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Recent Releases In Global Health

‘Complacency Is Dangerous’ In Global HIV/AIDS Fight: A Lancet Editorial is critical of UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe’s statement in the annual UNAIDS report that “We have halted and begun to reverse the epidemic.” The editorial states, “These words, from the head of a U.N. agency, are reckless and premature, and have overshadowed the challenges outlined in the UNAIDS report. International funding decreased between 2008 and 2009, and although US$15.9 billion was available for HIV/AIDS programmes in 2009, this figure is $10 billion less than what is needed in 2010. Complacency is dangerous when governments and international agencies should be building on the progress achieved so far” (12/4).

Emanuel On U.S. Global Health Policy In Africa: White House Health Advisor Ezekiel Emanuel wraps up his series on the New Republic’s “Citizen Cohn“ blog about his recent Africa trip. He describes his four take away lessons and how eight interventions in Africa “would dramatically reduce deaths for children under 5, maternal mortality, and HIV infections. As a rough guess, I suspect that effectively rolling out these interventions would increase life expectancy to 60 or even 65 in most African developing countries” (12/2).

Beef Up Civilian Power To Improve U.S. Foreign Aid: When it comes to reforming the U.S. foreign aid system, “[t]he Obama administration should prioritize securing congressional support for the long-term rebuilding of USAID, the State Department, and other civilian foreign affairs and foreign assistance agencies that were gutted in the aftermath of the Cold War,” G. William Anderson of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, writes on The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” Anderson lists suggestions for how “civilian and military leadership can begin working together immediately to get the ball moving” (12/2).

PEPFAR’s Shortcomings: “From the start, PEPFAR has over-emphasized treatment at the expense of prevention … U.S. foreign assistance should focus on helping poor countries to help themselves,” Mead Over, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, writes on the “Global Health Policy” blog. “Instead of an AIDS program focused on prevention, which would have both protected and empowered the people of affected countries, PEPFAR has engendered increased dependence on the United States,” according to Over (12/1).

Introducing New Vaccines In Developing Countries: “As the first promising malaria vaccine makes its way through phase 3 clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa, stakeholders’ greatest fears go beyond the possibility that the vaccine may fail to meet safety and efficacy goals. They worry that even if the vaccine is licensed, inadequate planning for its distribution could leave it to languish in warehouses,” according to a JAMA News & Perspectives article reflecting on RTS,S trials. The piece examines the challenges associated with the introduction of new vaccines in developing countries and ways countries are preparing to overcome such problems (Voelker, 12/1).

The Need For Transparent Data: “Limited data impedes the ability to do a necessary analysis of effectiveness and efficiency, and therefore, accountability. Going forward, donors need to put their rhetoric into action by identifying funding information and programmatic information that should be made available to different stakeholders to improve the accountability of and learning within their programs,” according to a post on the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog by Christina Droggitis of the center (12/1).

U.S. Remains Committed To HIV/AIDS Fight: “[S]ome wonder whether [the U.S.] can continue to maintain our strong commitment [to the global fight against HIV/AIDS] and make dramatic progress when the global economy is under such strain,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby writes in a State Department “DipNote” blog post. “Let us be clear: the answer is that we can, and we are fully dedicated to continuing in our fight against HIV/AIDS,” he writes before outlining the Obama Administration’s commitment to PEPFAR, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, and “doing business more efficiently and effectively” (11/30).

Lawmakers Must Finish The Job On Foreign Aid Reform: In a Devex opinion piece, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network co-chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram discuss the QDDR draft and the future of the U.S. foreign aid system. “Perhaps most importantly, the QDDR proposes to streamline our inefficient aid system so that we know with more confidence that our development dollars are getting to the people who need them and driving results. … But in order to ensure meaningful and lasting impact, we need accompanying legislation to make these good intentions come to life and endure,” they write (11/30).

Estimating Global Health Indicators: PLoS features a special section with an editorial and essays “from a series of experts that provide insights and opinion on what estimates mean for global health and how to move forward with better data, measurement, coordination, and leadership. The cluster includes the perspectives of WHO, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and stakeholders from low- and middle-income countries, as well as the PLoS Medicine Editors,” the journal states (11/30).

Is Country Ownership Of Health Programs Realistic?: “Despite its practicality and general desirability, policymakers and politicians are not incentivized to funnel aid into integrated, country-led programs,” Cynthia Schweer, a consultant and writer specializing in global health and public policy, writes in a International Relations and Security Network (ISN) Insights piece. “The current systems for global aid were built for bilateral funding: they provide levers to increase political capital, most often through short-term conduits that allow for increased influence during a time of crisis or political need,” according to Schweer (11/30).

HIV/AIDS Among Refugees: The State Department’s Bryan Schaaf writes on the agency’s “DipNote” blog, that the U.S. “has significantly expanded access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs for conflict-affected populations.” Schaff adds that “PEPFAR is the single largest source of HIV/AIDS funding for refugee populations. In fiscal year 2010 (which ran from October 2009 through September 2010), PEPFAR provided close to $5 million for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs for refugees living in Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia” (11/30).

Health Benefits Of Tackling Climate Change: “The public health benefits of mitigation [of climate change] need to be more prominent in international negotiations and domestic policy making,” write the authors of a Lancet Comment ahead of this week’s U.N. talks on climate change in Cancun, Mexico. The authors describe a recent statement released by a panel of experts urging for “goals for health improvement [to] be one of the main criteria in deciding on mitigating measures for climate change” (Ganten et al., 11/27).

Examining Above Average Growth In 17 African Nations: On PLoS Medicine’s “Speaking of Medicine” blog, the University of California San Francisco’s Gavin Yamey writes about a recent lecture by Steve Radelet, senior development adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to Radelet’s book, “17 [African] countries began to show a dramatic turnaround from the mid-1990s and are now growing economically at a faster rate than the global average,” the blog notes. Radelet’s take of the countries’ growth: “What matters more is the actions and decisions of people in the countries themselves … trade policy matters more than aid policy” (11/24).

Link Between Water Access And Gender-Based Violence: “In many developing countries, girls and women bear the burden of fetching water for household use. … Beyond the educational and occupational opportunities lost to lengthy hours spent walking and waiting, girls and women face violence and sexual abuse while visiting water sources,” Katherine Bliss of CSIS’ Global Health Policy Center, writes on CSIS’ Commission on Smart Global Health Policy’s blog. “The international community has a strong role to play in addressing global water and sanitation challenges and the links to gender-based violence,” Bliss writes (11/24).

What Do The November Elections Mean For The International Affairs Budget?: The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition has released an analysis looking at this question. “While the hyper-partisan environment is very concerning, and the focus on spending cuts will dominate the budget process, we see a window of opportunity to build a bipartisan coalition of support in the year ahead,” according to the organization (November 2010).

Journal Features Global Women’s Reproductive Health Series: “Access to a full range of reproductive healthcare is fundamental to a woman’s ability to exercise her right to control her body, to self-efficacy, and to maintain her health as well as that of her family,” write guest co-editors Stacie Geller, of the University of Illinois, and Suellen Miller, of the University of California, San Francisco, in an introduction to a special section dedicated to global women’s health issues, with a particular focus on reproductive health, in the Journal of Women’s Health (November 2010).

The Top 100 Questions Of Importance To The Future Of Global Agriculture: An article in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability aims “to improve dialogue and understanding between agricultural research and policy by identifying the 100 most important questions for global agriculture.” The questions were formulated “using a horizon-scanning approach with leading experts and representatives of major agricultural organizations worldwide,” according to the abstract (Pretty et al., November, 2010).