Crunch Time for Shaping House Foreign Assistance Overhaul

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Congress is out of session, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing cooking in Washington. Indeed, when it comes to global health issues, this week could prove pivotal.

That’s because the House Foreign Affairs Committee set a Friday deadline for feedback from the advocacy community on its plans to overhaul US foreign assistance. The House committee’s initial “concept paper” sparked serious concern among many global health experts who saw several omissions in that framework.

One overarching fear is that the House plan could give USAID more power, without truly reforming an agency that is seen as ineffective and adrift. A second concern is that the panel’s concept paper did include any mention of infectious diseases, including global HIV/AIDS or TB. It’s is unclear where these incredibly important public health threats will fall in the priority list as the House reshapes US development policy. So the Center for Global Health Policy and other groups will be furiously working to reframe the House plan this week. Click here to read  the concept paper and our earlier post on this.

On a related note, many advocates had hoped that health-care pioneer Paul Farmer would provide a much-needed voice for global HIV & TB within the administration. So it’s no surprise that the fall-out from Farmer’s withdrawal (or removal) from the running to lead USAID continues. Here’s an item from the Boston Globe that captures some of the irritation/disappointment over the news about Farmer. Also, here’s a link to our post last week on this same matter.

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