Winning hearts and minds, one aid dollar at a time | 

PEPFAR branding appears on hospital in South Africa.
PEPFAR branding appears on hospital in South Africa.

There is plenty of debate over whether aid can help countries grow economically, but there is new evidence showing that it affects public opinion in a recipient country. Programs that provide targeted, sustained, effective and visible aid can lead to positive views of the donor countries.

While the money that US spends on aid programs in other countries helps people, it also serves a foreign policy goal. On one hand, the US stands to benefit from a safer, healthier and more prosperous world. On the other, it can generate good will towards the US.

“By doing good, a country can do well,” says Yusaku Horiuchi, an associate professor at Dartmouth College.

Benjamin Goldsmith of the University of Sydney, Terence Wood of the Australian National University and Horiuchi published a paper that proves how foreign aid can be a positive force for winning the hearts and minds of individuals. While the impact has been claimed for some time, they say that there was no evidence base, only anecdotes and claims by aid proponents. They undertook a  comparative, cross-national perspective using data from a variety of countries to evaluate how the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), launched by the Bush administration in 2003, has impacted views on the US.

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Rhetoric versus reality on Obama Administration’s AIDS policies overseas | 

Jessica Mack

This is a guest post by Jessica Mack

Jessica Mack is a global gender specialist and freelance writer. She is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand where she works on issues of violence against women and girls in the Asia Pacific region. More at You can also follow her on Twitter @fleetwoodjmack

The Obama Administration talks a lot about integrating and coordinating our various global health projects, and also about how important it is to empower women. That’s the rhetoric. Here’s one womens health advocate’s view of the reality.


Preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS has a lot to do with promoting safe sex.

That may sound obvious, but it seems to remain a mystery to those in the U.S. Government who set our AIDS prevention policies overseas. Stemming the spread of HIV has as much to do with family planning and enabling safe sex as it does with ensuring access to affordable drugs, accurate education, or changing norms and mindsets at the community level.

So it would make a hell of a lot of sense if all money for HIV/AIDS prevention efforts also included money for family planning. But alas.

Though the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has been touted as one of our nation’s most successful initiatives in global health (and certainly one of President George W. Bush’s most positive legacies) it continues to miss the mark on this important point.

Oddly, PEPFAR will allow funds to be used for condoms — but only if they are promoted for protection against HIV as opposed to pregnancy.

PEPFAR recently released its 2013 country operational plan (COP), the framework for how its funding should be used by developing countries. This included what activities should and should not be supported – with one big bolded addition.

Under the section titled “Family Planning” – which extolls the importance of family planning as an effective means for reducing HIV/AIDS – is added this sentence: “PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities.”

Um, come again?

This bizarre prohibition has had and will continue to have the effect of systematically cleaving contraceptive services from HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services, oftentimes quite literally into different clinic sites and distinct service providers.

It doesn’t make sense, and it’s dangerous.

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Clinton calls for “AIDS-free generation,” signs Ellen DeGeneres up to help | 

In a speech at the National Institutes of Health today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it is time for the world to “usher in an AIDS-free generation,” calling it a new “policy priority” for the U.S.

Clinton said scientific advances have made it possible to strive for a generation in which “virtually no children” are born with HIV. She added that a “wide range of prevention tools” can help prevent the spread of the virus and that access to treatment can prevent people who are HIV-positive from passing the virus on to others.

Flickr, Gobierno de Guatemala

“Now, HIV may be with us well into the future. But the disease that it causes need not be. This is, I admit, an ambitious goal, and I recognize I am not the first person to envision it,” Clinton said, according to a transcript of today’s speech, which was described by the State Department as the first in a series of remarks from Obama administration officials leading up to World AIDS Day.

“Now we know beyond a doubt if we take a comprehensive view of our approach to the pandemic, treatment doesn’t take away from prevention. It adds to prevention,” Clinton said. “So let’s end the old debate over treatment versus prevention and embrace treatment as prevention,” she added. Continue reading

GlobalPost looks at Obama Admin’s “stumbling” Global Health Initiative | 

“A slow, stumbling start.”

That’s how John Donnelly, writing in GlobalPost, characterizes the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative. The online international news organization has published a short series called  “Healing the World” (yeah, kind of corny) that critically examines the initiative.

The U.S. government is, in fact, doing a lot when it comes to global health needs on a number of fronts — most of which were launched under President George Bush.

The Bush Administration’s global health “strategery” led to PEPFAR, a massive effort aimed at helping those with HIV/AIDS in Africa, the President’s Malaria Initiative and we remain the largest donor to multilateral initiatives like the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria.

These are amazingly grand and good things we are doing. But part of the problem with the U.S. approach to global health has been a lack of coordination among these initiatives and the various agencies carrying them out. Continue reading

UW global health researchers dodge political turmoil in Uganda | 



A week ago, the UW’s Amy Hagopian, Peter House and Bert Stover headed to Uganda to coordinate a study aimed at resolving a fierce debate in global health.

Since arriving in Uganda, the UW researchers and their co-workers have had to deal with escalating violence which most observers blame on the government’s attempt to quell public protests and calls for political reform.

As the BBC reports, eight people have been killed and about 250 people injured so far. Continue reading

The Fantastic Proposal for a Mega-Global Health Fund | 

Flickr, by AMagill

Circle of money

As we continue this week’s celebration (or denunciation, depending upon your perspective) of the world’s efforts to fight poverty, improve health and make the world a better place, it’s worth paying attention to a little side issue that keeps popping up.

Money. Everyone says we need more, of course. And everyone is also talking about making these efforts more “efficient” or “strategic.”

On the health front, some say what we need is a new, comprehensive Global Health Fund — to consolidate all of the various funding mechanisms that are now focused on single diseases or other health problems.

I think that’s just fantastic, as in a fantasy, and maybe even harmful. Continue reading