It has been a long time since I have done a round-up of posts on other philanthropy blogs that have caught my eye, so today is the day! Other topics covered below include social determinants of health (specifically, housing), “tasksharing” in global health, and charities’ use of data.

I love having the opportunity to peruse the GrantWatch Blogroll (list of blogs) to see what others are writing about.

Do you work for a foundation that has a blog that covers health and is missing from our list? Let us know!

Health Reform

“Affordable Care Act Offers Funders Opportunities for Impact,” by Peter Long, president and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, on that foundation’s blog, December 10. Long is a foundation leader who is very comfortable with using social media to communicate. Hats off to him! Here, he writes about the principal components of the health reform law. He comments, “Regardless of what a state decides [to do about its health insurance exchange or expanding Medicaid], health foundations are primed to work with federal and state agencies to make major investments to maximize enrollment” in health insurance. He reminds funders that they “are uniquely positioned to rise above political posturing and [to] promote progress on implementing the ACA [Affordable Care Act].” Doing so “will undoubtedly improve the lives” of many Americans, he maintains.


“Up for Debate: Turning the Tide on AIDS,” by Stefano Bertozzi of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on its Impatient Optimists blog, December 3. (This post is part of a series produced by the Skoll World Forum and the Gates blog.) Citing UNAIDS data, the author states that “the world has made huge progress against HIV,” especially in reducing the rates of new infections in Africa. Also, good and measurable progress has been made in expanding access to antiretroviral treatment, “while reducing the cost of HIV medicines by more than 99 percent.” But “the epidemic continues to outpace efforts to control it,” Bertozzi states. New ways to prevent HIV have been demonstrated and are gaining approvals. There have been “promising advancements in vaccine research.” Read the post for more details and for suggestions of what advocates should tell funders.

Nonprofits/Nurses/Maternal-Child Health

“More Charities Harnessing Data to Track Results,” on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy Today blog, December 11. This post summarizes a Time magazine article about nonprofits’ use of data. One nonprofit highlighted is the Nurse-Family Partnership, which tracks some 2,000 variables regarding the families its nurses visit, Victor Luckerson, author of the magazine article, reports. This partnership has been around a number of years and been mentioned in GrantWatch’s pages. Read about its funders here.

“Tasksharing in Ethiopia: A Midwife Can Do That Now,” by Tesfaye Arage on the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog, December 11. Arage is a nurse and team leader with Marie Stopes International, in Ethiopia—where physicians are scarce. Tasksharing is a popular word in global health, the author explains, but it may not be well understood elsewhere. It means training mid- and lower-level health professionals, including midwives and community health workers, “to perform procedures that previously only doctors could do.” And the World Health Organization has published new guidelines on tasksharing in maternal and newborn health care that recommend that governments enable more health workers below the level of physician to provide key services, including family planning.

Oral Health

“Oral Health Care Is a Winnable Battle, but We’re Not There Yet,” by Sara Schmitt of the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), on the Colorado Trust’s CommunityConnections Blog, December 11. In this clearly written post, Schmitt says that “a growing lack of access to dental care is affecting the entire state.” That statistic comes from a recent CHI issue brief that reports findings of the 2011 Colorado Health Access Survey; the Colorado Trust funded the brief. State legislators at a Colorado Health Institute–event (called Hot Issues in Health Care) had a chance while there, “to focus on oral health–an issue sometimes lost in the larger discussions around access to health insurance and health care,” Schmitt says. Although we have heard many of them before, read Schmitt’s well-put reminders of why oral health is so important. She also mentions ways to increase access to dental care.

Patient Activation

“Measuring Patient Involvement Is Hard, but We Must Do It,” by Sondra Roberto of the Health Foundation (London, United Kingdom) on its Blog, November 28. Roberto writes about a mandate promulgated by England’s Department of Health. She cites it in this way: the National Health Service (NHS) “must become dramatically better at involving people with long-term conditions in their own healthcare and empowering them to manage their care and treatment.” She states that “evidence shows that increasing patient activation can lead to improved health behaviours and, therefore an enhanced quality of life.” Roberto says that challenges exist: it is difficult “to define what to measure and hard to define how to measure progress on involving people in their own care and treatment. The author mentions the Patient Activation Measure (PAM). (Health Affairs has an upcoming thematic issue on “patient engagement.” Colleagues say that through their work on that February 2013 issue, including reading submitted articles, they have learned that the terms “patient activation” and “patient engagement” are used interchangeably, at least sometimes. One colleague reported back to me that many people find the terms vaguely defined. However, here are some formal definitions to look over; see point 2, which may shed some light on this. Thank you to deputy editor Sarah Dine for sending that link!)

Social Determinants of Health

“Investing for Long-Life Zip Codes,” by David Fukuzawa of the Kresge Foundation, on Giving InSight blog (of the Health and Environmental Funders’ Network (HEFN), December 10. The author writes about what Kresge and the Health and Housing Funders Forum, which it supports, are doing to spur funding at the intersections where health and housing meet. Fukuzawa mentions his tour of housing in a slum in Los Angeles and his meeting with a local partnership, which realized that health care alone “wasn’t going to fix the health problems of the 48,000 people living [there] in run-down, [vermin-] infested, toxic housing who get sick each year.” That community also lives near a fracking well, he notes. “A growing cross-sectoral chorus agrees housing has a significant effect on human health,” Fukuzawa states. Read more, including what Robert Wood Johnson Foundation president and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, said about why the health and community development fields should collaborate.