submitted by Jessica Scott

Administrator Rajiv Shah shared insight on his ideas for agency reform at the National Press Club June 18 luncheon. His inspiration for the changes stemmed from the extraordinary actions of his staff in response to the earthquake disaster in Haiti. The emergency teams demonstrated their versatility by purchasing food from local reserves as opposed to depending on food sent by the US. Working closely with the World Food Programme, they managed to feed approximately three and a half million people. The reform will not only focus on disbursing aid, but determining the impact it has as well as providing solid evidence to the American taxpayer’s as to the significance of their contributions.

The Helping Babies Breathe Campaign, a program implemented to prevent birth asphyxia, was announced last week in Washington. The purpose of this campaign is to educate midwives and traditional birth attendants in underprivileged countries on how to resuscitate a newborn. USAID has teamed up with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Save the Children to power this initiative. Currently, the curriculum is being offered in ten countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America through USAID maternal and newborn health programs.

The Department of State, along with USAID, announced the eight pilot countries that will receive additional aid from President Obama’s six year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative. The countries chosen are: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, and Rwanda. The initiative’s goal is to help improve mother and child health in countries around the world. The countries will receive additional guidance and technical support to help improve and enhance their health system.

Due to the recent largest outbreak of polio across central Asia, USAID has promised $1.2 million in funding to support polio vaccinations and are channeling contributions through WHO and UNICEF who currently manage national vaccination campaigns in the five countries affected. USAID is also working to prevent future outbreaks by implementing programmed funds. Polio immunization is a project that falls under the US Government Global Health Initiative, supported by USAID.

The United States has pledged $48.3 million to support the humanitarian crisis in Kyrgyzstan. The aid is intended for immediate humanitarian relief, reconstruction and community stabilization. USAID has already provided $15 million in emergency aid for displaced individuals in the south and stabilization projects throughout the country.