In this White House blog post, Samantha Power, special assistant to the President and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council, highlights progress made across the U.S. government in implementing “the first-ever Presidential Memorandum to advance the human rights of [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT)] persons.” The memorandum “require[s] all U.S. agencies engaged abroad to ‘ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,’ and to report annually on their progress,” she notes. Power discusses efforts undertaken by the State Department, USAID, the Peace Corps, PEPFAR, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Department of Health and Human Services and other departments, as well as multilateral engagements. She writes, “We will continue to build on this foundation to identify new opportunities to advance and protect the human rights of LGBT persons” (12/13).
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“California Rep. Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, unveiled a 923-page bill on Wednesday that would replace the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a framework for providing developmental and economic U.S. aid,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports, noting, “Berman’s Global Partnerships Act of 2012 would change the aid system to focus on mutually agreed goals instead of the emphasis on donor-recipient ties, increase accountability and oversight, and eliminate duplication” (Cassata, 12/12). “Aside from this shift from donor-recipient relations to partnerships, the bill proposes a stronger focus on results, the revitalization of [USAID], elevation of human rights in U.S. foreign policy and aid programs, improvement of U.S. capacity to prevent and address conflicts, and expansion of the scope of debt-for-nature programs,” according to Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog.
Some Diplomats, U.N. Observers Express ‘Concerns’ Over U.N. Appeal For Haitian Cholera Aid, Al Jazeera Reports
Following U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s announcement on Tuesday of a new initiative appealing for $2.2 billion over 10 years to fight cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Al Jazeera reports “there are concerns by some diplomats and U.N. observers that the funds necessary for the program would not be forthcoming from donors.” As part of the larger appeal covering the island of Hispaniola, in Haiti “[t]he new program dedicates $215 million from donors along with $23.5 million from U.N. funds towards programs in public health, capacity building, public education, and clean water systems,” according to the news service. However, “Haiti will need $500 million over the next two years for its own national cholera plan,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The funds allocated in the program would therefore cover only one year.”
IRIN summarizes a discussion among “[a]griculturalists, scientists, businessmen, lobbyists, and policymakers convened in London’s Chatham House this week to debate how to feed the planet’s growing population without degrading the earth’s resources — if such a thing is even possible.” According to the news service, “Some attendees argued that current levels of food production — if better managed — could accommodate everyone,” some said “people could just eat less meat,” and others “want to tackle the problem through the application of science — for example, by breeding livestock that are more efficient at converting resources into meat or dairy.” IRIN writes, “The overall message was that … it will take a mix of ideas — some traditional, some futuristic, some large-scale, some small-scale — as well as research, the dissemination of knowledge, and the development of the supply chains and financing institutions to allow all farmers to run their businesses as profitably and productively as possible” (12/12).
Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in a Guardian opinion piece, “In order to support investment in agriculture, governments have … come to rely on private sector investment and development aid — and increasingly a partnership of the two,” and he notes “[t]he New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, proposed by [U.S. President] Barack Obama and the U.S. Agency for International Development and launched in May 2012, will draw more than $3 billion of private sector investment into food security plans in Africa.” He continues, “One potential danger of development aid, and particularly of private-led projects, is that the goals of poverty reduction and rural development can be relegated below the goal of raising food production.”
“On Dec. 14, the Lancet together with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation [IHME] will release their study on global burden of disease, injuries and risk factors in 2010,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International, writes in a Devex opinion piece, adding, “These ‘gold standard’ data will quantify the world’s health problems by examining statistics for 291 diseases and injuries and 67 different risk factors for 21 regions across three time periods — 1990, 2005 and 2010.” Hofmann says, “The new health burden data are reference points for the units of currency that help us measure our impact, such as on the years of protection against unintended pregnancy, episodes of disease prevented, deaths averted, and years of healthy life saved, among many others.” He adds, “As global health implementers, it is important that these metrics inform our work, define our impact and demonstrate our value to donors, and more importantly, to those we serve.”
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Friday published Issue 206 of its “Global Fund Observer.” Among other articles, the issue features an article on an Aidspan analysis of pledges and contributions to the Global Fund; an article examining a Global Fund Board decision to request the Indian government provide more funding for antiretroviral treatment as a condition of grant renewal; and a commentary on gender transformative programs and the Global Fund (12/7).
“Last week a global health event took place in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, to foster greater political will and explore ways to accelerate results, innovation, sustainability, and equity in the field of immunization,” Baroness Hollins, emeritus professor of psychiatry of disability at St George’s University of London, writes in the BMJ Group Blog about the GAVI Partners Forum. She discusses the GAVI Alliance’s work and the benefits of vaccination strategies, writing, “[W]e need to ensure that governments around the world commit to the global vaccines action plan and that innovative, effective, and cost efficient organizations like the GAVI Alliance are supported to carry out their vital work.” She continues, “It is simply unacceptable that, in the 21st century, any child should die from a vaccine-preventable disease or acquire a serious physical or mental impairment which was entirely preventable. We must continue to support vaccination efforts in the developing world to ensure that as many children as possible lead healthy, active lives” (12/12).
“What does it take to get to zero? While reflecting on the theme of this past World AIDS Day (Getting to zero, Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, Zero deaths), I asked myself this question,” Lisa MacDonald, project manager at HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, writes in a Huffington Post Canada opinion piece. “The truth is that it takes a combined effort across multiple sectors, using multiple strategies and targeting multiple audiences,” she states. However, “one issue that cuts across all sectors is that of gender inequity and its role in shaping sexual relations and in determining life choices,” she continues.
On the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) blog, Ashley Chandler, deputy policy director at the USGLC, discusses USAID’s new guidance on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis, writing that the policy “is about using existing development dollars more effectively in disaster prone regions, so that less humanitarian assistance is needed in the future.” She asks, “But what’s the ultimate goal?” and continues, “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says success will be measured by whether USAID is able ‘to put ourselves out of business’ by reducing the number, volume, and length of time of the ‘infusions of humanitarian assistance needed in the future.'” Chandler concludes, “As America strives to get our own fiscal house in order, the fact of the matter is that we’re also nearing a critical mass for relief and development funding. Meaning, ‘doing more of the same,’ to quote Administrator Shah, is no longer an option. Nor should it be” (12/12).