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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Human Rights Chief, Venezuelans Worry New U.S. Sanctions Could Worsen Humanitarian Situation In Country

Al Jazeera: U.S. sanctions on Venezuela could exacerbate crisis, U.N. warns
“The United Nations human rights chief has warned the latest U.S. sanctions on Venezuela will significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions in terms of access to food and health, in a country already suffering from serious shortages of essential goods. ‘I am deeply worried about the potentially severe impact on the human rights of the people of Venezuela of the new set of unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. this week,’ Michelle Bachelet said in a statement on Thursday…” (8/8).

Washington Post: As Venezuela’s crisis deepens, the most vulnerable are joining the exodus
“…Six months after the Venezuelan opposition began its U.S.-backed effort to drive President Nicolás Maduro from office, conditions for the people have perhaps never been worse. They are struggling under ever-deepening shortages of medicine, food, gas, and water, and widespread power blackouts in a disintegrating socialist state plagued by one of the world’s highest homicide rates. Venezuelans expect the new round of sanctions President Trump announced this week to increase their suffering. … But long before the United States began imposing sanctions, hunger — and dwindling hope for change — spurred an outflow now stretching into its fourth year…” (Faiola/Krygier, 8/8).

Additional coverage of the U.S. sanctions is available from BBC News and The Guardian.

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U.S. Government Suspends Operations At Army Medical Research Institute Of Infectious Diseases After Failed Inspection

Fox News: Military lab, which handles Ebola and other dangerous pathogens, suspended after failing CDC inspection
“A military laboratory in Maryland used for biological defense research, which houses some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens, was ordered to stop research last month after failing an inspection…” (Dedaj, 8/8).

New York Times: Deadly Germ Research Is Shut Down at Army Lab Over Safety Concerns
“… ‘Research is currently on hold,’ the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, in Fort Detrick, Md., said in a statement on Friday. The shutdown is likely to last months, Caree Vander Linden, a spokeswoman, said in an interview…” (Grady, 8/5).

The Telegraph: Germ lab creating vaccines for deadly microbes shut down over safety concerns
“…The institute studies germs and toxins that could pose a threat to public health and could even be used as weapons. It also studies disease outbreaks. … A statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said the suspension was in place until the institute ‘corrects deficiencies that have been identified by Federal Select Agent Program’…” (Farmer, 8/8).

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WHO Vows Continued Support For DRC Outbreak As Nations Implement Steps To Prevent Disease's Spread Across Borders

Reuters: Ebola outbreak scuttles haj plans for Congo’s Muslims
“Saudi Arabia has banned pilgrims from the Democratic Republic of Congo because of an Ebola outbreak, dashing the hopes of many Muslims there wanting to perform haj” (Chaudhry, 8/8).

Xinhua News: WHO to continue support DRC in fighting against Ebola
“Ali Ahmed Yahaya, a program manager with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, Aug. 7, 2019. WHO will continue its efforts to help fight Ebola in the country, Ali Ahmed Yahaya told Xinhua” (8/9).

Xinhua News: Zambia intensifies Ebola screening at DRC main entry border
“Health authorities [in Zambia] have continued with screening of travelers for Ebola symptoms at a busy border entry with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a civic leader said on Thursday…” (8/8).

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Donors Should Begin To Enter Into Governance Funding Space, Some Development Experts Say

Devex: Who will lead the ‘next frontier’ of governance funding?
“Bilateral donors, under pressure to justify aid spending, are having an increasingly difficult time supporting issues that don’t demonstrate immediate results. Some development experts fear this could turn donors away from hard-to-measure work in governance, a trend that would lessen the potential for long-term gains won by supporting governments in low- and middle-income countries to work more effectively. … [Rohini Pande, who was recently appointed as a professor of economics at Yale University and director of Yale’s Economic Growth Center,] noted that this potential retreat by bilateral donors in supporting governance gives West Coast donors an opportunity to step in to fill the gap…” (Cheney, 8/9).

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WHO Follows 'Zero-Tolerance Policy' On All Forms Of Corruption, Statement On Yemen Says; WFP To Resume Food Aid To Sanaa

Associated Press: WHO says it has ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption in Yemen
“The World Health Organization says it follows ‘a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of corruption’ amid calls for greater transparency following an Associated Press report on fraud and mismanagement marring some U.N. operations in the country. WHO issued a statement Wednesday saying it has an ongoing investigation into its Yemen office after an internal audit last year found that controls over administration and finances there were ‘unsatisfactory’…” (8/8).

Reuters: World Food Programme to resume food aid in Yemen’s Sanaa
“The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday it would resume the distribution of food to 850,000 people in Yemen’s capital Sanaa next week after a two-month stoppage, having reached an agreement [with] the Iran-aligned Houthi authorities. The U.N. agency halted some aid in Sanaa on June 20 out of concern that food was being diverted from vulnerable people, but said it would maintain nutrition programs for malnourished children, pregnant and nursing mothers…” (Nebehay, 8/9).

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South Africa Estimates Implementing Universal Health Care By 2022 To Cost Approximately $17B

Reuters: South Africa puts initial universal health care cost at $17 billion
“South Africa published its draft National Health Insurance (NHI) bill on Thursday, with one senior official estimating universal health care for millions of poorer citizens would cost about 256 billion rand ($16.89 billion) to implement by 2022. The bill creating an NHI Fund paves the way for a comprehensive overhaul of South Africa’s health system that would be one of the biggest policy changes since the ruling African National Congress ended white minority rule in 1994…” (Ngcuka/Roelf, 8/8).

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Dengue Spreading Internationally Due To Climate Change, Urbanization, Global Travel, Experts Warn

The Telegraph: A ‘perfect storm’: the steady rise of dengue fever worldwide
“Dengue outbreaks are spreading across the globe thanks to a ‘perfect storm’ of climate change, rapid urbanization, and intercontinental travel, experts have warned. So far this year 1.6 million cases of the mosquito-borne fever have been reported in South America, with 80 percent of these in Brazil. … Numerous countries in southeast Asia have also identified a surge in the number of cases. … In the 1970s the flu-like virus — colloquially known as break bone fever because of the severe pain it causes — was endemic in just nine countries. But now severe dengue has taken hold in more than 100 countries, with roughly half of the world’s population now at risk, and is estimated to affect around 100 million people every year…” (Newey, 8/8).

Additional coverage of dengue outbreaks in the Philippines and Bangladesh is available from Agence-France Presse, The BMJ, CNN, and Xinhua News.

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: Myanmar floods force tens of thousands from homes (8/8).

Associated Press: U.N. food agency to boost aid for 4 Central American countries (8/9).

BBC News: Kenya’s new breast milk bank in bid to reduce infant mortality (Odhiambo/Panyanko, 8/9).

The BMJ: Malaria outbreak in Burundi reaches epidemic levels with 5.7 million infected this year (Lok/Dijk, 8/9).

Borgen Magazine: What U.S. Assistance Does in Central America (Blakeney, 8/9).

Financial Times: Australia and New Zealand to loosen abortion laws (Smyth, 8/8).

Nature: China approves ethics advisory group after CRISPR-babies scandal (Jia, 8/8).

SciDev.Net: Used malaria test kits ‘aid drug resistance testing’ (Otieno, 8/8).

STAT: New life of lab equipment makes science possible for researchers returning to their home countries (Cai, 8/9).

Xinhua News: Botswana’s first lady vows to fight HIV/AIDS amongst adolescents (8/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Long-Term Strategies, New Biotechnologies Should Be Prioritized To Address Threat of NTDs In DRC, Nigeria, Opinion Piece Says

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases: D.R. Congo and Nigeria: New neglected tropical disease threats and solutions for the bottom 40%
Peter Hotez, founding editor-in-chief of PLOS NTDs, director at the Center for Vaccine Development at the Texas Children’s Hospital, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine

“…Poverty is considered the overriding social determinant of [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)], with NTDs reinforcing poverty through their disabling effects. … While extreme poverty is probably the dominant factor in the persistence of NTDs in Nigeria and D.R. Congo, other drivers have been noted, including political instability and conflict in the region. … In the coming decades, urbanization will become yet another important driver for NTDs in Nigeria and D.R. Congo. … We can already project that D.R. Congo and Nigeria, especially their emerging megacities, will become new epicenters of the NTDs. Now is the time to embark on long-term strategies for disease control, including the prioritization of the new biotechnologies that will be needed” (8/8).

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Opinion Piece Highlights 5 Government-Led Interventions To Help Reverse Dental Health Inequity

Devex: Opinion: Tooth decay is a disease of inequality. Here’s how governments can improve dental care
Ifeanyi M. Nsofor, CEO of EpiAFRIC, director of policy and advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch, 2019 Atlantic Fellow for health equity at George Washington University, and 2018 New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute

“…Tooth decay is one of the most common and neglected noncommunicable diseases. It is a disease of inequity, disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people. This should not be allowed to continue. … To reverse this dental health inequity, there are five interventions that governments, particularly those in Africa and Asia, should consider: 1. Provide dental care prevention in communities where people reside … 2. Get kids into school and provide dental care there … 3. Impose a ‘sweet tax’ on companies that produce sugary drinks and other candies … 4. African governments must train more dentists and assistant dentists to meet the current deficit … 5. Universal health coverage must be the long-term solution to reverse dental health inequities … None of these suggestions will be easy to implement, but the global health community knows that with persistence and political will, the battle can be won eventually” (8/7).

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Opinion Piece Discusses Humanitarian Situation In Gaza, Demands Action To Prevent Child Malnutrition

Project Syndicate: The Tragedy of Gaza’s Children
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children U.K.

“…The increasingly dire situation in Gaza — especially for children — is one of the world’s least reported humanitarian emergencies. … Basic services are disintegrating as fast as the economy. The health care system is collapsing, with providers lacking basic equipment and essential medicines, including antibiotics. … Children … and their mothers are bearing the brunt of the crisis. … [A]llowing Gaza to slide into a full-fledged humanitarian catastrophe would be an indefensible dereliction of responsibility by the international community. … Preventing such a disaster will require urgent action. Aid donors must commit to fully funding the U.N.’s humanitarian appeal, along with UNRWA’s 2019 budget. The malnutrition crisis, neglected for too long, demands a decisive response … If there is a glimmer of hope, perhaps it can be found by cutting through the tired, polarized debate on Gaza and asking a simple question: does anyone believe that children … should be pushed to the brink of starvation by a crisis they played no part in creating? For the sake of all Gaza’s children, I hope not” (8/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

More Than 90 NGOs Release Joint Statement Opposing Trump Administration's Freeze On Foreign Aid

InterAction: 90+ NGOS and Members of Congress Strongly Oppose the Hold on Foreign Aid
“Our alliance has acted collectively in multiple ways and at various times over the past week in response to the administration’s announcement to put a hold on congressionally approved foreign aid funds as a first step towards a possible rescission of funds. On August 8, 2019, over 90 NGOs released a joint statement against any rescissions within the foreign assistance budget. ‘The administration’s repeated attempts to rescind U.S. foreign assistance programs leads to instability in U.S. assistance efforts and puts lives at risk at a time of global crisis. This must stop’…” (8/6).

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MFAN Discusses Details From BUILD Act's Joint Coordination Report, Calls For Sufficient Funding For New DFC

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: OPIC/USAID Coordination Report shows promise for strong development ties, but will Congress deliver?
This post discusses the BUILD Act’s joint coordination report, which was released this week and provides details on how the new U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and USAID will work together. The post notes, “The coordination report is full of ‘wins’ for development when it comes to the new DFC. MFAN applauds these provisions, which should maximize impact and the ability of the new body to further American interests abroad through development. Sufficient staffing and funding, however, will be needed for these ambitious efforts. MFAN remains concerned that, without further congressional action, the DFC will have insufficient resources to implement these plans. Only with the right level of funding will the DFC be able to achieve the laudable development objectives included in the BUILD Act…” (8/8).

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CSIS Commission On Strengthening America's Health Security Proposes U.S. Doctrine For Global Health Security, Discusses DRC Ebola Outbreak

CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security: Commission Co-Chair Statement on the 3rd Meeting of Commission Members
“Following the third meeting of the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security, Commission Co-Chairs Kelly Ayotte[, former Republican senator representing New Hampshire from 2011-2017,] and Julie Gerberding[, executive vice president and chief patient officer at Merck,] call for Congress and the administration to advance a U.S. doctrine of continuous prevention, protection, and resilience.” Ayotte and Gerberding continue, “On June 25, the Commission convened a dinner discussion focused on [the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)]. One stark conclusion emerged: we will not see a turnaround in the DRC until there is a much higher-level and more determined effort by the United States, other major powers, and African states to overcome disorder and violence in the DRC. We will see in other places in the future what we are currently witnessing in the DRC, and we simply must be better prepared. On June 26, Commission members … met to discuss a proposed U.S. doctrine for global health security. … The measures outlined in the paper are affordable, proven, and draw support from across the political spectrum. The time to act is now…” (8/8).

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From the U.S. Government

Global TB Bill Introduced In Senate

Congress.gov. S.2438 — A bill to prevent, treat, and cure tuberculosis globally (8/1).

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U.S. Announces $45M In Funding To Address Food Security In Zimbabwe

U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe: United States Provides US$45 million in Response to Increased Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe
“The United States government announced US$45 million in funding to respond to the critical food security situation in the upcoming lean season between October 2019 and March 2020 in Zimbabwe. The contribution, provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will ensure that 360,880 rural Zimbabweans have adequate food supplies before the next harvest…” (8/6).

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GAO Report Reviews U.S. Global Tobacco Control Efforts

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Global Tobacco Control: U.S. Efforts Have Primarily Focused on Research and Surveillance
This GAO report reviews U.S. global tobacco control efforts, examining funding and activities related to global tobacco control in fiscal years 2015-2018 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, USAID, and the U.S. Department of State. The report found that U.S. efforts through these agencies primarily supported tobacco research grants and surveillance activities (8/8).

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