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In This Newsletter Fall 2003

Foreign Operations Conference Committee Reaches Agreement

Throughout the summer, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have been debating the FY 2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. In general, the Senate-approved bill included higher levels of funding for programs of interest to us. But, as you know, a final agreement must be worked out between the House and Senate. This agreement was struck in late November when the conferees approved a bill that includes an overall funding level of $17.2 billion for foreign assistance, $1.7 billion below President Bush's request of $18.9 billion.

The bill includes a total of $330 million for maternal and child health programs, a $6 million increase over the FY 2003 funding level. In addition, the omnibus bill will provide $2.4 billion for global AIDS programs. Funding for infectious diseases, including malaria and tuberculosis, was set at $185 million.

This agreement will be included in an Omnibus Appropriations bill, which is expected to be approved by the House on Dec. 8 and by the full Senate in late January. Until then, the federal government will be working under a continuing resolution.

Member Spotlight: PKIDS

PKIDs (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases) was founded in 1996 by parents passionately concerned with the health of the world's children. Today, this international pediatric nonprofit organization builds on a solid history of providing infectious disease education and prevention programs to the public and supporting children chronically infected with viral hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.

PKIDs staff and volunteers advocate for safe health practices on national, state and local levels, working to prevent infections through the use of immunizations, effective hand washing and use of standard precautions in daily living. Many of the educational tools developed by PKIDs are available free-of-charge from their website for teachers, parents, health educators and others to use as potent weapons against the spread of disease.

Just over a year ago, PKIDs took its first international step by creating PKIDs China or, as it is known by its Chinese name, Fu Mu Xin, which means Father's and Mother's Hearts. Familiar with risky health practices in China and intent on providing support for affected families, PKIDs China began in the spring of 2002 to form partnerships and effective training programs promoting safe health practices. Through these original programs, PKIDs China reaches medical professionals and members of the general public, instructing them in various methods of disease prevention and safe injection practices. PKIDs China also networks with medical experts, government agencies and community organizations to provide health education, support services and medical care to infected children and families.

In the coming year, PKIDs will strengthen existing programs and develop new ones in the United States and China and begin preparations to expand into India.

US Coalition News

Following its re-launch in July, the US Coalition for Child Survival has focused its efforts on reaching the goal of enhancing U.S. and global commitment and resources to improve the survival, health and nutrition of children in developing countries. Over the last month, the Coalition has convened four new working groups to plan and implement coalition activities. The working groups are as follows:

  • Public Policy, chaired by Michele Sumilas, GHC: Recommends and coordinates a full range of advocacy strategies meant to deliver key child survival messages to decision makers.
  • Communications, chaired by Mireille Cronin Mather, AED: Develops key messages to increase awareness of child survival issues among decision makers and the general public, and equips the Coalition with the materials necessary for its advocacy and education efforts.
  • Member Outreach, chaired by Carrie Hessler-Radelet, JSI: Responsible for helping the Coalition reach its objectives by strategically expanding the Coalition's membership and encouraging current members to actively engage in Coalition activities.
  • Research and Analysis, chaired by Beth Plowman, JSI: Supports the Coalition's education and advocacy efforts by providing up-to-date data and insights on the state of child survival.

Each working group has had a preliminary meeting to identify its objectives and activities, and to develop a work plan. The working groups will support the Coalition's advocacy and education efforts for the upcoming year.

In addition to the successful launch of the working groups, the Coalition is pleased to announce that Lisa Carty, Senior Policy Advisor for Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the newest member of the steering committee. Carty will be a strong asset to the Coalition, as she brings with her extensive experience in public policy and advocacy in both the domestic and international arenas.

As the Coalition moves forward with developing its communications strategy, it is pleased to announce support from The Partnership for Child Health Care, Inc. to produce a brochure and conduct audience research. This research will inform the communications strategy by identifying which child survival messages most effectively resonate with decision makers.

The upcoming months are bound to be an exciting time for the Coalition. As always, you are invited to participate in any of the Coalition activities, and all members are encouraged to join in one of the four working groups. Please email if you wish to join a working group or if you have any questions regarding the Coalition's activities. We look forward to hearing from you.

Technical Seminar: Improving Child Survival through Nutrition - Science, Policy, and Programs

Members of the US Coalition for Child Survival helped to sponsor a technical seminar entitled "Improving Child Survival through Nutrition - Science, Policy and Programs" at the National Press Club on Nov. 20, 2003. The seminar, sponsored by Management Sciences for Health, the Global Health Council, BASICS II, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Bank, brought together development practitioners in the field of international health to discuss strategies for overcoming malnutrition in the developing world.

Dr. Robert E. Black, professor and chair of International Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, began the seminar with a presentation on how underweight status and deficiencies of zinc, iron and vitamin A contribute to the global childhood disease burden. His presentation provided scientific evidence to support robust changes in national nutrition policies and programs to avert child deaths.

Following Dr. Black, the former Minister of Health for the Republic of Senegal, Dr. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, presented the realities of implementing national nutrition policy in sub-Saharan Africa. She stressed the need for community involvement in the identification of nutrition problems, as well as the need for collaboration among all actors to design and implement effective national policies. Dr. Coll-Seck used Senegal as a case study to illustrate policies a government can implement to address the nutritional status of children. While these policies are helping to move the nutrition agenda forward in Senegal, the former minister acknowledged that more needs to be done to address the immediate causes of malnutrition.

Dr. Serigne M. Dienne, nutrition team leader at BASICS II, concluded the seminar by presenting a new approach to nutrition programs called "Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA)." ENA focuses on six proven actions that can dramatically improve the nutritional status of children. Examples of the ENA program in five different countries (Honduras, Senegal, India, Madagascar and Benin) demonstrate an improvement in exclusive breastfeeding rates, successful integration of ENA into national health policies, and increased access to nutrition services in communities. Dr. Dienne stressed the need for adequate political support and resources to expand coverage of the ENA package.

After the presentations of each panelist, Professor Richard Skolnik, director of the Center for Global Health at George Washington University, moderated a lively question and answer session with the audience. Questions focused on the challenges of implementing nutrition programs and policies in the field. For more information regarding the seminar, please click here.

Reducing Malaria's Burden: Evidence of Effectiveness for Decision Makers

Today, with the advent of malaria genome mapping, vaccine development, and new research and development for therapeutics to replace drugs such as chloroquine that have become ineffective due to widespread drug resistance, there is renewed hope that the terrible scourge of malaria will ultimately be conquered. However, such promising developments are years -- if not decades -- from fruition. They will also take significant time and resources to implement, and may initially be prohibitively expensive. Until such advancements become a reality, a number of effective therapies and strategies to prevent and treat malaria are available and drastically underutilized.

Reducing Malaria's Burden: Evidence of Effectiveness for Decision Makers, a new Global Health Council technical report, is written in collaboration with leading malaria researchers and public health professionals. It seeks to highlight the best scientific evidence currently available to help decision makers in their efforts to alleviate malaria's deadly toll. The report also identifies the significant opportunities and challenges faced when implementing such interventions and the gaps in knowledge that require further research.

To view the full report, please click here.

How Businesses Can Combat Global Disease

Rajat K. Gupta and Lynn Taliento

Multinationals are directly affected by the global epidemic.
It can't be controlled without them.

The global health outlook is bleak. In 2002, more than 6 million people - most of them in poor countries - died from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. These three diseases, plus a handful of others, have crippled economic growth and progress in developing countries. Although many such diseases are preventable, most public health systems in poor countries have neither the resources nor the infrastructure to administer care. Poor countries suffer from inadequate health-care delivery systems and a shortage of drugs and supplies. When drugs are available, most of the people who need them can't afford them.

Without question, the financial and human resources to solve these problems are lacking. Given their magnitude and the speed with which the three diseases spread, it is now clear that no lasting solution will come without creative partnerships between corporations, on the one hand, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the public sector, on the other. Among the unique resources the private sector can provide are intellectual property, marketing skills, and public relations channels, as well as expertise in pharmaceutical development, distribution and project management. Another critical benefit of this kind of partnership is the access it provides to employees in the workplace -- and, by extension, to their families.

Yet most executives are passive in the face of this challenge. Why? In our experience, it is often because they don't understand the impact their companies could have on the public health sector. To view the rest of this article, click here. (free registration required)

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This newsletter published by the US Coalition for Child Survival.