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Recent Releases In Global Health

Under Shah’s Leadership, USAID Poised ‘To Regain Its Prominence’ In Global Nutrition, Lancet Opinion Says 

Rajiv Shah’s appointment as USAID administrator “comes at a crucial time of challenge and opportunity for the Agency to improve the nutritional well-being of impoverished societies,” write the authors of a Lancet Comment that examines the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative. Though the initiative “sends a clear message to the world about U.S. intent to partner with poor nations to achieve their national food and nutrition goals … the Initiative’s nutrition plan, unlike its detailed agricultural blueprint, currently lacks a comprehensive set of aims, activities, research needs, and programme benchmarks,” the authors write. “The expertise required to address agricultural, food security, and nutritional needs are well within the capabilities of USAID, USDA, and their collaborating partners. … USAID stands poised, under Shah’s leadership, to regain its prominence as a global supporter of evidence-based strategies for applied nutrition,” they conclude (West/Black, 1/30).

Lancet Examines Challenges Associated With Financing Health Systems To Achieve MDGs

“During the past few years, the realisation that weak health systems are a fundamental constraint to making progress towards the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in low-income countries has grown,” write the authors of a Lancet Health Policy piece that outlines challenges associated with developing countries’ health systems, as assessed by a High Level Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems. “The challenges and disagreements that arose during the work of the Taskforce draw attention to the many issues facing decision makers in low-income countries,” the authors write. “International donors and recipient governments should work together to improve the evidence base for strengthening health systems, increase long-term commitments, and improve accountability through transparent and inclusive national approaches” (Fryatt/Mills/Nordstrom, 1/30).

Blog: Obama’s First Year On Foreign Aid Assistance Includes ‘Delays,’ ‘Handful of Promises’

The “U.N. Dispatch” blog examines how President Barack Obama handled U.S. foreign aid assistance his first year in office. “So far, we’ve seen a lot of delays and a handful of promises. They’re good promises, but it’s going to take at least another year before we see how well those promises are kept.” The blog addresses how delays in filling key positions, like the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and USAID administrator, played out and points to several global health commitments made by the administration that have yet to come to fruition (Shaikh, 1/27).

Blog: The U.S. Government’s Role In Technological Innovation

The Center for Global Development’s “Views from the Center” blog makes recommendations for the U.S. government’s role in technological innovation and development. “First, the U.S. government, working together with developing country governments, other donors and technical bodies, should focus on creating an enabling environment for innovation,” the blog writes. “Second, the U.S. government, with others, should help create an enabling environment for sustainable access to innovation. For technology to reduce global poverty and disease, it must be broadly, rapidly, and reliably accessible to the consumers and patients who need it” (Bollyky, 1/27).

PLoS Medicine Policy Forum Examines Ways To Strengthen Global Health System

A PLoS Medicine Policy Forum examines ways to strengthen the global health system. “[A]n effective global health system must accomplish at least five core functions: agenda-setting; financing and resource allocation; research and development (R&D); implementation and delivery; and monitoring, evaluation, and learning,” the authors write. “Cutting across these five core functions is the question of how changes in the global health system redefine the role of WHO,” the authors write before outlining several key roles they feel the WHO must fulfill (Moon et al., 1/26).

Call For Ramped Up Support For Disease Surveillance In Developing Countries

“Many developing countries have limitations that hamper the production of data of sufficient quality and timeliness to permit regular tracking of progress made in scaling up and strengthening health systems. Data gaps span across the range of input, output, outcome, and impact indicators,” representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, the World Bank and the WHO write in a PLoS Medicine Essay. “During this era of scaling up for better health, improved accountability and focus on results are critical to improve program implementation and reach major health goals. We call for a concerted and systematic effort by global partners, including our own agencies, to provide the impetus for support to countries in strengthening their monitoring of progress and performance, building upon what countries are doing,” according to the authors (Chan et al., 1/26).   

Blog: U.S., Wealthy Nations Must Fund Global TB Fight

The Huffington Post examines tuberculosis control worldwide, especially in Southern Africa, before urging “[w]ealthy nations … to lead the fight against this deadly threat, and the U.S. can begin by fully funding … PEPFAR, which Congress reauthorized in the summer of 2008.” The author continues, “We need the fruits of a new global research campaign to find better diagnostic tools and better treatment for TB. We need to interrupt transmission TB at the infection stage, as well as treating the disease once it is ravaging a person’s lungs,” according to the blog. “It is in all of our interests to help stem an out-of-control TB epidemic – from Washington to Cape Town – and save the lives of children and adults” (Wood, 1/26).

Blog: UNAIDS Coordinator In Botswana Discusses PEPFAR Collaboration

The Infectious Diseases Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on a recent talk by Evaristo Marowa, the UNAIDS country coordinator for Botswana. Marowa “cited collaboration with PEPFAR on issues affecting refugees and migrants (who are not eligible for the government’s free ARV treatment), as well as preparation of the PEPFAR partnership framework. UNAIDS is on the steering committee for the preparation of the partnership framework, which is now in draft form,” according to the blog. Marowa also discussed successes the country has seen in fighting HIV/AIDS and explains Botswana’s “Vision 2016, which commits the country to reducing HIV prevalence by 50% by 2016” (Bryden, 1/26).

Blog: 10 Years Of GAVI Alliance

The Huffington Post reflects on the achievements made over the past decade by GAVI Alliance and its partners, as the organization celebrates its 10th anniversary this week. The blog writes that the $750 million commitment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to GAVI in 2000 “elevated global funding for vaccines and immunization to a new level and taught us to think big … And big is indeed what came from the first ten years of GAVI.” The blog continues, “The next ten years could lead to even greater health improvements by introducing more vaccines for preventing pneumonia and diarrhea, the leading killers of children worldwide, and strengthening systems to reach the world’s most vulnerable populations. Whether that ambition is realized will largely be determined by the choices made by donors, countries and the vaccine industry …,” according to the blog (Levine, 1/25).

Blog: Commit To ‘Medical Diplomacy’ In Afghanistan

The Health Affairs blog reflects on the state of health in Afghanistan and calls for the U.S. to commit to “medical diplomacy” there. “The battle to stabilize Afghanistan will take place family to family, village to village. Providing medical care, expertise, supplies and capacity-building thus occurs at the grassroots level,” the author writes. “By expanding this strategy, we will wean popular support away from the insurgency, undermine the rhetoric of terrorists, and foster long-term stability. In helping to improve health and human dignity, in offering Afghans new hope and opportunities, America also engenders loyalty and wins life-long friends, not generations of fervent enemies.” The author continues, “I fully support the president’s recognition of Afghanistan’s geopolitical and national security importance to the United States. …As the U.S. invests more lives and more financial resources in Afghanistan, as we lay the groundwork for sustained recovery and renewed development, I encourage Mr. Obama to remember the strategic value of health care in improving lives, engendering loyalty, and fostering long-term social, economic and political stability” (Thompson, 1/25).

Blog: Questions Remain For How To Implement PEPFAR’s New Strategy

The Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog examines PEPFAR’s new strategy towards prevention, and provides several questions for the administration to contemplate as it moves to the implementation phase of the new strategy. For instance, the blog asks, “How do you scale-up prevention efforts? What does a scale-up plan look like for a given country?” It continues, “While the strategy is good in defining the approach to prevention, it does little in the way of defining the operational features needed to actually expand prevention efforts (i.e., roll-out, monitoring and evaluation, etc.).” Other questions of implementation involve how to measure success and what incentives, if any, PEPFAR will provide for countries that make prevention a top priority (Oomman, 1/21).

Global Health Magazine Explores Health System Strengthening

The latest Global Health magazine focuses on health systems. Feature articles examine different aspects of health system strengthening, the roles of information technology and transport in health systems and other related issues. The Web site also includes several related blog posts (Jan. 2010).