*This post is co-authored by Michael Bernstein
CGD Policy Blogs
In the coming weeks, the two chambers of Congress will head into conference committee to decide how to allocate some $36 billion in the international affairs budget across a multitude of foreign aid programs. In a federal budget dominated by defense and domestic spending, every penny of the international affairs budget--particularly development assistance--will be hard fought. Sarah Rose and I did a short paper on whether the Millennium Challenge Account deserves the full $3 billion request. Share your thoughts.
On Monday, March 26, US Congressman Barney Frank hosted a delegation from MCA Cape Verde which presented to Congress the progress to date on its MCA compact. Cape Verde signed a $110 million compact with the MCA in July of 2005 (with an additional $7.5 million in government counterpart financing). It has been almost a year and a half since Entry Into Force (October 2005), so--as MCA watchers are increasingly looking for evidence of implementation--it was a great opportunity to hear about some of the things happening on the ground.
We're seeing an interesting and positive development on the regulatory front today, as GlaxoSmithKline submits a regulatory file to European Medicines Agency (EMEA) under Article 58 for the combination vaccine candidate Globorix (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and meningitis serogroups A and C). EMEA's Article 58 provides for the agency to offer a scientific opinion on the the efficacy, quality and safety of medicinal products intended for use exclusively outside the European Union - in this case, in Africa and Asia.
It's much easier to tell if a child gets a vaccination than it is to tell if a pregnant woman gets proper prenatal care. The first you can easily observe, and therefore count or measure; the second is trickier. But determining the appropriateness of a health service involves first defining what is considered to be high-quality is and then being able to measure it. There are lots of good ideas about how to do both, but it is not nearly as standardized as measuring number of assisted deliveries or utilization rates at clinics.
As MCC watchers worry about the fate of its $3 billion FY08 funding request within a tight International Affairs account and during a time when global engagement in poverty reduction and instability is most pressing, comes a shot across the bow. Senators Domenici and Hutchinson filed budget amendment 722 rescinding $21.7 million in already appropriated funds to the MCC to fund a canal project in the Rio Grande. The vote could come up as early as an hour from now, or perhaps tomorrow morning.
Keep a look out for our next piece on the larger funding situation of the MCC...
Many readers of our piece last week on U.S. foreign aid reform, Billions for War, Pennies for the Poor: Moving the President's FY2008 Budget from Hard Power to Smart Power, have asked for the state of play on Congressional mark-ups of the International Affairs budget itself. With a nod to the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign for their terrific up to date coverage, here's where we're at: