Cowal and Seffrin: No Woman Should Die from Cervical Cancer

This special edition of Impact, the global health magazine of PSI, was produced in partnership with Women Deliver and the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. This issue, launched in conjunction with the Women Deliver 2013 Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, brings insightful dialogue on the value of investing in girls and women’s health. Our hope is that this issue will call attention to the urgent need for increased investment in girls and women in the developing world. 

cervicalcancer-biophotoGirls and women in the developing world are losing the fight against cervical cancer because we have failed to close deadly gaps in prevention, screening and treatment that could spare their lives and end this disease.

More than 85 percent of the estimated 275,000 women who die from cervical cancer globally every year live in low- and middle income countries.

As global leaders convene in Kuala Lumpur for the third Women Deliver conference, the American Cancer Societyand PSI are proud to join forces with other critical members of civil society to raise our collective voices and amplify the message that no woman should die from cervical cancer. We know what it takes to save lives from this disease – and we have a moral obligation to ensure that all girls and women, regardless of their location, benefit from this knowledge.

5 Potential Impacts of Sequestration on International Global Health NGOs

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:

Congress’ Global Health Agenda for 2013

US Congress

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.

What WHO’s Report on Noncommunicable Diseases Means for the Global Health Community

This post is by Senior Vice President and Chief Liaison Officer Sally Cowal. It's official. WHO has just issued its first Global Status Report on Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and it reveals that they are the leading killer of people in the world today and are on the increase. In 2008, 36.1 million people died from NCDs and they are on the increase. 80% of the deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries, where PSI works. We've been expecting this report for some time, launched at a Global Forum in Moscow, but seeing it in black and white increases the urgency we feel to find what PSI's role should be in addressing this new and global challenge. We're a leading global health organization dedicated to improving the lives of those in need, and it appears that they are in need of information, prevention, treatment and care for heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes. We've begun to take a look at our capabilities in areas such as behavior change communications, health care franchising, product distribution through pharmacies and grocery stores, but also through shanty-town kiosks and community health workers to see if and how these can be harnessed and re-directed to serve ... Read more

PSI Testifies on the Hill about International Family Planning and Health Programs

  Yesterday, PSI Chief Liaison Officer Sally Cowal delivered testimony in front of the U.S. House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (Committee on Appropriations).  Out of the 24 witnesses called, she was the only person to address the issue of family planning and reproductive health programs.  Here's that relevant portion of her testimony. Sally's full remarks are below the fold. Finally, for international family planning and reproductive health programs, the President requested $626 million for FY12. The estimated U.S. fair share to address unmet need globally is $1 billion yearly. By fulfilling the unmet need for modern family planning methods (an estimated 215 million women who want to avoid a pregnancy are not using an effective method of contraception), the United States and other donors could achieve a net total savings, because fewer unintended pregnancies mean lower costs for maternal and newborn health services. Additionally, PSI urges Congress not to reimpose the Mexico City Policy. Its effect is to reduce women’s access to contraception, thereby increasing the chance that they will seek abortions for unintended pregnancies. Investments in family planning reduce the number of abortions in the world, and address the appalling fact that the most dangerous condition for women in ... Read more

Women and Safe Water: The Ripple Effect

This post by Senior Vice President and Chief Liaison Officer Sally Cowal originally appeared on Smart Global Health for the Center for Stategic and International studies. Women in most of the developing world have the primary responsibility for managing their household’s water supply. Unfortunately, that is not always their choice. Too often, where water is scarce, women are the ones forced to fetch it -- often traveling long distances on foot, sometimes two or three times a day. As the primary person responsible for her family’s water supply, a woman gains influence over her family and community. She becomes responsible not only for her family’s water, but also for their health. Research shows that including women in public health projects designed to improve water and sanitation significantly and positively impacts the projects’ long term results. Thus, women in the developing world are the key to resolving global water and sanitation health challenges. Take Adama Yakuba in Nigeria, for example. She, like the other women in her rural village, would fetch water for her family from a nearby stream. Her kids often became ill after drinking it, so she knew the water wasn’t clean or safe. But, she didn’t know what to do about ... Read more

PSI Commemorates World Water Day

We have made great strides in improving access to safe water and improved sanitation around the globe and are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. Much work remains to be done, however, and many countries are still woefully off target. Today diarrheal disease is the second leading killer of children under five. Safe water and sanitation programs are a cornerstone to development and affect children's health, school attendance, local economic development and more. PSI recognizes this and currently has programs to improve access to safe drinking water in more than thirty countries around the world. PSI markets and distributes three household water treatment products, providing health communications addressing key barriers to the treatment and storage of drinking water. PSI programs also distribute diarrhea treatment kits in twelve countries, combining oral rehydration salts and zinc to effectively decrease the incidence, severity and recurrence of diarrheal disease. At a community training in Burundi, mothers follow instructions on how to treat their water with dilute chlorine solution. I recently heard a powerful story about a young woman in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though she lives in constant dread of violence ... Read more

Should PSI Get Involved in Non-Communucable Diseases? Part 2 of a Series

Ed note. This is part two of a two part series by PSI Chief Liaison Officer Sally Cowal who asks whether or not PSI should begin programs targeting non-communicable diseases? Read part one. Publications are pouring in and the World Health Organization, CSIS, the Council on Foreign Relations and others are hosting lectures, round-table discussions and workshops on the how non-communicable diseases might transform the global health landscape. At a lecture at CSIS earlier this month, Dr. Harvey Fineberg Chair, of the US Institute of Medicine and former provost at Harvard made the case for increased attention to NCDs. Dr. Fineberg said that NCDs are emerging, under-appreciated, and crying out for action. 80% of the deaths caused by NCDs are in low and middle income countries and low and middle income countries are less well able than the developed world to deal with them. Because NCDs are chronic, they go on for years and are expensive to treat and costly to the economies and well-being of countries. Dr. Fineberg said that while treatment and prevention are both important and have a place, prevention when it works produces better results, saves personal and societal grief and is less costly. He urged the audience to believe that ... Read more

Should PSI Get Involved In Non-Communicable Diseases?

Ed note. This is the first post in a series by PSI Chief Liaison Officer Sally Cowal who asks whether or not PSI should begin programs targeting non-communicable diseases? PSI celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2010. A global organization, now responsible for reducing the global burden of disease by 2.67%, has an opportunity to do even more. There is evidence that non-communicable disease (NCD) is transforming the health landscape in low and middle income countries. A high level United Nations Meeting on Non-communicable diseases (equivalent to the HIV/AIDS Summit in 2000) is scheduled for September 2011. What role could PSI, with its experience in prevention, in behavior change, and its presence in 65 low and middle income countries, play?  Should it look at hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, psychiatric illness, neurological disorders and strokes? Where will the resources come from? Government health budgets across the globe are stretched thin, and Bill Gates already told my colleague Kate Roberts that his priorities remain, polio, HIV, and other communicable diseases and that PSI shouldn’t lose its focus on these strategic priorities.  What are the risks? Can we count the Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) --a way to measure the effectiveness of health interventions)? We are still ... Read more