Princeton-in-Africa accepting applications from ’13ers and recent U.S. grads

Princeton-in-Africa is currently recruiting candidates for its 2013-2014 fellowship year. The application is available here.

While the organization was originally formed to provide opportunities for recent Princeton graduates, PiAF is now accepting applications from graduating seniors in the Class of 2013 and young alumni from any nonprofit college or university in the U.S. Fellowships are highly competitive, and fellows are placed in truly extraordinary opportunities across the continent.

From PRI: US Policy Sparks Anti-Gay Attacks in Liberia

Thanks to Rebecca Littman for passing on this story from PRI, which argues that U.S. statements identifying treatment of gays as a human rights concern have been associated with trumped up anti-gay rhetoric in the country.

Not surprisingly, false rumors have fueled frustrations:

Much of the recent debate here is rooted in misinformation about the Obama policy. Liberia receives more than $200 million a year from the U.S., and the Liberian media have repeatedly reported – incorrectly — that the Obama policy makes American foreign aid contingent on advancing gay rights. One newspaper headline declared: “‘No Gay Law, No Help,’ Obama threatens African Leaders.”

Some interviewed for the story have suggested that the backlash from the policy has actually led to increased threats to the security and dignity of gays in that country. I’d need to see a lot more evidence before I was convinced that the American statements have actually had a negative impact — could well be that there is simply more awareness and reporting of the problem, and a focus on a few visible events. Nonetheless, disheartening to think that this might be a real possibility.

Global fund for HIV, TB, Malaria at crossroads

The Global Fund‘s executive director, Michel Kazatchkine, resigned from his post this week amidst a witch’s brew of political conflict and funding shortfalls. In response, Laurie Garrett penned a nice analytical essay — which I re-post here — about what all this means not just for the fund, but for global health more generally.

To be sure, the history of international aid efforts is littered with failed and even harmful initiatives, and these have led many to become aid-skeptics. But the global fund has been a spectacularly successful vehicle for efficiently converting rich country dollars into usable public health resources, especially essential medicines, in the world’s poorest countries. While I have been somewhat critical of the organization’s over-emphasis on multiple-stakeholder governance, which at times has contributed to accountability and efficiency failures, the big picture is one of remarkable success during a period in which the devastation of AIDS could have been even worse than it’s been.

Like in American politics today, where there is little enthusiasm for the notion that our economy could have been worse with a different response to the global economic meltdown, my sense of international support for public health counter-factuals is similarly tepid. But in a globalized world, in which infectious diseases are transmitted rapidly across borders, and our financial and physical health is so inter-dependent, we require effective global governance institutions. And the global fund has been generally well run, lean, and effective.

It is extraordinarily difficult to parse out the individual efforts and impact of the myriad global actors involved in the campaign to fight global infectious diseases over the past couple of decades. But Garrett highlights that a full two thirds of all malaria funding is now dependent on the fund… and the incidence of malaria has dropped precipitously in recent years.

Out in Davos, the global health celebrities — Bono, Clinton, Gates, and others — are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the fund. Hopefully they will be able to shmooze world leaders to maintain commitments to this important institution in the years to come.

Ugandans react to new aid pressures

Recently, I posted about the UK’s moves to apply pressure on African countries to be respectful and to protect the human rights of all people, irrespective of sexual orientation. And in recent weeks, Secretary Clinton has signaled that the Obama administration is going to do much the same.

It’s a bold foreign policy move, and it’s generating a lot of heat, especially in Uganda, which receives a ton of foreign aid. On the one hand, today’s NY Times op-ed from a Ugandan activist (Gay and Vilified in Uganda – NYTimes.com) provided a powerful portrait of what homosexuals face in their country. But President Museveni has tried to shift the agenda away from gay rights to the “universal” need for economic development. Meanwhile, this clip

from Ugandan news (after about minute 1:00), reports on a meeting of Ugandan ambassadors from around the world discussing how to promote a better image abroad. At the meeting, Acting minister of Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem, says Uganda will “not tolerate acts of sexual abuse perpetrated on minors and other vulnerable people by homosexuals in the name of practicing their gay rights.” Typically, the Ugandan government has done everything possible to be the darling of the aid community, but on this social issue, they are angling for a real standoff.