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Recent Releases In Global Health

The following is a sampling of blog posts published this week marking

International Women’s Day

:

PEPFAR’s Gender Challenge Fund:  At the Intersection of Gender and HIV (Goosby, 3/11).

A Conversation in Afghanistan: Perspectives on International Women’s Day (Ehsaas, 3/9).

The Best Investment in Global Women’s Health (Sturchio/Barnes, 3/8).

Why Foreign Aid Matters to Women (Messinger, 3/8).

Sexual Violence on the Way to Water (Eliasson, 3/8).

Women’s Health: Decades Later, What’s Still Neglected (Blumenthal, 3/8).

A Woman’s Health is Her Primary Wealth (Giorgis, 3/7).

Kaiser’s Policy Tracker tool features links to additional blog posts on the White House, State Department and USAID blogs.

Air Pollution Harms Must Be Addressed: “WHO should revisit its 6-year-old 2005 Air Quality Guidelines. It should put more focus on low-income and middle-income countries, where air pollution regulations are commonly lacking and health effects on the local populations widely ignored,” a Lancet editorial states. In discussing the implications of air pollution in the developing as well as the developed world, the Lancet writes: “Regulatory efforts to curb air pollution on a local, domestic, and global scale need to be rigorously implemented, enforced, and enhanced. Governments, as public servants, have the duty and responsibility to protect the health of their citizens” (3/12).

Capitol Hill Briefing Highlights HIV Prevention Advances: UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Paul De Lay, speaking at an amfAR-sponsored Congressional briefing on HIV prevention advances held on Wednesday, said, “Bringing one or two interventions to scale will not suffice to curb the spread of HIV. Rather, we must urgently work to bring multiple prevention strategies to scale simultaneously.” Other panelists included Willard Cates of Family Health International, Thomas Coates of the UCLA AIDS Institute, and Carl Dieffenbach of the Division of AIDS at the National Institutes of Health (3/11).

Private Industry And Development:
Devex features a Q&A with John Tedstrom, CEO of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, who recently spoke during the opening plenary session of “Investing in Women and Entrepreneurship: Solutions to Addressing MDG 3” at the United Nations. In the interview, he outlines his vision for how public-private partnerships can boost global development. “We have all the skill sets needed to conquer the world, and by recognizing you have that shared value, you can create the type of scalable, sustainable development initiative that stands a chance of really making a difference,” Tedstrom said (Lieberman, 3/10).

GHI’s Women, Girls And Gender Equality Principle: A new document from the Kaiser Family Foundation summarizes the discussion of a November 2010 roundtable examining the women, girls and gender equality principle of the U.S. Global Health Initiative. The roundtable included experts from a variety of organizations, including officials from the U.S. government, and gender experts from NGOs and U.S. government implementing partners. Much of the discussion centered on the draft guidance developed by the U.S. government to inform the implementation of the principle in countries by U.S. teams (3/10).

Questions, Thoughts For New GAVI CEO: In light of the recent appointment of Seth Berkley as CEO of GAVI, the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog presents six ideas and questions as he assumes his new position. In the post, Amanda Glassman , CGD’s director of Global Health Policy, writes: “In the past, GAVI has had to make allocation choices between investing in full coverage of existing vaccines and introducing new vaccines. If co-financing does not reach 100% on existing immunization in Africa in the next decade, what is the plan?” (3/9).

Budget Cut Debates Could Potentially Benefit Foreign Aid: “Having to defend programs can lead to a re-evaluation of their purpose and effectiveness,” Connie Veillette, director of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Program, writes in a post about proposed foreign aid budget cuts on the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog.” According to Veillette, “Decreasing budgets can produce the motivation to seriously scrub programs and accounts. … But then again, it’s hard to make difficult choices if there is no consensus on what the United States seeks to achieve with its aid. Perhaps the silver lining here is that the current budget debates will help reach that consensus” (3/9).

Pros, Cons Of Global Health Corps: A JAMA letter counters a JAMA Commentary that called for a global health corps to address health worker shortages in developing countries. “This approach, which was first proposed in 2005, would rely on costly, transient, and foreign health professionals rather than building local capacity. It would place U.S. health professionals abroad while the United States imports thousands of health workers annually,” the letter states. Instead, “[t]he United States should help meet the need for health workers by strengthening developing countries’ ability to scale up health worker production, retention, and support” (Tulenko et al., 3/9). In reply, the authors of the original commentary write, “Although some view an international health corps as detracting from U.S. in-country human resources, especially in an environment in which the United States currently imports many clinicians from low- and middle-income countries, we expect the opposite may be true. As the United States invests resources to strengthen health systems in low- and middle-income countries, it may not only improve local population health and well-being but also reduce poverty and develop infrastructure,” they write (Jense/Kamath, 3/9).

Integrating Health Programs To Address Attitudes About Family Planning: “So how can family planning programs and policies bridge that wide gap between men’s attitudes and women’s contraceptive and HIV prevention needs? The short answer is that male norms and behaviors must change so that men learn to support women’s contraceptive choices and to participate in family planning themselves,” Daniel Cothran, a program officer at AIDSTAR-One, writes in a post on USAID’s “Impact” blog. Cothran looks at how family planning services can be integrated with other health programs and says they should also incorporate strategies that address gender inequity (3/8).

Interview With U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues:
World Affairs Commentary interviews Melanee Verveer about the “state of women and girls around the world, the work and efforts of her office … national security and U.S. foreign policy,” as well as other issues (Kanani, 3/8).

GHI Implementation In Kenya: A new CSIS report documents a December 2010 “trip to Kenya to examine progress in implementing the U.S. government’s Global Health Initiative (GHI).” The trip “grew from a strong sense of the importance of examining how GHI was evolving on the ground in key partner countries, especially as debate sharpens in Washington around whether and how to preserve U.S. gains in global health, expand on them, and win continued support across partisan lines, from congressional and executive decisionmakers and from American citizens” (Carty et al., 3/8).

Women Continue To Be Underrepresented In HIV Trials: “The HIV epidemic is increasingly affecting women, and the proportion of women living with HIV globally has been continuously on the rise,” yet “women continue to be underrepresented in clinical trials, and gender analyses of data continue to be conspicuous by their absence in published literature,” write the authors of a Journal of the International AIDS Society editorial, in which they call for change. “We call on fellow editors and publishers to take appropriate measures to improve the reporting of sex-based analyses in peer-reviewed publications. … Joint effort is necessary to ensure that women, just as much as men, reap the fruits of research,” they write (Heidari et al., 3/8).

Using Tax Credits To Expand Private NTD Research: In a post on the Results for Development (R4D) Institute’s blog, Andrew Robertson, chief policy officer at Bio Venture for Global Health, notes the findings of a recent R4D report stating that tax credits to promote NTD research “would likely not be sufficient to tip the balance between costs and rewards. But these tax credits do work to help reduce the costs of this type of research, and make the overall decision to pursue NTD R&D all the more favorable.” According to Robertson, “While tax credits may only play a partial role in this transformation, in combination with other incentive mechanisms they may serve to make the global health arena more private-sector friendly. Only under these circumstances will we see long-term, meaningful investment from the private sector. Whether this is enough to tip the scale, however, is a much more complex question” (3/7).

Applause For ‘Global Fund’s Efforts’: “Corruption is a serious issue, and even more so when it potentially costs lives, as with Global Fund grants. But the Global Fund is not alone,” Judith Kaufmann, an independent consultant on diplomacy for global health, writes in a Health Affairs blog post. “Where the Global Fund has been different from other international bodies is that it has established and empowered an independent Inspector General to investigate fraud, it has made the findings known, and it has held accountable the recipients of those funds,” Kaufmann says, adding “if the price of transparency is criticism and suspension of funds then there is absolutely no incentive for other agencies to follow the admirable lead of the Global Fund. … The Global Fund’s efforts should be applauded – and strengthened – not criticized” (3/7).

Global Health, Intellectual Property: IP Watchdog features a two-part Q&A with Erik Iverson, associate general counsel with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who works with grantees on “the development of intellectual property management plans, collaboration agreements and global access strategies with respect to the health solutions being funded by the Foundation.” During the interview, Iverson discusses the efforts the Foundation makes to create incentives for innovators while respecting intellectual property laws and describes ongoing projects that demonstrate such efforts (Quinn, 2/28) In the second-half of the interview, Iverson notes, “[T]he life science community is all about helping people and saving lives and what’s unique about the global health effort is that we are taking all of these different incentives, whether it is humanitarian or profit driven, and trying to figure out how to balance them to push the development of products” (Quinn, 3/6).

Sustain U.S. Foreign Assistance: In a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” discussing the growing pressure on foreign assistance budgets, Samuel Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, compares the U.K.’s overhaul of aid policies to the Obama administration’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and the calls within the U.S. House of Representatives to reduce foreign assistance. “Many of the budget cuts proposed by the [H]ouse would have a dramatic effect on development work abroad and could make it hard to respond to crises,” Worthington writes. “Britain’s coalition government appears to be standing by the previous Labour party administration’s goal of raising foreign aid to the UN target of 0.7% of gross national income by 2013 – even though some opinion polls show many Britons disagree with this. … We hope the Obama administration and Congress will do the right thing and sustain a robust U.S. foreign assistance package on this side of the Atlantic too” (Worthington, 3/4).