Dybul and Frenk Urge Engaging Emerging Powers to Propel Development

As the deadline approaches for the Millennium Development Goals, now is a time to reconsider how to engage with developing countries. Global Fund head, Dr Mark Dybul and dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health, Dr Julio Frenk, say that it is time actually move to the reality of shared responsibility and mutual accountability.

The problem is the status quo does not foster such cooperation. They call for a new consensus that moves away from reaction to paternalism and towards shared responsibility and mutual accountability. Their ideas are summed up in a blog post for the Huffington Post.

Principles might include: reaffirmation of the basic principles of shared responsibility and mutual accountability; a commitment to support and participate in the planning processes and funding priorities of low- and middle-income countries rather than create parallel engagement; focusing investments globally or in regions or countries of particular interest as co-investors with other development partners under national strategies; technical exchange, and; over time, increasing participation as a funder of multilateral organizations that recognize the importance and unique roles of the emerging powers in their governance structures.

They argue that it is the emerging powers, countries who have successfully moved away from the grips of poverty, that can share their experiences and knowledge with countries that remain behind. It puts a country like India and China in a much better position that the US and UK to support, teach and learn from countries like Zambia and Sierra Leone.

One way the emerging powers can participate is by expanding their investments in organizations like the Global Fund, say Dybul and Frenk.

But we should not expect emerging powers to simply adapt to existing models of development. They may generate their own models, which the rest of the world should welcome and support. And collectively, those of us in the development community should think hard about how we — in our models and institutions — must evolve to embrace and promote the emerging powers’ potential for effecting positive impact regionally and globally. We will also need to imagine and create new, structured ways of measuring and encouraging accountability around new models and principles.

WHO warns of drug-resistant TB crisis

There are an estimated 94,000 people living with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB) The WHO says that roughly one in five of those people are not receiving care.

In its latest report on the state of TB around the world, the WHO sounds the alarm on the issue of MDR TB spreading and the lack of action to address the problem. However, it is not all bad news.

“Nearly 20 years after the WHO declaration of TB as a global public health emergency, major progress has been made towards 2015 global targets set within the context of the Millennium Development Goals,” says the report.

Others are not so optimistic. ACTION’s Kolleen Bouchane recently wrote in the Huffington Post about the emerging crisis. She says progress has been sliding the past few years and the gaps are critical in terms of stopping the spread and progression of TB.

“We’ve reached a point where an ancient disease is outrunning our attempts to control it. Despite some visionary political commitments — such as recent U.S. and UK commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — ultimately, our global fight against TB is starved of political leadership and funding,” she writes.

One Year Later: From Promise to Action on Ending Preventable Child Deaths

By Nicole Schiegg, Former USAID Senior Advisor; Strategic Comms Consultant

2013-06-13-430045_10151726897765992_1502893062_n.jpgThis week we celebrate the one-year commemoration of the Child Survival Call to Action held in Washington, DC. Working at USAID at the time, I have a unique insight into the organization of this milestone event, and will always remember the experience fondly. Not only did the Call to Action unite and reenergize the global health and extended community towards a common goal — to end preventable child deaths — it catalyzed momentum at country-level that has been nothing short of extraordinary.

A few months before the Call to Action, USAID turned a conference room into a team room that became the center of the Agency’s activity – one wall was covered with hundreds of 5th birthday photos and the other was entirely dry eraser depicting ideas, logistics, and anything else that was the task of the day. About 6 of us virtually lived in this room, but it packed in 30 staff when we had our all-hands meetings. What inspired me about the team is that it consisted of people who had worked in development for their careers and folks who were brand new to the field. Everyone had a laser-like focus towards June 14-15 and what it represented. No one was committed more to this goal than USAID Administrator Raj Shah who frequented the team room for meetings and updates.

The Call to Action was a special and surreal experience when it finally arrived. A few days after it ended, I had to re-watch the webcast to grasp the enormity of what had transpired. Over 70 countries signed a pledge to accelerate action towards ending preventable child deaths. Private sector leaders committed to new partnerships – as did faith and civil society organizations.

HIV: Let’s Finish The Job

By Beth Skorochod, Senior Technical Advisor, Sexual Reproductive Health and TB Department, Population Services International

Pililani Julius is twenty-three years old, from Mtambalika village in the Mulanje district of Malawi. Already the mother of two children, Pililani recently lost her third child, a death likely due to pediatric HIV complications. At the time, Pililani did not know that she was HIV positive — meaning that she was unable to take life-saving treatment that could have prevented transmission to her baby.

Today, Pililani is pregnant with her fourth child — and, this time, she is armed with knowledge. Prior to becoming pregnant, Pililani and her husband had watched an open-air drama performance run by PSI/Malawi, which explained the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and of taking treatment to prevent transmission during pregnancy. Pililani and her husband are now on treatment, protecting their own health and future as well as that of the new baby on the way.

Pililani’s story is an important and hopeful reminder of one of the global health community’s greatest success stories: the prevention, and hopefully, soon-to-be elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Today, thanks to the combined efforts of governments, companies, NGOs, health professionals, researchers and everyday volunteers, more children are born free of HIV than ever before.

Barbara Bush: Technology and Innovation Supporting Global Health

Social entrepreneurs gathered this past December at the Social Innovation Summit to share lessons on how to create social good through technology and innovation. PSI Board Member and Global Health Corps co-founder Barbara Bush was one of the event’s featured speakers. Brian Sirgutz of the Huffington Post caught up with Barbara after the event to talk about technology and social good through the lens of global health.

Here is a selection of the discussion:

Brian: Your supporters include top names in information technology, like Cisco and Hewlett Packard. (Note: Cisco sponsors the ImpactX section). Can you talk a little about those relationships and how they add to your mission?

We’ve actively worked to build relationships with non-traditional partners that share our values — innovators like Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Cisco who are leading the charge to build products and systems that connect communities, and increase information sharing.

Interestingly, global health organizations desperately need many of the skills employees at multi-national corporations like HP and Cisco have. Cisco employees who are experts in management information and technology systems have mentored some of our fellows working in Malawi with Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation to build out stronger electronic medical records and data tracking systems.

Even From Davos, Family Planning Gets a Fresh Look

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.

The Faces of HIV in Zambia, Part 3: Meeting Nghimunya

In May, Debra Messing went to Zambia on a trip with PSI and Alere, the largest manufacturer of HIV testing technology. While there, she met with families, communities, health ministers, and doctors to learn about what HIV interventions are producing results on the ground — and what gaps need to be filled. This week, Debra is in Washington, D.C. to participate in the 2012 International AIDS Conference. Below is the third in a series of three personal journal entries that she wrote while in Zambia. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Wednesday, May 23: Counseling and testing center in Kanyama

I went through the counseling and testing process this week because I figured I needed to walk the walk if I was going to tell others, particularly couples, how important and easy it is to get tested. I think getting tested is one of the most sincere acts of love a couple can show for one another.

The testing center was at the local YWCA in Lusaka. I decided to get tested with Marshall, my friend and colleague from PSI, to send a message about the importance of couples getting tested. The clinic was clean, bright, and friendly. The counselor who tested us was incredibly thorough and professional and really helped me relax. We had our results in 20 minutes — so quick! I was surprised by how easy and painless the whole process was — and it was completely confidential. And for couples, it provides an open and honest environment to talk about risk, to disclose your status, and to chart your path together.

If either one of us had tested positive, the counselor would have walked us through exactly what we needed to know to stay healthy and live positively. It really was a fantastic experience. But as uplifting as the experience was, I kept thinking about Connie and the children she lost, and aboutIrene and how sick she became before she knew her status and could access medication. We need more people to get tested.

Women’s Empowerment Through Reproductive Rights

The outcome document from last week’s Rio+20 meetings was noticeably missing references to “reproductive rights.”  Secretary of State Clinton voiced her support for reproductive rights during her remarks on Friday saying, “Women must be empowered to make decisions about whether and when to have children. And the United States will continue – (applause) – the United States will continue to work to ensure that those rights are respected in international agreements.”

Feminist Genevive Stewart recently outlined in the Huffington Post UK what is at stake for ensuring reproductive rights and why it is an important part of development and women’s empowerment.

The earth’s population is growing at an alarming rate. By 2050, it’s predicted the global population will reach nine billion people. Our planet’s resources simply cannot cope with adding the equivalent of China and India.

The term “population control” is loaded with associations to atrocities committed in the name of ethnic cleansing, eugenics and contempt for the poor.

But Dr Carmen Barroso, of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, believes that it’s imperative to talk about it. “As long as women are not empowered to decide when and how many children they have, they will not lead sustainable lives. And as long as women do not live sustainable lives, there is no sustainability,” she said.

Dr Barroso is not advocating practices like forced sterilisation. She wants to empower women to control their own sexual and reproductive health. “Comprehensive family planning is the most effective form of population control,” she says.

95% of the world’s population growth occurs in areas already struggling with illiteracy, poverty, and civil unrest. More growth means more people living with these hallmarks of extreme poverty.

Christy Turlington Burns and Dr. Rao Discuss How Merck for Mothers will Deliver Lifesaving Global Health Solutions

A recent World Health Organization report showed some promising growth in reducing global maternal mortality. It found that the rates declined to 287,000 in 2010 from the 358,000 maternal deaths reported in 2008. That dramatic decline in lives lost is reason to celebrate. However, the report shows that there is plenty of work to be done.

Christy Turlington Burns, Founder of Every Mother Counts, sat down with Dr. Naveen Rao of Merck, leader of the theMerck for Mothers initiative, while at the GBC Health conference in New York last week. PSI will be collaborating with EMC on a Merck for Mothers project in Uganda.

In the conversation shared in the Huffington Post, the two discuss the WHO study and what it means for maternal health. Here is an excerpt:

Christy: So what are your thoughts on the new WHO data?

Naveen: These latest figures are clear progress in the fight to save women’s lives and everyone who worked so tirelessly should be applauded for this wonderful achievement. However, I say that with a major caveat: this reduction in maternal mortality is still not swift enough. As the WHO report states, maternal mortality has decreased by 3.1 percent per year since 1990; that is far below the 5.5 percent annual decline needed to reach MDG 5. The findings demonstrate that we know what works and these efforts are clearly having an impact — which is affirming. Now, we must accelerate this momentum so we can close the gap as rapidly as possible. To do so, we need to think more creatively about how multiple sectors can work together to leverage our respective strengths.

Christy: Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

Naveen: As we all know, maternal mortality is a complex issue that requires multifaceted solutions. Put simply, no one sector can tackle it alone. What we need is a more concerted effort among government, the business community and civil society — one that harnesses the unique capabilities of each sector to address this issue head on. This of course aligns with the vision outlined in the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Christy: Tell me a bit more about Merck for Mothers and why Merck has decided to take on this issue.

Naveen: Maternal mortality is one of the oldest global health crises in the world, and as you well know, it is one that continues to touch everyone — no geography is spared. We at Merck saw this issue as one where we could make a significant impact. We have committed our human and financial resources, research skills, business expertise and capacity for innovation as part of a 10-year initiative called Merck for Mothers. We have three strategies to help the world reach MDG 5: 1) making sure new, innovative maternal health technologies get into the hands of health providers as quickly as possible; 2) increasing women’s access to life-saving solutions, especially in countries with a high burden of maternal deaths; and 3) building support among policymakers and the public alike so we can more rapidly move the needle on reducing maternal mortality.

De-Fragmenting Is Not Just for Hard Drives: How to Save Money on Bed Nets

By Deputy Editor Tom Murphy

Long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) are an important piece to building a future without malaria. The Results for Development Institute says LLINs can be be produced and provided even cheaper and more efficiently. “According to analysis led by Kanika Bahl and Pooja Shaw from Results for Development’s (R4D’s) Market Dynamics team, improved global incentives and information on cost-effectiveness could save the fight against malaria up to $630 million over the next five years, while encouraging manufacturers to produce better-performing nets,” writes R4D President David de Ferranti in the Huffington Post.


R4D estimates 560 million LLINs will be needed through 2015. To maintain universal coverage, it will cost $2.4 billion. Finding space to save over $600 million can help to ensure all the LLINs are delivered while keeping costs low in a time when international aid spending is coming under tighter constraints.

A set of six recommendations are outlined in the report:

1. Ensure policies and incentives to procure the most cost-effective nets;
2. Rationalize fragmentation in net specifications to optimize VFM;
3. Urgently develop a clear “path to market” for innovative vector control LLINs to address the resistance threat;
4. Employ strategic procurement practices to maintain a competitive supply base;
5. Diversify the LLIN consumer base beyond the three major donors;
6. Build an in-country evidence base to evaluate the drivers of net use.