Thursday, November 13, 2014

General foreign aid and health aid are up but donors still not meeting targets

This blog was originally published by Global Health TV on Oct. 29, 2014.

After two years of declines, overseas development assistance (ODA) rebounded in 2013, but most donors have not met their commitments and are not sending a high enough proportion of their aid to the poorest countries, according to the ONE Campaign’s 2014 DATA Report.

Global health funding hit an all-time high of $31.3 billion in 2013, and funding for maternal, newborn and child health increased by nearly 18% between 2010 and 2011, reported the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in its annual report on global health financing.

And while aid donors are finally showing signs of improvement in meeting transparency commitments on that ODA, the majority – including the United States – is a long way from its commitment to adopt standards set by the Aid Transparency Index 2014.

These were some of the headlines coming out of two reports released this month, but very much overshadowed by the justified focus on Ebola, as well as an earlier report on global health financing released in April.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Justified focus on Ebola should not compromise efforts against other diseases that kill more people

This blog originally appeared on Global Health TV on Sept. 23, 2014.

Ebola is a terrible disease that has already infected 5,335 people and killed 2,630 as of Sept. 14, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and threatens to kill many more thousands before its rampage of destruction is slowed down or stopped. WHO designated it as a global emergency on Aug. 8.

“This Ebola epidemic is the largest and most severe and most complex we have ever seen in the nearly 40-year history of this disease,” said Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO. “This is a global threat that requires global coordination to get it done. We can and we will bring the Ebola epidemic under control.”

Yet another of its terrible legacies may be that it will distract attention and resources from other diseases that are killing far more people.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Are donors adequately funding faith groups in global health?

This was originally published by Global Health TV on Aug. 26, 2014.

Last November, at an event associated with the International Conference on Family Planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I was struck by a public comment from a representative of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): “With almost 90% of people globally professing a faith, it doesn’t make sense to do family planning without the faith community.”

I was bowled over by this statement. I checked up on the claim, and found that, according to the Pew Research Center, 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion is considered “religiously affiliated.”

So the point was valid, and I would go even further: We in global development should be partnering more with the faith community in all areas of global health. After all, if the faith community can work on family planning – fraught with all of its social, cultural and religious baggage – it should also be able to work effectively on less controversial issues like malaria, diarrhea, water and sanitation. Especially in places like Africa where people have a high level of confidence in their religious institutions.