Today is the deadline after which automatic, across-the-board spending cuts to US government agencies known as sequestration take effect. Unless there is a last minute deal between the leadership in the US Congress and President Obama, some automatic US Government funding cuts will come into force today.
Sequestration would reduce total funding by $85 billion until September 30, 2013, the end of the fiscal year (FY13). By percentage, this would affect non-defense discretionary funding by about 5%, affecting the International Affairs or “Function 150” account which funds USAID, CDC and other key US agencies. Defense discretionary funding would be reduced by about 8%.
Though difficult to estimate in an uncertain funding environment, these sequestration cuts could have drastic and lasting effects on global health efforts. In the House Appropriations Committee Democrats’ “Report on Sequestration”, estimated global health cuts could:Read More
March 1, 2013
The Global Fund has a new funding scheme and now a few countries will receive up to $1.9 billion in funding from the organization over the next two years. IRIN reports:
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Zimbabwe are among the six countries set to receive funding under the Global Fund’s new model, the Fund announced on 28 February.
With up to nearly two billion dollars available between now and 2014, El Salvador, Kazakhstan and the Philippines, as well as three regional programmes, will also receive new funding, including access to an incentive funding pool aimed at fostering ambitious, high-impact and co-funded interventions.
According to the Fund, countries were selected for financing this year based, in part, on whether they would face an interruption of services without new funding and whether they were currently being underfunded based on levels set by the new model.
The new model, part of the many reforms, has introduced a system in which countries are grouped into bands based on a calculation of financial need and disease burden.
In awarding the new funding, the Global Fund board also chose geographically diverse countries as well as non-traditional applicants. It is looking to use these new grants as a learning opportunity, according to the new executive director, Mark Dybul.
“The new funding model gives us a special chance to learn and adapt,” he said in a statement. “During this year, we will monitor various aspects of the new funding model process so that we can adapt in real time. We are a learning institution, and we will gain insight and knowledge as we work together.”
Can social media advance and support international development? A panel during Social Media week in Washington DC discussed the very issue. Representatives from the government, tech partners and NGOs participated in the conversation. USAID’s Chief Innovation Officer, Maura O’Neill, reflected on the discussion late last week by writing in the USAID Impact blog.
Social media also allows room for more innovative ways of assisting people with few resources. And our partners and colleagues have been doing great work using social media as a tool to help promote advancements in the field of development. Through Facebook, Kate Watts, Managing Director at HUGE, helped facilitate the highly successful Pepsi Refresh campaign that gave more than 300 grants and $20 million to users for beneficial projects around the community. Participants submitted thousands of ideas through Facebook that people voted on. Nearly 132 schools and organizations benefited as a result of the campaign, more than 40 communities received affordable housing and parks, and 21 neighborhood parks were refreshed…
It’s clear that the broad boundaries of social media bring to the forefront various issues we need to keep in mind, and continue to fine-tune, so we use platforms in smart ways. At USAID in particular, it is critical for our virtual efforts to translate to “real-life.” One way to do this was to use videogames as a channel to reach youth in Jordan. It increases their real-life knowledge about civic responsibility and engagement by getting them engaged in building and running virtual cities. Maryanne Yerkes, senior civil society and ICT advisor at USAID, explained how USAID’s Innovations in Youth Capacity and Engagement (IYCE ) program says that games directly strengthen youth engagement when integrated offline components.
Good old fashioned pandemics spread like a stone’s ripple in the water. The center source is the beginning point with a slow and steady wave moving outwards as far as possible. That isn’t the case any longer.
In short, air travel has revolutionized the world, including how pandemics spread. Theoretical physicist and professor of complex systems at Northwestern University, Dirk Brockman, has a new model that shows exactly how recent pandemics have moved across the world in new ways. This story is covered in The Atlantic.
For about a decade, Brockmann and other researchers have been incorporating real datasets on the world air-transport network into models of disease dynamics. They can simulate an outbreak in one location and estimate its arrival in another. But early on, Brockmann noticed that models created by him and other colleagues often produced strikingly similar results, even with simulations built on different assumptions about infection rates, disease dynamics, seasonality, or the age structure of infected populations.
“That made me think about, ‘what is it that makes these different simulations be so much in agreement?’”Brockmann says. All of those other factors seemed to play little role. “My hypothesis was that much of it is driven by the structure of these mobility networks.”
February 28, 2013
From the Gates Foundation:
Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a $100 million donation to support polio eradication efforts through Bloomberg Philanthropies. The donation will help fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI) six year plan to eradicate polio.
Polio is a vaccine-preventable disease that can lead to paralysis or death. Due to tremendous advances in 2012, there are today the fewest number of polio cases in the fewest countries ever, creating a unique opportunity to end the disease forever. In response, the GPEI has developed a long-term strategy to achieve global eradication by 2018. The eradication strategy addresses all aspects of ending polio, including stopping transmission, strengthening routine immunization, addressing challenges such as insecurity and access, and preparing the polio infrastructure to reach children with other health services. Polio partner organizations, donors and endemic countries are actively working to secure the necessary funds to ensure money is not a barrier to the plan’s success.
“It’s unthinkable that polio still exists in the world when we have the tools and technology to protect children from this preventable, debilitating disease. Now is the time to invest in making polio history. Doing so will protect future generations of children and pave the way for other life-saving interventions to reach the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Bloomberg. “We are thrilled to join the Gates Foundation and other partners in the effort to end this disease once and for all.”
A group of 40 NGOs are concerned about the negative impacts of the potential budget sequester. Groups like CARE, InterAction and World Vision signed a letter to members of Congress warning the damage that the deep budget cuts would have on humanitarian programs.
Josh Rogin provides the highlights in Foreign Policy’s Cable blog.
“Humanitarian needs resulting from conflicts and natural disasters around the world have increased dramatically over the course of the last year,” the groups wrote in their open letter. “We write to express deep concern that current resource levels for humanitarian assistance are not sufficient to meet these challenges, which will prove harmful to both U.S. interests and millions of vulnerable people requiring lifesaving assistance. Therefore we urge Congress to ensure that the levels approved for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 are commensurate with humanitarian need.”
The crisis in Syria has worsened considerably since the Obama administration last submitted a budget request in February 2012, the groups said. Now, more than 770,000 refugees have poured into neighboring countries, and that number is expected to increase.
February 27, 2013
A report presented by the Global Health Technologies Coalition in Washington DC yesterday urged the USA to keep up global health spending. From The Hill:
These developments place the movement at a critical point, particularly as U.S. policymakers face a variety of fiscal deadlines, the advocates said in a new report.
“Health research breakthroughs serve a remarkable humanitarian purpose and reap domestic rewards by creating U.S. jobs, spurring business activity, and engaging a range of partners,” the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) said in the report.
“Cutting funding for global health and [research and development] programs would barely make a dent in reducing the U.S. federal deficit but would have a crippling impact on people’s health and lives around the world.” The coalition called on policymakers to direct more focus toward neglected diseases, including creating a new office within the Food and Drug Administration office to coordinate related activities.
PSI CEO Karl Hofmann both joined the board and was elected to the position of President of the TB Alliance‘s Stakeholders Association (SHA) this week. The SHA is made up of representatives from developing nations, government, non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, academia, foundations and industry. It represents a support mechanism for the TB Alliance, where Karl will also serve as a board member.
“I’ve seen how today’s suboptimal TB therapies contribute to a cycle of disease and poverty in some of the least developed countries in the world,” said Mr. Hofmann in a press release. “Now with improved TB drugs on the horizon, I look forward to working with the TB Alliance through my role on the Board and in leading the SHA, to help speed the delivery of promising new regimens to those who need them most.”Read More
Did you know that that a movie about a group of Rwandan children suffering from rheumatic heart disease was nominated for best short documentary at the Oscars on Sunday? Did you know that rheumatic heart disease was once the leading killer of children in the United States?
The film Open Heart follows the journey of eight children from Rwanda who must travel to Sudan in order to undergo open heart surgery. ABC spoke to the film director about his motivation for making the film.
“We made the film because we were outraged by the situation,” Davidson told ABC News. He worked with co-producer Cori Shepherd Stern. “Rheumatic heart disease is such a preventable disease, antibiotics are so cheap, and we wanted to bring attention to it. There’s so much attention on AIDS and tuberculosis and malaria [in Africa], but very little on rheumatic heart disease.”
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