|Foreign Assistance Reform|
Since the United States first engaged in foreign assistance through the Marshall Plan after World War II, national interests have been served in various ways - including enhancing national security, expanding economic opportunities, and promoting democratic values. In 1961, Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act to guide these programs and led to the establishment of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which served as the key entity implementing programs in global health, economic development, democracy building, agriculture, education, environmental protection and humanitarian assistance
In addition to bilateral - or country-to-country funding - the United States provides development assistance through multilateral partners, primarily United Nations programs. Today, U.S. foreign assistance is administered by 12 departments, 25 agencies and nearly 60 governmental offices.
Recognizing the need and interest by the Obama Administration and Congress to reform foreign assistance, IWHC and key organization partners are educating and advocating with policy makers so that the health and rights needs of women and youth are met. This smart and effective investment of U.S. resources is essential to alleviating poverty, promoting security and building more stable nations - central tenets of U.S. foreign policy, goals of U.S. foreign assistance and a core component of numerous internationally agreed-upon goals and standards.
With one-fifth of illness and premature death worldwide and one-third of illness and death among women of reproductive age caused by shortages in reproductive health services, achieving universal access to reproductive health is a critical factor in reducing extreme poverty and improving global health. Expanding access to sexual and reproductive health and rights also strengthens individual welfare, spreads human rights, slows population growth, reduces environmental degradation and resource scarcity, increases family income, and ultimately leads to greater national, economic and environmental security.
Action Steps for the Health and Rights of Women and Youth
Global Health Initiative (GHI)
The Obama Administration announced in May its intention to undertake a Global Health Initiative. In so doing the White House stated:
"The U.S. global health investment is an important component of the national security 'smart power' strategy, where the power of America's development tools -- especially proven, cost-effective health care initiatives -- can build the capacity of government institutions and reduce the risk of conflict before it gathers strength. In addition, the Administration's funding plan can leverage support from other nations and multilateral partners so that the world can come closer to achieving the health Millennium Development Goals. Discussions are underway with the G-8 partners on fulfilling all of the commitments. This comprehensive global health approach can yield significant returns by investing in efforts to:
IWHC joined two dozen organizations in calling for new investments and strong policies in support of all aspects of global health, recognizing that individuals face a range of health challenges and addressing one without confronting the others is ineffective and harmful. These partners have come together to make recommendations for a more holistic approach to health rather than the siloized efforts of the past that pits the life of one person over the other as if a woman dying from complications from AIDS is more valuable than a woman dying from complications from childbirth.
Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (AYSRH) Coalition
IWHC actively participates in the AYSRH Coalition, an effort convened by Pathfinder International focused on revitalizing support for AYSRH in the U.S. and internationally through increased funding and better policies. In addition to IWHC, several other organizations participate, including Save the Children, Advocates for Youth, and Population Action International. To date, efforts have focused on providing substantive input for the Global Health Initiative as well as to USAID and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator on ways to ensure that the sexual and reproductive rights and health needs of young people are protected and promoted with U.S. foreign assistance dollars.
Changing the Law for Effective Foreign Assistance
Congress is gaining input and guidance from the foreign affairs and development community as it shapes legislation to guide these programs. Stay up to date on progress on these efforts by signing up for updates.
IWHC is a member of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, a coalition of approximately 30 development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens and private sector organizations advocating for more effective and accountable U.S. foreign assistance. "A New Day a New Way" is a set of broad recommendations to help the United States achieve its foreign assistance goals overall.