New Voices Senior Fellows Use Voices to Change Policy

When a US$30 million grant was awarded to institutions in the U.S., UK, and Australia to support African countries around malaria control and elimination, four Aspen New Voices Senior Fellows Ify Aniebo (NVF ’16), Ngozi Erondu (NVF ’17), Janet Midega (NVF ’17), and Fredos Okumu (NVF ’19) teamed up to write an open letter to international funders criticizing them for excluding Africa-based institutions.

The Fellows wrote, “Global health institutions, especially funding organizations, must therefore examine their own internal policies and practices that impede progress toward justice and equality for populations that they intend to help. We write this letter as a collective, hoping to accelerate, and in some cases initiate, a process toward real fairness.”

The article was published on Wednesday, 15 April, and resulted in immediate response from PMI. Read PMI’s response here.

Since then:

  • The grant maker they criticized, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), used the Fellows’ specific language and recommendations to shape their objectives in the PMI 2021 – 2016 strategy.
  • USAID asked the authors to give a cross-sectoral presentation on how to have equitable and dignified relationships.
  • The Global Health Bureau at USAID reviewed the recommendations and plan to use the Fellows’ ideas in the Bureau’s mission-focused guide which reaches USAID’s Mission and Health Office Directors around the world.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invited the authors to join a Steering Committee that would be established with the hope to “disrupt age-old global health practices”.