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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. House, Senate Appropriators Release Details Of FY17 Omnibus Spending Bill, Including $2B Increase For NIH

CQ Roll Call: Omnibus Text Details $1 Trillion in Fiscal 2017 Spending
“House and Senate appropriators early Monday morning unveiled the text of an omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, a more than $1 trillion package that funnels extra money to the military but rejects many of President Donald Trump’s other signature spending proposals…” (McCrimmon/Shutt, 5/1).

CQ HealthBeat: Spending Bill Details Released
“…Final details of a fiscal 2017 spending package were unveiled on Sunday evening, seven months after start of the fiscal year (HR 244 is legislative vehicle … ). The omnibus measure includes all of the remaining annual spending bills. … Other spending bills appropriate funds for global disease response programs (State-Foreign Operations), health care preparedness (Homeland Security), Pentagon and veterans’ health programs (Defense and Military Construction-Veterans) and the Indian Health Service (Interior-Environment)…” (Jenks, 5/1).

CQ News: Spending Package Would Provide $2 Billion Bump for NIH
“The National Institutes of Health would get a $2 billion increase through the fiscal 2017 appropriations wrap-up package, according to a summary obtained by CQ Roll Call. That level of increase from fiscal 2016 would fulfill senior appropriators’ goal of providing steady budget gains for the biomedical research agency…” (Young, 4/30).

Washington Post: Congress reaches deal to keep government open through September
“…Congress is expected to vote on the roughly $1 trillion package early this week. The bipartisan agreement includes policy victories for Democrats, whose votes will be necessary to pass the measure in the Senate, as well as $12.5 billion in new military spending and $1.5 billion more for border security requested by Republican leaders in Congress…” (Snell, 4/30).

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43 U.S. Senators Sign Open Letter Supporting Foreign Aid Spending

Humanosphere: More than 40 senators defend foreign aid budget in open letter
“Forty-three senators signed an open letter to the four senators leading federal budget negotiations, asking them to protect the foreign aid budget. Members from both major parties requested ‘robust funding’ for the international affairs budget — home to diplomatic and foreign aid spending. The letter comes just days after a Trump administration budget document was leaked, showing proposals that would make deep cuts to foreign aid programs and shift of money away from the U.S. aid agency (USAID) to the State Department…” (Murphy, 4/28).

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Media Outlets Examine Potential Impacts Of Cuts To U.S. Foreign Aid Spending

Christian Science Monitor: U.S. foreign aid cuts: what could impact be?
“…A leaked State Department budget document lays out proposals for a 30.8 percent cut in development aid and plans to sharply cut back USAID, America’s premier foreign aid agency, by closing many of its projects. … ‘There is no rhyme or reason to the cuts,’ says Tom Hart, director of ONE, a Washington-based campaign group focused on eradicating extreme poverty. … Development aid has traditionally been seen as one of the three pillars of Washington’s international presence, along with defense and diplomacy…” (Ford, 4/28).

PRI: So we slash U.S. foreign aid. But why?
“… ‘There are going to be cuts,’ says Andrew Natsios, who was at the helm of USAID under President George W. Bush. ‘They could take a 10 percent cut in a $30 billion foreign aid program and it’s not going to be catastrophic at all. But a 30 percent cut would be disastrous…’ [Gayle Smith, who ran USAID under President Barack Obama, and is now the new head of the anti-poverty ONE campaign, said,] ‘To do anything that would cause people around the world to think maybe America isn’t there for us anymore is something that some people may think is cost effective in the short term, but I’m absolutely confident that if you did the cost-benefit analysis this is a very, very expensive proposal’…” (Hackel, 4/28).

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PRI Examines U.S. Decision To Withhold UNFPA Funds, Alleged U.N. Support Of Coercive Abortions In China

PRI: Trump officials say the U.N. supports coercive abortion in China. But does it?
“In slashing $32 million of funding to the United Nations Populations Fund, also known as the UNFPA, earlier this month, the Trump administration slung a decade-old nefarious charge: The agency supports the coercive abortion of Chinese female fetuses. To many in China, this came as a surprise. ‘We regret this decision because the UNFPA was not helping Chinese women get abortions,’ said Mengjun Tang, a Beijing-based fellow with the China Population and Development Research Center and who has worked with the U.N. … The UNFPA also vigorously denied the accusation, with one senior official calling it ‘absurd.’ … But are coercive abortions still happening? Yes, but they are rare, it seems. … The UNFPA points out U.S.-led investigations in 2001 and again in 2017 into the agency’s work in China came to the same conclusion: The UNFPA doesn’t directly engage in forced abortion or sterilization…” (Asquith, 4/28).

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U.S., Puerto Rican Health Officials Quarrel Over Zika Reporting, Case Definitions

STAT: Feud erupted between CDC, Puerto Rico over reporting of Zika cases, document shows
“U.S. health officials have privately expressed deep concern that Puerto Rico is downplaying the extent of its Zika problem and have struggled to get a grasp on the issue because of a protracted and ugly dispute with health officials in the territory, according to a document obtained by STAT. The rift was so contentious that, at one point, health leaders in Puerto Rico refused to meet with their counterparts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The multipage document suggests that the dispute has obscured the extent of the territory’s Zika problem for more than half a year…” (Branswell, 5/1).

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Ebola Epidemic Response Provides Example Of Gates Foundation's Global Health Influence

Huffington Post: Bill Gates Won’t Save You From The Next Ebola
“…[In 2014, former CDC Director Thomas] Frieden’s frantic emails [to the Gates Foundation regarding the Ebola epidemic in West Africa] point to the current reality in global health: No single non-governmental institution or individual wields more influence, and no one’s support is more powerful, than the Gates Foundation and its namesake founders, Bill and Melinda Gates. The foundation has $39.6 billion in assets. … When the Gates Foundation takes aim at a disease, it can elicit billions of dollars from governments and reshape the world’s agenda for scientific research. … The foundation’s influence also runs deep within WHO. At the time of the Ebola outbreak, it was the organization’s second-largest donor, following only the U.S. government…” (Fortner/Park, 4/30).

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WHO's SAGE Group Releases Summary Of Recommendations On Vaccines For Various Diseases, Including Ebola

CIDRAP News: WHO vaccine advisers weigh in on polio, cholera, Ebola, diphtheria
“World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine advisers wrapped up a three-day meeting in Geneva [Thursday] and made recommendations regarding immunization for several diseases, including polio, cholera, Ebola, and diphtheria. [Friday], the agency released a summary of its 15-member Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) meeting and will publish a full report in a June issue of its Weekly Epidemiological Record…” (Schnirring, 4/28).

VOA News: Ebola Vaccine Could Be a Game-changer
“…Of 12 candidate [Ebola] vaccines, only one that was tested in Guinea reportedly has proven to be clinically effective. However, the chair of SAGE and WHO senior health adviser, Alejandro Cravioto, notes the vaccine is not yet licensed and therefore should only be used under strict conditions, such as informed consent. … Cravioto tells VOA this vaccine could be a game-changer because it has demonstrated its effectiveness and its impact in a particular setting, with a particular species of Ebola…” (Schlein, 4/28).

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Ebola Ruled Out After 11 People Die, Others Fall Ill In Liberia After Attending Religious Leader's Funeral

Associated Press: 11 dead of mystery illness in Liberia as Ebola is ruled out
“United Nations officials say at least 11 people have died from a mysterious illness in Liberia, and tests have been negative for the Ebola virus. … Those who fell sick this week all had attended a relative’s funeral. That was how many Ebola victims contracted the disease when they came in contact with victims’ corpses” (4/28).

Reuters: Mystery deaths in Liberia linked to funeral — WHO
“… ‘We are still investigating. The only thing we have ruled out is … Ebola,’ said Liberia’s chief medical officer, Francis Kateh, adding that samples from the victims had been sent abroad for further testing…” (Nebehay/Giahyue, 4/28).

Washington Post: A mysterious illness kills 11 young people in Liberia, where Ebola raged
“…The WHO said rapid-response teams from the WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners have been sent to the area and are looking into reports that the victims may have attended the funeral of a religious leader…” (Cha, 4/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Leaked FY18 Trump Administration Budget Document Could Bring About Reforms To U.S. Foreign Assistance Programs

Daily Signal: Panic Over Foreign Aid Budget Could Use Some Perspective
Brett D. Schaefer, Jay Kingham fellow in international regulatory affairs at the Heritage Foundation, and James M. Roberts, research fellow in freedom and growth at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics

“…If authentic, the leaked [State Department and USAID FY18 budget] document [obtained by Foreign Policy] signals that the Trump administration values flexibility in U.S. assistance and an intent to use it to support a broader array of U.S. foreign policy priorities with State exerting greater influence over allocations of U.S. assistance. … We don’t yet know the specifics, but it is clear that the Trump administration wants to pursue substantial reform of the State Department and America’s foreign assistance programs. Instead of rejecting it out of hand, Congress should embrace the chance before it. … The Trump administration’s budget could induce a long overdue collaborative effort between Congress and the executive to evaluate and fundamentally reform America’s foreign assistance programs in a way that maximizes impact, ensures American taxpayer dollars are well used, and supports American interests” (4/28).

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U.S. Should Continue To Support Global Vaccination Efforts

The Hill: The U.S. should work to promote vaccines around the world
Richard Lane, director of the Master of Public Health Program at Liberty University

“…[M]any global health professionals fear a U.S. retreat from the world, with sharp cuts in foreign assistance influence, leadership, and funding, will harm health security in the U.S. and abroad. … World Immunization Week is a time to renew American commitment to vaccine discovery and distribution. … The role of vaccines is critical. … Diminishing vaccination rates is a preventable tragedy. It’s among the reasons global health and development professionals are deeply concerned about the White House proposal to eviscerate the foreign affairs budget … and cut NIH and CDC budgets. It’s dangerous to public health, global health, and a price no American should be asked to pay…” (4/28).

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U.S. Should Extend Temporary Protected Status For Haitians

New York Times: Don’t Send 50,000 Back to Fragile Haiti
Editorial Board

“Tens of thousands of Haitians living in the United States are facing an ominous deadline. The temporary protected status that has allowed them to live and work here legally since 2010 — the year an earthquake devastated their country and left them unable to return safely home — is set to expire on July 22. Unless the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, decides to renew it, about 50,000 Haitians will lose their welcome here and be vulnerable to deportation. … Haiti has made only a fitful recovery from the quake, which all but destroyed the national government and left hundreds of thousands homeless, and ensuing disasters have deepened the country’s misery. Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 ravaged Haiti’s southwest peninsula, killing more than a thousand people and laying waste to villages and farmland. A cholera epidemic that erupted after the earthquake has not been subdued. … Temporary protected status is where United States law joins practicality and humanitarian compassion. … Before [Kelly] decides to send [these Haitians] back … we hope he considers what advantage there could possibly be in sowing greater instability in Haiti, deepening its poverty, and subjecting so many people to such pointless cruelty. Rather than make a desperate situation intolerably worse, he should extend America’s welcome to the Haitians once again” (4/29).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Examines Leaked FY18 U.S. Foreign Aid Budget Document Obtained By Foreign Policy, Discusses Potential Implications For Global Health, Development

Center for Global Development’s “U.S. Development Policy”: Our First Peek at Trump’s Aid Budget: Big Changes, but Will Congress Play Along?
Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at CGD, examines a leaked document obtained by Foreign Policy possibly describing the Trump administration’s FY18 foreign aid budget request, and highlights the potential implications of budget cuts on global health and development (4/28).

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PLOS Pathogens Editor-In-Chief Reflects On Challenges Of Drug Resistance In Global Malaria Efforts

PLOS Blog’s “Speaking of Medicine”: Drugs for Malaria: the Challenge of Resistance to Front Line Therapy in Control and Elimination
“In honor of World Malaria Day, Kasturi Haldar, editor-in-chief of PLOS Pathogens, comments on the challenge of resistance to frontline drugs in malaria treatment, control, and elimination on the path to eradication…” (4/28).

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FT Health Discusses Malaria, Features Interview With Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez

FT Health: Moving beyond malaria
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the newspaper’s special report on malaria and an interview with Joe Jimenez, head of Novartis, on the company’s malaria work. The newsletter also provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 4/28).

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