USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Global Partnerships

World AIDS Vaccine Day: Igniting the prevention revolution

By: Seth Berkley, President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

Crossposted from The Hill

There’s one bromide any decent physician endorses — the one about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. When it comes to ending the AIDS pandemic, U.S. policymakers from both sides of the aisle have embraced this notion as well, providing unwavering, bipartisan support for the global effort to end AIDS, which has already claimed nearly 30 million lives and left another 33 million infected.

U.S. government support for research into HIV prevention — most notably an AIDS vaccine — has been crucial to seeding what scientists are calling a prevention revolution. Without it, we would not be where we are today: The sheer risk of taking on AIDS vaccine development is a significant disincentive to private sector investment. This has resulted in a classic market failure that can only be surmounted with government support. World AIDS Vaccine Day provides an opportunity to consider why this support is also smart long-term policy — why it makes sense not just in medical terms, but in financial ones as well.

Indonesian volunteers light candles during a ceremony to mark World AIDS Day in Jakarta. Photo Credit: Adek Berry/AFP

Because there is no cure for AIDS, over the next few decades this merciless disease will continue to dismantle the familial networks that sustain and stabilize human society in many poor nations and, in some of them, sow the seeds of lasting political instability. As we have all learned in the past decade, such instability has a way of reaching around the world. Today some 5 million of the most vulnerable people in such places have access to HIV drugs today, thanks mainly to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief launched by George W. Bush, and the U.S.-funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Still, every day, an additional 7,100 people become HIV positive, and for each person put on antiretroviral drugs, two are newly infected by the virus. While indispensible, the provision of HIV treatment cannot keep pace with this modern plague.

Even in the U.S., there are 56,000 new HIV infections each year, and the government spends $16.7 billion domestically on treatment and care for AIDS. The only medically and fiscally sane option we have is to find an efficient way to reverse the tide of new infections. Vaccines provide that option. As illustrated by recent efforts of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) — which is led by the author of this piece — when done right, support for such research has the added benefit of spurring innovation in American industry.

Fortunately researchers have, with government support, made significant headway to that end. In 2009, a clinical trial in Thailand, conducted by U.S. military and Thai researchers, demonstrated for the first time that vaccines can in fact prevent HIV.

Meanwhile, researchers at and affiliated with IAVI have over the past two years isolated fifteen antibodies capable of neutralizing a broad spectrum of globally circulating HIV variants; others, at the National Institutes of Health, have independently found similarly powerful antibodies. Each of these discoveries holds valuable clues to the design of more effective HIV vaccine candidates.

But to harness them, we must find ways to bypass the market failure that discourages industry involvement. As a nonprofit public-private product development partnership, IAVI, with the support of its donors — most notably USAID — picks up much of the risk associated with developing promising AIDS vaccine concepts, and so draws industry into such efforts.

Second, the organization identifies and actively cultivates promising but neglected avenues of related research. As part of that effort, IAVI has in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched an Innovation Fund that seeks out biotech companies working on a variety of biomedical problems and supports the application their technology to solve the major problems of AIDS vaccine development.

It was from this fund that IAVI provided Theraclone Sciences, a small Seattle-based biotechnology firm seed funding to apply its technology to help isolate neutralizing antibodies. The success of this joint effort wasn’t just good for the field of HIV prevention. It was also good for Theraclone. Partly on the strength of its work with IAVI, the start-up won an agreement with a Japanese drug company to develop therapies and vaccines against influenza and, more recently, established an exclusive partnership with Pfizer for cancer and infectious disease therapies that could eventually be worth more than $600 million.

Just as the U.S. space program generated countless engineering innovations, solving the AIDS vaccine problem will have a lasting impact on one of the greatest growth industries of the future: biological therapies and vaccines, especially those relevant to emerging markets around the world.
We are today at a tipping point in our journey toward an AIDS vaccine. In these economically tough times, we must not forget the long term cost-savings promise of AIDS vaccines — and keep doing all we can to make that promise a reality.

Seth Berkley is the president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

Working Together for Healthy Communities in Senegal

Lois Quam is the Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative.

In the Senegalese village of Nianing, I joined a group of elderly ladies in a circle of plastic chairs as they sang a simple song, a drum keeping time with their claps.  Despite their years, each stood up one by one to dance a few steps.  But this “grandmothers’ group” does more than dance – they counsel young wives of the village to limit childbearing from 18 and 35 years of age and space births two years apart.

Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative Lois Quam Visits Senegal. Photo Credit: GHI

I met lots of other people in the village who cared about the good health of their community too:  political and religious leaders, volunteer health workers, and the counterpart to the grandmothers, a newlyweds association.  Their focal point is a “health hut,” which USAID supports through equipment and training of volunteer community mobilizers and health practitioners.

The health hut belongs to the village and you can see the difference it makes.  It’s been four months since they’ve had a positive malaria test, and in March nearly 40 women have come in to receive family planning services.  At the district health post down the road, we learned that they hadn’t lost a mother since the renovation of its maternity ward, thanks to safe, delivery services provided by qualified personnel – including a young, dynamic midwife named Felicity, who had been recruited by the district health post health committee.

As they opened their records for me, I could see their pride in the statistics they shared, which testified to the fact that practically everyone is engaged in the good health of the community. It moved me to see the way village leaders and extended families work together on a daily basis to develop and operate the health care services that they really need.

During my trip, I also met with religious, civil society, and implementation partners in a lovely reception at the Ambassador’s residence.  A highlight of this evening was meeting the Senegalese military leaders engaged in combating HIV/AIDS.

You can see that they have been built up over time with the long term support of the American people.   The health hut – and their good health – belongs to them.  I am really proud of the work that the United States government, through USAID, the Peace Corps, the Department of Defense, PEPFAR and Centers for Disease Control have done to help make that possible. And I am so proud of how effectively our team works together.  To learn more about health huts in Senegal, click here.

PEPFAR Support for a Country-Owned Continuum of Response to HIV/AIDS

Also posted at DipNote, the U.S. Department of State Official Blog

Ambassador Eric Goosby serves as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

During today’s opening of the PEPFAR annual meeting, we focused on PEPFAR’s role in supporting countries to establish a “continuum of response.” Through this continuum, countries can provide a comprehensive system of care and support to meets their health needs to their people. As our Global Health Initiative (GHI) recognizes, the continuum is needed not only for particular diseases such as HIV, but for the whole range of public health issues.

At the individual level, a continuum of response means that the government orchestrates a health system that identifies populations at risk and follows them, addressing through all their needs through their lifespan — for prevention, and then for care and treatment if they become infected. And it means following them through all their non-HIV needs as well.

The continuum of response is anchored in the principle of country ownership. PEPFAR is working to support governments in orchestrating national efforts to address the health needs of their citizens, and enabling the strong participation of civil society in those efforts. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides affirmed the importance of country ownership in the U.S. foreign policy portfolio. And I was fortunate enough to join discussion on global health diplomacy and leadership with CDC Director Tom Frieden, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and GHI Executive Director Lois Quam to focus on different dimensions of U.S. global health strategic priorities.

Thanks in part to the mechanism of PEPFAR Partnership Frameworks, I believe we are at the precipice of real country ownership of the fight against HIV/AIDS in a growing number of countries. Partnership Frameworks provide a 5-year joint strategic framework for cooperation among the U.S. Government, the partner government, and others to combat HIV/AIDS in the partner country. With our support, countries are putting structures in place that position them to meet not only HIV/AIDS needs, but whatever future public health challenges they face. To date, U.S. Chiefs of Mission and 21 partner governments have signed Frameworks, with more to follow. Today, we were welcomed by the South Africa Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, whose government recently signed a Framework with the United States. Turning a decisive page, the South African Government has assumed increasing leadership, including a dramatically heightened financial contribution and an intention to approach full financial responsibility for its program by 2016.

A continuum of response requires both commitment and capacity on the part of the government. And today, I was pleased to have the opportunity to affirm the leadership role of the U.S. Ambassador in working with our partnership governments. Our Chiefs of Mission are leading their teams to make sure that Partnership Framework commitments are fleshed out in Implementation Plans, which enable real accountability. In terms of the capacity required to establish ownership, tomorrow we will hear from field teams about their hard work to develop capacity at the country level. The locally employed staff of PEPFAR is at the forefront of our efforts on country ownership, focusing on building the technical and managerial capacity of partner nations. This capacity is a key contribution to our effort to foster country ownership and create a continuum of response. All of this is critical to saving lives.

Our Sympathy to the World Food Programme

On behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development, I would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy for the loss of Santino Pigga Alex Wani of the World Food Programme (WFP). Our deepest condolences go to his colleagues at the World Food Programme as well as to Santino Pigga’s friends and family. We are deeply saddened by his loss of life and the tragic circumstances that led to his passing in Southern Sudan.

In Southern Sudan and throughout the world, WFP’s dedicated staff face dangerous and challenging conditions as they provide emergency food aid to people in desperate need. We applaud the staff at WFP for their bravery, dedication, and commitment to the world’s hungry.

Feed The Future Initiative In Tanzania – A Sustainable Agricultural And Food Security Approach

On the highest mountain in Africa one finds climbers attempting to conquer Kilimanjaro, as well as those who live in high-altitude villages struggling daily to grow food to feed their families. Small holder farmers use basic hand tools to work the land and have only a gambler’s chance of getting the adequate rain and sun necessary to grow their crops. If all goes well, they may be able to sell part of their harvest at a village marketplace or makeshift roadside display to generate income. This is no small accomplishment, as the tropical heat and wicker baskets used to transport produce to market spoils as much as 40% of each harvest. Summiting Kilimanjaro seems an easier undertaking than farming on its slopes.

The challenges facing small holder farmers are not limited to the mountain region: low-yields, inadequate storage processes and facilities, limited transportation infrastructure, and difficulty accessing credit and markets are problems that small holder farmers experience across much of Tanzania. These contribute to persistently high poverty rates and widespread malnutrition among under-five children (38% stunted and 22% underweight).

Feed The Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, focuses on specific countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  The Presidential Initiative will lift 18 million vulnerable women, children and family members – mostly smallholder farmers – out of hunger and poverty.  In Tanzania, USG assistance supports national strategies to reduce poverty and accelerate progress in achieving  the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability, and enhancing national and regional food security. USAID brings its technical expertise and capacity to lead Feed the Future in Tanzania and is working closely with other U.S. government stakeholders, including the State Department and USDA, through a whole-of-government approach.

This video explains some of the agricultural and supply chain challenges being addressed through Feed The Future to overcome existing farming challenges and build sustainable infrastructure, processes and market linkages to assist small holder farmers raise themselves and their families out of chronic hunger and poverty.

From U.S. Aid Recipient to Donor Partner: The Republic of Korea’s Health Ministry Honors USAID

For nearly 50 years USAID has been in the business of providing assistance to individuals in need to alleviate suffering, save lives, and foster a brighter future for families around the world.

Our mission here at USAID is a unique one: to put ourselves out of business.  We seek to carry out development so effectively that people around the world no longer need the assistance we provide.  To achieve our mission, we partner with countries, at their request, to assist them in the process of developing national structures that ultimately can function independently, without foreign aid.

Today, on the behalf of USAID, I accepted an award from the Republic of Korea’s (South Korea) Health Minister Chin Soo-Hee to honor a history of partnership that helped transform a once-struggling nation into a donor partner.

The collaboration began in 1954, when the International Cooperation Association, the predecessor to USAID, coordinated an agreement between the University of Minnesota and Seoul National University that facilitated the post-war exchange of medical education and research at a critical period in Korean medical reconstruction.

In subsequent years, USAID continued to provide health assistance that promoted the ongoing development of the Korean medical system. Today, we recognize the Republic of Korea as one of our longest-standing partners and identify them as a world leader in medical research and technology.

Once a recipient of U.S. development assistance, the Republic of Korea is now a donor partner that itself provides assistance to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.  Today, the country produces high-quality, affordably priced vaccines that have played an invaluable role in preventing disease and childhood death around the world.

In 2010, the Republic of Korea became the newest member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, or the DAC.  Its DAC membership marks the only time since the OECD was established in 1961 that a country has joined the “advanced nations’ assistance club” after transitioning from an aid recipient to a donor.  To have made this transformation in just a few decades truly speaks to the Republic of Korea’s extraordinary economic rise, the compassion of its people, and its commitment to effective and coordinated assistance.

We are very proud of the role USAID played in helping the Republic of Korea achieve its development goals. Its remarkable transformation in such a short time span is an inspiration and a reminder. It reminds me that our mission is achievable.

U.S. and World Bank Strengthen Water Partnership on World Water Day

On March 22nd, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and World Bank president Robert Zoellick signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing to a stronger partnership on water issues.  The agreement, signed at a World Bank ceremony on World Water Day, will bring the U.S. government and World Bank together to work on global water and sanitation challenges.

The need for a combined effort on water issues could not be clearer.  An estimated 880 million people lack access to an improved water source.  More than 5,000 people—most of them women and children—die every day from causes linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene.  The current outbreak of cholera in Haiti is a stark reminder of this reality.  Beyond health, water is central to a number of development challenges, such as climate change, food security, conflict, energy, and gender.

Secretary Clinton providing remarks at the MOU signing with the World Bank. USAID’s Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg and World Bank President Zoellick looking on. Photo Credit: State Department

The work promised at the signing has already begun: USAID and the World Bank have started to develop a prize to stimulate the development of new technologies related to drinking water and sanitation.  The World Bank is also working with NASA to provide remote sensing technologies around the world.  As speakers at the ceremony emphasized, this type of cooperation is necessary because water issues cannot be confined to just one area.

“The water crisis is a health crisis, it’s a farming crisis, it’s an economic crisis, it’s a climate crisis, and increasingly, it is a political crisis,” Secretary Clinton noted.  “And therefore, we must have an equally comprehensive response.  Now our experts in the United States Government are working on water issues at nearly two dozen agencies – of course, from State and USAID, but also the Millennium Challenge Corporation, NASA, NOAA, EPA, Treasury, and so much else.”

As a result, the United States is one of the largest bilateral donors on water and sanitation; USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation together invested more than $770 million in the water sector and on sanitation-related activities in developing countries in fiscal year 2009.

Secretary Clinton highlighted several USAID projects launched since her speech at last year’s World Water Day, which are representative of the new direction set for the U.S. government water program:

–       In Indonesia, USAID has begun a five-year, $34 million water, sanitation, and hygiene project to reach more than 2 million of Indonesia’s urban poor.  USAID also launched a project in Haiti to teach women about sanitation and hygiene so they could better take care of their households.  In India, USAID is supporting a project to provide slum dwellers in eight states with municipal water and sanitation systems.

–       USAID and the Qatar National Food Security Program convened representatives from 17 water centers in 10 countries across the Middle East and North Africa to create a regional network to share technical knowledge to solve the complex water challenges they face.

–       In Kenya, USAID is working with local water utilities, a local cell phone company, and a local microfinance institution to create new ways for poor people to pay for water. They receive a microloan to cover the initial cost of connecting their homes with water systems, then they repay those loans using micro-banking services on their cell phones.

–       In the Philippines, Japan and the United States have worked together to establish a water revolving fund to leverage private investment to improve water and sanitation for more than 100,000 people in 36 villages. Last year, the first USAID guaranteed loan for $2.5 million was granted.

–       To promote science and technology, USAID is working with NASA to use satellite images to monitor and forecast ecological changes in the Himalayas, including the monitoring of glacial melt. USAID has also worked with the private sector to open a ceramic water filter factory in Cambodia.  With ceramic filters, people no longer need to boil water to make it safe to drink, so they don’t need to burn as much wood or charcoal, which in turn reduces greenhouse gases.  The plant has even applied to receive carbon credits for future sales.

At the 2010 World Water Day event, Secretary Clinton stressed the U.S. government’s commitment to strengthening its partnerships; the MOU with the World Bank is reflective of that commitment.

Under the new agreement, the United States and the World Bank will work together in a number of areas, including rehabilitating wetlands, improving irrigation practices, and mobilizing public-private partnerships and private capital to support water projects around the world.

Progress in these areas depends upon the efforts of numerous organizations.  NGOS, private industry, foundations, and international bodies were all represented at the event.  Many of them have ongoing projects with USAID and the World Bank across the globe.  As USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg emphasized, “our presence here today reflects a basic truth in the development challenges we face: no single government, international institution, civil society group, or private corporation has a monopoly on good ideas, dedicated commitment, or ground truth.”

Measuring the Impact of Sports on Youth Development

USAID’s Office of Development Partners (ODP) and the Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade (EGAT) sponsored a panel discussion on “Measuring the Impact of Sports on Youth Development” on Tuesday, March 1st.   Over 125 guests and staff heard from NGO leadership who work with sports as a platform for youth development and spoke on the evaluation techniques for measuring the impact of these programs.

“This was a great opportunity for USAID staff and our external stakeholders to discuss how sports impacts the work we do in development,” said Mori Taheripour, Senior Alliance Officer in PSA/ODP, who organized the event. “Our panelists offered perspectives that show not only the impact of the work on the communities that they serve but also helped bridge the gap between observed impact and evidence-based outcomes that continue to challenge this industry.”

The panelists included Paul Teeple from Partners of the Americas: A Ganar Alliance; Maria Bobenreith, of Women Win; Kirk Friederich of Grassroot Soccer; and Brendan Tuohey of Peace Players International. PeacePlayers International and A Ganar are both USAID-funded programs.

Moderated by Kenneth Shropshire, of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, the panel highlighted the ability for sports to serve as a powerful platform for youth development.  USAID currently operates youth programs in over forty countries around the world and over 280 sports-based programs.

Sports-based youth programs have been used to address a variety of development issues, and the diversity of panelists highlighted represented the unique ability of sport, as a platform for development, to address a broad range of sectors including peace and conflict, gender inequality, health, education and economic development.

Panelists discussed how they use evaluation tools and the challenges that they face in seeking data-driven and rigorous evaluation methodology.  They shared a variety of anecdotal examples that truly capture the essence and “magic” of their work, but continue in many ways to struggle with balancing anecdotal and hard data, not wanting to lose the intangible, less obvious impact of their work.  The discussion explored several issues related to evaluating the impact of sports activities including: how to measure impact over the long-term; how to measure return on investment; and several methods, including the use of interviews to obtain meaningful, unbiased responses. Panelists identified the need to develop better tools for capturing the impact of sports on youth development and noted that USAID could play an important, convening role in this area.

USAID’s Youth Advisor, Erin Mazursky mentioned that the event was the kick-off of a series of youth-focused activities and events that will roll out over the next couple of months. “Focusing on youth is a priority for the agency,” she said.  “The recent events in the Middle East have shown that youth have proven that they are not just the next generation of change-makers, but a generation that is right now very much affecting the course of history.”

Photo of the Week: Chile and the U.S. Join efforts for Development

Mark Lopes, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Latin America signing the bi lateral agreement between Chile and U.S.A., with Ambassador Liliana Ayelde, Ms. Cristina Lazo, Executive Director from AcGI and Minister for the Social Cabinet, Miguel Lopez Perito. Photo Credit: USAID/Paraguay

Deputy Assistant Administrator Mark Lopes of the United States Agency for International Development Agency (USAID) and Executive Director of the International Cooperation Agency of Chile (AgCI), Maria Cristina Lazo, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue joint development cooperation in third countries. As part of the new partnership, they signed a trilateral agreement to help the Government of Paraguay strengthen its capacity in customs administration, export promotion and support to farmers.

Going forward, USAID and AgCI will collaborate to reduce poverty, strengthen institutions, improve economic development and expand economic and social inclusion across the Hemisphere.

“This Agreement is yet another step in advancing the Obama Administration’s commitment to engage Latin American and Caribbean governments as equal partners in the region’s sustainable development”, said Lopes. “Chile has made remarkable strides in building an open, inclusive and prosperous society and we want to help promote the Chilean experience to help solve other challenges in the Hemisphere.”

“USAID and AgCI are partners for development. This agreement is being signed today, but the joint collaboration between Chile, the United States and Paraguay to identify specific areas of work has already begun” said Lazo. “We believe this is just the first step of many joint efforts in the future.”

Picture of the Week: Secretary Clinton Chairs the Annual Meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chairs the annual meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons with various Cabinet members and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 1, 2011. Photo Credit: State Department

Page 11 of 16:« First« 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 »Last »