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Recent Releases In Global Health

Steps The U.S. Can Take To Improve Its Commitment To Development

A Center for Global Development memo offers suggestions for the U.S. to improve its commitment to policies that benefit poor countries after it ranked 17th out of 22 wealthy in the 2009 Commitment to Development Index. Among a set of 20 recommendations, the authors suggest the U.S. “[i]ncrease foreign aid, especially through such vehicles as the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which gives to relatively well-governed countries, or a global ‘Cash on Delivery’ fund that would pay countries after making confirmed progress toward agreed-upon outcomes, thereby reducing the proliferation of aid projects,” the authors write (Prieto/Roodman, July 2010).

Lancet Editor Asks: Will HIV/Advocates Criticisms of Obama Help People Living With HIV/AIDS?

Reflecting on the recent criticisms HIV/AIDS advocates gathered at the International AIDS Conference-AIDS 2010 made of President Barack Obama’s commitment to global HIV/AIDS programs, a Lancet Offline piece states, “The question for AIDS activists might be this: will you help people living under the threat of AIDS by accusing the most liberal U.S. President in a generation of lying and being indifferent to the fight against AIDS? Activists are poised for tactical victory, but strategic failure” (Horton, 7/31).

Blog: AIDS Dollars Wasted On Overhead

“Dollars desperately needed to save lives of AIDS patients have never left Washington or have been wasted on unnecessary overhead around the world,” according to a Huffington Post blog. Pointing to the HIV/AIDS Save Lives First Act of 2010, recently introduced in the Senate, the authors of the post write: “A renewed commitment to saving lives has never been more critical.” The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, for example, has “seen its clinics in Uganda flooded with patients turned away by U.S. funded programs.” The authors conclude, “America made a commitment to lead the global war against AIDS. … In these difficult economic times every dollar not spent saving a life or preventing a new infection is a dollar misspent” (Coburn/Weinstein, 7/28).

Blog: African Leaders Should Start Thinking Now About New Tools For The Fight Against Malaria

Reflecting on the commitment of leaders gathered at the recent African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) meeting during the African Union summit, the author of a blog post appearing on the Independent’s website calls for African leaders to “start thinking about new tools, including a malaria vaccine, which could complement existing interventions.” The author of the post reflects on the success the malaria vaccine RTS,S has shown in clinical trials and estimates a timeline for when the vaccine could be rolled out. “In the years ahead, as the vaccine candidate gets closer to implementation, I hope ALMA and its friends gather at another African Union meeting to discuss new malaria interventions such as RTS,S, should PhaseIII results confirm studies to date,” the author concludes (Seye, 7/28). 

Blog: How The U.S. Can Help Reach MDGs

A post on UN Dispatch lists “7 Things the United States Can Do to Help Reach the [Millennium Development Goals] MDGs,” as laid out by John McArthur of Millennium Promise.  The recommendations include: fully funding Feed the Future; supporting a new Global Fund for Education with a “special focus on girls”; focusing on present problems rather than “pausing based on achievements of the past decade”; supporting African infrastructure and rural development; and launching a new MDG Innovation Fund (Goldberg, 7/27).

Blog: U.N. Foundation CEO Testifies On Need For Partnership To Meet MDGs

A UN Dispatch post features the recent testimony of Kathy Calvin, CEO of the U.N. Foundation, to the House of Representatives on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). During her testimony, Calvin spoke about how “partnerships between the public sector and private corporations and philanthropies can add value to the common effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” according to the blog. In her remarks, Calvin said it is “critical to bring all partners and recipients to the table from the start of any initiative,” and that partnerships “succeed best when everyone has a clear role to play,” and when they create “full business plans with clear goals” (Goldberg, 7/27).

Blog: Terror, Conflict Detracts From Maternal And Child Health Theme At AU Summit

A post on USAID’s “Impact Blog” examines the theme of this year’s African Union Summit, “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa,” writing that the summit would have been “an opportunity to engage in high-level discussion about how to improve the status of women and children,” but after terrorist bombings in Kampala, “it became clear the focus of the Summit would be Somalia.” The author of the post applauds public health practitioners who “soldiered on” to “maintain some focus on maternal and child health” and challenges “the public health community to remember that terrorism and conflict are not simply distractions to our goals … It is only by addressing the reality of conflict, poverty, and now even terrorism that our goals for improving health can be realized” (Rhodes, 7/27).


Blog: Obama Should Restore PEPFAR Funding Levels Originally Authorized By Lantos-Hyde Act 

The author of a Huffington Post blog post writes that in 2008, the U.S. Congress authorized the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against AIDS, TB and Malaria Reauthorization Act “providing $48 billion over 5 years ($9.6 billion/year) to PEPFAR,” the blog writes. The President’s $63 billion Global Health Initiative (GHI) “allocated $51 billion over 6 years ($8.5 billion/year) resulting in an overall decrease in PEPFAR funding while allocating $12 billion towards other global health initiatives including maternal and child health. By not providing ‘new’ money towards maternal and child health, President Obama has in de facto pitted HIV/AIDS funding against other global health priorities.” The author of the post calls on Obama to take advantage of “the opportunity to significantly improve global HIV/AIDS (and maternal and child health)” by making HIV/AIDS delivery more cost-efficient, restoring PEPFAR funding to levels originally authorized by the Lantos-Hyde Act, and supporting legislation recently introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to increase access to HIV/AIDS medications to populations worldwide (Reddi, 7/27).

Lancet Infectious Diseases Analyzes Interventions Associated With Malaria Decline In Sub-Saharan Africa

An article in Lancet Infectious Diseases discusses how the burden of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa has declined and assesses “the contribution of specific malaria interventions and other general factors in bringing about these changes,” including more effective drugs and insecticide-treated bed nets. The researchers analyzed peer-reviewed studies that have reported changes in incidence or prevalence in the region and note that “substantial, lasting declines” are “linked to the scale-up of specific interventions” that began being implemented in the 1980s. The article examines the reported change in malaria burden in each of six regions within sub-Saharan Africa and concludes that “[s]uccessful control seems to have been achieved in several different ways, but it has sometimes proved difficult to link the timing of an apparent decline in the incidence of malaria with the introduction of a specific intervention” (O’Meara et al., August 2010).

Blog: HIV-Positive Women And Couples Face Unique Reproductive Health Decisions

One developing country HIV/AIDS dilemma that was not addressed at the International AIDS Conference-AIDS 2010 is “the complex reproductive health decisions faced by HIV-infected women or by couples, at least one of whom is infected by HIV,” according to a post on the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “Smart Global Health” blog. The post discusses the challenges of HIV-positive women who want to get pregnant, who don’t want to get pregnant and who are already pregnant. The author writes that “the coverage of such specialized programs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) – and their linkage to routine family planning, antenatal programs, and HIV treatment – is sporadic but growing, and these programs deserve targeted support” by policy makers (Nieburg, 7/26).

Blog: Development Community Concerned About USAID

“Concern is growing within the development community regarding the fate of the U.S. Agency for International Development as persistent delays continue to characterize the schedule of the U.S. administration’s major development policy reviews,” writes Devex’s blog “Obama’s Foreign Aid Reform.” The article discusses comments about USAID made by Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development, Josh Rogin, of Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog, and David Beckmann, president of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. Birdsall wrote an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others in which she “argued that USAID should be given policy and budgetary authority and accorded cabinet-level status,” the blog writes (Mungcal, 7/16).

Blog: Cuts To President Obama’s Food And Agriculture Budget ‘Eat Away’ At Administration’s Ambitions

Recent cuts made by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and related programs to President Obama’s request to fund food and agriculture “eat away at the burgeoning ambitions of the Obama administration to rally an international assault on hunger through agricultural development,” according to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food For Thought” blog. The cuts “included $258 million from the request to fund the brand new global agriculture fund (known as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, or GAFSP). The request was for $408 million for the fund; the markup was for just $150 million.” The author of the blog post notes that the cuts follow the launch of GAFSP in April and asks: “What does this say to America’s partners in the fund about the commitment of U.S. leadership? Will this leave the innovative project GASPFing for life, starved for financing just as it is beginning to take off?” concluding, “[t]his is not the time to get cheap, nor is this the project to shortchange” (Thurow, 7/15).

Blog: USAID Weakened Without Unified Vision

“In the absence of a clear, unified vision for U.S. foreign assistance – particularly long-term economic development – the United States will continue to be limited in its ability to lead and partner with Europe, other donors, and host-countries in addressing major global challenges – from global health to fragile states,” according to an post in the The German Marshal Fund’s Transatlantic Taskforce on Development Blog Series. The post examines USAID under Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, “who intends an expanded and reformed development assistance to be one of her legacies as Secretary of State, but just who controls that policy and what it looks like is in dispute.” The author also discusses Clinton’s effort to increase the size of the agency’s workforce, and “three major aid architectural decisions,” made by the Obama administration, “which have further weakened USAID institutionally” (Natsios, 7/15).

Report Links Access To Water, Sanitation To Maternal And Child Health

A report by Tearfund (.pdf), “Joining the Dots,” examines why “better water, sanitation and hygiene are necessary for progress on maternal, newborn and child health.” The report states that WASH (access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene) “is extremely important for health generally and the effects of poor WASH in the developing world represent a significant burden for health systems” and specifically looks at current progress on Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 7. The author concludes that increased funding, an integrated approach, building strong health systems and are needed to improve WASH (Yardley, 2010).