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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Unprepared For Disease Outbreaks, Experts, Study Say

TIME: The World Is Not Ready for the Next Pandemic
“…[E]ven as the scientific and international communities have begun to take the threat of pandemics more seriously, global health experts — including Bill Gates, World Health Organization Director Dr. Margaret Chan, and former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, to name just a few — warn that nowhere near enough is being done to prepare, leaving the U.S. scarily exposed. That’s because the system for responding to infectious disease is broken. … Since President Donald Trump took office, key government positions remain unfilled, including a new director for the CDC. The budget the president proposed in March would have slashed critical funding … Make no mistake: for all our high-tech isolation units, top-tier doctors, and world-class scientists, the U.S. health care system is not ready for the stresses of a major pandemic. … If Trump is serious about protecting Americans, global health critics contend, he must embrace the soft power of pandemic preparation…” (Walsh, 5/4).

U.S. News & World Report: If a Pandemic Hits, the U.S. Isn’t Ready
“The threat of a global pandemic is growing at a time when the U.S. government is not adequately prepared to respond to one, according to a recent study. Misinformation about vaccines, the absence of a clear plan for coordination among federal agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Defense Department, and a need to improve public awareness about the threat posed by a biologic outbreak are among the factors that make the possibility of large and deadly pandemics increasingly likely, according to the study from Texas A&M University’s Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs…” (Shinkman, 5/4).

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Meeting Between Ivanka Trump, Nikki Haley Signals Attempt To Raise Profile Of Global Humanitarian Crises, Ignores State Department Expertise

Foreign Policy: Ivanka Trump Wants to Highlight the Humanitarian Crises Her Father Ignores
“Ivanka Trump’s White House résumé will soon include famine and the Syrian humanitarian crisis. The first daughter scheduled an unannounced meeting Thursday at the White House with Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to explore ways to address some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, including looming famines from Somalia to Yemen and aid blockades in Syria. The collaboration by two of the administration’s most influential women signaled an intent to raise the profile of American support for humanitarian relief around the world at a time when President Donald Trump’s budget advisers have been calling for steep financial cuts in foreign aid. … But the effort by Haley and the younger Trump to enter the humanitarian field has rankled State Department staffers, who were not asked to provide input for the meeting between the two, who have virtually no experience in managing international relief efforts…” (Lynch, 5/4).

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Trump Administration's Leaked FY18 Budget Document Proposes Eliminating FEWS NET

Devex: The world’s famine alarm finds itself on Trump’s chopping block
“If ever there was a model of a relied upon, evidence-based early warning system, it would be the Early Warning Famine Systems Network. Since 1985, the United States Agency for International Development’s FEWS NET has provided analysis on acute food insecurity by way of specialized reports on weather and climate, markets and trade, agricultural production, livelihoods, nutrition, and food assistance. … President Donald Trump’s 2018 fiscal year budget proposal — a leaked document … — proposed steep cuts to aid channeled through the USAID Bureau of Food Security on top of the elimination of FEWS NET. The future of the network remains unclear, as USAID does not ‘have additional details on what programs will be reduced as part of the FY 2018 request,’ according to a USAID spokesperson…” (Rogers, 5/5).

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Global Health Experts Urge G20 To Take On Larger Roles In R&D For Outbreak Preparedness, NTDs, AMR

Devex: G20: Can the world’s richest economies innovate for global health?
“…As the burden of [neglected tropical, or neglected poverty-related,] diseases shifts, and the threat of pandemics begins to hit home even in the world’s wealthiest countries, advocates are pushing for the health ministers of the G20 — gathering in Berlin later this month for the first meeting of its kind — to do their bit in supporting global health R&D in tackling neglected diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and pandemic preparedness. Advocates point to the economic and political benefits of mobilizing a platform such as the G20 toward better collaboration in global health, and emphasize the intersection of global health and security as one way to collectively drive new resources…” (Anders, 5/5).

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African Governments Must Invest More In R&D To Reduce Inequalities, Gates Foundation Official Says

Devex: Gates Foundation: Africa can tackle inequality via its own research
“The Gates Foundation is at the World Economic Forum on Africa to lend its voice to the idea of reducing inequalities and to try to get African governments to invest more in research and development, Ayo Ajayi, the director of the foundation’s Africa team, told Devex. … This focus on tackling inequality is at the heart of the foundation’s work and it guides its three big priorities on the continent: agriculture, health, and financial services…” (Saldinger, 5/5).

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WHO DG, West African Officials Praise Guineans, Health Workers, Global Community For Roles In Developing Ebola Vaccine

Associated Press: WHO chief praises Guineans for help with Ebola vaccine
“The head of the World Health Organization praised Guineans on Thursday for their role in helping to develop a vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus, as Guinea’s president said he hoped the vaccine eventually could be produced in Africa. During a visit to the country where the deadliest Ebola epidemic ever first emerged, Dr. Margaret Chan met with health workers who were critical in the fight against the virus…” (Diallo/Larson, 5/5).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: With vaccines and vigilance, world better set for future Ebola outbreaks
“…Presidents and ministers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone gathered in Conakry to celebrate those who had helped to contain West Africa’s 2013-2016 epidemic, as well as the scientists who worked on vaccines against the deadly virus. … While debate rages over the best vaccination strategy for different groups at risk of Ebola, health experts have hailed the importance of having more than one type of vaccine…” (Guilbert, 5/4).

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WHO Examining Ways To Reduce Global Drug Prices, Improve Access To Treatments

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO Members Urged To Support Resolution Delinking Cancer Drug Prices From R&D Costs
“A group of civil society organizations and health experts have sent a letter to delegates to this month’s annual World Health Assembly urging support for a study on the delinkage of the costs of research and development from the prices of cancer medicines. Member states reportedly met on the issue [Thursday] and are still undecided. During the upcoming World Health Assembly, taking place from 22-31 May, a resolution on cancer is expected to be before the Assembly, following a discussion in January at the World Health Organization Executive Board with no consensus on the language…” (Saez, 5/4).

Reuters: How drugmakers face global push-back on high prices
“Pharmaceutical companies are under fire around the world as a wave of new treatments for cancer and other serious conditions reach the market at ever rising prices, and the pressure looks set to increase. Next week the debate on drug pricing — a particularly heated topic in the United States — will move to Amsterdam as the Dutch government hosts a forum for World Health Organization (WHO) member states to promote ‘fair pricing’…” (Hirschler, 5/4).

Reuters: WHO to help bring cheap biosimilar cancer drugs to poor
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is to launch a pilot project this year to assess cheap copies of expensive biotech cancer drugs in a bid to make such medicines more widely available in poorer countries. The U.N. agency said on Thursday it would invite drugmakers in September to submit applications for prequalification of so-called biosimilar versions of two such drugs on its essential medicines list, Roche’s Rituxan and Herceptin…” (Hirschler, 5/4).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency to examine lower-cost ‘biosimilar’ drugs to expand access to cancer treatment
“…The decision comes after a two-day meeting in Geneva between WHO, national regulators, pharmaceutical industry groups, patient and civil society groups, payers, and policymakers to discuss ways to increase access to biotherapeutic medicines. WHO also plans to explore options for prequalifying insulin…” (5/4).

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POLITICO Examines Gates Foundation's Funding Of, Influence At WHO

POLITICO: Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates
“…Over the past decade, the world’s richest man has become the World Health Organization’s second biggest donor, second only to the United States and just above the United Kingdom. This largesse gives [Bill Gates] outsized influence over its agenda, one that could grow as the U.S. and the U.K. threaten to cut funding if the agency doesn’t make a better investment case. … The member country delegates POLITICO spoke to did not voice particular concern over Gates’ influence and were confident he is well intentioned. However, his sway has [some] NGOs and academics worried. … Others simply fear the U.N. body relies too much on Gates’ money, and that the entrepreneur could one day change his mind and move it elsewhere. Gates and his foundation team have heard the criticism, but they are convinced that the impact of their work and money is positive…” (Huet/Paun, 5/4).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Examine U.S. Secretary Of State Tillerson's Speech On, Approach To 'America First' Foreign Policy

Washington Post: What Rex Tillerson gets right about American values — and what he gets wrong
Editorial Board

“…[In a speech delivered to the U.S. Department of State on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was right to point out that the United States must safeguard its national security and economic prosperity if Americans are to ‘protect our ability to be that voice of our values now and forevermore.’ And he was right that, to protect its security and economy, the United States at times must make allowances for dictators. … But Mr. Tillerson errs in a couple of fundamental ways. First, he perpetuates a dangerous idea when he refers exclusively to ‘our values.’ The ideals of free speech and expression, worship and assembly, and living in dignity, free of coercion, are universal values that apply as much to a person in Shanghai as in Springfield. … Second, he seems to put values in a basket of their own, separate from ‘America First’ national interests. … But values and their promotion are integral to U.S. national interests. … Keeping human rights and democracy at the forefront of diplomacy, along with economics and security, does not create ‘obstacles,’ as Mr. Tillerson put it. Rather, it is an enduring source of American strength, a source that no totalitarian or authoritarian system can ever match” (5/4).

The Atlantic: Rex Tillerson Doesn’t Understand America
Eliot A. Cohen, director of the Strategic Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

“…[In his speech, Tillerson] gave those who think that American diplomacy matters more reason to worry. … Tillerson’s idea that in foreign policy American interests and American values are two separate things, the first mandatory, the second optional, reflects a misunderstanding of our past … and of the essence of our national character. The United States is surely the Manhattan skyline, the Kansas plains, the redwood forests, the Mississippi river. But it is, far more importantly, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. … If Americans jettison the Bill of Rights and the ideas enshrined in it, they become a different country altogether. … It was an intellectually shallow performance. … In the absence of historical perspective and understanding, foreign policy degenerates into crisis management; in the absence of values-informed and in some cases values-driven policy it can easily slip into short-sighted tactical accommodations…” (5/5).

POLITICO: Clinton and Helms Nearly Ruined State. Tillerson Wants to Finish the Job.
Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development

“…The White House is seeking to gut civilian foreign affairs budgets in fiscal year 2018 while bulking up a military budget … Cutting civilian capacity in relatively peaceful times only guarantees it won’t be readily available when crises arrive. … Viewing reconstruction and stabilization as a military, rather than a political and developmental, process led to massive missteps [in the past] … But then something important happened. … The focus of [President George W. Bush’s] security efforts moved from violently hunting insurgents to a more astute approach centered on providing security and protection to the civilian population … Bush also came to recognize the value of a strong civilian foreign policy in other areas. His PEPFAR program to fight the scourge of AIDS today supports life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for nearly 12 million people. This stands as a signature achievement of his presidency and an enduring reflection of American values throughout the world. … These efforts paid continued dividends under President Obama. … The fight against Ebola — led by civilians from USAID and CDC, with DoD in a supporting role — likewise demonstrated the importance of a balanced civilian-military toolkit. … Efforts have since been made to reinvigorate public diplomacy within the State Department, but to little avail. Against this backdrop, President Trump’s 2018 budget plans look like an homage to the worst mistakes of the Clinton and Bush eras. … This is a critical moment. … Here’s hoping President Trump will learn from his predecessors’ mistakes, rather than doubling down on them” (5/4).

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Partnerships With African Governments Integral To Epidemic Preparedness, Improving Public Health Infrastructure

CNBC Africa: Op-ed: Africa needs an insurance policy against future epidemics
Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

“…[The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)] provides an entirely new way of financing and coordinating the development, manufacture, and testing of vaccines against epidemic threats — vaccines that otherwise wouldn’t get made. … Crucially, the vaccines that emerge from the CEPI process will be accessible and affordable to those populations in greatest need. African nations stand to be among the biggest beneficiaries of these vaccines. … Partnership from African governments is therefore crucial to CEPI’s success. … In the longer-term, we hope partnership with CEPI will help countries to strengthen their own capacity for vaccine development and outbreak prevention by creating new partnerships and providing access to previously unavailable expertise. In short, engaging with CEPI will give African countries an insurance policy against future epidemics. … Epidemic preparedness requires more than just vaccines. They must also be accompanied by new treatments, diagnostic capabilities, better surveillance, greater regulatory capacity, and improved public health infrastructure. … [B]y getting involved at this stage, African partners can be an integral part of building the resilience to epidemics and pandemics that will protect the populations of the future” (5/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Examines Global Health-Related Aspects Of FY17 Omnibus Bill

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Funding for global health programs holds steady while biomedical research enjoys funding boost in final FY 2017 spending bill
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator at the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses global health-related aspects of the FY17 omnibus bill, including funding for major global health issues, organizations, and initiatives (5/4).

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CGD Podcast Discusses 5 Priorities For Africa With African Development Bank President

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Podcast”: A Vision for Africa’s Future — Podcast with African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina
In this podcast, Rajesh Mirchandani, vice president of communications and policy outreach at CGD, speaks with African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina about five priorities for the African Development Bank moving forward, including electricity, food, integration, industrialization, and quality of life (5/4).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 311 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including a summary of the main decisions made at the Global Fund Board meeting that took place in Rwanda this week, including the announcement of Aida Kurtović as the new chair and John Simon as new vice chair; and an article on five strategic themes that emerged from the Office of Inspector General’s audits and investigations of the Global Fund in 2016 (5/5).

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From the U.S. Government

PMI Releases May 2017 Newsletter

PMI: President’s Malaria Initiative Newsletter: May 2017
This newsletter contains announcements, news articles, and publications from or featured by PMI, including the release of PMI’s 11th Annual Report to Congress, an updated PMI technical guidance, and notes on Zambia, which is in its 10th year as a PMI focus country (May 2017).

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CDC's MMWR Discusses Progress Toward Measles Elimination In Africa

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Progress Toward Measles Elimination — African Region, 2013-2016
Balcha G. Masresha of the Immunization and Vaccines Development Program at the WHO’s Regional Office for Africa and colleagues discuss progress toward measles elimination in Africa by 2020, highlighting the efforts made toward and challenges of reaching vaccine coverage, surveillance, and disease incidence targets (5/5).

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