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The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Policy Tracker provides a single reference point for the latest information on Congressional and Administrative action on global health, including the status of key legislation, policies and programs, government reports, hearings, events, and other resources. Links to supporting materials, such as full bill texts, Member statements, and Congressional committee information, are also provided. RSS feeds are available.  A related Budget Tracker provides updated information throughout the budget and appropriations process.

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President Obama asks Congress for $1.5 billion to address H1N1 swine flu

During the daily press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs read a letter President Obama sent to the chairs of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees asking that $1.5 billion be added to the supplemental budget request for the purpose of “enhancing our nation’s capability to respond to the potential spread” of the H1N1 swine flu virus. The President’s letter states that the funds would be used for “supplementing antiviral stockpiles, developing a vaccine, supporting the monitoring, diagnostic and public health response capabilities, and assisting international efforts to stem this outbreak.”

GAO Testimony on USAID Acquisition and Assistance

In a hearing before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform), GAO staff provided testimony on the challenges facing the development of USAID’s strategic workforce plan for its Acquisition and Assistance (A&A) efforts. GAO stated that USAID “has shifted from conducting its own activities to managing acquisition and assistance (A&A) instruments – contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements – it awards to implementing organization” and that USAID staff are now “responsible for monitoring the activities of A&A recipients to provide reasonable assurance that the funds provided are used in accordance with applicable regulations and policies and sound business practices.” GAO found that “USAID lacks the capacity to develop and implement a strategic workforce plan because it is missing two elements: (1) sufficiently reliable and up-to-date data on its overseas A&A staff levels and (2) comprehensive information on the competencies of its overseas A&A staff.”

H.R. 2139 – Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009

The bill directs “the President to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting global development, and for other purposes.” In developing the strategy, the bill directs the president to better define the roles of USG departments and agencies, improve coordination between these departments and agencies, and increase the monitoring and evaluation of U.S. development programs.

H.R. 2103 – International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009

Among other things, the bill states that “child marriage undermines United States investments in foreign assistance . . . to reduce maternal and child mortality, reduce maternal illness, halt the transmission of HIV/AIDS [and] prevent gender-based violence.” The bill requires the President to establish a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage and authorizes the President to implement a variety of foreign assistance programs directed at the needs of girls including “access to water and suitable hygiene facilities . . . [and] access to health care services and proper nutrition for adolescent girls.” The bill authorizes “such sums as necessary.”

U.S. Officials declare swine flu a ‘public health emergency’ in the United States

Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department for Homeland Security held a press conference detailing the U.S. response to recent cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), or swine flu. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano announced that HHS had declared a “public health emergency”. This designation enables the USG to mobilize treatment stockpiles and allocate additional resources for detection and tracking of the flu. The USG also announced that it is working closely with health officials from Mexico and Canada and with the World Health Organization to monitor the situation and the CDC has deployed staff domestically and internationally to provide guidance and technical support.

Administration statements in observance of World Malaria Day

President Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, U.S. Malaria Coordinator Admiral Tim Ziemer, and NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. summarized and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the fight against malaria in official statements observing World Malaria Day.

Representative Berman states U.S. needs comprehensive foreign assistance strategy

Responding to a Government Accountability Report (GAO) on Foreign Aid Reform, Congressman Berman stated that “the findings of a GAO report issued today prove the need for a comprehensive strategy for U.S. foreign assistance efforts”. The Congressman also stated he “would soon introduce legislation to ensure that the United States has a comprehensive strategy to reduce global poverty and promote broad-based economic growth in developing countries.”