KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Nearly 100 House Democrats Send Letter To Secretary Of State Tillerson Calling For Reinstatement Of UNFPA Funding

The Hill: Dems press Trump to restore family planning funding
“Scores of House Democrats are pressing the Trump administration to reinstate funding for an international program dedicated to family planning and women’s reproductive health. The State Department earlier this month announced it would pull all U.S. funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), citing concerns that the money would subsidize coercive abortion services overseas, particularly in China. In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Democrats contend those concerns are unfounded, warning that the decision to halt U.S. funds … threatens the lives of countless low-income women around the globe…” (Lillis, 4/11).

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She Decides Initiative Countering Mexico City Policy Continues To Attract Support From Private, Government Donors

Devex: Anti-‘global gag rule’ campaign seeks private sector, philanthropic support
“The She Decides fund for family planning — launched by the Dutch government as a reaction against the U.S. ‘global gag rule’ — is continuing to attract support ahead of a change of leadership in the Netherlands. Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation who made headlines after creating the fund in January, told Devex that Europe will be ‘a beacon of stability’ on women’s issues in the coming years. The project aims to replace family planning funding withdrawn by the U.S., and has attracted broad support from governments and other stakeholders…” (Edwards, 4/12).

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Overall Development Aid Increased In 2016 But Bilateral Aid To Poorest Nations Dropped, OECD Data Show

Agence France-Presse: Aid hit record in 2016, driven by migrant flows: OECD
“Wealthy countries boosted their aid spending in 2016, investing a record $143 billion (135 billion euros) in overseas development as migrants continued to pour into Europe, the OECD said Tuesday. The 8.9 percent hike in aid spending was partly driven by a 27.5 percent increase in spending on refugees, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said…” (4/11).

Devex: OECD aid reaches record high but more money is spent domestically
“…[I]n-donor refugee costs accounted for $15.4 billion of that funding, up by 27.5 percent in real terms from 2015, according to preliminary figures released [Tuesday] by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This means that over 10 percent of total net ODA in 2016 was provided for this purpose. Nonetheless, net aid rose by 7.1 percent even after stripping out refugee costs, the organization said…” (Ravelo, 4/11).

The Guardian: ‘Worrying trend’ as aid money stays in wealthiest countries
“…The data also show that aid to the least developed countries fell by 3.9 percent from 2015, with aid to Africa down by 0.5 percent. … Overall, overseas development aid rose in 22 countries in 2016…” (Summers, 4/11).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Rich countries criticized for using aid money to host refugees instead of tackling poverty
“…Of the 29 members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, the United States remained the largest donor in 2016 giving $33.6 billion in aid, followed by Germany with $24.7 billion, Britain, Japan, and France. Only six donors — Denmark, Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Britain — met or exceeded the United Nations’ target of spending 0.7 percent of national income on development aid” (Taylor, 4/11).

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Group Of 77 Considers Challenges Of, Lessons Learned During Ebola Epidemic

Inter Press Service: The Ebola Crisis: Lessons Learned for Developing Nations
“The Group of 77 has pointed out that the Ebola crisis of 2014-2015 proved that ‘no country is immune from a disease outbreak, no matter where it emerges.’ … [R]eports under consideration by the Fifth Committee highlighted the numerous challenges encountered in the fight against the Ebola virus disease. … In order to avoid future problems in such crisis situations, the Group underlined the importance of building on existing institutional and coordination mechanisms, working with entities already on the ground such as the WHO and the United Nations Country team and the African Union, so as to reduce confusion, especially in the midst of health crises such as the recent Ebola outbreak” (4/11).

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Washington Post Examines Food Crises In South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Each In 'Protracted Conflict'

Washington Post: Starving to death
“…[T]his year, South Sudan slipped into famine, and Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen are each on the verge of their own. Famine now threatens 20 million people — more than at any time since World War II. As defined by the United Nations, famine occurs when a region’s daily hunger-related death rate exceeds two per 10,000 people. The persistence of such severe hunger, even in inhospitable climates, would be almost unthinkable without war. Each of these four countries is in a protracted conflict. While humanitarian assistance can save lives in the immediate term, none of the food crises can be solved in the long term without a semblance of peace…” (Bearak/Karklis, 4/11).

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Published Data On Childhood Cancers Shows 13% Increase In Incidence Worldwide Since 1980s, WHO Study Shows

The Guardian: Recorded childhood cancers rise by 13% worldwide, study finds
“Childhood cancers have risen across the globe by 13 percent over 20 years, according to data from the World Health Organization’s cancer section. Cancer in children is comparatively rare; when it does occur it is more likely to have been triggered by something in the child’s genetic makeup than by anything to do with lifestyle or the environment. Part of the reason for the rise is thought likely to be better detection…” (Boseley, 4/11).

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U.N.-Supported Campaign Vaccinates Nearly 5M Children For Polio In Yemen

U.N. News Centre: Millions of children in Yemen vaccinated against polio through U.N.-backed campaign
“Despite daunting challenges, United Nations agencies and partners in war-torn Yemen have completed a major nationwide polio inoculation campaign, vaccinating nearly five million children under the age of five against the paralyzing disease…” (4/10).

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News Outlets Discuss Recently Discovered Podoconiosis Outbreak In Uganda

CNN: Volcanic minerals behind mystery elephantiasis outbreak in Uganda
“…[Elephantiasis] is typically caused by infection with parasitic worms, transmitted through certain mosquito species. But an investigation by [Uganda’s] Ministry of Health has revealed a new root cause: volcanic soil. This method of contracting the disease is known as podoconiosis, or non-filarial elephantiasis…” (Senthilingam, 4/10).

NPR: The Unexpected Cause Of This Awful Disease Lay Right Underfoot
“…[The team] interviewed more than 40 people with the disease and found that nearly all of them had something in common: They farmed in volcanic rock — without wearing shoes. … The disease is widespread along the equator in Africa, with 10 countries reporting cases. Ethiopia alone has at least a million cases and Cameroon at least half a million, the World Health Organization says…” (Doucleff, 4/10).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Invest In, Reform Foreign Aid Into 'Smart-Power Strategy' For National, Economic Security

National Interest: Foreign Aid Should Be Part of an “America First” Policy
Gary Edson, principal of Civic Enterprises, LLC, former deputy national security adviser and deputy national economic adviser to President George W. Bush

“…[U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson now has an opportunity to debunk the zero-sum view of foreign aid, and complete its transformation from what was once derided as an element of soft power into a smart power instrument of national and economic security. … These reforms should translate lessons learned into a smart-power strategy focused on nation enabling, not building. … This smart power strategy … would likely be supported by the Bush-era coalition, as well as others. The faith-based right and activist left would see it as a matter of conscience and an expression of American ideals at a time when those ideals are in doubt or under threat. Businesses … would support it as a matter of economic self-interest, recognizing that healthy, prosperous consumers abroad promote prosperity at home. ‘America Firsters’ would see in this results-oriented approach an end to zero-sum thinking, as the paring back of marginal programs and the leveraging of private capital and G20 resources frees up funds for new local and global investments alike. Isolationists and xenophobes … would see this strategy as a way of ensuring that potential migrants are lifted out of poverty and disease within their own borders, before seeking refuge across our borders. And, finally … the national-security community would see this more muscular approach to foreign assistance as a low-cost alternative to the military for ensuring global peace and stability. … [A]s Secretary of State Tillerson undertakes his ‘deeper analysis’ of foreign assistance, the question he should be asking is not whether we should help both the child in South Dakota and the child in South Sudan, but what happens if we don’t?” (4/11).

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NYT Article Profiling WHO Director General Candidates 'Exemplifies Unfair Treatment Of Women Seeking Power'

Quartz: Word for word, a perfect example of how we treat women seeking power
Annalisa Merelli, reporter at Quartz

“…The list of three finalists in the race to run the WHO includes two men, Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (who came in first, with 30 votes, in a preliminary vote) and the U.K.’s David Nabarro (18 votes), and one woman, Pakistani candidate Sania Nishtar (28 votes). Last week, a New York Times article profiling each candidate added an interesting perspective on the race, notable for how perfectly it exemplifies the unfair treatment of women seeking power. … The profile fails to note that Nishtar was the first female cardiologist in her country, that she has a PhD from King’s College London, that she was key to establishing Pakistan’s ministry of health. [New York Times reporter Donald G.] McNeil does report, however, that ‘when pressed to put her strongest qualification in a sentence, she struggled,’ and sniffs at her use of development jargon. While the other two candidates’ programs are introduced as what they would do ‘as leaders’ of the WHO, the word and its synonyms do not appear in Nishtar’s profile. Unlike the United Nations, which has never been led by a woman, the WHO has had two women at its helm so far: Incumbent Margaret Chan is a Hong Kong-Canadian doctor who has helmed the body for two terms, since 2007. Before Chan, the director general from 1998 to 2003 was former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. In the context of an institution that has opened to women’s leadership, you might expect a more neutral treatment of candidates…” (4/11).

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7 Facts About Global Health Learned At CUGH

NPR: Surprising And Sobering: 7 Facts About Global Health
Brian W. Simpson and Dayna Kerecman Myers, editors of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Global Health NOW

“When 1,700 specialists in global health descended upon Washington D.C. this past weekend, they brought suitcases full of data and experience. The Consortium of Universities for Global Health conference offered marathon sessions that covered everything from noncommunicable diseases and breastfeeding to climate science and injury prevention. … [W]e found out there’s still a lot to learn about our field. Here are some of the facts and figures that made an impression on us. 1. Infectious diseases remain big killers. … 2. But there are other significant — and sometimes overlooked — causes of death. … 3. Heart disease is falling and rising. … 4. Global health is largely a man’s world. … 5. Impacts of climate change are causing unlikely health problems. … 6. In some countries, rates of spousal violence are notably higher than the world average. … 7. History shows that predictions … aren’t easy to make…” (4/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CFR Backgrounder Examines U.S. Foreign Aid Spending

Council on Foreign Relations: How Does the U.S. Spend Its Foreign Aid?
In this backgrounder, James McBride, CFR senior online writer/editor in economics, describes foreign aid, its objectives, and arguments for and against; examines how much the U.S. spends and how; highlights the agencies that manage foreign aid and the countries that receive the most; and discusses how U.S. spending compares with other nations’ aid outlays (4/11).

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'Science Speaks' Highlights CUGH 2017 Event On Global Health Security Agenda

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: CUGH 2017: Global Health Security Agenda confronts the inevitable and the unknowns in disease threats, responses
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses an event at the 2017 Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference during which panelists discussed the Global Health Security Agenda. Panelists included Jonathan Quick, former head of Management Sciences for Health; Bonnie Jenkins, former State Department leader of threat reduction programs; and Jonna Mazet, executive director of the One Health Institute at University of California, Davis (4/11).

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Humanosphere Founder Calls On International Community To Re-Evaluate, 'Reboot' Humanitarianism

Humanosphere: The end of the new age of humanitarianism: Insights from the Skoll World Forum
Tom Paulson, Humanosphere founder and executive editor, presents his insights from the Skoll World Forum, which took place in Oxford last week. Paulson discusses what he feels are changes in humanitarianism, writing, “There’s clearly a global sense that something’s gone off the rails, at least insofar as the world appears to be moving away from what might be labeled traditional humanitarian values. Extreme forms of nationalism, isolationism, xenophobia, and us-vs-them hate speech are some of the behaviors indicative of this anti-humanitarian trend on the rise worldwide. These disturbing trends may explain why, at the Skoll forum this year and in stark contrast to last year’s celebration of progress, so many attendees devoted to bettering human welfare and believing in progress looked a bit shell-shocked. … [M]aybe there’s a need for this community to engage in some self-critical analysis, to re-evaluate and reboot humanitarianism…” (4/11).

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At PAHO, Brazil Health Minister Discusses Country's Health System Challenges

PAHO: Brazil’s Health Minister Outlines Health Challenges in PAHO Visit
“The main challenges for Brazil’s health system include improving its management, financing, transparency, and efficiency, according to Brazilian Health Minister Ricardo Barros, who visited the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) [Monday]. In a presentation with PAHO Director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne to PAHO staff, Barros said that about 70 percent of Brazil’s population receives care through the public health system…” (4/10).

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