The Top 10 Global Health Moments in 2013

By Karl Hofmann, President & CEO, PSI


The end of each year provides the opportunity to reflect on what transpired and what was accomplished. Global health saw plenty of victories and setbacks in 2013. Drug resistant TB, slowing donor funding, new outbreaks of polio and a devastating typhoon showed how easily progress can stall.

Amid these challenges emerged a changing global health landscape. The old way of doing things is now, more than ever, on its way out. In the next five years, the range of actors that are engaging and making a difference in addressing global health issues will continue to broaden and expand, even as the underlying health challenges narrow, and as The Lancet recently described, converge.

The infrastructure that developed over the last 50 years to tackle global development – the United Nations, donor agencies, international NGOs, other intermediaries and host governments – now finds itself working more and more with corporations, impact investors, next generation philanthropists, and socially networked individuals. This burgeoning ecosystem of development actors generates unprecedented attention and potential resources to address global poverty. Getting the roles right for these and other players might have a lot to do with whether we can end extreme poverty during our lifetime.

These are our top 10 moments for global health in 2013. Top 10 lists inevitably leave lots out. What did our global health and development leaders miss? Let us know what you think and share a few of your predictions for 2014.

1. Typhoon Haiyan

We include Haiyan not only for the unimaginable devastation it caused but as a reminder that when the media attention wanes and the world moves on, the health needs of the people affected will still be great.

“We will continue to serve these communities’ immediate needs, as well as long-term needs including child and maternal health; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; and mental health services.” – Nancy A. Aossey, President & CEO of International Medical Corps

2. Malala Yousafzai’s Ripple Effect on Family Planning

The impact of Malala Yousafzai’s efforts on education is obvious, less so is the impact she will have on the reproductive health of girls and women. If Malala has her way, girls will not only be better educated, they will have healthier families, build stronger communities and contribute to more robust economies.

3. Polio Movement Celebrates Successes, Faces Setbacks

The world is watching how the polio community will overcome conflict and violence to eradicate polio by 2018.

4. Global Leaders Show Unprecedented Support for Maternal and Child Health

In September, The World Bank, UNICEF, USAID, Norway committed $1.15 billion over the next three years to advance progress toward Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, and to get essential services and medicines to women and children who need them most.

5. Women Philanthropists Align for Health and Rights of Girls and Women

Women philanthropists are catalysts for new, innovative ways to deliver life-saving health products that will improve the lives of girls and women throughout the world. They are engaged and here to stay.

6. Gender-based Violence Movement Sees Tipping Point

World leaders acted on their commitments to eliminate gender-based violence, signaling a tipping point in the fight. Momentum is behind the movement. This is an issue to watch in 2014.

7. Under Mark Dybul’s Leadership, the Global Fund Is Back and Better than Ever

An impressive level of financial commitment from existing and new donor governments sends a strong signal.

8. Global USAID-Walmart Partnership Solidifies Long-Developing Trend

Public-private partnerships are not new. It is the magnitude of USAID’s partnership with Walmart that made us stand up and take notice.

9. Drug Resistance Threatens TB Progress, New Drugs Show Promise

By many measures the world is making great progress against TB – the rate of new cases has fallen worldwide and new drugs are in development – yet drug resistance seriously threatens that progress.

10. Women Deliver Conference Secures Bold Commitments for Girls and Women

More than 5,000 people gathered at Women Deliver in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to promote the health of girls and women, adding additional momentum to what economists, government donors, philanthropists conclude: when you invest in the health of girls and women, you lift.

Read the latest edition of PSI’s Impact Magazine here.

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Contraception: It's Your Life, It's Your Future, Know Your Options


World Contraception Day is an annual reminder of commitments made by the global community to expand access to information and methods of family planning for women and couples. Under the motto “Your Future. Your Choice. Your Contraception,” WCD 2013 focuses on empowering young people to think ahead and build contraception into their future plans, in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Increased contraceptive use has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies by more than two-thirds and prevent almost a third of maternal deaths that occur globally each year. Despite this, it is estimated that more than 220 million women in developing countries who want to delay or prevent a pregnancy do not have access to desired contraception options.

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How the aid sector is working with the private sector

Nonprofits, governments and UN agencies are working more and more with the private sector to address some of the world’s greatest humanitarian problems. These collaborations are putting together the best of what each has to offer.  An article from IRIN yesterday provides a quick list to show recent examples of how the private sector is working with UN agencies. Here are a few:

IKEA and UNHCR: The IKEA Foundation, the charitable arm of Swedish furniture giant, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are partnering to pilot a new flat-packed refugee shelter that requires no tools to assemble, is better able to withstand harsh weather conditions and is more durable than the traditional canvas tents that have accommodated millions of refugees around the world. The new shelters are being tested in Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado refugee camp and in Iraq’s Domiz camp for Syrian refugees.

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Cross Post: We Need the Private Sector

By Christopher Purdy, Executive Vice President of DKT International. This originally appeared on The Broker blog.

If we want to increase jobs and reduce poverty, we must emphasize markets and the private sector, and include them in the post-2015 development discussion. Failure to engage the private sector in development is like trying to swim from New York to Amsterdam; you can do it but everyone else will have already arrived before you.

There is little doubt about the influence the private sector has on economies and societies. According to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the flow of foreign private investment into the developing world dwarfs official development assistance (ODA) by about 4 to 1, even in the aftermath of the global economic recession.

Like the public and NGO sectors, the private sector is far from perfect. And the underlying motive of generating profits does not always align well with humanitarian principles of development. However, there are an equal number of positive examples of how the private sector is helping to improve lives in the developing world. Indeed, broad development is severely impeded without active participation from a vibrant private sector. InterAction, the US consortium of international NGOs, echoed this sentiment in a 2011 policy paper which encouraged the US government and other donors to engage private sector actors not only in fundraising but also in the innovation and creativity that can promote better development.


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Why "Partnerships" Were All the Buzz at Women Deliver

This is a special guest post from Jill Filipovic

Does the private sector have a role improving health systems? According to some participants at this year’s Women Deliver conference on maternal health, absolutely.

The conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, brought together thousands of health care providers, advocates, politicians, journalists, activists and human rights workers to discuss the challenges, victories and potential solutions in the maternal health field. One of those solutions: Private sector involvement.

Most people who work in the maternal health field are there for one reason, said Jennifer Pope, Director of Support for International Family Planning Organisation at PSI, in a Women Deliver panel on the private sector and health care. They’re working for “Sara.”

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Cross Post: Is the Private Sector Misunderstood in Development?

By Lorea Russell – This originally appears on the Tomorrow Global blog.

David McGuire, President and CEO of The QED Group LLC, wrote a piece on Devex Impact last week about how the private sector was a critical but misused partner in development. Mr. McGuire talks about the “give us your money and we’ll do good things” attitude that a lot of NGOs have. Guilty as charged.

For a long time I saw PPPs as a way of getting a company to put in some money to kick in the USAID contribution, and not as a real partner. As I’ve started to work in the social enterprise sector, I’ve had to re-think and re-frame how I feel about business models being used to further development goals. That led to a rethink of my previous interactions with the private sector.

I have mixed feelings – I’m kicking myself for all the missed opportunities to engage the private sector in a meaningful way. I would never treat a donor or another partner like a check, so why would I treat a private sector partner that way? Mostly because I just assumed they didn’t actually “care” about the communities the way I did. I thought they just wanted to throw money at the problem so I could fix it and they could say they were making a difference.  In retrospect, these partnerships might have produced a lot more if I’d taken a different approach to communicating with partners – language, process, and definitions of success can make or break successful partnerships between the private sector and NGO partners.

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Curbing Hunger with Private-Public Partnerships

We have featured posts and information regarding the importance of private-public partnerships (PPPs) for global health. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is hosting a special series that examines ways that PPPs can impact agriculture. The core issue is malnutrition and PPPs play a vital role in reducing the burden. “Smart public-private partnerships that draw on the added value of government, business and civil society will ensure that we can reduce hunger and improve nutrition in sustainable, people-centered ways that ultimately improve lives and save them,” writes InterAction CEO Sam Worthington.

Edesia founder and Executive Director, Navyn Salem, wrote last week about how her nonprofit is partnering with the Haitian government, the United States, Nutriset and others to establish a pilot program for the distribution of a new fortified peanut paste for schoolchildren.

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