During the month of May, IMPACT will be highlighting USAID’s work in Global Health. From May 1-10, we will be featuring the role that Science, Technology & Innovation plays in Global Health.
By Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health
Improving women’s and children’s health is critical to the development of successful economies and stable communities. It not only saves lives, but it helps communities move themselves out of poverty. Yet every year, 6.9 million children die of preventable causes and more than 287,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Obama set forth a vision to, within the next two decades, achieve some of the greatest contributions to human progress in history– eliminate extreme poverty, ensure an AIDS-free generation, and end preventable child and maternal deaths.
To many, these goals seem impossible. They seem like nothing more than a catchy statement, in a political speech. But in reality, these goals are achievable, and we’ve already begun to see tremendous progress. For example, we’ve supported the scale up of a simplified newborn resuscitation program, “Helping Babies Breathe” through a public-private partnership. The partnership has trained and equipped 100,000 health providers in 50 countries in the last two years. This past year, USAID reached more than 84 million women with family planning information and services. By enabling women to delay and space pregnancy, this helped to prevent 15,000 maternal deaths and save the lives of more than 230,000 infants. These are just a couple examples of the recent advancements we’ve made.
Funding by the United States for family planning has a giant positive impact. With the White House releasing its budget request for fiscal year 2014 and the budget debates heating up, now seems like a good time to look at what investments in reproductive health enables.
A total of $610 million was allocated to family planning and reproductive health services in the 2012 budget according to the Guttmacher Institute:
- 31.6 million women and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies;
- 9.4 million unintended pregnancies, including 4.1 million unplanned births, are averted;
- 4 million induced abortions are averted (3 million of them unsafe);
- 22,000 maternal deaths are averted;
- 2.8 million fewer healthy years of life (DALYs) are lost among women; and
- 96,000 fewer children lose their mothers.
Increasing spending will expand access and services and cuts will lead to declines. It is as simple as that. A mere $10 million in the budget for family planning means
- 520,000 fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;
- 150,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 70,000 more unplanned births, would occur;
- 70,000 more abortions would take place (of which 50,000 would be unsafe);
- 400 more maternal deaths would occur;
- 50,000 more DALYs would be lost; and
- 2,000 more children would lose their mothers.
Every little bit counts!
By Karl Hofmann, President and CEO, PSI
Private capital is needed to test and develop proof that existing health solutions can be adapted to a developing world context. Once this proof is established, the solution has the power to unlock the large-scale government funding needed to dramatically improve health across the developing world.
As demonstrated in a new report released this week by PSI’s Impact magazine and Devex, in partnership with Fenton Communications, the landscape for global health financing has changed dramatically. High-income governments that provide foreign aid for health have steadily increased their support over the last decade. That support is now leveling or shrinking due to budget constraints. Governments are under increased pressure to reduce risk and ensure that all public funds for foreign aid are invested in solutions that guarantee results.
As a result, corporations, foundations and philanthropists are now taking an active role to help protect the progress already made against serious threats to health and economies like HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and lack of access to family planning, which remain as urgent as ever. They are providing private capital to fund the type of innovation that governments cannot afford to advance on their own.
Sally Cowal, Senior Vice President & Chief Liaison Officer, PSI
As we celebrate last week’s inauguration and the 113th Congress’ first few weeks in session, I naturally reflect on the last couple of years. The 112th Congress was full of intense debates, a consuming election and suitably ended with a dramatic, last-minute deal on the fiscal cliff. Thankfully, global health retained strong bipartisan support during even the gravest times of political and economic uncertainty. Looking forward, PSI is encouraged by this new Congress’ potential support of global health programs.
The 113th Congress has an incredible opportunity to expand the global health progress of its predecessors. Each congressional member is in a uniquely powerful position to shape the health, and, ultimately, the future of millions of people globally. With Washington increasingly under attack, the 113th has a chance to show the American people how U.S. foreign assistance saves lives with efficient, transparent and cost-effective solutions.
2012 may be remembered for many things good and bad, but one undeniably positive story is the way in which family planning and women’s reproductive choices and rights came back into the sunlight after too many years in the shadows of the global health and development agenda.
The July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning featured pledges of new resources to help some of the 220 million women in the world who want the means to plan the timing and size of their families, but aren’t able. But even more crucial than new money was new advocacy. Presidents Kikwete of Tanzania, Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda took the podium personally to embrace the cause of saving women’s lives through access to modern contraception, as did Melinda Gates, whose powerful leadership voice will resonate for years on this topic.
We bet you didn’t know that the story of malaria would bring together Jesuit priests, gin and tonics, and ancient Chinese scrolls. Neither did we. NPR put together a really informative animated video that covers the global attempts to treat and prevent the effects of malaria over hundreds of years.
Equally exciting is the fact that the video is only the beginning of what NPR says will be a series of reporting regarding malaria. So give the video a quick look and keep an eye out for more stories about malaria in the coming weeks.
The new issue of PSI Impact magazine is now live! This post is a part of our series recounting the top 10 global health milestones in 2012. See the rest here.
Mark Lowcock, Permanent Secretary, UKAID
The London Summit on Family Planning was a momentous day that surpassed expectations, with global leaders coming together to make commitments that will provide 120 million more girls and women in the poorest countries who want to be able to decide whether and when to have a child with contraceptive information, services and supplies.
The London Summit, which the British Government co-hosted with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, together with the U.S. Government and the United Nations Population Fund, will reignite progress on voluntary family planning, which has largely stagnated in recent years. Prime Minister David Cameron summed up its purpose in his keynote speech, when he said that, if we are going to be successful in tackling poverty, women have be able to decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when and how many children to have. This is a choice that approximately 220 million women in the developing world who want to delay, space or limit their pregnancies do not have. The consequences are staggering: 80 million unintended pregnancies a year, 30 million unplanned births and 40 million abortions.
By Karl Hofmann, President and CEO, PSI. This originally appeared in Devex.
Each year, billions of dollars in foreign aid are earmarked for various global health priorities. The process by which any given health area ascends to priority status may vary with context, but as a global health community, we shoulder a collective responsibility to target our efforts based on reliable data that point to where the need is greatest.
Think of global health spending as denominated in different “currencies” — not dollars, pounds or euros, but impact based on disease burdens. Is there higher mortality from respiratory infection and pneumonia than, say, diarrhea in your country? Then interventions against pneumonia will have a higher value in terms of saving lives. When the United States uncoupled the dollar from the gold standard in the 1970s, global currencies floated free and had to find their own relative value against one another. In global health, we are on the cusp of a periodic revaluing moment, one in which our standard unit of measure is being reset.
The United States needs to shift from providing global health aid to investing in global health, says Secretary of State Clinton. “America’s investments in global health are saving lives. They are making us more secure, and advancing our values. But it is a shared responsibility. Every nation—partner countries and donors alike—needs to invest in health. It’s one of the surest steps to build the safer, fairer world that we all want,” writes Secretary Clinton in her OpEd for Global Health and Diplomacy.
She explains how the US will make this shift and why it will be successful.
Through our global health diplomacy, we’ve helped bring new partners to the table and keep old partners at the table; while we’ve committed $4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria since 2009, other donors have committed $7 billion.
We’re breaking down the walls that used to divide our teams and—even more importantly—integrating the health services that patients need. For example, we’re supporting a cadre of health workers in rural Malawi who travel door-to-door to provide a range of services, including HIV testing and counseling, nutrition evaluations, family planning, and tuberculosis screening.