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Recent Releases In Global Health

Blog: U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Remains A ‘Sound Investment’

In view of World Humanitarian Day, a Huffington Post blog discusses the “lessons” of disaster response and the global “proliferation of humanitarian crises.” First, the authors write that “the number of people affected by disasters is on the rise,” mostly due to conflict and natural disasters. “Second, and in spite of these trends, U.S. humanitarian assistance is a sound investment. Though only about one-tenth of one percent of the federal budget, our aid not only saves lives, but promotes security and well-being where despair and misery threaten.” The authors also discuss transforming “efforts to prevent disasters” and the need for the U.S. to “press others to come forward” on aid commitments (Schwartz/Reichle, 8/19).

Blog: Trade Is Important To Foreign Assistance Reform

As part of a series on U.S. foreign assistance reform, a Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s “ModernizeAid” blog examines how “[t]he lack of coordination between our foreign assistance programs and our trade policies is hurting the effectiveness of both.” The author argues that “the best possible development program is trade – because it creates jobs and reinforces the values of entrepreneurship” and writes that often policy makers don’t “realize … the potential for American foreign assistance to accelerate our trade opportunities in the developing world. … Foreign assistance, done right, can help foster conditions that strengthen consumerism, democratization and markets.” The post also looks at trade in relation to U.S. job creation and the need for communication and coordination across agencies (Green, 8/19).

JAMA Commentary Examines Global Health Initiative

A JAMA Commentary discusses President Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI): “[A]s the United States enters a period of severe budgetary restraint and as the president focuses his attention on domestic crises (eg, the Gulf Coast oil spill), the promise of global health reform could become illusory. That would be a serious error because global health is vital to U.S. national interests.” The piece presents suggestions for “transforming the U.S. global health enterprise,” including foreign assistance reform, increased partner collaboration, country ownership, sustainable resource commitments and development of a “whole of government” strategy, because “U.S. policies fundamentally affect global health beyond foreign assistance” (Gostin/Mok, 8/18).

GHI, PEPFAR Can Help Inform Foreign Aid Delivery 

The Global Health Initiative (GHI) represents a shift “from the past decade’s focused investment on disease-specific programs such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative in an ambitious approach to tackle broader structural challenges in service delivery. In the past, however, the relationship between development assistance and broad, transformative change in international development, particularly in Africa, has been spotty and is poorly understood. That experience could inform the GHI,” write the authors of a JAMA Commentary. “One way the GHI will be assessed is by whether it has learned from some of PEPFAR’s successes and maintained the enthusiasm generated by it to prevent skepticism that may endanger future support for global health activities. This challenge for the GHI is also an unusual opportunity to generate new knowledge on the effectiveness of foreign aid generally and for health improvement in particular,” the authors write (Bendavid/Miller, 8/18).

Blog: Amount Of Aid To Pakistan ‘Shameful’

A Huffington Post commentary calls the “trickle of aid” to Pakistan by the U.S. and other nations “bizarre and shameful.” Noting that the U.S. has pledged $150 million and 12 helicopters to flood relief, the author writes: “We’re spending over $100 billion this year on military maneuvers to defeat the Taliban in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. Over 200 helicopters are deployed in that effort. And we’re spending $2 billion in military aid to Pakistan. More must be done for flood victims, immediately.” The post also states that Congress should “quadruple” the $7.5 billion civilian aid package it approved last year and “remove all tariffs on textiles and clothing from Pakistan” (Reich, 8/19).

AidWatch Looks At Transparency Of USAID And International NGOs

“Both USAID and the NGOs have too often violated the elementary principles of transparency,” writes the author of a post on “AidWatch.” The post discusses the results of the author’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for USAID to release the budgets of ten international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the Republic of Georgia. The documents were “disappointingly full of blacked-out non-information” because, “[USAID] was legally required to contact each grantee to give it ‘the opportunity to address how the disclosure of their information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.’ … [W]e are still waiting to hear why USAID allows its own contractors to operate in secrecy whenever they wish. All of this places USAID in an awkward position as it recommends greater transparency and accountability to Georgia,” the blog asserts (Bruckner, 8/18).

Blogs Address Secretary Clinton’s Remarks On GHI

While encouraging to hear Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “reiterate” a commitment to global health, “we did NOT hear anything new about the [Global Health Initiative] GHI,” according to a post on the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog. The post continues, “for example, [Clinton gave] no specifics on HOW the U.S. will ‘do’ the GHI and apply all its commendable principles, metrics for success, and global leadership.” The post outlines why it is important for “stakeholders” to understand how the GHI is progressing, as a way to build confidence and bolster accountability. She also presents a “wish list of actions for the GHI team,” including the production of an organizational chart and examples of how the Monitoring, Metrics and Evaluation (MME) principle will be implemented (Oomman, 8/17).

A post on K4Health.org notes that Clinton said that with the GHI, the U.S. is “making up for lost time” on family planning programs. The blog also highlights Clinton’s remarks on past global health policies that have “inhibited progress” in areas like family planning. “As Clinton alluded, emerging technologies are fundamentally changing the global health landscape. Never before have collaboration and the dissemination of information been so seamless and affordable. Time and space no longer separate us, so together we must collectively strengthen the impact within the global health community to ensure that crucial areas such as family planning are not forgotten and to make the GHI a success,” the blog concludes (Rottler, 8/17).

Blog: HIV/AIDS Advocates Thank Goosby For Guidance In Preventing HIV In IDUs

More than 50 HIV/AIDS advocates sent a letter to U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby “thanking him for releasing the revised the President’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) guidance on ‘Comprehensive HIV Prevention for People Who Inject Drugs (.pdf),'” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. The letter, according to the post, “applauds the inclusion of targeted prevention services in the new guidance.” Science Speaks also notes: “Previous guidance from PEPFAR did not incorporate harm reduction strategies such as clean needle exchange programs and supported interventions only for injection drug users (IDU) who were already infected with HIV” (Mazzotta, 8/17).

Center For Global Development Outlines Global Health Agenda With Focus On Girls

The Center for Global Development published a brief titled “Start With A Girl: A New Agenda For Global Health,” which “identifies eight priorities for international action: implementing comprehensive health agendas; eliminating marriage for girls younger than 18; focusing maternal health investments on adolescent girls; focusing HIV prevention on adolescent girls; making health systems work for girls; making secondary school completion a priority; creating an innovation fund for girls’ health; and increasing donor support for adolescent girls’ health.” In the introduction, the authors argue that governments “have yet to take the specific actions needed to genuinely invest in adolescent girls’ health and, thereby, the health and wellbeing of generations to come” (Temin, 8/16).

Medicines For Malaria Venture Joins Pool For Open Innovation

“The Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) today became the first product development partnership (PDP) to contribute intellectual property to the Pool for Open Innovation against Neglected Tropical Diseases,” according to a joint press release. Patrick Nef, executive vice president of business development at MMV said that by joining the pool, “MMV is proud to join forces with a group of organizations all working to relieve the enormous burden of diseases affecting vulnerable populations in the developing world. In this way we hope to make fully available the know-how and technologies, assembled by MMV against malaria, for the research and development of innovative and efficacious treatments for other neglected diseases” (8/16).

Blog: Prequalified Drug List Spurs Debate In Nigeria

The “Malaria Matters” blog looks at how the WHO’s prequalified list of medicines for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and reproductive health “has raised concern in Nigeria, the biggest market for malaria drugs in Africa.” The “controversy,” according to the post, is between making high-quality drugs available and “strengthening local industrial capacity.” The author writes that the Global Fund “encourages its recipient countries to buy from the prequalified list, and through the Affordable Medicines Facility, malaria (AMFm) intends that not only good quality is promoted, but reduced prices.” The post cites articles in the Daily Independent and This Day that examine the issue further (Brieger, 8/14).

Blog: Takeaways From The MCA Include Designing For Purpose, Maintaining Long Term Focus

A post on the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s “ModernizeAid” blog looks at the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which is administered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Specifically, the author discusses “the experiences of this ongoing reform effort and … how they might inform the broader reviews currently underway.” The post presents nine “takeaways” including: designing for purpose, keeping long term focus on development, providing incentives based on country performance, allowing partner countries to lead, organizing donors around specific projects, measuring results, insisting on transparency and leaving room for experimentation. The author examines each of the nine arenas in terms of MCA programs (Morford, 8/12).

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