What Is Philanthropy Doing about Ebola?


October 30th, 2014

As the fight against Ebola continues in West Africa, foundations and others are stepping up to provide support. There are too many for GrantWatch Blog to provide a comprehensive list, but here are a few examples.

In an August 25 press release, the CDC Foundation, in Atlanta, announced a $1 million grant to its Global Disaster Response Fund from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The grant is for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ebola response needs.

The CDC Foundation, which was established by Congress, helps the CDC “do more, faster, by forging public-private partnerships to support [the agency’s] work 24/7 to save lives and protect people from health and safety threats,” the release says. It is a 501(c)(3) public charity.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the RWJF’s president and CEO, said in the release, “We are privileged to assist CDC in its heroic efforts to contain this [Ebola] outbreak, and we are confident of their ability to control this scourge—provided they have the support required to do the job.”

The grantee has used the RWJF funds to purchase essential materials needed by the CDC to respond to the Ebola epidemic—for example, polymerase chain reaction machines and “specialized reagents capable of rapidly detecting the presence or absence of the Ebola virus in patient samples,” Claire Greenwell at the CDC Foundation told me. The RWJF funding also is being used to buy electronic tablets for use by contact tracing and burial teams in Liberia and to help buy personal protective equipment used in training US health workers before their deployment to West Africa.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on September 10 that it would commit $50 million to support the scaling up of emergency efforts to contain Ebola in West Africa and to “interrupt transmission of the virus,” according to a Gates press release. As of that time, it had already awarded some of that $50 million. Five million dollars went to the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency operations and more; and $5 million to the US Fund for UNICEF for efforts in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to buy essential medical supplies, coordinate response, and “provide at-risk communities with life-saving health information.” And $2 million was to be allocated “immediately” to the CDC for treatment, health care system strengthening, and more, according to the release.

Read an October 10 blog post by Anick Supplice Dupuy, executive director of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) PSI/Haiti, published on the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog, “On Ebola: Haiti Has Lessons in Slowing the Spread of Infectious Disease.”

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awarded $9 million to the CDC Foundation’s Global Disaster Response Fund, according to a September 11 press release. The intent of the grant is to help manage the public health response to the Ebola epidemic. It will help advance the work of the CDC and that of local ministries of health in setting up “sustainable emergency response centers” in countries that were then (and still are) most affected by the epidemic: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Read the rest of this entry »

A Postcard from California: Cal Wellness Foundation President on the ACA and the Foundation’s New Grants Program


October 29th, 2014

A few short months after I took the helm as The California Wellness Foundation’s president and CEO, the results of our eighth annual Cal Wellness/Field Health Policy Survey were released. I dug into the results to get a view of what Californians are thinking and feeling about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) implementation in our state.

Here’s my key take-away—Californians are happy with the ACA. And the percentage of bipartisan support for the ACA has risen steadily in California over the years.

I think it’s likely that the satisfaction will continue to increase as folks who have experienced tangible health benefits through the ACA share those success stories.

While other states—including my childhood home of Virginia—have opted not to expand Medicaid through the ACA, in California nearly two of three voters said that the state’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal) is important and that it’s been successful in meeting its objectives.

This positive outlook is attributable to more than just California sunshine.

For one thing, California has a history of working across political divides on health care reform. Years before the ACA, California tried to create statewide health system reform. While reform didn’t happen then, it laid the ground work for policy makers to prioritize health care access. California health foundations have been working together since then, too.

Also, and perhaps most significantly, a robust cadre of health advocates has been central to bringing grassroots voices to the attention of policy makers. This is why Cal Wellness has a strong grant-making commitment to support public policy advocacy organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

Family Members Caring for People With Cognitive and Behavioral Health Conditions: Nationwide Survey Results


October 23rd, 2014

In 2012, 9.6 million adults in the United States had lived with a serious mental illness in the past year. Also, 20 percent of adults over age fifty have depression, and about 11 percent suffer from anxiety disorders. And what about the people who care for an aging population? What challenges do family caregivers face when supporting and providing for adults with chronic physical and mental illness?

The report, “Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care to People with Cognitive and Behavioral Health Conditions,” published in August by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the United Hospital Fund (UHF), with support from the John A. Hartford Foundation and the AARP Foundation, sheds some light on the stresses and challenges that family caregivers of people with these conditions face.

The report is the third in the “Insight on the Issues” series, based on analyses from a December 2011 national survey of 1,677 family caregivers. Earlier findings were published in the AARP/UHF report Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care and earlier publications in the series.

The Stresses of Family Caregiving

According to the survey results, nearly half of family caregivers performed medical/nursing tasks (such as medication management and wound care) in addition to assisting with both activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing) and instrumental activities of daily living (such as transportation and shopping). And about half of this group provided care for a family member with at least one behavioral or cognitive health condition.

Authors Susan C. Reinhard of AARP and Sarah Samis and Carol Levine of UHF define cognitive impairments as memory problems, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, and behavioral conditions as depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.

In addition, care recipients with behavioral and/or cognitive conditions were more likely to have chronic physical diagnoses such as stroke/hypertension, musculoskeletal problems, cardiac disease, and diabetes than care recipients who did not have behavioral or cognitive conditions. Care recipients with both behavioral health and cognitive conditions were most likely to have undergone ambulatory surgery or to have gone to a hospital emergency department. Read the rest of this entry »

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