Staying the course … and more

VOA reports that, “the U.S. isn’t backing off its commitment to aid other nations. In fact, the President has asked for increased funding for global development programs to provide humanitarian and economic assistance around the world.”

While the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) are continuing, they are doing so in the context of a new perspective – global public health.  VOA further notes that …

As part of a new emphasis on global health, the President’s budget will also devote new funding to reduce the number of mothers and infants who die each year from complications of childbirth or pregnancy, poor nutrition, and malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and polio. These are treatable diseases, yet they kill millions every year. And rather than the U.S. delivering aid services on its own, it will continue to work with its partner countries to build their capacity to deliver services through strong and accountable institutions. 

A key issue in this approach is health systems strengthening.  It is one thing to provide needed malaria (or HIV) commodities to endemic countries, and quite another for that country to be able to distribute those to people in need, promote proper use and monitor and report back to improve programming. The emphasis on health systems is most welcome and an important evolution in the life PEPFAR and PMI.

The potential for integration with maternal and child health services is an essential part of systems strengthening.  Too often, malaria in pregnancy program coverage has been low because of weak linkages between MCH and Malaria programs.

This pledge to expanding work on global public health should serve as a positive example to other donor countries.  We are still a long way from achieving the annual financial commitments needed to move from malaria control to elimination.

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