THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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.