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This Week at USAID – June 21, 2010

Secretary Clinton and Administrator Shah will deliver opening remarks on “LGBT Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy” at an event co-hosted by State’s Office of Civil Rights and GLIFAA, the organization for Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

At an event in the Ronald Reagan Building, USAID will join the Brookings Institution to launch a new report on education in Pakistan.  The event will discuss efforts to create concrete programs in Pakistan’s education sector that can more effectively advance U.S. security objectives in the region and contribute to longer-term stability in Pakistan.  Administrator Shah, Congresswoman Lowey and Mr. Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, are among the key speakers.

Administrator Shah will give remarks at a dinner during the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) conference in Washington, DC.  AAPI is a forum to facilitate and enable Indian American Physicians to excel in patient care, teaching and research and to pursue their aspirations in professional and community affairs.

Why Family Planning Matters

USAID is a global leader in the effort to provide voluntary family planning services and programs that allow couples to choose how many children to have, and when to have them. When men and women are given the knowledge and the right tools to plan their family, most couples choose to have fewer children.  In countries where families have fewer children, women are more likely to be educated, there is a higher paid female population, and women are increasingly involved in activities outside the home because they are not tied to the traditional household role.

USAID currently supports programs in more than 60 developing countries that work to ensure both men and women have access to these life changing services.  Our programs focus on educating people about pregnancy, how to plan it, and how to ensure the health of both the child and mother.  Increasing access to these services will also reduce the rates of abortion since more pregnancies will be planned.

Since the inception of USAID’s family planning programs in 1965, the use of modern family planning methods in the developing world has nearly quadrupled—from less than 10 percent to more than 39 percent today.  In the 39 countries with the largest USAID-supported programs, the average number of children per family has dropped – by choice – from more than 6 to fewer than 4.1.

Got Milk?

Dr. Raj Shah and Head of Kirene Alexandre Alcantara

Alexandre Alcantara, Managing Director of Kirène, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for USAID and James Billings, Chief of Party for USAID's Economic Growth Project in Senegal shake hands after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding during Dr. Shah's visit.

Bringing together local communities and private enterprise is what makes for a sustainable and mutually profitable partnership.  Just ask Alexandre Alcantara, head of Kirène, a leader in the local production of mineral water, fruit juice, milk and milk-based products here in Senegal. Alexandre has been giving me a tour of his factory located about 80 kilometers outside the capital city of Dakar. USAID/Senegal and Kirène are working together to create jobs and increase rural incomes by targeting local milk farmers to supply the raw materials for their milk products. Kirène imports most of its raw milk in powdered form. Through Feed the Future, USAID is partnering with the firm to increase the

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USAID Launches Public-Private Initiative on Newborn Resuscitation

The Golden Minute identifies the steps that a birth attendant must take immediately after birth to evaluate the baby and stimulate breathing.

USAID is launching an initiative to reduce infant mortality worldwide by expanding access to high-quality, affordable newborn resuscitation training materials and devices, improving the competence of birth attendants to resuscitate newborns, strengthening health systems, and promoting global commitment and resources for life-saving newborn care. Check out this blog by Dr. George Little of Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center on the Golden Minute of Neonatal Resuscitation at the Global Health Council.

Helping Babies Breathe: a Global Public Private Alliance is an initiative of USAID, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Save the Children/Saving Newborn Lives, Laerdal Medical AS, and a number of other global health organizations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one million babies die each year from birth asphyxia, or the inability to breathe immediately after delivery. Approximately the same number of stillbirths each year are linked to events during labor. A significant percentage of these may be live-born babies who simply do not breathe or move at birth, but could be resuscitated with simple measures. Helping Babies Breathe will teach these essential skills to birth attendants in developing countries.  Read more about USAID’s child and newborn health programs.

HBB is unique in that it brings together a diverse group of organizations to respond to multi-faceted program needs that include training materials, equipment, systems strengthening, evaluation, and advocacy for increased national commitment and resources. Each member of the partnership will play a unique and complementary role that, together, will leverage their resources, creativity, and expertise to scale up newborn resuscitation globally.

USAID’s Dr. Jeff Spieler Talks Implementing Best Practices at Global Health Council Conference in Washington D.C.

Dr. Jeff Spieler, USAID’s Senior Technical Advisor on Science and Technology for Family Planning will highlight how the Implementing Best Practice (IBP) Consortium has contributed to improving reproductive health outcomes worldwide. Speakers from WHO, USAID, UNFPA, and IBP partners in the field, will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the IBP Initiative.

IBP is an initiative begun in 1999 to enhance the ability of countries to identify and apply evidence-based and other demonstrated practices that improve the quality and delivery of reproductive health services. Initiated by the World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health, USAID and other partner organizations and agencies quickly signed on, including the United Nations Population Fund, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and 14 other organizations.

This Week at USAID – June 14, 2010

Currently in Dakar, Senegal, Administrator Shah will speak at the opening ceremony of a regional food security investment forum hosted by ECOWAS.  The two Deputies of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, Ambassador William Garvelink, Deputy Coordinator for Development; and Ambassador Patricia Haslach, Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy; are also part of the U.S. delegation attending this important regional meeting.

USAID has several officials speaking at the Global Health Council’s Annual Conference, which is being held all week in Washington, DC.  Officials will speak about a range of topics related to the work of USAID’s Global Health Bureau and President Obama’s Global Health Initiative.

On Wednesday, Administrator Shah will join Secretaries Clinton and Vilsack at the announcement of the 2010 World Food Prize winners.  The World Food Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

USAID Counselor, Ambassador Jim Michel, will provide comments at the State Department’s Diplomacy Briefing Series.  This half-day public engagement conference will focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Administrator Shah will provide remarks at the lunchtime Newsmaker Series at the National Press Club on Friday.  He will discuss the Haiti recovery effort as the six-month anniversary of the earthquake approaches, including both success stories and remaining challenges.  Dr Shah will also outline the significant reform efforts underway at USAID aimed at modernizing the Agency in order to achieve President Obama’s bold development vision and meet the Administration’s foreign policy and national security priorities.

USAID Responds to Polio Outbreak in Tajikistan

More than 500 million children are vaccinated each year, including in the most difficult access places in the world.

Tajikistan is experiencing its first importation of wild poliovirus into the country in 12 years and the first case in the WHO European Region since it was certified as polio free in 2002. As of June 9, 2010, there are 183 confirmed cases of polio, including 3 deaths, in Tajikistan – out of 288 total polio cases confirmed worldwide(compared to 1604 for the same time period in 2009). For each confirmed case, there are hundreds of silent infections.

USAID is working closely with the United Nations (U.N) and countries to address this outbreak. Tajik authorities plan to conduct the next round of vaccination for children ages 6 to 15 during June 15-19. The global polio eradication effort is at a critical point in time.  Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988, the global number of polio cases has reduced by over 99 percent.  Now, polio is endemic in only four countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan) compared to 145 countries before the GPEI began.  Furthermore, GPEI’s efforts have mobilized 20 million volunteers around the world, staged mass immunization campaigns, and vaccinated about 2.5 billion children worldwide.  Cases in India and Nigeria are at their lowest ever – an indication that we can not let up on our efforts now.

Still, significant challenges remain to eliminate the persistent reservoirs of this disease including insecurity, inconsistent management and ownership by local governments, sub-optimal communication and community mobilization, and reaching newborns, minority and mobile populations. Because of the need to frequently repeat campaigns, there is often a certain fatigue about seeing yet another vaccination team knocking at the door. Yet these proactive house-to-house campaigns are the only proven way to eliminate polio from a country. And with the world being so close to wiping out polio forever, we can’t afford to give up or to settle for “almost.”

The U.S. is the largest donor to the GPEI, contributing over $1.4 billion to date. Polio eradication is also a key part of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). In 2009, President Obama announced a U.S. commitment to work with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on polio eradication during his speech in Cairo in which he called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. Read about USAID’s approach to polio eradication. The new 2010-2012 GPEI Strategic Plan, recently endorsed by the World Health Assembly, requires a $2.6 billion budget through 2012, with a $1.3 billion funding gap.

Dr. Scott Radloff Talks Family Planning with Actress Rachael Leigh Cook

USAID speaks with actress Rachel Leigh Cook

Dr. Scott Radloff Talks Family Planning with Actress Rachael Leigh Cook

Dr. Radloff, Director of USAID’s Population and Reproductive Health Office, took some time to discuss the importance of family planning with actress Rachael Leigh Cook at the Women Deliver 2010 Conference in Washington, D.C. this week.  Shortly before Dr. Radloff spoke on a panel titled, “Paving the Road to Maternal Health with Family Planning” he answered the many questions Rachael had about the current need for family planning in the developing world.

Earlier in the day Rachael tweeted from the conference, “Maternal mortality rates in developing countries are shocking.”

It was evident from her conversation with Dr. Radloff that she is interested in learning more about how meeting the family planning needs of more than 215 million women can play a roll in reducing global maternal mortality rates. Her interest in maternal health and family planning was echoed by the many Hollywood actresses that showed up in support of the Women Deliver 2010 conference this week.  Aside from Rachel, actresses Ali Larter, Ashley Judd, Christy Turlington, and Annie Lennox attended the conference to bring much needed visibility to women’s issues.

Dr. Jill Biden Visits USAID Programs in South Africa

Dr. Jill Biden at the Mapetla Day Care Centre in Soweto

Dr. Jill Biden at the Mapetla Day Care Centre in Soweto

submitted by Themba Mathebula, Development Outreach Communications Assistant, USAID South Africa

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, visited the Mapetla Day Care Centre in Soweto, on her arrival in South Africa yesterday. The centre is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through USAID. Mapetla Day Care provides care and early education for 102 orphans and vulnerable children, including life skills development and preparation for primary school.

During her visit, Dr. Biden met the ecstatic children and staff. The centre’s principal Thabo Baloyi said “I’m very humbled to have met the U.S Second Lady and appreciate the support from the American people through USAID.” The U.S. Second Lady also met Kami, the HIV-positive muppet from Takalani Sesame, South Africa’s version of Sesame Street. USAID’s education program had supported development of Takalani Sesame for South Africa. South Africa was the first country to adapt Sesame

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Forging New Careers: USAID program seeks to train 100,000 Pakistani youth for in-demand jobs

Najeeb focuses during welding training. He is among 100,000 underemployed Pakistani youth USAID is training and helping with job placement under its Economic Growth program.

Holding an electric arc in his right hand, and a steel and glass helmet in front of his face with his left, Najeeb Ahmed bears down on a sheet of metal, focusing intensely as he heats a straight line across a forge under the watchful eye of an experienced ironworker.

Like millions of young Pakistanis, the 30-year-old Najeeb is ambitious and eager to work yet is nonetheless unemployed.  Becoming a welder may be his last chance to provide a good life for his family of six.

USAID is facilitating the placement of 100,000 Pakistanis – at least half women – in skill-matched jobs through training and placement
centers that establish linkages with the businesses, complementing other USAID programs such as education, health, and economic growth initiatives.

USAID is helping people find new economic options that offer hope for themselves and their children.  Growing job opportunities in key emerging sectors, such as food processing, construction, educational and health services, and marble, gems and jewelry will offer a way out of the cycle of poverty and violence currently afflicting much of Pakistan, particularly in the rural parts of the country.

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