US Global Health Policy

U.S. Global Health Policy

Voices of TB participants (from left): David Rochkind (moderator); Rachel Urduno (Mexico/Texas); Andre Gariseb (Namibia); Pham Thu Hoa (Vietnam); Francis Apina (Kenya); Rosalie and Faith Stephson (Philippines/Texas); Endalkachew Fekadu Demmisse (Ethiopia). {Photo credit: Claire Moodie/MSH.}Photo credit: Claire Moodie/MSH.

Cross-posted on TB-CARE I.

World TB Day, March 24th, was commemorated in many countries around the world last week to acknowledge the accomplishments made in the fight against tuberculosis (TB), and to call attention to the work that still needs to be done.

Voices of TB, a unique event organized by USAID, featured former TB patients speaking about their personal fight against TB. Survivors of TB from Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia and Vietnam --- four TB CARE I-supported countries --- and from the United States, spoke at the event on March 22 in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Sima Samar speaking on 'How to advance women's rights in developing countries.' {Photo from World Bank webcast, March 5, 2012.}Photo from World Bank webcast, March 5, 2012.

On Monday, March 5, 2012, everyone from policymakers to students gathered at the World Bank for a Special Event on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Women’s Rights.

CEDAW is a treaty that has been ratified worldwide by all but six countries --- the United States, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and two small Pacific Island nations (Palau and Tonga).

The event was hosted by Caroline Anstey, Managing Director of the World Bank, in conjunction with the Nordic Trust Fund, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, and the United Nations Foundation.

Two women hold a banner at ICASA 2011: Where's the Money for HIV? Credit: MSH.

 

Last week I had the privilege of attending the International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal, where over 2,200 family planning and global health advocates, funders, and supporters gathered to voice support for family planning.

Over the past 25 years, the number of people worldwide with access to essential medicines has more than doubled. Yet more than 30 percent of the world’s population still does not have reliable access to essential medicines.

We know how to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. But without intervention nearly 40 percent of mothers with HIV/AIDS in developing countries will transmit the virus to their newborns.

The First Lady Michelle Obama said “Courage is Contagious” as she and Secretary Clinton honored women from around the world at the 2011 International Women of Courage Awards. This year’s event was notable because it was held on the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day.

From speaking out against "so called honor crimes" to fighting for the rights of minority people, these diverse women from Afghanistan, Belarus, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Hungary, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, and Pakistan share a special quality: courage. They are making changes in their own countries to improve the lives of women and girls. Ms. Maria Bashir from Afghanistan risks her life daily to ensure that girls can live free from violence as the Prosecutor General of the Attorney General’s Office in Herate Province. She fights against gender norms, putting her own life at risk, by jailing abusive husbands. Her counterpart in Mexico, Ms. Marisela Morales Ibanez, is fighting dangerous criminals who traffic humans and corrupt the judicial system in Mexico.

Last week, the House of Representatives cut the international affairs budget by 20% of the FY 2010 levels. While these are tough times, these cuts are disappointing given investments made in international affairs account for only 1 percent of the overall US Government budget.  More plainly, these cuts affect the poorest and most vulnerable people around the globe.

A recent poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org/Knowledge Networks showed that most Americans support foreign assistance levels up to 10% of the budget.

Furthermore, such small cuts in spending will not solve the deficit problem. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has argued that investments made in development and diplomacy can help deter future needs for resources for defense and that America’s national security depends on the civilian diplomats and aid workers who also risk their lives every day to support our overseas interests.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

As world leaders gather next week at the U.N. to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate poverty, hunger, and disease by 2015, a new integrated approach to funding and delivering health services in developing countries is critical if the UN's global health targets -- especially for women and children -- are to be met. Currently, the health goals are competing with each other for money, people, and other scarce resources. How can we get back on track?

There is much to celebrate next week: over four million people are currently receiving antiretroviral drugs to treat AIDS; eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV is within reach by 2015; malaria deaths have been reduced by over half in some countries; the global burden of TB is falling; and more than 500 million people are now treated for one or more neglected tropical diseases.

At the Global Health Council Conference, I attended an interesting event, “Impact of Schistosomiasis and Polyparasitic Infections on Anemia, Growth and Physical Fitness in Children in Coastal Kenya” presented by  Dr. Amaya Bustinduy of Case Western Reserve University which focused on neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

Schistosomiasis remains one of the most serious and prevalent neglected tropical diseases worldwide.  According to Bustinduy, the WHO estimated that there are 235 million cases of schistosomiasis with 732 million to be at risk for contraction. 89% of  all cases live in the less-developed areas of rural sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

Schistosomiasis is associated with diseases such as anemia, growth impairment in children, and mental retardation.  The focus of Dr. Bustinduy’s ongoing study in Kenya is to “address those morbidities as part of a larger study examining the ecology of transmission of Schistosomiasis.”

On Friday, June 18th  USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, DC about the role USAID must play in the future of development. “President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made it my mission to remake USAID into the world’s premier development agency, to meet the security and development needs of the 21st Century,” said Dr. Shah.  In his presentation he laid out four elements for action to revitalize USAID

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