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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Secretary-General Guterres Urges U.S. To Maintain Funding For U.N. Agencies

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Chief Presses U.S. to Keep Up Its Support
“Secretary-General António Guterres urged the U.S. not to scale back its support for the United Nations, saying that any move to defund or disengage from the world body would pave the way for other nations to fill in the void. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Guterres said he hoped to send a message to President Donald Trump that ‘there is value’ to the U.S. for its contributions to programs and operations such as peacekeeping, climate change, and humanitarian relief…” (Fassihi, 2/6).

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Marie Stopes International Official Discusses Mexico City Policy Reinstatement With Global Health NOW

Global Health NOW: The Trumped Up Gag Rule and Women’s Health
“One of U.S. President Trump’s first moves in office was signing an executive order to bring back the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. … Trump took the gag rule a step further: he expanded it vastly, to include not just family planning organizations, but all global health organizations that receive U.S. funds — ultimately impacting an estimated $9.5 billion in aid (PAI). Several organizations, including Marie Stopes International, have made the difficult decision to not accept U.S. funds as a result. GHN’s Dayna Kerecman Myers reached out to Marjorie Newman-Williams, vice president and director of International Operations at Marie Stopes International for an update…” (Myers, 2/7).

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U.N., Experts Call For End To FGM On International Day Of Zero Tolerance

Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Medicalization” of female genital mutilation is serious threat — experts
“A growing trend for midwives and nurses to carry out female genital mutilation (FGM) is undermining global efforts to eradicate the internationally condemned practice, experts have warned. Morissanda Kouyate head of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices called for courts to get tough on health workers convicted of carrying out FGM. He also urged professional medical and health associations to expel members who repeatedly perform FGM. ‘Medicalization is one of the biggest threats against the program to eliminate FGM,’ Kouyate told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Rome ahead of international FGM awareness day on Monday…” (Batha, 2/6).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. urges renewed fight to end female genital mutilation as populations grow where practice occurs
“Female genital mutilation denies women and girls their dignity and causes needless pain and suffering, with consequences that endure for a lifetime and can even be fatal, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said, stressing that the U.N. Sustainable Development Agenda promises an end to this practice by 2030. ‘On this Day of Zero Tolerance, let us build on positive momentum and commit to intensifying global action against this heinous human rights violation for the sake of all affected women and girls, their communities and our common future,’ the secretary general said in a message on the International Day, marked annually on 6 February to strengthen momentum towards ending the practice of female genital mutilation, globally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women…” (2/6).

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Perpetuation Of FGM Based On Cultural Evolution, Researchers Say; Understanding Could Be Important For Prevention Efforts

Agence France-Presse: Female genital cutting has ‘evolutionary’ drive: study
“The widely condemned practice of ceremonial genital mutilation among girls and young women follows an evolutionary logic, according to a provocative study published Monday. Understanding this logic — which the researchers described as ‘cultural,’ not biological — may help fulfill the U.N. goal of eliminated the practice worldwide by 2030, the authors said…” (Hood, 2/6).

Economist: Cultural evolution and the mutilation of women
“Genes that increase an individual’s reproductive output will be preserved and spread from generation to generation. That is the process of evolution by natural selection. More subtly, though, in species that have the sorts of learnable, and thus transmissible, behavior patterns known as culture, cultural changes that promote successful reproduction are also likely to spread. This sort of cultural evolution is less studied than the genetic variety, but perhaps that should change, for a paper published this week in Nature Ecology and Evolution, by Janet Howard and Mhairi Gibson of the University of Bristol, in England, suggests understanding it better may help to wipe out a particularly unpleasant practice, that of female genital mutilation…” (2/6).

NPR: Study: A New Strategy To Stop Female Genital Mutilation
“…Researchers … looked at data on more that 60,000 women over the age of 40 in five West African countries who had at least one daughter. And they found that in cultures where the practice of cutting all or part of a woman’s external genitalia is prevalent, cut women, compared to uncut women, have more babies who survive. ‘In societies where cutting is the norm, being cut gives women social status and more social support among women,’ says Janet Howard, lead author of the article and anthropology professor at the University of Bristol. ‘They have more and better marriage opportunities’ — and thus a better chance of bearing children. The study appears on Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution…” (Brink, 2/6).

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New York Times Examines Innovations In Cholera Treatment, Vaccination, Spearheaded By Bangladesh's ICDDR,B

New York Times: Turning the Tide Against Cholera
“…[Cholera] is a continuing threat in nearly 70 countries, where more than one billion people are at risk. Now, thanks largely to efforts that began in cholera’s birthplace, [Bangladesh,] a way to finally conquer the long-dreaded plague is in sight. A treatment protocol so effective that it saves 99.9 percent of all victims was pioneered here. The World Health Organization estimates that it has saved about 50 million lives in the past four decades. Just as important, after 35 years of work, researchers in Bangladesh and elsewhere have developed an effective cholera vaccine. … The treatment advances relied heavily on research and testing done at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, known as the ICDDR,B, in Dhaka…” (McNeil/Ferdous, 2/6).

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Petition From Venezuela Urges Global Fund To Bend Rules On Funding For High-Income Countries

ScienceInsider: Venezuela is running short on HIV meds — and places to turn for help
“On top of its currency being in free fall for three years running, empty shelves at supermarkets, and electricity rationing, Venezuela has a serious shortage of medicines, including life-saving anti-HIV drugs. This led a network of Venezuelans living with HIV to seek ‘urgent humanitarian aid’ in June 2016 from the Geneva, Switzerland-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But because the World Bank classifies Venezuela as a high-income nation, the Global Fund on 18 January denied the request … A petition at change.org is urging the Global Fund to bend its policy toward high-income countries, given the extreme situation…” (Cohen, 2/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Fund Partnership Aims To Address Obstacles To Malaria Elimination

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Failing drugs and superbugs: the race to eliminate malaria
Izaskun Gaviria, senior fund portfolio manager at the Global Fund-supported Regional Artemisinin-resistance Initiative (RAI)

“…[D]espite a general downward trend for malaria, antimalarial drug resistance is getting worse quickly, now with resistance to both artemisinin and the partner drug component, and fitter malaria strains spreading over wide geographical areas. As countries whittle down the areas and populations affected by malaria, only the strongest parasites can hold out. Failing to eliminate malaria quickly could allow these difficult-to-treat, resistant strains to cause a resurgence. … These are precisely the kinds of obstacles to elimination the Global Fund partnership is working to address through RAI. Together, we are working to close gaps in supply chains, so the right drugs are in the right places at the right time. A network of local organizations works to reach highly mobile and remote populations … who historically have been underserved by health systems. Improved surveillance data means that when an outbreak flairs up, an appropriate response can be deployed. … The Global Fund partnership will invest more than US$242 million in five countries through RAI over the next three years…” (2/7).

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Rachel Carson's Criticism Of DDT Focused On Industry's 'Indiscriminate' Use Of 'Biologically Potent Chemicals'

Los Angeles Times: Rachel Carson, ‘mass murderer’? A right-wing myth is poised for a reappearance
Michael Hiltzik, columnist at the Los Angeles Times

“Rachel Carson has been both a hero to environmentalists and the bane of the chemical and pesticide industries … ever since the 1962 publication of her seminal book ‘Silent Spring.’ … [Opponents of Carson have argued] the myth that Carson’s description of the dangers of the pesticide DDT, the central theme of her book, undermined programs against malaria-carrying mosquitoes around the world and therefore condemned millions of people to death from the parasitical disease. … [However, combating] malaria requires programs to have persistent management and effort and lots and lots of money, none of which are very common in the African countries where the disease is endemic. … Carson’s brief against DDT was far more nuanced than her critics say. ‘It is not my contention that chemical insecticides must never be used,’ she wrote in ‘Silent Spring.’ ‘I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm.’ Her real concern was that we had entered ‘an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged.’ When the public objects, she wrote, ‘it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.’ She was right then, and her words are a warning to us today” (2/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Profiles New Members Of U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittees

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: 115th Congress and Global Health: New Democrats for House State and Foreign Operations, Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittees
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” profiles the new members of two House Appropriations subcommittees including Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), who joined the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), who joined the House Appropriations Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education Subcommittee (2/6).

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Laurie Garrett Examines Several Of U.S. President Trump's First Actions, Potential Effects On U.S. Global Health Efforts

Council on Foreign Relations’ “Garrett on Global Health”: Trump: Two Weeks
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses several of U.S. President Trump’s first actions in office, and, when applicable, their potential effects on global health. These actions include “1. ‘minimizing the economic burden’ of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 2. freezing all regulations, 3. reinstating the Mexico City abortion policy (also known as the global gag rule), 4. scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership, 5. freezing hires for the federal workforce, 6. advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline, 7. advancing the Keystone XL Pipeline, 8. expediting environmental reviews on infrastructure projects, 9. promoting pipelines ‘produced in the United States,’ 10. reviewing domestic manufacturing regulation, 11. increasing border security measures, 12. eliminating ‘catch-and-release’ strategies, 13. pursuing undocumented immigrants, 14. reevaluating visa and refugee programs, 15. strengthening the military (NSPM 1), 16. reorganizing the National Security Council (NSPM 2), 17. implementing a lobbying ban, 18. calling for a plan to defeat the self-declared Islamic State (NSPM 3), 19. reducing regulations” (2/3).

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Article Lists 10 Lessons For NGOs From Muskoka Initiative To Achieve SDG Successes

Institute for Research on Public Policy’s “Policy Options”: How an NGO coalition helped score the Muskoka Initiative
Elly Vandenberg, professor of global practice at the Munk School of Global Affairs, “reflect[s] on how a coalition of NGOs in Canada contributed to a 2010 ‘policy win’: the Muskoka Initiative. The coalition persuaded the Canadian government to champion ideas and goals not previously on its agenda and, in the years following, ensured they were implemented. … NGOs should consider the following 10 practical lessons learned as they approach the SDGs. 1. Pay attention to context and create opportunity … 2. Keep the policy ‘ask’ simple … 3. Leave egos and logos behind when leading in a coalition … 4. Build evidence-based consensus … 5. Listen carefully to political needs and find ways to respond to them … 6. Understand that policy development requires flexibility, responsiveness, and trade-offs … 7. Gauge the decision-making context through stakeholder ‘mapping’ … 8. Acknowledge that how one engages is as critical as with whom one engages … 9. Collaborate … 10. Monitoring and Implementation…” (2/7).

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CGD Blog Post Examines New IMF Technical Note On Tobacco Taxes

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog/Views from the Center”: The IMF Finally Speaks on Tobacco Taxes
William Savedoff, senior fellow at CGD, examines the strengths and shortcomings of a technical note on tobacco taxes that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released in November, writing, “While it recognizes the health effects of reducing tobacco consumption, the technical note never addresses how you would make sure that tobacco taxes reduce smoking.” Savedoff also gives suggestions on other resources to read on tobacco excise taxes (2/6).

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