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Haitian workers are building a USAID-funded irrigation canal. Photo by Herve Jean-Charles.

As Haiti passes six months since the earthquake, men and women are employed in the USAID-funded reconstruction of an irrigation canal that not only provides a source of water for agriculture and livestock, but also a source of income for Haitians.

New Video Debuts on USAID’s Game-Changing Use of Science, Technology & Innovation

Science, technology, and innovation are core to USAID’s work around the globe. This new video lends some fascinating insight into USAID’s efforts in these areas as well as how we can even further unpack their power to leapfrog development hurdles and the game-changing potential of science, technology and innovation.

USAID premiered the below video at the opening session of last week’s “Transforming Development through Science, Technology and Innovation” conference. To read Dr. Shah’s remarks from the event, click here.

Video Credit: Jonathan Shepard/USAID

The President’s Commitment to Fight HIV/AIDS

Cross-posted from The White House Blog.  Originally posted by Gayle Smith on July 21, 2010 at 03:50 PM EDT

In light of the International AIDS Society conference being held in Vienna this week, many people have raised questions about the Obama Administration’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

First, consider the facts:

As a UNAIDS report documented just days ago, the United States provided 58 percent of all funds worldwide to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries.  Furthermore, while numerous developed countries were cutting back on their support for HIV/AIDS between 2008 and 2009, the United States actually increased its funding by more than 10 percent.  The fact that these increases were done during the worst recession in a generation and a deteriorating fiscal situation speaks volumes about the President’s – and our country’s – commitment to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Read more on The White House Blog

Resetting for Clean, Efficient Energy in Russia

I am very excited to sign a Protocol of Intent on energy efficiency cooperation between USAID and the Russian Energy Agency. Russian Minister of Energy Sergei Shmatko and Secretary Chu will witness the signing. The Russian Energy Minister is here to take part in the first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial, which is being hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Working under the protocol, USAID will link U.S. and Russian utilities and regulators to share best practices and to exchange lessons learned about smart grids. I am convinced that bringing people together will accelerate development and deployment of clean energy technology. We really need it to fight climate change!

The USAID protocol is part of a larger effort aimed at fulfilling Presidents Obama and Medvedev’s commitment to jointly promote energy efficiency and clean energy. I am so pleased to be able to get this protocol in place little more than two months after I first met with Russian energy officials in Moscow back in May. I am now headed back to Russia to keep this initiative moving forward.

Read the Press Release.

 

Evidence Shows Historic Breakthrough Can Save Lives

Carol is in her mid-20s and raising her young daughter on her own.  With very few economic options available to her she turned to commercial sex work when she was 21 years old. Every day she puts herself at risk of HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancy. Because of a USAID-funded campaign, Carol knows she needs to use condoms to protect herself but as a commercial sex worker she does not always have the negotiating power to do so.

Often at USAID we support the ABC approach- abstain, be faithful, and correct and consistent condom use. While these methods can be effective in preventing HIV transmission, often it can be difficult for women to negotiate prevention interventions. With women representing nearly 60 percent of those living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, it is imperative to find a method of prevention that can be initiated by women.

Women participating in the CAPRISA 004 trial in the CAPRISA Vulindlela Clinic in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa

Women participating in the CAPRISA 004 trial in the CAPRISA Vulindlela Clinic in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa

For almost 25 years, USAID has been on the frontlines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Our development programs have been cutting-edge, and have long put women at the center of programming. Gender, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, male circumcision, counseling and testing, nutrition, and HIV vaccine research are just some of the comprehensive array of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs administered through USAID.

Progressive programs continue today with the USAID-funded clinical trial, CAPRISA 004. The trial, which took place in South Africa, provided the first evidence that use of a vaginal gel, or microbicide, containing an antiretroviral drug (ARV) known as tenofovir can prevent HIV infection in women.

Tenofovir gel is a clear, colorless, and odorless viscous gel in single-dose plastic applicators

Tenofovir gel is a clear, colorless, and odorless viscous gel in single-dose plastic applicators

In the trial, tenofovir gel administered topically before and after sexual activity provided moderate protection in women at high risk of HIV infection. At the end of the study, researchers found that the use of 1% tenofovir gel by 889 women at high risk of HIV infection in Durban, South Africa proved the method to be 39 percent effective in reducing a woman’s risk of becoming HIV infected. The gel could be a unique HIV prevention tool for women who are not able to negotiate HIV prevention methods.

The successes of CAPRISA 004 ties in with the core principles of the U.S. Government’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). USAID is committed to a women- and girl- centered approach, creating a strong partnership with countries to sustain country ownership, and focusing on learning and accountability.

Once the results are confirmed through ongoing and future studies, USAID will work at every level to ensure women are able to access this unique form of prevention. This means Carol, and other women in developing nations, will have a form of protection against HIV that they can control and initiate. This new discovery puts the power of protection against HIV transmission in the hands of the woman and can ultimately save lives.

Long-Term Investments to Bring Real-Life Improvements to People of Pakistan

A summary map on the activities announced or underway in Pakistan.

During Dr. Raj Shah’s whirlwind two-day visit to Pakistan with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the ongoing Strategic Dialogue between the two countries, the U.S. announced more than $500 million in new development assistance for Pakistan. 

The new projects include the completion of two hydroelectric dams in South Waziristan and Gilgit-Baltistan that will supply more than 34 megawatts of additional power to 280,000 residents in those areas, the renovation and construction of three medical facilities, economic growth programs and seven projects to improve water distribution and efficiency in the country. Much of the assistance will be delivered by USAID.

The United States shares with Pakistan a vision of a future in which all people can live safe, healthy, and productive lives. Dr. Shah spoke with press about USAID’s role in Pakistan, saying that “Our commitment is broad and deep,” and one that encompasses programs ranging from health and energy to economic growth and agriculture. 

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USAID’s HIV Knowledge-Sharing Technology Offers Access to Latest Strategies in HIV Programming

Health was one focus of last week’s Transforming Development through Science, Technology and Innovation conference, which highlighted the central role innovation and technology play in USAID’s mission to achieve high-impact development goals, including HIV service delivery. While recent breakthroughs hold promise for a future HIV vaccine, USAID is using information technology today to share innovation and successes in HIV programming, enhancing local, national, and regional responses to the pandemic.

The Agency’s Office of HIV/AIDS is leveraging advances in web technology to identify, document, and disseminate promising HIV practices through the AIDSTAR-One Promising Practices Database. This unique knowledge-sharing portal allows HIV program implementers to share their recent successes in resource-constrained settings with other programs across countries, regions, and continents, leading to rapid replication of cutting-edge HIV program strategies. For example, an AIDSTAR-One database user recently identified lessons learned from an Ethiopian HIV prevention program for adolescents to design a similar project in Kenya. AIDSTAR-One’s HIV Prevention Knowledge Base is another knowledge-sharing tool that provides quick access to current HIV prevention research, examples of successful programs, and tools and resources to help design and implement a range of HIV prevention programs.

Administrator Shah pointed out that quickly moving research to implementation is at the heart of USAID’s development strategy. The Office of HIV/AIDS is working to achieve this through Project SEARCH’s promotion of greater use of evidence in the design and implementation of HIV prevention programs in countries most affected by the epidemic. This approach allows USAID to evaluate effectiveness and focus its resources on strategies that deliver strong results.

As HIV researchers, program planners, and implementers from across the globe gather in Vienna this week for the XVIII International AIDS Conference, USAID stands with its partners to reflect on the progress made to combat global HIV and rejuvenate our collective efforts to minimize the impact of this devastating disease. USAID is dedicated to providing global technical leadership to prevent the spread of the virus and to support the efforts of host country governments to provide prevention, treatment, and care for communities most in need.

This Week at USAID – July 19, 2010

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is in Afghanistan and Pakistan to meet with USAID mission personnel, visit USAID projects and attend the Pakistan Strategic Dialogue and the Kabul Conference with Secretary Clinton.  The Conference will reinforce the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to work together to realize the goal of full Afghan ownership and responsibility for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

Technical leaders from USAID’s office of HIV/AIDS are part of the U.S. delegation to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria.  Notably, results from a USAID-funded microbicides trial will be released at the conference on Tuesday.  The trial was conducted in South Africa in close partnership with the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), the CONRAD Program, and Family Health International.

Dr. Raj. Shah Attends Launch of Pakistan’s Birthspacing Initiative

Dr. Raj Shah at the launch of the Pakistan Ministry of Health’s new Birthspacing Initiative to Improve Maternal, Newborn, Infant and Child Mortality. Photo by Amy Koler.

The U.S. and Pakistan have consulted closely on the shared objectives of addressing Pakistan’s National Health Policy, which outlines the priorities for the nation, which include family planning, maternal and child health, workforce development, and combating infectious diseases to meet the Millennium Development Goals. 

On Sunday, Dr. Shah attended the launch of the Pakistan Ministry of Health’s new Birthspacing Initiative to Improve Maternal, Newborn, Infant  and Child Mortality.  “Overall, (the strategy) will help ensure that pregnancies occur at the healthiest times of women’s lives.  Specifically, it will help reduce high risk pregnancies – those that occur at too late or too early an age, or too soon after a previous pregnancy – through greater use of birth spacing services,” he said.

The Obama administration recognizes that the key to improving health is to strengthen country and local ownership, especially at the community level. ” We know that strong national leadership and capacities are essential for development progress.  Health systems can only thrive where there is wise leadership investing in people, institutions and infrastructure; particularly where governments are responsive and accountable to their citizens. 

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USAID Testifies on Agent Orange in Vietnam

On Thursday, Dr. John Wilson, Director for the Office of Technical Support in USAID’s Bureaus for Asia and the Middle East, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment on “Agent Orange in Vietnam:  Recent Developments in Remediation”.

Dioxin contamination, associated with the use of Agent Orange, is one of the last vestiges of the Vietnam War and remains an obstacle to further strengthening relations between the United States and Vietnam. USAID is the lead implementer for dioxin remediation in Vietnam working collaboratively with the Department of State, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense.

For more information on USAID programs in Vietnam.

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