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Recent Releases In Global Health

Blog: Shah Describes Obama Administration’s Approach To Foreign Aid

Reporting on a recent international development forum, “Obama’s Foreign Aid Reform” blog notes USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s remarks on how the Obama administration “is doing things differently.” According to the blog, “The first is on doing a ‘better job of being evidence-based’ and using the latest insight and knowledge to drive effectiveness. Secondly, the administration is increasing its focus on women and girls. … The way USAID deals with the private sector will also be improved, according to Shah. There is a need to incorporate best practices in dealing with the private sector and making them partners, he added. Finally, Shah described how USAID is increasingly aligning its work with country-owned and country-implemented plans and projects” (Mungcal, 6/3).

Report Outlines WHO’s Progress on HIV/AIDS

A UNAIDS article describes a recent WHO report, which outlines “major accomplishments of the agency in collaboration with countries and partners in promoting interventions to accelerate the progress towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.” The report also highlights a “sharp increase in HIV testing in recent years.” Due in part to the WHO effort, “the volume and scope of data to measure progress in scaling-up priority HIV interventions has also improved substantially since 2008. For the first time, WHO, UNICEF and UNAIDS jointly collected data from national programmes worldwide,” the article notes (6/2).

PLoS Medicine Article Calls For Studies To Address H1N1 Challenges

H1N1 (swine) flu “will continue to generate novel challenges for public health decision makers over the next one to two years,” a PLoS Medicine Policy Forum article concludes. The piece outlines six challenges “required for public health decision making” around the H1N1 flu pandemic: “Measuring age-specific immunity to infection; accurately quantifying severity; improving treatment outcomes for severe cases; quantifying the effectiveness of interventions; capturing the full impact of the pandemic on mortality; and rapidly identifying and responding to antigenic variants” (Van Kerkhove et al., 6/1).

Blog: U.S. Lawmakers Should Stimulate Development Of Global Health Tools

In an opinion piece, appearing on The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” the writers outline the need for tools to combat health problems in the developing world. According to the writers, “our policymakers must ensure that research and development are included” in the new Global Health Initiative, the Presidential Study Directive and in the State Department’s QDDR. They go on to recommend ways that policymakers could “elevate global health research and development” (Douglas et al., 6/1).

Center for Global Development Essay Calls for Leveraging AIDS Treatment Demand For Prevention

The third in a series of essays about a “global AIDS transition” from the Center for Global Development “argues that the international donor community cannot afford to continue its business-as-usual AIDS policy.” Half of the $8 billion spent each year on AIDS has gone to treatment, but the strategy “engenders dependency among its beneficiaries and restricts the flexibility of the donors and governments that assume its burden,” according to the article. The essay estimates the future cost of treating HIV/AIDS and “proposes policy options to harmonize the incentives among donors, recipient governments, and AIDS patients to sustain treatment quality while leveraging treatment demand for the prevention of future cases” (Over, 6/1).

Study Examines The Involvement Of Faith-Based Organizations In HIV/AIDS Programs In Central America

A RAND Corporation report examines the role faith-based organizations play in providing HIV/AIDS programs in Central America. Though “[m]any faith-based organizations (FBOs) in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras already engage in some activities related to HIV prevention and care,” the report highlights barriers to FBO involvement in such work, according to a summary of the report (.pdf) Such barriers include: “judgmental attitudes toward homosexuals and commercial sex workers; lack of coordination among faith groups; limited resources; and differences in values between religious and health leaders.” The report recommends several areas for FBOs can expand their efforts to address HIV/AIDS (Derose et al., 6/1).

WHO Bulletin Editorial Examines Need To Improve Health Financing Systems For Universal Access

Despite an increase in “[d]onor commitments to health … more than fourfold since the Millennium Declaration was signed in September 2000 … progress towards some of the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been disappointing in many settings,” the authors of a WHO Bulletin editorial write. “The simple act of raising more international funds cannot, by itself, achieve the Goals if the health system is too weak to support the rapid scale-up of service coverage,” they add, before noting the need to improve national health financing systems to achieve universal health coverage – a major the theme of the June issue. According to the editorial, the WHO’s “next world health report will be on health financing and will argue that almost every country, rich and poor, can improve service coverage or financial risk protection by addressing one or more of the core tasks of a financing system – raising sufficient funds, pooling these funds to spread financial risks and spending wisely” (Evans/Etienne, June 2010).

Report Evaluates Millennium Villages’ Development Progress

A recent report (.pdf) on the Millennium Villages sites in Africa examines the sites’ progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal targets. The report – which looked at sites in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda – found they “have averaged well over a doubling in staple crop yields, a drop in average malaria prevalence from 24 to 10 percent; average declines in chronic malnutrition from 50 to 35 percent of local infants; and major increases in access to improved drinking water, jumping on average from 20 to 72 percent of local populations,” according to an Earth Institute press release (5/30). 

State Department, U.S. Mission To U.N. Release Report on Women and Girls

The State Department and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. have released “Report to the White House Council on Women and Girls.” According to Kaiser’s Policy Tracker, the report summarizes efforts of the two agencies to promote “women’s empowerment and human rights around the world,” including efforts to increase access to health care and education and prevent violence against women (5/28). More information on recent U.S. global health policy developments is available on Kaiser’s Policy Tracker tool.

Blog: Feed the Future And Streamlining U.S. Development Aid

A post on the “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance” blog discusses “U.S. global development strategy and a streamlined organizational structure that reduces sector and initiative-based fragmentation in our aid architecture” in light of the Obama administration’s Feed the Future program. The blog states that what’s being touted as a new development strategy “looks an awful lot like the old way.” Specifically, “there is no one person in charge of the Feed the Future initiative.” According to the blog, “PEPFAR, MCC, President’s Malaria Initiative, the Global Health Initiative, Feed the Future, and so on – adds up, creating a patchwork of highly fragmented programs in different government agencies that can work at cross-purposes or duplicate efforts,” according to the post (Staats, 5/28).

Blog: Reforms Needed So U.S. Can Promote Improved Development Policies

“The problem is that the U.S. needs to fundamentally reform its internal systems for managing and implementing its global development policies,” according to an “Up Front Blog” post reflecting on the recent release of the U.S. National Security Strategy. “As USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah has expressed, development is a discipline, but it is presently a discipline that is marred by U.S. policy incoherence largely because it is organizationally fragmented and structurally weak in lacking its own distinct clout in policy deliberations. The U.S. needs to put itself in a better position to support the broad range of development imperatives, including post-conflict reconstruction, the alleviation of poverty and human suffering … Only by doing this can the U.S. government effectively promote its values and security interests,” according to the blog (5/28).

Blog: Global AIDS Coordinator Affirms U.S. Commitment To Saving Lives

The “DipNote” blog lays out the “comprehensive approach” the State Department is pursuing through the Global Health Initiative, “which includes a focus on maternal/child health, on strengthening health systems, going after neglected tropical diseases, and – yes – providing more funding for ART [antiretroviral therapy] and other HIV programs, will have a significant and swift impact on the longevity and quality of life of millions of people now suffering from preventable and treatable diseases.” The post also notes that “PEPFAR will continue to increase the numbers treated in coming years toward our ambitious goal under the GHI of treatment for more than 4 million. That’s a commitment we’ve made publicly” (Goosby, 5/27).

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