a June 10 Washington event co-hosted by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide, Shah “previewed Feed the Future’s second annual report, to be released later in June,” the news service writes, adding, “The report will highlight the program’s system for gathering and disseminating ‘timely, accurate data that measures everything from household income to the participation of women to the prevalence of stunting,’ he said” (McConnell, 6/11).

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NPR Examines Haiti's National Campaign Against Lymphatic Filariasis

NPR’s “Shots” blog examines a nationwide campaign in Haiti “to get rid of the parasitic worms that cause elephantiasis,” also called lymphatic filariasis (LF). According to the news service, “Haiti has waged other campaigns against the condition, characterized by severe disfiguration of the legs and arms. But until now, it has never managed to adequately reach residents of the chaotic capital Port-au-Prince.” The blog states, “The latest effort by the Haitian Ministry of Health now puts the country on track to wipe out elephantiasis within the next four years, says a study published in the [CDC's] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.” Noting “Haiti is one of just four countries in the Americas where elephantiasis remains endemic,” the blog continues, “The successful deworming campaign in Haiti is a major step forward not just for the country but for the whole region, says Patrick Lammie, an immunologist with the [CDC], who also contributed to the current study” (6/13). The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report details the mass drug administration (MDA) campaign in the country, noting the WHO “called for the elimination of LF by 2020, based on a strategy of annual MDA with drugs that clear microfilaria, the circulating stage of the parasite in humans” (6/14). The Global Dispatch provides information about the parasitic disease which “is transmitted to humans, like malaria and yellow fever, via a mosquito bite” (Herriman, 6/13).

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WHO Recognizes World Blood Donor Day

The WHO recognizes June 14 as World Blood Donor Day, and the agency “is appealing for more voluntary blood donors to boost the supply of this life-saving product,” VOA News reports. The WHO “says the need for blood and blood products is increasing every year,” but “millions of patients requiring life-saving transfusions do not have timely access to safe blood,” the news service notes (Schlein, 6/12). According to a WHO press release, the agency “calls for all countries to obtain 100 percent of their supplies of blood and blood products from voluntary unpaid blood donors by 2020.” The press release notes, “Currently, 60 countries collect 100 percent of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors,” while “73 countries [are] still collecting more than 50 percent of their blood supply from replacement or paid donors” (6/12). “The WHO said a stable base of regular, voluntary, unpaid donors is ‘the cornerstone’ of a safe, adequate and reliable blood supply,” according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Tubeza, 6/13). WHO Director-General Margaret Chan released a video message in recognition of World Blood Donor Day (6/13).

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U.N. Releases Annual Report On Children, Armed Conflict

In its annual report on children and armed conflict, the U.N. “says thousands of children have been killed, injured, tortured or recruited into militias and armies in the past year as a result of armed conflicts,” noting “progress in some states, but a worsening situation in others, such as Mali, Syria and the Central African Republic,” VOA News reports. “The report chronicles violations in 21 countries during 2012 and includes Mali for the first time,” the news service writes, adding, “It focuses on six violations — recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, maiming and killing, abduction, sexual violence, denial of access for humanitarians, and attacks on schools and hospitals.” According to VOA, “[t]he secretary-general’s envoy for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, said at the release of the report Wednesday the situation of children in Syria, Mali and the Central African Republic is especially troubling” (Besheer, 6/12). The Associated Press notes the report “says the number of children killed and injured in Afghanistan’s war has risen sharply this year,” adding “414 children have been killed or injured in the first four months of this year, up 27 percent over the same period the previous year” (6/13).

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Traditional Male Leaders Helping To Change Cultural Practices That Damage Health

The Atlantic examines how traditional male leaders are playing a role in reversing “‘harmful traditional practices’ — social mores that have been instilled over centuries and continue to be carried out in some regions despite their danger to health,” such as child marriage, home birthing and female genital mutilation. “Traditional male leaders are typically the ones who protect ancestral ways, so they may not seem like natural vanguards of change. But across the developing world, increasingly more and more tribal chiefs and other leaders are becoming essential to ending harmful practices — in large part because of how central they are to the village’s life and beliefs,” the magazine writes, adding, “To improve the lives of women, some aid organizations are finding, you must first change the minds of the men in charge” (Khazan, 6/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

WHO Should Take Leadership Role To Ensure Access To Health Care For LGBT Community

Noting the WHO “has led efforts to reduce health disparities for women, ethnic, racial and religious minorities, those with disabilities, and others who have struggled to attain the health care they need,” Nils Daulaire, assistant secretary for global affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog, “We think it is timely for WHO to take this same leadership role for the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)] population.” He notes that “[d]uring the May 2013 WHO Executive Board meeting, the topic of what WHO should be doing on this front was scheduled to be discussed,” but “[u]nfortunately, history was made in another way when a number of African and Middle Eastern countries called for the item’s deletion from the agenda. Never before in the history of WHO has one Executive Board member asked that an item, legitimately placed on the agenda by other Member States, be removed.”

“Six hours of debate on whether this was a topic that should even be addressed by WHO ensued,” Daulaire writes, adding, “Equally passionate supporters from the European and Americas regions spoke to how ensuring health access for all is a core part of WHO’s work, and that this must include all vulnerable populations.” He continues, “The item was removed from the day’s agenda, and over the coming months the head of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, will talk with concerned governments to find common ground to identify WHO’s role. If wording can be agreed, the item will presumably be added to the agenda of the January 2014 Executive Board meeting.” According to Daulaire, “This is not the outcome we wanted at this time. Nonetheless, we also recognize that breaking new ground at the U.N. or any multi-state organization is difficult, and that topics regarding sexuality create additional hurdles to surmount.” He concludes, “While we know we will not be able to prevent every individual act of discrimination, the U.S. will continue our robust global engagement to ensure that the health needs of LGBT persons do not remain locked in the closet” (6/13).

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Invest In Frontline Health Workers To Prevent Newborn, Child Deaths

Citing Save the Children’s 14th annual ‘State of the World’s Mothers’ report, which says one million children worldwide die on their first day of life each year, Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) write in a Roll Call opinion piece, “One year after 173 countries pledged to end child mortality in a generation [with the Child Survival Call to Action], it is clear a greater focus on frontline health workers is necessary to achieve that.” They continue, “From discovering new vaccines and treatments to battle childhood disease to providing antiretroviral drugs to roll back the global AIDS crisis, American investments have saved millions of lives. … But we can do even more with our modest but impactful global health investments.” According to Crenshaw and Lowey, “These [investments] make up a fraction of our development and humanitarian funding, which itself is less than one percent of the federal budget. Yet, a greater focus on training and equipping health workers means we could reach more of the most vulnerable children and families with solutions that already exist.”

“Frontline health workers … are often the first and only link to health care for millions of mothers and babies in the developing world,” and “[t]hey provide a range of lifesaving prevention and treatment services where they are most needed,” Crenshaw and Lowey write. “Thanks in part to our country’s support for global health initiatives, child deaths have dropped 40 percent in the past two decades and maternal mortality rates have been cut in half,” and several countries “have … taken important steps to authorize lower-level health workers to deliver lifesaving care — such as injectable antibiotics to treat deadly newborn infections,” they state, concluding, “But a global health worker shortage and lack of training for existing health workers are severely limiting the effect of such decisions. Nearly seven million children still die from largely preventable causes yearly. Three million of them are newborn babies” (6/13).

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Food Aid Reform Proposal Should Garner Bipartisan Support

“Unfortunately, American food assistance today is far less efficient and effective than it could be,” Joshua Bolten, managing director of Rock Creek Global Advisors and former chief of staff to President George W. Bush, and John Podesta, chair of the Center for American Progress and former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, adding, “The country needs a better approach, and [President Obama's] 2014 budget provides one.” If “U.S. aid programs [were] allowed to purchase food locally from farmers in or near crisis regions … [t]he potential savings would be stunning,” they write, noting several reforms proposed in the budget request.

“Some worry that shifting away from U.S. crop purchases could weaken political support for food aid assistance,” Bolten and Podesta write. “But we think most Americans will support reforms that save more lives, regardless of where the food is grown,” they state, adding, “They will rightly not understand why, with U.S. farm exports booming, their tax dollars need to be spent to subsidize more exports, providing less food aid, while undermining poor countries’ efforts to reduce their dependence on aid.” However, “getting these sensible reforms through Congress won’t be easy,” they say, noting “the Obama administration is struggling with the House and Senate, both of which have failed to include significant reforms in their respective farm bills.” Bolten and Podesta conclude, “If ever there was an issue on which big-hearted humanitarians and tightfisted fiscal hawks should find common purpose, food aid reform is it. Millions around the world are counting on us” (6/13).

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Haiti's 'Remarkable Progress' Toward Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis

In the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, CDC Director Tom Frieden examines efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in Haiti, writing, “For decades, poverty, government instability and other realities often stood in the way of success. This is why the recent data showing Haiti is protecting its entire population from lymphatic filariasis is a milestone — a real-life testament to persistence, creativity and collaboration.” He states, “Lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis, is one of the world’s most disabling and costly tropical diseases,” adding, “Even though we have the tools to eliminate it entirely, it continues to affect more than 120 million people worldwide.” He continues, “To stop spread of the disease, at least 70 percent of the population must receive a dose of two medicines every year for five years.”

“Over the past several years, a team of public health workers from Haiti’s Ministry of Health, CDC and other organizations have provided this treatment throughout Haiti, except in the challenging area of Port-au-Prince,” Frieden notes, adding, “But now the population of Port-au-Prince is also being successfully treated — a remarkable feat. The medicines also protect people against intestinal worms, helping kids grow and study better.” He continues, “Of course, there’s so much more to be done. Water and sanitation still need attention. Childhood and maternal death rates remain too high. But this achievement in the fight against lymphatic filariasis shows progress is indeed possible.” He concludes, “The success of the Haiti experience will help public health officials refine future efforts to combat lymphatic filariasis in other places in the Americas and worldwide” (6/13).

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Recent Releases

USAID Assistant Administrator For Global Health Discusses Nutrition

In a new interview blog series called “Behind the Scenes,” USAID’s “IMPACTblog” features an interview with Ariel Pablos-Méndez, assistant administrator for global health at USAID, in which he discusses nutrition’s key role in global health. He talks about the Child Survival Call to Action, the Lancet series on child and maternal nutrition, and how the U.S. is prioritizing nutrition in its foreign aid policies, among other issues (6/13).

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Consultative Report Examines Value For Money In Global Health Programs

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and its partners could save more lives with the same amount of money by allocating it in ways designed to maximize the positive impact on health,” according to a consultative draft report (.pdf) of the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) Value for Money Working Group, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at CGD, writes in the organization’s “Global Health Policy” blog. The report, titled “More Health for the Money: A Practical Agenda for the Global Fund and Its Partners,” “is available for public comment until July 12, 2013,” according to Glassman, who describes “four domains of policy action that can improve value for money” and launches an online discussion on the draft report in an accompanying video (6/10).

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Examining The Role Of Frontline Health Workers In Achieving Universal Health Coverage

Noting that universal health coverage was a major theme at this year’s World Health Assembly, Jeffrey Meer, special adviser on global health policy and development for the Public Health Institute, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “The recognition that a just world is a place where everyone has access to health care implies a significant expansion of coverage to include many who do not now have such access. And community health workers and other frontline health workers seem like an obvious way help us get there.” While the U.N. High-Level Panel’s report on the Post-2015 Development Goals discussed “the ambitious goal of ‘universal access,'” “[t]here is one mention in the report of the role of skilled birth attendants in preventing maternal mortality, but otherwise it offers little in the way of ideas how to meet this ambitious target,” he notes. Meer continues, “For some in global health, frontline health workers, including well-trained, compensated and valued community health workers, are essential parts of the equation” (6/13).

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New Issue Of The Lancet Now Available

The Lancet on Friday published its most recent issue, No. 9883. Among other articles, the issue includes an editorial on the future of HIV prevention efforts, a commentary on the fight against the HIV epidemic in the Islamic world, a report on continuing research into the emerging MERS-CoV virus, and a research article examining the use of antiretroviral prophylaxis for HIV infection in injecting drug users in Bangkok, Thailand (6/15).

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