KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Vice President Pence Demands Ouster Of Venezuela President Maduro At U.N. Security Council Meeting; U.N. Humanitarian Chief Calls For Separation Of Politics, Aid

Associated Press: Pence says U.S. wants Maduro out and ‘all options’ on table
“U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told the Security Council on Wednesday the Trump administration is determined to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela, preferably through diplomatic and economic pressure, but ‘all options are on the table’ — and Russia and others need to step aside. … The United States called the emergency meeting of the U.N.’s most powerful body, which is deeply divided over Venezuela, to focus on the worsening humanitarian situation in the South American country. But as with previous meetings, this one was dominated by U.S. efforts to oust Maduro and replace him with Juan Guaidó, head of the country’s opposition-controlled National Assembly…” (Lederer, 4/10).

New York Times: ‘You Shouldn’t Be Here’: U.S. Pushes U.N. to Pull Venezuela Envoy’s Credentials
“…Mark Lowcock, an under secretary for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council that a recent draft overview of the situation by the United Nations indicated that around 1.9 million people require nutritional assistance because of worsening food availability, including 1.3 million children under 5. Additionally, Mr. Lowcock said, tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles, malaria, and other preventable diseases have resurfaced in Venezuela. Food shortages also remain a main factor in driving people out of the country: Surveys show that 80 percent of Venezuelan households struggle with finding enough food, United Nations officials said. ‘In Venezuela, there is a need to separate political and humanitarian objectives,’ Mr. Lowcock said. ‘Humanitarian assistance must be delivered on the basis of need alone’…” (Rogers, 4/10).

Additional coverage of the U.N. Security Council meeting and humanitarian efforts in Venezuela is available from Bloomberg, Reuters, U.N. News, UPI, and Washington Post.

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South Africa's Health Department Works To Stop Potential Cuts To U.S. Funding Through PEPFAR

Business Day: Health department scrambles to stop U.S. cut in HIV funds
“Top health department officials are set to travel to Washington later in April to try persuading the U.S. not to slash its support for SA’s HIV/AIDS programs. … In a surprise move barely six weeks after announcing that SA was to get an extra $1.2bn to support its HIV/AIDS programs over the next two years, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx said PEPFAR’s programs are performing so poorly in SA that funding should be cut from the start of the next U.S. financial year, which begins on October 1. In a strongly worded letter sent to the U.S. chief of mission to SA, Jessye Lapenn, on January 16, she described progress in PEPFAR’s core treatment program in SA as ‘grossly sub-optimal and insufficient to reach epidemic control.’ … U.S. health attaché to SA, Steve Smith, said SA is one of seven countries that received letters from Birx raising concerns about their PEPFAR-supported programs. … Smith said the funding figures in Birx’s letter to SA are preliminary and there is scope for an increase if SA can demonstrate that it is taking effective remedial action…” (Kahn, 4/10).

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Development Aid Drops In 2018, Especially For Neediest Countries, For Second Consecutive Year, OECD Data Show

The Guardian: Poorest countries bear the brunt as aid levels fall for second successive year
“Experts have warned that the fight against global poverty has taken a backward step after the publication of new figures showing foreign aid has fallen for a second successive year. Aid levels dropped last year by 2.7% from 2017, with the poorest countries worst hit, according to figures published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)…” (Lamble, 4/10).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Global aid spending drops as refugee flows decrease — OECD
“…Rich countries need to increase aid spending if the world is to achieve 17 global development goals, seeking to end poverty and hunger and tackle climate change, which were agreed in 2015 by U.N. member states and estimated to cost $3 trillion a year. Yet bilateral aid to the world’s poorest countries fell by 3 percent to $27.6 billion while humanitarian aid dropped by 8 percent to $15.3 billion, data showed…” (Taylor, 4/10).

VOA News: OECD: Aid Drops for Some of World’s Neediest Countries
“…The OECD’s head of development aid statistics, Yasmin Ahmad, says if support to refugees is taken out of the equation — in some cases because of fewer arrivals — the overall aid figure would remain unchanged. Ahmad, however, says the message is still alarming. ‘The OECD considers these trends quite worrisome because it shows that most donors are not actually living up to the commitment that they made in 2015, which was to increase their aid,’ Ahmad said. Ahmad said separate OECD findings also show foreign direct investment to developing countries dropped by about one-third from 2016 to 2017, among other downward trends…” (Bryant, 4/10).

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World Bank's 'Billions To Trillions' Agenda Needs Rethink, ODI Report Says

Devex: New report casts doubt on World Bank ‘billions to trillions’ agenda
“The World Bank’s ambitious strategy to use its public finance to unlock trillions in new private capital to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals is ‘completely unrealistic,’ according to a new report. New research from British think tank the Overseas Development Institute, released Wednesday, finds that the multilateral development banks are failing to meet expectations when it comes to catalyzing additional private finance into low-income countries, mobilizing just $0.37 of additional capital for every $1 of public money invested…” (Edwards, 4/11).

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18 New Cases Sets One-Day Record In Current DRC Ebola Outbreak; WHO Reconvenes Expert Panel To Consider Whether Outbreak Constitutes Emergency

CIDRAP News: DRC sees record-setting day, with 18 Ebola cases
“[Thursday] the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recorded 18 new cases in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri province, the largest single-day jump since the outbreak began last August. The previous record was 16 cases, on Apr 7…” (Soucheray, 4/10).

Reuters: WHO experts to decide whether Congo Ebola outbreak is international emergency
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said it had reconvened an expert panel to consider whether an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo constitutes a public health emergency of international concern…” (Kelland, 4/10).

STAT: WHO asks panel to weigh whether Ebola outbreak is global emergency
“…This will be the second time an emergency committee has been asked to advise WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on whether this outbreak meets the criteria to be declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, known in global health circles as a PHEIC. The committee met in October and though it described the outbreak as very worrying, it recommended against declaring a PHEIC at that time…” (Branswell, 4/10).

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WFP Executive Director David Beasley Discusses Agency's Efforts In Mozambique, Yemen, Venezuela

PBS NewsHour: In Mozambique, Yemen and Venezuela crises, access for aid is hard to come by
“Mozambique’s official death toll from a deadly cyclone in March has topped 1,000. In the storm’s aftermath, survivors face lack of power, food, and supplies, plus deadly outbreaks of diseases like cholera and malaria. Amna Nawaz talks to David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, about his organization’s response to that catastrophe as well as those in Yemen and Venezuela…” (Woodruff/Nawaz, 4/10).

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Gender Inequality Inhibits Women's Sexual, Reproductive Rights, UNFPA Report Says

VOA News: Report: Gender Inequality Robs Women of Sexual, Reproductive Rights
“A new report finds gender inequality strips women of their ability to control their sexual and reproductive options and limits their right to choose when and if they wish to start a family. The United Nations Population Fund released this year’s State of the World Population report titled ‘Unfinished Business: The Pursuit of Rights and Choices for All.’ … Director of UNFPA in Geneva, Monica Ferro, says gender inequality is often used to control women’s sexuality and reproduction…” (Schlein, 4/10).

U.N. News: More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new U.N. global study finds
“More than four in 10 women in 51 countries surveyed feel they have no choice but to agree to their partner’s sexual demands, the U.N. sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, said on Wednesday, noting that they are also unable to make basic decisions about getting pregnant and accessing health care for themselves. … The findings, relating to women aged 15-49, are being published for the first time, as part of UNFPA’s State of World Population 2019 report…” (4/10).

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South Korea's Constitutional Court Orders Revision Of Law Banning Abortion

Associated Press: South Korean court orders easing of decades-old abortion ban
“In a major reversal, South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered the easing of the country’s decades-old ban on most abortions, one of the strictest in the developed world. Abortions have been largely illegal in South Korea since 1953, though convictions for violating the restrictions are rare. … The court’s nine-justice panel said that the parliament must map out legislation to ease the current regulations by the end of 2020. It said the current abortion law was incompatible with the constitution and would be repealed if parliament fails to come up with new legislation by then…” (Kim, 4/11).

Yonhap News Agency: Korean society shows mixed reactions to top court’s pro-abortion ruling
“…Liberal civic activists and doctors welcomed the top court’s ruling, whereas conservatives and religious groups expressed strong dismay at its decision to ease the abortion ban. The domestic medical community welcomed the top court’s pro-choice ruling, saying it is based on reality and will help protect the health of pregnant women. … By contrast, a national alliance of 79 anti-abortion civic organizations expressed strong disappointment at the Constitutional Court’s decision. … The Catholic Church of Korea expressed regret over the Constitutional Court’s decision to ease abortion ban…” (4/11).

Additional coverage of the court’s ruling is available from Bloomberg, CNN, Financial Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Quartz, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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Vehicle Pollution Linked To 4M Child Asthma Cases Worldwide Each Year, Study Shows

The Guardian: Vehicle pollution ‘results in 4m child asthma cases a year’
“Four million children develop asthma every year as a result of air pollution from cars and trucks, equivalent to 11,000 new cases a day, a landmark study has found. Most of the new cases occur in places where pollution levels are already below the World Health Organization limit, suggesting toxic air is even more harmful than thought…” (Carrington, 4/10).

HealthDay News: Vehicle Exhaust Drives Millions of New Asthma Cases Annually
“…Two-thirds of these kids live in urban areas, according to the study by researchers at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. ‘Our findings suggest that millions of new cases of pediatric asthma could be prevented in cities around the world by reducing air pollution,’ said senior study author Susan Anenberg. She is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the university’s Milken Institute School of Public Health…” (Preidt, 4/11).

Newsweek: Air Pollution: U.S. Ranks World’s Third Worst in Study on Asthma in Children
“…The new study focused on the effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a major component of traffic-related air pollution. Scientists at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health studied data collected between 2010 and 2015 on 125 cities across 194 countries. They investigated factors including concentrations of NO2 in the air; populations; and rates of asthma in each country. The findings were published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health…” (Gander, 4/10).

U.S. News & World Report: Air Pollution Linked to 4M New Cases of Pediatric Asthma a Year
“…The data revealed that nitrogen dioxide pollution was linked to about 13% of annual pediatric asthma cases around the world. Among 125 cities included in the study, pollution was linked to a low of 6% of cases in Orlu, Nigeria, and a high of 48% in Shanghai. The pollutant’s contribution to new pediatric cases of asthma was more than 20% in 92 cities, including Moscow; Seoul, South Korea; and eight cities in China…” (Lardieri, 4/10).

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: Push to cure hepatitis B, a neglected disease (4/10).

Al Jazeera: Death toll from devastating Cyclone Idai rises above 1,000 (4/10).

Borgen Magazine: How Drug Manufacturers are Treating Neglected Tropical Diseases (Sharek, 4/10).

Malay Mail: Rights advocates worry conservatism hampering women’s sexual, reproductive health (Zurairi AR, 4/11).

NPR: He Thought His City Was Prepared For Big Storms. Then Cyclone Idai Hit (Shapiro/Lambert, 4/10).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Award-winning start-up targets affordable medicine for every African (Peyton, 4/10).

Xinhua News: Cholera resurfaces in Cameroon’s North region recording two deaths (4/11).

Xinhua News: Tanzania confirms outbreak of dengue fever (4/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

New World Bank President David Malpass Must Strengthen Institution's Commitment To Equity, Achieving SDGs

Project Syndicate: Will David Malpass Trump the World Bank?
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children U.K.

“David Malpass has taken over as World Bank president, and he carries some heavy political baggage. … At this week’s [International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank] Spring meetings, Malpass needs to address these concerns head-on. … The Spring meetings provide an opportunity to put words into action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) … These are areas in which the World Bank and its new president can make a difference. To its credit, the Bank has increasingly turned the spotlight on inequality. But it has been curiously reticent about advocating for the redistributive policies in taxation, public spending, and regulation needed to narrow social disparities. Malpass may not be an obvious champion for pro-poor redistribution, but that is what is needed. … The World Bank could help improve accountability for fulfilling [the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’] by working with the U.N. and national agencies to monitor and report on the pace at which disparities in key indicators, from mortality to education, are being narrowed. Both the World Bank and the IMF should also use their public-finance reporting to monitor whether fiscal policies are aligned with the pledge to narrow social inequalities. Malpass has the unique privilege and responsibility of overseeing one of the world’s largest sources of development finance … He must not drop the ball” (4/10).

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U.S. State Department Should Report Thoroughly On All Human Rights Abuses, Including Child Marriage, Opinion Piece Says

The Hill: Whose human rights count? Trump administration deemphasizes abuse of women and girls
Rachel Clement, policy advocate at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

“Every year, the State Department delivers a series of country-level human rights reports. … [U]nderplayed in this year’s report is one of the greatest human rights violations against girls: Child marriage. … There is a decades-long history of human rights reporting from administrations on both sides of the aisle. These reports have most certainly reflected the foreign policy priorities of each administration. It is telling, then, that this administration chose to ‘streamline’ sections focusing on gender, reproductive health, or LGBTQ rights. The administration should return to reporting robustly on child marriage as a human right abuse. While each report is important on its own, it is important to be able to follow progress (or regression) over time. While no country has a perfect human rights record, neither do countries like to be named and shamed in these reports. In order for the reports to carry any weight they must not only be written, they must be leveraged. Furthermore, the U.S. congress should continue to use their oversight role to push the Department of State to report on all human rights, not just the ones that happen to be politically expedient. They should also allocate funding to empower girls and address the problem of child marriage at home and abroad” (4/10).

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Collaborative Effort Vital To Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: Vaccine hesitancy: a generation at risk
Editorial Board

“…Pediatricians and family doctors have a key role in helping parents appreciate the benefits of vaccination; physicians’ advice has been shown to be the most important predictor of vaccine acceptance. … [However, vaccine] hesitancy cannot be addressed by pediatricians alone: governments and health policymakers also play an essential role in promoting vaccination, educating the general public, and implementing policies that reduce the public health risks associated with vaccine hesitancy. … Media platforms (including social media) have been enormously influential in the spread of vaccine hesitancy. … In response, Facebook announced that groups and pages that share anti-vaccine misinformation would be removed from its recommendation algorithm. Such partnerships are crucial for allowing widespread promotion of evidence-based information explaining the benefits of vaccination. Vaccine hesitancy is threatening the historical achievements made in reducing the burden of infectious diseases, which have plagued humanity for centuries. Only a collaborative effort between pediatricians, family doctors, parents, public health officials, governments, the technology sector, and civil society will allow myths and misinformation around vaccination to be dispelled. If we fail, the future health of unvaccinated children and their communities will suffer greatly” (5/1).

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Upcoming Election Of FAO's Next Director General Will Shape Global Food System, Progress Toward Zero Hunger

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Achieving Zero Hunger. A message to the incoming Director General of FAO
Mohammad Hossein Emadi, ambassador of Iran; Yaya Adisa Olaitan Olaniran, head of mission for Nigeria; Karla Samoya Ricari, ambassador of Guatemala; and Terri Sarch, ambassador of the United Kingdom, all permanent representatives to the United Nations Food and Agriculture agencies

“2019 is a pivotal year for global food security and agriculture development as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is set to elect its next director general. … FAO plays a critical role in fostering the international collaboration required to respond to [threats to food and agriculture security] and prevent more widespread hunger, but business as usual will not suffice. … To guide the 197-member state organization on collective action to deliver zero hunger, FAO requires a dynamic, performance-oriented leader with integrity and the expertise to build on recent reforms, work with other organizations, and make bold decisions underpinned by scientific evidence [and] robust monitoring of agricultural productivity. … With hunger on the rise and ever-evolving threats related to a changing climate, the upcoming election will shape the contributions FAO and its member states make in the coming decade. It is only through tackling these issues as a global community of nation states that we can construct a global food system that can respond to crises and support resilient and sustainable food production that keeps hunger at bay, improves nutrition in all countries, and leaves no one behind” (4/10).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Fund For Women Vice President Outlines Strategies To Address Mexico City Policy

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Women’s Groups and Funders Respond to Global Gag Rule
Leila Hessini, vice president of programs at the Global Fund for Women, discusses the potential effects of the Mexico City policy, writing, “Through conversations with our grantees and partners, we identified four strategies for mitigating the effects of the global gag rule and other restrictive funding policies. 1. Document the impact and advocate … 2. Redirect local funding and circumvent [international non-governmental organizations (INGOs)] … 3. Encourage other large government and foundation donors to step in … 4. Set up alternative sources of information, services, and care” (4/10).

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FIGO Posts Discuss Role Of Access To Quality Care In Improving Women's Health

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics: Maternal rights in a humanitarian crisis
Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, chair of FIGO’s Committee on Human Rights, Refugees, and Violence Against Women, discusses the importance of ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in preventing maternal deaths and disabilities, as well as the impact of humanitarian crises on maternal health and rights (4/10).

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics: Every woman’s right: a safe delivery
This post discusses access to quality health care as an important factor for decreasing the global maternal mortality ratio (4/10).

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CGD Experts Examine Role Of Technology In Reducing Child Mortality Using Data Visualizations

Center for Global Development: It’s Technology, Stupid: How Important is Innovation for Better Development Outcomes?
Owen Barder, vice president and director of CGD Europe and senior fellow at CGD; Lee Robinson, research associate at CGD Europe; and Euan Ritchie, research assistant at CGD Europe, discuss the role of technology in reducing child mortality by examining data visualizations. The authors note, “[A]t least half of the improvement in child mortality over the last century is not from countries getting richer, but from improved and more widely available technology…” (4/10).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Secretary Of State Discusses U.S. Support Of UNICEF's Efforts With Agency's Executive Director

U.S. Department of State: Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting With UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
According to a readout from State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, “Secretary Pompeo met [on Wednesday] with UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in Washington. During their meeting, the Secretary emphasized U.S. support for UNICEF’s efforts to advance children’s well-being across the globe, particularly in conflict and post-conflict areas…” (4/10).

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USAID Launches Inclusive Health Access Prize To Advance Effective Approaches For Improving Health Systems

USAID/Medium: An Open Call for Health Care Innovators
Bill Steiger, USAID’s chief of staff, announces the launch of USAID’s Inclusive Health Access Prize “to reward … under-appreciated approaches in which local entities have worked with governments to advance accessible, accountable, affordable, and reliable health care.” Steiger notes, “[W]e hope to discover new ideas and expertise that are already integrated in local contexts and proven to be effective. Over time, we want to replicate and expand them sustainably in USAID’s priority countries for global health” (4/9).

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