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Advocacy Update ~ August 20, 2018

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Manager, Policy & Advocacy, and Victoria Rodriguez, Advocacy Associate.

President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Reauthorization Bill

On August 3, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), with Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Karen Bass (D-CA) as additional cosponsors, introduced the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 (H.R. 6651). The bill reauthorizes the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through 2023 and upholds the United States’ commitment to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In a press release, Representative Lee stated, “For the last 15 years, PEPFAR has been a testament to the bipartisan cooperation on U.S. leadership in global public health. Thanks to PEPFAR, millions of lives have been saved through HIV/AIDS treatment, care, and education. But our work is far from over – we are at a tipping point and Congress must recommit to this fight…I am so proud of our work across the aisle, ensuring that PEPFAR can continue to save lives for decades to come.”

GHC Executive Director Loyce Pace welcomed the legislation, stating, “Over the past 15 years, PEPFAR has had an impact on the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, as well as building health systems to address malaria, TB, and maternal and child health. By renewing our commitment to this groundbreaking initiative, we emphasize its value and pave the way for even more global health progress worldwide.”

Read GHC’s full statement here.


OMB Expected to Send Rescissions Package to Capitol Hill

It is expected that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will send a new rescissions proposal to Capitol Hill sometime between now and the end of the fiscal year (FY), on September 30. The rescissions package is expected to target unobligated funds from FY 2017 and FY 2018, and which expire at the end of FY 2018, and could disproportionately impact the International Affairs Budget.

The timing of a new rescissions package is a bit of political maneuver on the part of the administration. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act states that Congress has 45 legislative days to act on a rescissions proposal, and during this time funding targeted for rescission is impounded, meaning it cannot be spent. If Congress fails to act within the 45 days, impounded funds are released. By timing a rescissions package with fewer than 45 days remaining in the fiscal year and by targeting expiring funds, the administration is essentially forcing Congress to take action to prevent the funds from expiring and returning them to the U.S. Treasury. It is unclear if Congress will take up the rescissions package with a busy schedule planned for September, including the FY 2019 appropriation bills in both chambers and the Supreme Court nomination in the Senate.

GHC will continue to monitor any proposed rescissions and will provide updates as needed.

For more information on the rescission process, please refer to our Rescission FAQ.


Appropriations Update

Both House and Senate State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) and Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations subcommittees have marked up their bills for FY 2019.

The Senate returned from a short recess on August 15 to resume work on the appropriation bills. The Senate is debating a “minibus”–several appropriation bills packaged together–which could contain the LHHS bill. Senate leadership believes a majority of the appropriation bills will be passed by the end of August, but could still leave other bills, like SFOPS, on the table. The House returns from August recess on September 4 and will have a little under two weeks to come to a decision on the bills prior to the end of FY 2018. If Congress has not enacted the bills in time, a continuing resolution will be needed to keep the government open.

As FY 2019 appropriations are being decided, GHC is also working with the greater global health community to complete funding recommendations for FY 2020 which will be delivered to OMB in the next few weeks.

Please refer to our previous Advocacy Update for highlights on each appropriations bill.


Global Health Security Simulation on Capitol Hill

In July, GHC in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, NTI | bio, and PATH hosted Clade X: A Global Health Security Simulation for Congressional staff to demonstrate the need for continued support to prevent serious infectious disease threats. The simulation—an abridged, modified version of the original day-long Clade X pandemic exercise designed and hosted by the Center for Health Security—was conducted to highlight the necessity for effective preventive interventions and the importance of accountability of government agencies during global health crises. The exercise gave Congressional staff a window into the choices government leaders must make during a pandemic and highlighted the need for the U.S. to play a leadership role in the global health security community. Read more.

U.S. State Department: Making the global local

The U.S. State Department benefits the American people by advancing U.S. national security, promoting their economic interests, providing services, and reaffirming the country’s exceptional role in the world.

This resource from the U.S. State Department represents just some of the direct impacts State Department programs have in American communities, bringing their global impact closer to home.

The global fight against new HIV Infections

This blog post was written by Revati Chawla, Lead-Prevention Programming at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s mission is to put communities at the centre of the  HIV/AIDS response in order to provide effective local solutions; as they work  to end AIDS through community action. They are a 2018 Global Health Council Member.

In July 2018, the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam brought together organisations, researchers, scientists and activists from across the globe to discuss new advances and priority areas to tackle the HIV epidemic.

The global fight against new HIV infections

A week earlier, UNAIDS warned that the HIV response is off-track, with new infections in 2017 remaining stubbornly high at 1.8 million. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance is part of the Global Prevention Coalition, which supports efforts to accelerate HIV prevention and reduce the level of new infections in countries most affected by the epidemic as set out in the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map. The Roadmap charts a course for countries to achieve the global HIV primary prevention goals. Its headline target is to reduce new HIV infections by 75% from 2010 figures, to less than 500,000 per year by 2020. However, UNAIDS’ first progress report monitoring the implementation of the Road Map, released in May, shows that progress has been slow.

Communities speak out on limited progress 

A series of shadow reports launched by the Alliance at AIDS 2018 provides an assessment of how each country is progressing against the 10-point action plan outlined in the Roadmap. Focusing on six countries – India, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe – the reports paint a picture of inconsistent engagement with civil society groups and little movement on the implementation of new accountability mechanisms that include community-based monitoring tools and initiatives. There is also an urgent need to address structural barriers, such as laws that criminalise drug use, sex work and same-sex behaviour that prevent people from accessing the services they want and need. For young people, laws requiring parental consent for HIV testing or access to SRHR services further impacts their right to health. Weak engagement with community groups and slow progress to reform outdated laws risk undermining efforts towards the HIV Prevention 2020 Roadmap.

The Alliance’s shadow reports are a critical tool for communities to advocate to governments and donors to ensure HIV prevention receives adequate funding and that progress is not derailed by limited engagement with the communities most affected by the epidemic.

Addressing the funding gap

In a satellite session convened by the Alliance during the conference, representatives from governments, civil society and global health organisations, reflected on the current status of HIV prevention efforts and discussed the reports’ findings. Speaking out on the decisions made by governments and donors to prioritise finance for HIV treatment over prevention, Grace Kumwenda from PAKACHERE, a community based organisation in Malawi, said, “It’s not an either/or choice. Treatment should be funded, but prevention should also be funded equally. At the rate we are going now, we will not meet the 2020 prevention targets.”


The shadow reports highlight clear gaps in community involvement in the HIV response in the six countries featured. Patchy progress and weak engagement with community groups risks undermining efforts towards the HIV Prevention 2020 Roadmap

We must continue to assess progress in this area because if we are to meet global targets on prevention, governments must involve communities to develop effective responses for those most at risk of acquiring HIV and provide adequate resources to ensure their participation. 

About the Alliance

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance was founded in 1993 to support community groups in countries that were most affected by the global AIDS crisis. We offered a vision and a way of working that would put communities at the centre of the response in order to provide effective local solutions. We now work with communities in over 40 countries to take local, national and global action on HIV, health and human rights.

Learn more about the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Global Health Council (GHC) Welcomes Legislation Extending PEPFAR

WASHINGTON, DC (August 9, 2018) – This week, Global Health Council welcomed the introduction of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Extension Act of 2018 on Friday, August 3 by the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, sponsored by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY), reauthorizes PEPFAR for five years and reaffirms the bipartisan support and commitment to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“We know that investments in global health work, and PEPFAR is a prime example of that,” stated Loyce Pace, President and Executive Director of Global Health Council. “Over the past 15 years, PEPFAR has had an impact on the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, as well as building health systems to address malaria, TB, and maternal and child health. By renewing our commitment to this groundbreaking initiative, we emphasize its value and pave the way for even more global health progress worldwide.

Since its inception, PEPFAR has supported HIV treatments for more than 13.3 million people around the world, and has put us in reach of an AIDS-free generation with more than 2.2 million babies born HIV-free.

Global Health Council looks forward to working with policymakers and community stakeholders toward the goal of an AIDS-free generation.


About Global Health Council

Established in 1972, Global Health Council (GHC) is the leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates, implementers, and stakeholders around global health priorities worldwide. GHC represents the collaborative voice of the community on key issues; we convene stakeholders around key priorities and actively engage with decision-makers to influence global health policy. Learn more at

Media Contact

Elizabeth Kohlway
Senior Manager, External Affairs and Operations
Global Health Council
(703) 717-5251

Pushing Boundaries in Global Health Storytelling: A Webinar with Creative Activist Lisa Russell

View the full PowerPoint presentation and YouTube recording.

Image courtesy: Lisa Russell

As an advocacy organization, Global Health Council (GHC) can attest to how much impact we can create through our stories. Stories have the ability to compel people to act and support our asks, which include sustained global health funding from the U.S. government and bipartisan support of global health programs.

We recognize the importance of hearing from the people on the frontlines of health programs – putting them at the center and in charge of their narratives. GHC has supported patient advocates to tell their stories at the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA71) and, more recently, at the just concluded interactive civil society hearing in preparation for the High Level Meeting (HLM) on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this September. However, we find ourselves asking, how can we better elevate the voices of the people for whom we advocate?

Cue our webinar co-host, Lisa Russell, an award winning filmmaker and creative activist. Lisa was kind enough to share her experiences with and expertise in storytelling, specifically why it is essential, and more importantly, why it is critical to practice it correctly and responsibly.

A few key highlights from Lisa’s presentation:

Storytelling is a very important element of global health advocacy but we need to invest as a community in making sure the stories we tell are accurate, respectful and responsible.  That comes with investing time in teaching/learning and growing the craft.  It’s a relatively new trend in the global health community but it needs to be based on true storytelling for it to be high quality and sustainable.
Lisa Russell, MPH.

1.Telling stories is critical because the act forms an emotional connection between the storyteller and the audience. There are several types of storytellers including, but not limited, to filmmakers, poets, photographers, musicians, writers, and even beatboxers. However, storytelling is not marketing, journalism, advertising, communications, or campaign slogans. While complimentary aspects of communication, they require a different skill-set from storytelling.

2.Perhaps most important to note is that stories have a structure. They have key elements, which, when built, create a memorable and impactful story. These elements include character, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Lisa refers to her short film, Heroines of Health, to illustrate how each of these key elements play a role in creating a highly acclaimed and impactful story.


Common pitfalls in storytelling in global health are usually around telling a flat linear story, often chronologically (…and then…and then…). With such storytelling, there is no character development, no real conflict or climax, and often the story is unmemorable. Also, many people will start with text to share the context of the story, which detracts from the purpose of the story. You want the story to move people, to be a journey and an experience that they are invested in.


Why pursue responsible storytelling?

If done well, global health storytelling can enable the global health community to elevate stories of struggle and resilience in a way that reaches a larger audience and has greater impact on funding and legislation. If done poorly, it can perpetuate “poverty porn” and a storytelling trend end that is not effective, respected or sustainable.
Lisa Russell, MPH

So how does one begin to create impactful stories?

First, consider partnering with storytellers: musicians, artists, and filmmakers-. They are bold and emotional, have a large following, and have the ability to break down information in a more relatable manner. You can create strong and sustainable partnerships with these storytellers by inviting them to sit “at the table”, invest in their understanding of your organization and the issues you focus on, and invite them to host professional development workshops for staff and/or patient advocates.

You can use different devices to create an impactful story. You can use your story to break down stereotypes; create characters as people first, before their professions; underscore universal or cross-cutting themes that most audiences can relate to; and, of course, use the the story structure to make your story more memorable.

Even with these tools in mind, it is critical to invest time to develop the craft of storytelling, so that the final product is a true reflection of the stories we seek to tell, and are respectful of the people who have let us into their lives. These stories do have the highest chance of connecting with our final audience, and getting them to act on the asks we make of them.

Stay tuned for future webinar on this topic and others!

Sign-up for Lisa’s newsletter to learn more about the craft of storytelling and upcoming events.