Details on a US Policy Shift — More Investment in Women’s Health

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This post is by John Donnelly, a former Boston Globe reporter and regular contributor to Science Speaks. 

Less than two months ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared an increased US government commitment to international family planning and reproductive health programs, saying, “In the Obama administration, we are convinced of the value of investing in women and girls, and we understand there is a direct line between a woman’s reproductive health and her ability to lead a productive, fulfilling life.”

So what does that mean in terms of programs and funding, and how will it affect the administration’s efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS, the largest bilateral health assistance program overseas?

One way to find out: On Monday, the Aspen Institute will host a panel discussion titled, ”Women and Health: Today’s Evidence, Tomorrow’s Agenda.”

Featured will be two top US officials who will oversee women’s health programs – Susan K. Brems, deputy assistant administrator of the US Agency for International Development, and Michele Moloney-Kitts, assistant US global AIDS coordinator for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and former Minister of Health in Mexico, will also be on the panel, along with Peggy Clark, Aspen’s vice president of policy programs and executive director of the newly formed Global Health & Development program, and Tonya Nyagiro, director of the World Health Organization’s Department of Gender, Women and Health.;

Brems and Moloney-Kitts will likely talk about how USAID, the Global Health Initiative and PEPFAR plan to strengthen health systems to better meet the needs of women’s health, particularly family planning and reproductive health issues. But critics worry that the Administration’s proposed GHI, while including a welcome and needed broader focus, will come at the expense of the robust response envisioned for HIV through the Lantos-Hyde Act, which reauthorized PEPFAR. 

The Aspen program runs Monday from noon to 1:45 p.m. We’ll plan to blog from the meeting.

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