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Opinions: Public Health; USAID; Rebuilding Haiti; Development In Africa


U.S. Should Invest In Public Health Locally And Abroad

“Public-health investments protect health and save lives,” Alfred Sommer, dean emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, observes in a Washington Post opinion piece that aims to highlight the importance of public health funding in the U.S. and around the world. After outlining some of the major public health problems facing Haiti and the different public health concerns in the U.S., Sommer writes that these issues create “unnecessary misery the world over and contributes in our own country to spiraling health-care costs.” According to Sommer, “America needs to invest in the development of better tools for improving Americans’ health-seeking behaviors and pay our fair share of overseas development assistance, which is only a fraction of per capita GDP provided by Europe.”

He concludes, “Investing in public health, both here and overseas, is an investment in the future. A mountain of disease is rolling forward; it needs to be noticed, and dealt with, before an economic and human tsunami engulfs us all” (2/2).

VOA News Editorial Examines USAID

A VOA News editorial examines the Obama administration’s “new approach to elevating development as a central pillar of foreign policy and integrating it more closely with defense and diplomacy. The United States also plans to work in partnership with developing countries that take the lead in designing and implementing strategies with clear goals.” The editorial also quotes Rajiv Shah, the new USAID administrator: “We’re working on major initiatives on food security and global health, we’re pursuing new ways and making a greater commitment to women and girls, we’re expanding partnerships not only with governments and multilateral institutions, but with the private sector, the NGOs and civil society and the faith community. … This agency stands ready to seize this moment” (2/1).

Successful Rebuilding After 2004 Tsunami Can Guide Haiti Efforts

“[E]ven as we stabilize the humanitarian response [in Haiti], we need to turn to the delivery of basic services and reconstruction,” Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, writes in a Politico opinion piece that outlines targets for successful rebuilding, including better collaboration between donors and the Haitian government, donor support for reconstruction in the form of grants, the removal of Haiti’s debt burden, and increased transparency of aid funding. 

Zoellick points to the rebuilding of Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2004 tsunami as a model of success where “international partners supported reconstruction through coordinated approaches that were aligned behind government leadership and local priorities. Fifteen donor countries and organizations pooled $700 million in a multidonor fund that was administered by the World Bank. Instead of 15 separate housing and road projects with different procedures and criteria, which would have overwhelmed the limited capacity of local institutions, one well-coordinated program was implemented by communities, government agencies, nongovernmental agencies and international agencies,” Zoellick writes. “With strong Haitian leadership and coordinated, consistent and efficient regional and international support, we can transform days of disaster stories into a decade of success stories” (2/1).

Globe And Mail Opinion Calls For Bottom-Up Citizen-Led Strategy For Sustainable Development

In a Globe and Mail opinion piece, John Githongo, head of the Zinduko Trust in Kenya, and Jamie Drummond, executive director of ONE, commend Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “call for greater accountability in G8 development promises and increased investments in child and maternal health.”

“A new plan can avoid the pitfalls of past top-down approaches – if it supports a more bottom-up citizen-led strategy for sustainable development,” they write before outlining several steps to achieving such a strategy, including an expansion in African think tanks and private investment. “These measures can increase the effects of much-needed new investments to boost education, agriculture and health and fight infectious diseases and climate change. …This year is the key moment to renew the right kind of Canadian, G8 and G20 support for citizen-led development” (1/28).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.