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Posts Tagged ‘disease’

MFAN-GHTC Event Highlights Research and Innovation

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
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“Even the way we change is changing,” Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), told attendees at the July 28 congressional briefing co-hosted by MFAN and the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC). Nearly 90 individuals from congressional offices, US government agencies, and the development and global health communities participated in a discussion about how research and innovation can be leveraged to advance the nation’s foreign assistance goals.

MFAN-GHTC panelPanelists in the briefing highlighted the crucial role that science and innovation play in foreign aid, with a focus on past successes and future opportunities in global health research. The event, “Innovation to catalyze development:  Leveraging research in US foreign assistance,” was moderated by Susan Dentzer, Editor-in-Chief of Health Affairs, and included Mr. Kalil; Dr. Jeffrey Sturchio, MFAN Principal and President and CEO of the Global Health Council; Dr. Maura O’Neill, Senior Counselor to the Administrator and Chief Innovation Officer at USAID; and Dr. Corey Casper, Director of the Uganda Program on Cancer and Infectious Diseases (UPCID) at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

In order to maximize the US investment in science and technology and deliver effective assistance, panelists stressed a whole-of-government approach to foreign aid. It is “essential” that the United States has a “coordinated, multidisciplinary” approach to international development, Dr. Casper said. For example, panelists highlighted a study conducted among nearly 900 women at two sites in South Africa that showed a notable reduction in the risk of HIV infection associated with an experimental HIV prevention gel, called a microbicide. The research benefited enormously from interagency partnership—the study was supported, in large part, by USAID, as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—and demonstrates the type of success possible when US agencies collaborate effectively.

Jeff Sturchio specifically argued that the US needs a global development strategy that is whole-of-government, coherent, and responsive to local needs.  Such a strategy should also be built on transparency and accountability and partnership with civil society, donors, and other governments.  Sturchio then put forward the notion of a whole-of-society approach, which the other panelists picked up on throughout the remainder of the discussion.


Effective Foreign Assistance is a Moral Imperative

Thursday, July 29th, 2010
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By Mark Green, Ambassador and Congressman (ret.)

I recently began posting a series of pieces with some of the reasons why I believe (a) America needs foreign assistance reform and (b) Conservatives should take up the cause.  Done right, foreign assistance can play a crucial role in our foreign policy. Unfortunately, the status quo isn’t “done right” or, at least, done as well as it could be.

To summarize, here are my first five reasons:

Reason 1: Our current foreign aid system is organizationally incoherent.

Reason 2: We need to reform the system to make our precious taxpayer dollars go much further.

Reason 3: Foreign assistance reform is a great opportunity for Conservatives to reaffirm values and initiatives we care about. 

Reason 4: Simply put, Conservatives (and Republicans) have a long history of standing up for EFFECTIVE foreign assistance.

Reason 5: The combination of fragmented authorities and overlapping bureaucracies in our current assistance framework is watering down public diplomacy efforts.

And now . . .Reason 6: Making our foreign assistance operate as effectively as possible is a moral and ethical imperative.

Conservative religious leaders have long voiced their support for helping the world’s poorest:

I deeply believe that if we as evangelicals remain silent and do not speak up in defense of the poor, we lose our credibility and our right to witness about God’s love and Word. — Rick Warren

If I were a parent in a poor, debt-riddled nation, cradling my dying child in my arms, my heart would be broken and I would cry out for a solution. My prayer is that the leaders of the world will heed these cries and will work together to solve this critical problem. As a follower of Jesus, however, I believe this is not just a political or economic issue, it’s a moral and spiritual issue as well.

— Billy Graham

In the present world order, the African nations are among the most disadvantaged. Rich countries must become clearly aware of their duty to support the efforts of the countries struggling to rise from their poverty and misery… Because all men and women bear God’s image and are called to belong to the same family redeemed by Christ’s Blood . . .

— Pope John Paul II

Mark Green villageDebates over foreign assistance – funding levels, delivery mechanisms, program structure, etc. – are too often dominated by development insiders.  These experts – government officials, aid contractors, etc. – are certainly experienced and informed, but their focus is naturally on their own particular portfolio, and when they do make larger points, they can become lost in a maze of bureaucratic jargon and process arguments.

As we talk about America’s relationship to the rest of the world, particularly the developing world, we need to remind ourselves why many of our most effective assistance tools were first launched.  It’s not because we wanted to create new “make-work” for bureaucrats or a new entitlement for our implementing partners. These initiatives were created for noble purposes — to help lift lives and build communities in challenged parts of the world. They were created because, as President Kennedy said,

“There is no escaping … our moral  obligations as a wise leader and a good neighbor in the interdependent community of free nations . . . as the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people. . . .“

They were created because, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said,

Power matters. But there can be no absence of moral content in American foreign policy, and furthermore, the American people wouldn’t accept such an absence. Europeans giggle at this and say we’re naïve and so on, but we’re not Europeans – we’re Americans – and we have different principles.

They were created because as, President George W. Bush said,

. . .[W]e’re committed to development because it’s in our moral interests. I strongly believe in the timeless truth, to whom much is given, much is required. We are a blessed nation, and I believe we have a duty to help those less fortunate around the world. We believe that power to save lives comes with the obligation to use it.


If, in fact, this sense of compassion and moral obligation is part of what underpins our foreign assistance – from disaster relief to helping tackle the AIDS pandemic – then this same sense should push us to make sure we do it as effectively as possible.  As individuals, each of us makes choices as to the charities we’re going to support with our hard earned money. As we do so, we support those that can make our dollars go the furthest . . .that help us do the most good with what we can give. That same sentiment should apply when policymakers examine our foreign assistance framework – we need to make choices as to how we can do the most good with the limited resources that we can dedicate.

Action Alert: Reform Within Reach Campaign Launches Today

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
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Obama Reform Within Reach CTA

Today, MFAN is proud to announce the launch of its Reform Within Reach campaign aimed at getting President Obama to show leadership on foreign assistance reform and strengthen America’s commitment to development.

To serve as the rallying cry for the campaign, MFAN created the “Open Letter to President Obama on the U.S. Commitment to Global Development.”  This letter, which has already been signed by 50 organizations, calls for President Obama to create America’s first-ever Global Development Strategy and partner with Congress to rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

We need your help in getting the message out and letting President Obama know that his leadership on reform is critical to achieving U.S. foreign policy goals.  This issue is even more important with the Millennium Development Goals Summit fast approaching in New York in September, when the eyes of the world will be on the fight against global poverty and the U.S. role in that fight.  As you’ll remember, one year ago, President Obama made a promise at the UN General Assembly to return to the MDGs Summit with a plan for how the U.S. will strengthen its contribution on development.  We must hold him accountable to that pledge.

Action is needed now.  You can take the following steps to join us in this important call to action:

  • Join individuals from across the country and sign the Open Letter
  • Download a badge for your Facebook, MySpace, or other profile page to show you support more effective foreign aid
  • Read about how reform will make even more U.S. aid success stories possible
  • Tweet:  “I signed a letter urging Pres Obama to increase U.S. foreign aid’s impact.  YOUR TURN! #ReformWithinReach” and follow us @ModernizeAid to see how momentum for reform is building

Aid Reform that Works: How Ownership, Partnership, Coordination, and Innovation Should be the Core of America’s New Approach to Development

Monday, July 12th, 2010
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Agricultural development

New approaches to aid over the last decade have transformed the lives of countless individuals struggling with poverty, battling disease, and seeking opportunities to build a better life.  The onset of these new approaches has sparked a debate on reform and how the U.S. can build on them to make foreign assistance more accountable and effective for the people we are trying to help and the U.S. taxpayers who generously support it.  To demonstrate principles of effective aid – and communicate what still needs to be done – MFAN canvassed its Partners to share cases in which a new, innovative way of thinking led to improving the livelihood of an individual, a community or a country.  The following success stories articulate some of the core principles – Ownership, Partnership, Coordination, and Innovation – that MFAN believes should provide the underpinnings of foreign assistance reform.

PMI in MozambiqueOwnership

The most effective way of ensuring long-term development is to allow recipients of aid to take the lead in designing and implementing their own development programs.  Country ownership is about donors being transparent and consultative, helping to build capacity over the long term, and supporting local efforts to take control of their own development.  This principle of aid effectiveness has become the cornerstone of reform efforts, but is also the most difficult to put into practice because it is dramatically different than the current U.S. model for the delivery of aid.  The success stories that follow demonstrate ownership in action and prove that country ownership is essential for development. 

  • Ethiopia halved malaria deaths in just three years (The Global Fund to AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) – In 2005, the Ethiopian government, with support from the Global Fund, unveiled a strategy to deliver two mosquito nets to every family at risk for malaria.  By 2008, 20.5 million bed nets had been delivered, and 30,000 young women – two high school graduates per village – had been trained and mobilized to act as health advisors and to carry out on-the-spot malaria tests, made possible thanks to a new lightweight disposable kit.  The program shows strong roots of local initiative, leadership, and ground-up action.
    • Read more about Ethiopia’s grassroots health care initiative here.


MFAN Statement: Praise for President Obama’s Development Leadership at the G8 Summit

Monday, June 28th, 2010
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June 28, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

MFAN commends President Obama for showing leadership on development with his statement at the G8 Summit in Muskoko.  We continue to strongly support the Administration’s efforts to elevate and institutionalize the idea, most recently articulated in the National Security Strategy, that fighting global poverty is a “moral, strategic, and economic imperative for the United States,” as well as a key component of our “comprehensive, integrated” foreign policy in a world of complex challenges.

We eagerly await the impending release of the development policy directive highlighted in the G8 statement, and we support the general themes of growth, innovation, partnership, and accountability that were affirmed in the document.  We are particularly hopeful that the directive will answer a critical question that has not yet been addressed by the Administration: How will the U.S. foreign assistance system be modernized to institutionalize the importance of development, make U.S. assistance more responsive to local priorities, and deliver transformative results for the poor people we are trying to help?

In conjunction with the release of the directive, we call on the Administration to take three important steps to catalyze and strengthen the reform process:

  • Fill the senior leadership void at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which currently lacks the full complement of Deputy Administrators and Assistant Administrators needed to effectively execute the Administration’s new approach;
  • Prepare America’s first-ever Global Development Strategy ahead of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in September, in order to set a strategic foundation for U.S. development efforts and deliver on the President’s pledge to announce “a plan” for how the U.S. will contribute to eradicating extreme poverty by the MDG deadline in 2015; and
  • Announce now that the Administration will work with Congress to modernize foreign assistance in a durable way, including by rewriting the antiquated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective in support of global development and poverty reduction.