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Recent Releases In Global Health

The Importance Of Investing In Adolescent Girls: A Lancet editorial examines the challenges adolescent girls living in developing countries face and the work of the U.N. Adolescent Girls Task Force (UNAGTF) to help young women overcome these barriers. “This International Women’s Day, we recognise that investment in today’s population of adolescent girls will hugely benefit the lives of future generations. The challenges are formidable, but the potential for change is great,” the editorial says (3/5).

The Goals Of The Obama Administration’s Global Food Security Effort: The State Department released a fact sheet on the Feed the Future program. The $3.5 billion program, which is a “response to the spike in global food prices in 2007-2008, … utilizes innovation, research, and development to improve agricultural productivity, link farmers to local and regional markets, enhance nutrition, and build safety nets,” the document states (3/3).

Drug Theft Will Continue Until Incentives Are In Place To Ensure Drugs Reach Patients:  In an article reflecting on the theft and diversion of medicines provided by aid agencies to developing countries, Roger Bate, Legatum Fellow in Global Prosperity at AEI, writes, “Given the rhetoric of donors and recipients” in response to the reports of drug thefts, “one would expect such profiteering to be sharply curtailed.” However, Bate says there is “a lack of incentives driving agencies to actively address the problem. … Donors, drug companies, recipient finance and health departments, even some clinicians, all benefit from the current system, even though the drugs are stolen, because international health aid programmes have rarely monitored outcomes,” he writes. “Until the incentive structures are adjusted so that remuneration is based on whether patients with malaria receive anti-malarial drugs, rather than whether the drugs are provided to a national store, then theft will continue” (3/3).

The Task Ahead For GHI’s Executive Director: “Just five weeks into the job, [GHI Executive Director] Lois Quam arrives at a pivotal time” as FY12 marks “the fourth year of the initiative’s six-year timeframe and questions abound on funding and improving the health of women and girls, meeting country ownership goals and coordinating efforts among large multilateral organizations,” the Global Health Council’s “Blog 4 Global Health” writes in a post reflecting on Quam’s first public address at the Kaiser Family Foundation on Tuesday (3/2). Sarah Arnquist, managing editor of GlobalHealthHub.org, writes that though Quam is “new to the global health and development arena,” she “has a stellar management background” and “[s]trong management probably is what’s needed most to corral all the agencies and egos under the GHI umbrella into a working strategy” (3/2).

Scaling Up Medical Male Circumcision In Sub-Saharan Africa: In the first of a week-long series on efforts to ramp up male circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” features a Q&A with Caroline Ryan, director of technical leadership at the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, who describes the costs associated with male circumcision campaigns and how PEPFAR funds are being used for such programs in Africa (Donnelly, 2/28). A second post features a Q&A with Kelly Curran, director of HIV and Infectious Diseases at the international health organization Jhpiego, who describes the organization’s involvement in capacity-building and service delivery to assist African ministries of health, defense force health systems and NGOs to expand safe and comprehensive medical male circumcision (Mazzotta, 3/1).

An Affordable Health Care Program: In her Forbes’ “Good Work” blog, staff writer Helen Coster examines Marie Stopes International’s voucher program, “which helps to support private facilities so that they can provide free or highly subsidized services,” such as maternal health checkups or treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Coster says she is concerned about the program’s sustainability. “The program can only be self-sustainable if MSI increases the price of vouchers. Or, even better – but maybe less realistic – if local governments commit to subsidizing the vouchers as a way to meet their public health goals,” she writes (3/1).

FY11 Budget Bill’s Impact On Global Family Planning: The House’s FY11 budget measure “eliminates – in fact it forbids – funding for the United Nations Population Fund. And it reinstates the Global Gag Rule,” according to RH Reality Check. “This is in fact not a new war launched by the GOP, but a long-term guerrilla operation of which Congressman Chris Smith, Congressman Mike Pence, and Congressman Joe Pitts have been the tribal leaders. … [T]hese Congressman and their allies are launching a full-scale war on women that transcends borders” (Jacobson, 3/1).

Budget Cuts Should Exclude MCC, Focus On USAID: “The MCC was an innovative idea to overcome the shortcomings of traditional development assistance, and the evidence since it was created eight years ago is promising. Rather than targeting the MCC – the most market-oriented of America’s foreign aid programs – Congress should focus its development assistance cuts on the traditional USAID model that has repeatedly failed to deliver sustained economic growth and development,” James Roberts, a research fellow for economic freedom and growth at the Heritage Foundation, writes in a brief (3/1).

Methadone Substitution Is Cost-Effective Option For Addressing HIV Epidemic In Ukraine: “Methadone substitution therapy is a highly cost-effective option for the growing mixed HIV epidemic in Ukraine,” according to the authors of a PLoS Medicine article that compared “health care costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), HIV prevalence, infections averted, and incremental cost-effectiveness” for interventions expanding methadone substitution therapy, increasing access to antiretroviral therapy, or a combination of the two. Based on their analysis, the authors report, “Offering methadone substitution therapy to 25% of IDUs reduced prevalence most effectively (to 53.1% IDUs, 0.80% non-IDUs), and was most cost-effective, averting 4,700 infections and adding 76,000 QALYs compared with no intervention at US$530/QALY gained” (Alistar et al., 3/1).

U.S. Commitment To Fighting HIV/AIDS Is Shortsighted: In a Huffington Post blog post, Michelle Chen writes that while the Global Health Initiative (GHI) was “hailed initially by many global health watchdogs, who have long said that HIV can’t be addressed in a vacuum,” there are growing concerns that “the more expansive strategy has camouflaged the shortchanging of HIV/AIDS programs.” She adds, “While AIDS will outlive the election cycle, the economic cycle, and perhaps even this generation, the U.S. commitment to combating the disease suffers from a shortsighted vision. Keeping up the fight shouldn’t force us to divide inadequate resources across interconnected needs, especially when we’ve already seen how far a little cooperation can take us” (2/28).

Four Questions On How FY12 Might Affect U.S. Global Health Strategy: Ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s FY12 budget hearings with members of the House, Nandini Oomman and Christina Droggitis, both of the Center for Global Development, explore the potential implications of President Barack Obama’s FY12 budget on the Global Health Initiative (GHI) in a post on CGD’s “Global Health Policy” blog. They present four questions for Clinton on how the budget might impact the U.S. strategy on global health (2/28).

Recommendations For Reforming Food Aid Convention:  An Oxfam Ireland blog post describes the agency’s call on Monday “for a radical shake up of the Food Aid Convention … to ensure the burgeoning number of hungry people in the world get the predictable, timely and appropriate aid they need.” According to the post, “The agency wants to see the new treaty accelerate the switch to cash and other food-related assistance, in an effort to bring food aid in line with ways to improvements to small-scale farm production and plans to help deal with the effects of widely-fluctuating food prices.” The post lists several other recommendations by Oxfam to improve the convention (2/28).