On Friday, May 6, the Humpty Dumpty Institute hosted its 35th Congressional Staff Delegation to the United Nations Headquarters. The delegation was comprised of a bipartisan group of senior Congressional staffers (see participant list). The United Nation’s commitment to global health was the day’s focus.
The day began at the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN) with a breakfast briefing from Ambassador Rosemary Di Carlo, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. They spoke to the delegation about the role the United States Mission plays in the United Nations, as well as how the United Nations could help the United States achieve its strategic foreign policy goals.
Following breakfast the group moved to the United Nations Headquarters for a series of briefings. The first to speak to the delegation was Mr. Alan Court, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria. Mr. Court spoke about his recent experiences in Ghana. He stressed the need for more long-lasting insecticide-treated nets there and throughout the region as the most effective method to combat the Malaria epidemic. Assistant Secretary-General Robert C. Orr spoke next and further explained that Malaria is one of the top three health related issues on which the United Nations focuses. In addition, A/S Orr spoke at length on the U.N.’s work on combating HIV/AIDS and the expansion of its Women and Children’s Health strategy.
The next briefing was that of Dr. Mickey Chopra, Associate Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Ted Maly, Senior Advisor, UNICEF. They informed the delegation that the death rate in children from diseases such as measles, pneumonia and diarrhea has been cut in half over the past twenty years through the use of vaccinations but, while the numbers are down there is still a growing epidemic. Dr. Chopra and Mr. Maly emphasized the way to reach the Millennium Development Goals in regards to health care would be to target the poorest countries first, since they present the biggest risk of disease and spreading disease.
Mr. Bertil Lindblad, New York Director of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS spoke on the global crisis regarding HIV/AIDS. Mr. Lindblad pointed out that HIV is the leading cause of death and disease among women 15-49 years old worldwide and that woman comprise 50% of those infected globally. He noted that one of the many causes of HIV/AIDs among women is the lack of education to about the risk of contracting HIV. Mr. Bertil also brought to the attention of the delegation that there are still 23 countries that will deport individuals if they are found to be HIV-positive, as well as 52 countries that have restrictions of entry, stay, and residence of HIV-positive patients.
The final presentation of day was done over a working lunch by Mr. Jeffery O’Malley, Director of HIV/AIDS Group, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) . The delegation learned that AIDS responses work best when not only HIV/AIDS is addressed, but when a broader range of issues is also discussed, such as poverty. UNDP works to develop strategic action plans that target both HIV/AIDS and poverty reduction. All the participants in this staff delegation agreed they are better equipped to advise Members of Congress of global health.
Ms. Rachel Burkett – Health Legislative Assistant, Senator James E. Risch (R-ID)
Ms. Rebecca Cotto – Legislative Assistant, Senator James E. Risch (R-ID)
Ms. Tamara Klajn – Professional Staff Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ms. Adriane Casalotti – Legislative Assistant, Representative Lois Capps (D-CA)
Ms. Jenn Holcomb – Legislative Assistant, Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Ms. Kelsey H. Mishkin – Legislative Assistant, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
Ms. Bertha Alisia Guerrero – Legislative Assistant, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
Ms. Kristine Michalson – Legislative Assistant, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
Mr. Ahmed R. Bhadelia – Legislative Assistant, Representative Mike Honda (D-CA)
Mr. Stephen Lassiter – Legislative Assistant, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Ms. Nora Bisharat – Legislative Assistant, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Mr. Michael Darner – Legislative Assistant, Representative John Conyers (D-MI)
Ms. Kara Spencer – Legislative Assistant, Representative Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Mr. Daniel Harsha – Senior Staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Legislative Assistant to Representative Berman (D-CA)
Ms. Jessica J. Lee – Senior Legislative Assistant, Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Ms. Karen Smyth – Director, United Nations Information Center
Mr. Mike Beard – Director, The United Nations Foundation
Mr. Jordie Hannum – Deputy Director, The United Nations Foundation
Ms. Inuki Pantin – Global Health Advocacy Manager, The United Nations Foundation