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Opinions: TB Funding; BBC World Service Funding; Direct Cash Transfer Programs

Congress Needs To Follow Through On TB Funding Commitments

“Prevention and control of tuberculosis (TB) on our globe is crumbling” and “[i]t needs fixing,” retired pediatrician Elinor Graham writes in a Seattle Times opinion piece. She describes the burden of TB in developing countries and the costs associated with treatments, including those for drug-resistant forms of the disease. “The best way to meet the threat that resistant TB strains pose to global health is by supporting the efforts of the Global Plan to Stop TB and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Drug-Resistant TB Response Plan. These programs seek to strengthen the ability to diagnose and treat TB in developing countries with high rates of the disease.”

Graham continues, “In 2008, Congress passed the Lantos-Hyde Act that authorized $4 billion over five years in TB funding to developing countries, which was needed to fully implement WHO control programs. Congress must vote each year, but so far only $800,000 has been delivered. Recent House budget votes would decrease the proposed 2012 allocation by 40 percent. … Ask your member of Congress to fully authorize the 2008 promise that can create a world where TB is a disease of the past” (3/16).

Maintain Funding For The BBC World Service To Complement Development Efforts 

“Communication is one of the most important tools development has in its toolbox. For all our do-gooding, the development sector has to admit that it may be technological advance, coupled with good communication, that has led to the most incredible advances in human wellbeing,” Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, writes in a Guardian “Poverty Matters Blog” post. Glennie makes a case for restoring funding for the BBC World Service, which announced closures of several bureaus and language services earlier this year.

Using progress in the health of developing nations as an example of success, Glennie says the BBC World Service likely “needs to reform and change. But it shouldn’t be shut for lack of money. A global public good like the communication of sensible and relatively unbiased information is a vital factor in development progress and human rights.” The World Service closures are estimated to save the British government 46 million pounds a year, which Glennie says “is peanuts,” and suggests the funding “should come from the Department for International Development (DfID) budget” (3/16).

Direct Cash Transfer Programs Give Populations Direct Relationship With Governments

While “direct cash transfers to the poor” were initially “meant to change the recipients’ behavior – say, we give you money if you vaccinate your children … this social policy tool is [also] beginning to transform the way citizens relate to the state,” Marcelo Giugale, the World Bank’s director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece, in which he explores the potential of expanding such programs throughout the world.

With cash transfers, “[a]t each transaction, information is generated – on costs, preferences, impacts, needs. The accumulating data allows for better targeting, smarter design, less duplication, higher progressivity, closer monitoring, and more rigorous evaluation of social programs,” he writes. “You no longer have to second-guess people’s needs; you can ask them directly. Your client is no longer ‘the people.’ It is the individual.” Though expanding cash transfer programs won’t happen overnight, Giugale concludes that “the ballooning expansion, and collapsing cost, of communications technology even in the least-developed parts of the world will put most of us in a direct relationship with our governments” (3/15).

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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.