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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Declares Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since WWII As Famine Threatens 4 Nations In Africa, Middle East, Trump Administration Proposes Cuts To Foreign Aid

Associated Press: Worst humanitarian crisis hits as Trump slashes foreign aid
“The world’s largest humanitarian crisis in 70 years has been declared in three African countries on the brink of famine, just as President Donald Trump’s proposed foreign aid cuts threaten to pull the United States from its historic role as the world’s top emergency donor. If the deep cuts are approved by Congress and the U.S. does not contribute to Africa’s current crisis, experts warn that the continent’s growing drought and famine could have far-ranging effects, including a new wave of migrants heading to Europe and possibly more support for Islamic extremist groups…” (Lynch/Graham, 3/28).

New York Times: Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4
“…Another famine is about to tighten its grip on Somalia. And it’s not the only crisis that aid agencies are scrambling to address. For the first time since anyone can remember, there is a very real possibility of four famines — in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen — breaking out at once, endangering more than 20 million lives. International aid officials say they are facing one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II. And they are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past…” (Gettleman, 3/27).

PRI: Drought doesn’t cause famine. People do.
“…The key for avoiding the worst outcomes? Political will, experts say. … And that’s where data become especially important. Measuring early indicators is crucial for averting famine, as is early investment. In its March announcement, the U.N. asked for $4.4 billion in emergency funding for intervention, and released $22 million in an emergency loan to Somalia on March 21…” (Chou, 3/27).

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Foreign Policy Examines Potential Impacts Of Reinstated, Expanded Mexico City Policy In Africa

Foreign Policy: The Global Gag Rule: America’s Deadly Export
“…Family planning advocates from Washington, D.C., to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia worry that Trump’s global gag rule will not only roll back many of the modest but critical gains African countries have made on safe abortion, but also the decade’s worth of progress in increasing family planning, decreasing maternal mortality, and promoting democracy and women’s rights more broadly. … Every year, despite increased access to safe abortion procedures, six million African women end their pregnancies unsafely, and 1.6 million are treated for complications. Africa has more abortion-related deaths than any other continent. … [F]or the past 30 years, the hand most obviously manipulating the landscape of reproductive rights in Africa has been the United States. America has injected its own uniquely volatile abortion politics, hindering the efforts of African governments and health workers to improve conditions for their people and subverting the ability of citizens of sovereign nations to openly debate abortion rights…” (Filipovic, 3/20).

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Bush-Era Global Health Official Bill Steiger Working At State Department, Advising Trump Administration

ScienceInsider: Trump recruits controversial Bush-era global health official
“William ‘Bill’ Steiger, a global health official under former President George W. Bush who crossed swords with many scientists, is now advising President Donald Trump. Steiger is working at the U.S. Department of State on a so-called ‘beachhead team,’ which helps agencies transition from the Obama to the Trump administration. Several sources tell ScienceInsider that Steiger attended the executive board meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, in January…” (Cohen, 3/27).

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Zambia Vice President Inonge Wina Discusses Concerns Over Proposed Cuts To U.S. Foreign Aid

ABC: Zambia fears health programs will suffer under Donald Trump’s proposal to cut foreign aid
“Critical programs across Africa will be impacted by significant foreign aid funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration, the sub-Saharan nation of Zambia has warned. … Questioned about U.S. aid cuts during a recent trip to Australia, Zambia’s Vice President Inonge Wina said a range of health programs in her country would be impacted. … Zambia’s vice president says her government is looking at alternative funding avenues to maintain existing health programs in the face of the U.S. budget cuts. … ‘As a country we are preparing ourselves for any eventualities’…” (Van Extel, 3/28).

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Family Planning Should Remain Priority In West Africa To Avoid Future Security Issues, UNFPA Official Says In Devex Interview

Devex: Q&A: UNFPA West Africa director on the security benefits of family planning
“…Places such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, and Senegal have seen an average two percent growth in contraceptive prevalence each year, [United Nations Population Fund West Africa Regional Director Mabingue Ngom] said. … However, 2015 United Nations research on trends in contraceptive use still points to Africa as the region with the lowest contraception use, at just 33 percent of reproductive-aged women. … Ngom warns that [high population] growth rates could be the basis for increased radicalism and youth involvement in extremist groups. Though messaging is crucial to progress, Ngom told Devex that family planning needs to remain a priority to avoid future security issues in the region…” (Roby, 3/27).

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Somalia Aims To Reach 450K People With Cholera Vaccine In Effort To Stem Disease's Spread

New York Times: As Cholera Spreads, Somalia Begins Vaccination Campaign
“Somalia, which has been hit by a series of crises that sound like a page from the Book of Job, is starting a major effort to vaccinate 450,000 people against its latest plague: cholera. … In 2015, the country had 15,619 known cholera cases and 548 deaths; this year it has already had over 13,000 cases and 333 deaths, [Abdinasir Abubakar, a cholera expert in the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program and leader of the campaign to deploy 900,000 doses of cholera vaccine supplied by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,] said” (McNeil, 3/27).

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Pakistan Officials Launch Polio Vaccination Campaign In Islamabad After Virus Found In Sewage System

Associated Press: Pakistan launches special anti-polio drive in Islamabad
“A Pakistani health official says a special anti-polio drive has been launched in Islamabad after traces of the polio virus were found in the city’s sewage system…” (3/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trump Administration's Budget Blueprint 'Shortchanges Basic Scientific Research' Across Government

New York Times: The Trump Administration’s War on Science
Editorial Board

“…[President Trump’s] first budget blueprint is a cramped document that sacrifices American innovation to small-bore politics, shortchanging basic scientific research across the government — from NASA to the Department of Energy to the National Institutes of Health — in ways that can only stifle invention and undercut the nation’s competitiveness. … Some research cuts, particularly to the NIH, aren’t likely to make it past Congress. But they show Mr. Trump’s lack of understanding of science’s role in national and domestic security, in protecting air and water and other resources, and in preventing disease and lowering the cost of health care … In service to small-government ideology, it proposes to whack 18 percent from the NIH’s budget, and even more from the Department of Energy and the EPA’s science programs. … The cuts in human health programs have drawn the heaviest criticism…” (3/27).

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U.S. National Security Depends Upon Nation's Ability To Respond To Antibiotic Resistance, Infectious Diseases

New York Times: The Real Threat to National Security: Deadly Disease
Michael T. Osterholm, epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota

“…[Cuts to the NIH, State Department, and USAID] will diminish research and vaccine development and our ability to respond to the growing threats of antibiotic resistance and new infectious diseases. Those agencies are already falling short, as we saw last year, when they couldn’t effectively respond to the Zika threat. What will they do when we face a real pandemic? … Today, an influenza pandemic could be more devastating than an atom bomb. … The spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes also continues at an ever faster rate. … Finally, there is the danger of diseases deliberately spread by terrorists. … The only way we can win the inevitable microbe wars is to [appropriate money before a crisis] — to have new vaccines and antibiotics and trained personnel ready before the crisis hits. We cannot rely on pharmaceutical companies to create drugs and vaccines for markets that do not yet exist. Only the government can do this. The additional expenditures would be truly economical in terms of lives saved. We are talking about national security on the most existential level” (3/24).

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Eliminating NIH's Fogarty International Center Would Undermine Progress, U.S. Leadership In Global Health

USA Today: Global health leadership role at risk in Trump budget: Column
Michele Barry, director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health and senior associate dean for Global Health at Stanford University, and Derek Yach, consultant to the Vitality Institute for Health Promotion

“We live in a time when pandemics cross borders faster than ever. Yet to the horror of many of us working in global health, President Trump’s budget would completely eliminate the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center — one of the most effective tools we have to fight global diseases. For almost 50 years the center has done exactly what it was set up to do: Promote and facilitate international health research of mutual benefit to the U.S. and other countries, while training thousands of health researchers in more than 100 countries. … The U.S. has achieved a substantial return on investment from Fogarty. … The human capital it has created constitutes a global public good and a diplomatic resource for America. Fogarty’s work has profoundly influenced leading global health donors and the World Health Organization about where impact is possible and how to achieve it. To eliminate the Fogarty Center now would undermine progress, erode trust in America’s leadership in global health, and increase the risk of a devastating and preventable epidemic in the U.S. Keeping Fogarty would preserve health, both of Americans and populations all over the world” (3/28).

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Trump Administration, Congress Should Continue Support For Global Fund

Houston Chronicle: Global Fund is effective in improving world health
Michael Winters, a Houston volunteer with RESULTS

“…Over the past 20 years, the United States has led the investment for global health during both Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses. … The results of U.S. investment in global health are encouraging. … AIDS is dramatically declining. Malaria, largely through the provision of insecticide-treated bed nets, is decreasing. … Tuberculosis, an ancient scourge, has been decreasing as well. As these diseases become better-controlled, there may be a tendency to conclude that we can decrease funding to fight them. But, of course, when funding is decreased, the incidence of disease rises again. … Decreasing funding to fight killers such as AIDS, TB, and malaria now would be tantamount to saying that we are winning the battle, so let’s pull our troops back from the front line. We have come a long way in reducing these diseases. We must continue adequate funding of the Global Fund so that we can eliminate the threats of AIDS, TB, and malaria forever” (3/27).

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Cuts To U.S. Global Health Investments Would Impact North Carolina's Economy, Jobs Market

News & Observer: Trump’s budget would set back global health and Triangle jobs
Claire Neal, executive director of the Triangle Global Health Consortium

“…In addition to affecting our safety, [funding] cuts to federal programs would ripple through our global health community here in North Carolina. … Between our major universities, our biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, our non-profit organizations, and our faith-based groups, over 200 North Carolina organizations and institutions work in more than 185 countries to improve global health. Collectively, our organizations positively impact millions of lives around the world contributing to declines in mortality, extreme poverty, and disease. … As we have seen with Zika and Ebola, a disease threat anywhere in the world is a disease threat everywhere, including here in our state. North Carolina-based organizations are inventing new vaccines, testing medical devices, training health workers, and strengthening health systems making the world more safe and secure for everyone. … The global health sector is not only responsible for saving lives — we also collectively generate jobs and spur economic activity. … North Carolina’s quickly growing global health sector has for many years generated knowledge, highly skilled individuals, jobs, and partnerships that have established the state as a leader in global health. Our federal government’s investment in global health not only improves the health and safety of people around the world — it is critical to supporting our citizens here in North Carolina” (3/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Investments, Partnerships Helping Identify, Treat TB Cases Worldwide

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: Tackling TB: How the U.S., the Global Fund, and PATH are Helping Wipe Out a 4,000-Year-Old Disease
Elizabeth Holtan, digital communications manager for USGLC, writes, “The U.S. government is a leader in the global effort to fight TB, as well as in infectious diseases research. Addressing the disease is an important element of the U.S. government’s goals of improving global health and reducing poverty  –  saving and improving lives, reflecting American values, and ultimately protecting Americans from becoming sick at home and abroad.” Holtan discusses how “strategic investments” by the U.S. in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as partnerships among USAID, PEPFAR, and PATH, are helping different nations identify and treat TB cases (3/24).

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Blog Post Examines How Data Can Help Estimate Statistical Impact Of Health Status, Risks Globally

Brookings Institution: Is smoking more harmful than AIDS?
Wolfgang Fengler, lead economist for trade and competitiveness at the World Bank, and Katharina Fenz, research analyst at the World Data Lab, discuss the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) Global Burden of Disease database and highlight the ability to use its data to calculate the statistical impact of health status and risks in countries around the world. The authors write, “Building on the demographic platform population.io, we have mapped the impact of several health variables that can be applied to every person in the world. We can estimate, on average, how many years of life a smoker will lose and how many years they would gain by avoiding the habit. And we can compare the results with (or combine them to) the outcomes of other risks or conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes, or hepatitis. Years of life lost or gained depend on how long you can expect to live in the first place, as well as on the quality of the health system in the country in which you live, as well as your gender” (3/27).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC's Division Of Global Health Protection Aims To Improve Global Health Security, Protect Americans From Public Health Threats

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Tick, tock, tick tock — While others sleep, what are CDC experts doing to keep America safe?
Kashef Ijaz, acting director for CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP), discusses the division’s efforts to improve global health security and protect Americans from public health threats, writing, “DGHP serves as a leading implementer with support and collaboration of subject matter experts across CDC for the agency’s efforts to broaden, sustain, and strengthen the Global Health Security Agenda. They are leading the charge for the agency as it is positioned to help establish broader and more sustainable global health platforms that can address the spectrum of known and unknown public health threats that countries face” (3/27).

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