IHSJ Reader     April 2012     Issue 21         

Note: Triple asterisk (***) indicates subscription-only sources.



Saving Money and Lives: The Human Side of U.S. Food Aid Reform (Oxfam America, American Jewish World Service, March 2012)
US food aid programs are not solely focused on improving food security for vulnerable people. One of the worst examples of this is a provision in the Farm Bill that requires 75% of US food aid to be sourced and transported by American companies which has real impacts on how many malnourished people can be reached with life-saving food aid. If Congress eliminates this provision and increases flexibility for more local and regional purchase of food and direct cash transfers, more than 17 million people could receive food aid at no additional cost to US taxpayers.

Local Foods, Global: Food Aid and the Farm Bill (Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, March 28, 2012) +  What’s at Stake in the 2012 Farm Bill? (Ben Lilliston, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, March 28, 2012)
US food aid has saved countless lives. But in order to save countless more, Congress must take action to improve how the US responds to global hunger in the 2012 Farm Bill. Some NGOs fear that improving food aid will lead to its elimination. However, such resistance to change disregards the mounting evidence that sourcing food aid locally and regionally is more efficient and effective at reducing hunger. For a comprehensive overview of this legislation that is written by the US Congress every five years, see: What’s at Stake in the 2012 Farm Bill?

The Return of the Budget Slashers (Roger Thurow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, March 30, 2012)
Feed the Future–the Obama Administration’s effort to support agriculture and food security initiatives in developing countries–is critical to reducing widespread hunger and poverty, building local resilience to environmental changes, and expanding the capabilities of smallholder farmers. But instead of supporting long-term solutions to hunger, the House of Representatives’ budget proposal, known as the Ryan budget, threatens to completely “eliminate Feed the Future”. With the Ryan budget threatening to cut 15% of the money that the Obama Administration requested to meet its foreign aid needs, and 17% of the money needed to address domestic hunger, it’s important to remember that these programs could mean the difference between life and death for many of the world’s poor.



Value of OECD Aid Drops for First Time in 15 Years (Mark Tran, The Guardian, April 4, 2012)
Development: Aid to Developing Countries Falls because of Global Recession (OECD, April 4, 2012)
For the first time in fifteen years, development aid from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries decreased over the past year. The reduction of $3.4 billion in aid from the world’s wealthiest countries demonstrates a failure to meet global commitments to the world’s poorest.  Despite the financial crisis, sixteen countries in the European Union were able to continue increasing their aid, proving that the crisis should not be an excuse to reduce development contributions.


Organizational Capacity Building: Lessons to Strengthen Health Systems (USAID, Health Systems 20/20, April 2012)
This Health Systems 20/20 brief shares lessons from recent efforts to build the capacity of public, private, and non-profit health organizations in developing countries. The USAID-funded initiative uses an assessment-based approach to identify the priority needs (such as organizational development, resource mobilization, or technical expertise), design a capacity-building plan based on those needs, and monitor the implementation of the plan continuously. Key successes indicate that donors should be investing in organizational capacities to help eliminate barriers to the delivery and utilization of universal health care.

Towards Universal Health Coverage (David DeFerranti, Julio Frenk, The New York Times, April 5, 2012)
As the US Supreme Court wrapped up hearings on the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate, delegates from multiple countries gathered for the International Forum on Universal Health Coverage to share best practices of universal coverage across countries of various income levels. The US could learn from the “ABCDE” of successful reforms in Mexico and other countries that have fewer resources. As the global trend shifts toward universal coverage, an increasing disparity is developing between the United States and the rest of the world.



UN Concerned Over Funding For Humanitarian Services in Haiti (UN News Centre, March 27, 2012)
More than two years after the devastating earthquake and a year and a half after the cholera epidemic began, the international humanitarian community seeks $231 million to fund its earthquake recovery and cholera treatment efforts in 2012. However, only about 8.5 percent of the necessary funding has been received. As a result, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund selected Haiti to receive an emergency allocation of $8 million. This emergency distribution will not provide enough resources to protect Haitians from the increasing risk of cholera as the rainy season begins. Partners need to provide more reliable assistance to avoid cutting back on critical services.

Cholera Cases on the Rise in Haiti, U.N. Says (Trenton Daniel, Associated Press, April 3, 2012)
As Haiti heads into the rainy season, health officials have already reported an uptick in reported cholera cases, recording 77 new cases a day in early March. The cholera epidemic has already killed over 7,000 people and sickened over 500,000 more. Though cases were on the decline during the dry, winter months, as already witnessed, the water-borne illness is expected to spread as the rains continue to fall.



Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Support (GAVI Alliance, April 2012)
Cervical cancer is responsible for the death of approximately 275,000 women every year, with over 85% of these deaths occurring in developing countries. Last week the GAVI Alliance announced that they will respond to demand for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and continue working with vaccine manufacturers to reduce prices. GAVI will partner with women’s health organizations to help governments integrate the vaccine into comprehensive women’s health interventions. 

The Global Health Financing Revolution: Why Maternal Health is Missing the Boat (G. Ooms, R. Hammons, F. Richard, V. DeBrouwere, Facts, Views, & Vision in OBGYN, March 2012)
In response to a UN report in September 2010 arguing that the 5th Millennium Development Goal was showing the least progress, some $40 billion in pledges were made to the “Every Woman Every Child” initiative to  help “catch up” maternal health efforts. By contrasting the successful funding of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria programs to global maternal health programs, authors of this study set forth four hypotheses as to why global financing for maternal health has lagged and call on the independent expert review group to track commitments made to improve women’s health and reduce maternal mortality.   

***National and Sub-National Analysis of the Health Benefits and Cost-Effectiveness of Strategies to Reduce Maternal Morality in Afghanistan (Natalie Carvalho, Ahmad Shah Salehi, Sue Goldie, Health Policy and Planning, March 12, 2012)
Recent modeling with data from 1999-2002 and 2007-2008 suggests that the provision of integrated, comprehensive women’s health services is the most effective strategy to improve the safety of pregnancy and childbirth in Afghanistan. Although family planning was the most effective individual intervention, an integrated approach that includes access to contraception, emergency obstetrical care, and health systems improvements could prevent 3 out of 4 maternal deaths in Afghanistan for less than US$200 per year of life saved. These findings reinforce the PIH approach to scaling up access to comprehensive women’s health services at the community, clinic, and hospital level.



TedXChange 2012 (TED, April 5, 2012)
Watch Melinda Gates, TED Curator Chris Anderson, and others discuss why we, as a society, should continue to invest in global health and development in this second-ever TedXChange.

Cervical Cancer Action Webinars (Cervical Cancer Action, March 2012)
Click here to watch webinars hosted by Cervical Cancer Action, a global coalition to stop cervical cancer. Video resources include best practices and lessons learned from HPV vaccination campaigns in developing countries, how to leverage advocacy opportunities for cervical cancer, and more.

Policy to Action (Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, April 2012)
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) launched a new website devoted to monitoring US government agencies’ implementation of President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development. So far four key agencies have responded with how they are advancing foreign aid reform: USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, US Trade Representative, and the Peace Corps. MFAN will continue encouraging conversation and participation and keep pushing for increased transparency and accountability.

Remarks on George Marshall and the Foundations of Smart Power (Hillary Rodham Clinton, State Department, April 3, 2012)
In a recent speech at Virginia Military Institute, Secretary Clinton explained how the US government has adopted and adapted George Marshall’s original vision of the “Three Ds of Foreign Policy” – elevating diplomacy, development, and defense as the three pillars of our national security. A video and transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks are available.