Senator Frank Lautenberg, Global Health Champion

By Elizabeth Petoskey, Advocacy & Policy Consultant, PSIMy Approved Portraits

The global health community lost a champion today.  We are saddened by the passing of New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, who was one of America’s greatest advocates for women’s health and reproductive rights around the world.

In his powerful role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Lautenberg fought to protect access to family planning services for women internationally. He worked hard to, despite never succeeding, permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy, a policy better know as the “Global Gag Rule” which prevents foreign NGOs from receiving federal funding if they provide abortion services with private funds.

Senator Lautenberg tirelessly advocated to protect and expand the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and to integrate family planning services in other global health and development programs.

In times of proposed severe cuts to malaria, the Global Fund and bilateral HIV/AIDS funding, Senator Lautenberg called on U.S. leadership to step up and protect these vital, life-saving programs.

One of the final bills Senator Lautenberg introduced on the floor of the Senate in April demonstrated his lasting commitment to reproductive rights and strong global health legacy that he leaves behind.  The “Peace Corps Equity Act of 2013” would provide Peace Corps Volunteers with access to the same standard of health care that most women with federal health care coverage already receive, including coverage of abortions in instances of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is endangered.

Senator Lautenberg faithfully served the people of New Jersey and fought for the voiceless globally for almost 30 years. PSI extends our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Senator Lautenberg.

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Tell Congress #WhyForeignAid

This is a copy of a letter to members of congress signed by PSI and dozens of other NGOs, advocacy groups and others concerned that efforts to reduce the US deficit might negatively affect America’s global leadership role.

Dear Senator/Representative,

As organizations working to end poverty and respond to emergencies around the world, we write to strongly urge you to support the Senate’s fiscal year 2013 overall funding level for the International Affairs Budget in order to protect its poverty-focused accounts throughout all upcoming budget negotiations, including negotiations to avert or delay the sequester.

The budget decisions facing you in the months ahead are daunting, and are of tremendous importance for millions of lives around the world and the future of United States’ security and economic prosperity. There is no doubt that our nation’s fiscal house must be put in order, but it must be done thoughtfully and comprehensively, while ensuring a bright and secure future for the U.S.

This year has witnessed historic events—from the Syrian uprising, to democratic elections in Egypt, to food crises of major proportions in both the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. These events demonstrate in stark terms the dynamic nature of the world around us and the need for strong and effective diplomatic and development tools. The Senate’s funding levels for the International Affairs Budget and its poverty-focused accounts, forged under the bipartisan leadership of Senators Patrick Leahy and Lindsey Graham, recognize current fiscal limitations while enabling continued investments that save lives, increase our national security, and spur economic development both at home and around the world.

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PSI/Zimbabwe’s Farai Chieza Speaks Out on Safe Water

Farai Chieza, from PSI/Zimbabwe, closes out the World Water Day 2012 reception with the US Senate by speaking about a caregiver he’s come to know in Zimbabwe. Earlier in the day, Farai participated in a round table discussion on diarrheal diseases and then conducted top priority Congressional meetings. Watch the video above to hear about the impact of unsafe water on the lives of women and families living in Zimbabwe.

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U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) discuss the GAIN Act

By Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Imagine you are recovering from a routine surgery only to find yourself fighting for your life a few days later because of a bacterial infection that was acquired as a result of the procedure. To make matters worse, traditional medicines are proving ineffective at battling the infection. That’s what happened to Jamel Sawyer, a former college football player from Norwalk, Conn., who knows the crippling impact all too well after contracting an antibiotic-resistant Staph infection. After multiple rounds of antibiotic treatment, Jamel was left paralyzed from the waist down. This frightening scenario is an emerging reality as these “super bugs” – named so for their resistance to known antibiotics – are becoming more pervasive throughout the country and the world.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that MRSA – a drug-resistant strain of Staph bacteria – is responsible for more than 17,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, more than AIDS. A lesser-known bug, Acinetobacter, has infected more than 700 of our troops serving in Iraq since 2003. The stagnant drug development pipeline in this area has caused the World Health Organization to name antibiotic-resistant infections one of the “three greatest threats to human health.” I am proud to introduce the Generating Antibiotics Incentives Now (“GAIN”) Act with my colleague, Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee. I believe that we must work together for patients like Jamel all around the world to fight back against this dangerous epidemic. We must harness nature and American ingenuity to win the real-life race against the super bugs.

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