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USAID Administrator Shah Launches Social Media Campaign To Garner Support To Improve Child Health, Survival

Under the slogan “Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday,” USAID on Monday launched a social media campaign featuring childhood photos of celebrities, global health leaders and lawmakers, with the aim of “build[ing] support to fight preventable deaths of children,” CQ HealthBeat reports. “‘By asking others to remember their own fifth birthdays, we want to remind people that more than seven million children each year never get the chance to celebrate that milestone,’ USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement,” the news service writes, noting, “Children who reach age five are much more likely to become adults, experts say.” The article notes, “The campaign is a different tack for USAID, engaging the public as well as congressional leaders who decide the agency’s funding.” “The trend follows an attempt by the Obama administration, through its Global Health Initiative (GHI), to broaden and better coordinate U.S. global health policies, … addressing systemic health care problems in developing countries, rather than focusing primarily on individual diseases like HIV/AIDS or malaria,” CQ writes, noting, “Many advocates say that while the president’s [global health] plan is the right approach in terms of long-term international development,” it has “attracted tepid support from some lawmakers and has been dogged by the anti-spending environment in Congress.”

“We see this in our public opinion surveys. … The public reacts more favorably when we talk about specifics in global health, like child vaccinations or HIV than if we say global health more broadly or development,” Jen Kates, Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of global health and HIV policy, said, CQ reports. The news service writes that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call last year for an AIDS-free generation “and the child-survival campaign, particularly highlighting the use of vaccines, can show the costs produced definitive results, a selling point in Congress.” According to CQ, “Lawmakers need to show constituents concrete results from foreign aid, which is consistently cited in public opinion polls as federal spending respondents would most like to see reduced.” Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development, said, “My impression is that the GHI hasn’t been particularly compelling in its marketing, that it’s hard to, especially on the Hill, describe how it’s value added,” according to the news service. Amie Batson, USAID deputy assistant administrator for global health, said, “Both sides [of the aisle] recognize the importance of child survival [as] the expression of American values around the world,” CQ notes (Bristol, 4/20). Shah launched the campaign at an event hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., USAID’s “IMPACTblog” says, noting a webcast of the event is available online. According to the blog, viewers can tweet their questions about the campaign to @JonCarson44, director of public engagement at the White House, on Tuesday, April 24 at 2:30 EST (4/20).