The Foreign Service Journal - May 2017
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MAY 2017


ner incredible good will from the people in the countries where

we serve,” adds Kathryn Panther, who joined the Foreign Service

on Sept. 10, 2001, and retired this year.

“As a Foreign Service health officer working in develop-

ing countries,” she says, “I experienced firsthand the profound

gratitude frommothers whose children were saved thanks to our

health and nutrition programs. I saw joy and hope on the faces

of those afflicted by AIDS, knowing that life-saving medicines

provided by the American people had commuted their death sen-

tences. For many people and health-care providers who benefited

fromU.S. government-funded medicines and services, we are the

face of the United States of America, and they have great respect

for us as a people and as a country.”

While gratitude is important, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

What ultimately matters is effective programming and lasting

impact—which is why USAID employs data-driven decision-

making to sharpen its programs and measure success. USAID’s

annual review of Mission Health Implementation Plans, strategic

plans for use of global health funds, is a key element of the

agency’s analysis. This review process ensures that programs,

budgets and implementing mechanisms are aligned with U.S.

government global health priorities and support state-of-the-art

programs grounded in evidence.

Our analysis shows that since 2008, USAID’s efforts to end

preventable child andmaternal deaths have helped save the lives

of 4.6 million children and 200,000 women in priority countries.

All-cause mortality rates among children under 5 have declined

significantly in 16 out of 19 African countries covered under

the President’s Malaria Initiative, with declines ranging from 18

percent to 67 percent. Through the President’s Emergency Plan for

AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, USAIDworks to link thousands of people

to proper care and treatment and has increased the number of HIV-

positive people on life-saving antiretroviral treatments to 11.5 mil-

lion. In Fiscal Year 2015 alone, USAID tested 24.9 million people,

treating close to four million people and ensuring that more than

410,000 pregnant women received antiretroviral medications to

prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Kerry Pelzman, a Senior Foreign Service officer who is the

current director of USAID/Southern Africa’s bilateral health

office in Pretoria, says that the human face of health assistance

transcends bilateral tensions and brings out the best in us all.

She argues that “the lifesaving nature of many health interven-

tions, often supported through foreign assistance, can generate

positive opinions about America and Americans.” There doesn’t

seem to be as much scope for ulterior motives in the health sec-

tor, she says, with potentially less room for backlash and criticism.

Charlotte Niwemusa and her son, Justin, wait to see a doctor at Manyange Health Center in March. In Rwanda, USAID works with

partners to improve information systems, supply chain management and training of health workers.