KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Bank Developing New Strategy For Operations In Fragile States; WB, IMF Stand Ready To Respond In Venezuela

Associated Press: IMF, WB ready to respond to Venezuelan humanitarian crisis
“The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said Thursday they are ready to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela if their participation is requested. … Neither the World Bank nor the IMF has taken a position in the political struggle between Maduro and Juan Guaidó, the U.S.-backed head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress who has declared himself interim president…” (Lugo, 4/11).

Devex: World Bank looking for new options in fragile and conflict states
“The World Bank is currently in the consultation phase of a new strategy for fragility, conflict, and violence, which officials hope will help the institution enter conflict-affected areas earlier and with a better understanding of how security and development intersect. The development of the new strategy could represent another step for the institution into protracted crises where early investments must contend with issues of politics, risk, and instability that the bank was not historically created to deal with, according to those working on the effort…” (Igoe, 4/11).

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Fund For Peace's 2019 Fragile States Index Lists Venezuela As 'Most Worsened,' Tied With Brazil

Devex: Venezuela ‘most worsened’ country in 2019 fragile states index
“Venezuela is tied [with Brazil] for the ‘most worsened’ country in the 2019 fragile states index after it has been ‘beset by enormous turmoil’ and finds itself with two people claiming to be the country’s leader. Venezuela declined for the sixth year in a row and now ranks as the 32nd most fragile country in the world in the index, which is produced annually by the Fund for Peace and measures risk and vulnerability in 178 countries. … In addition to health challenges, including malaria — of which there are an estimated 1.2 million cases in Venezuela, a 400% increase in the past 10 years — diseases such as AIDS, diphtheria, and Zika also threaten stability…” (Welsh, 4/11).

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Preliminary 2018 OECD Data Show Drop In Development Assistance, Worrying Organization's SG, Aid Advocates

Devex: New aid figures reveal ‘incredible lack of ambition’ from donors
“Development assistance fell 2.7% last year, largely due to countries spending less on hosting refugees and changes to whether these costs qualify as aid. Aid advocates said preliminary data for 2018, released Wednesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, painted a worrying picture…” (Chadwick, 4/11).

Public Finance International: Drop in overseas aid ‘worrying’ says OECD
“… ‘This picture of stagnating public aid is particularly worrying as it follows data showing that private development flows are also declining,’ said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. ‘Donor countries are not living up to their 2015 pledge to ramp up development finance and this bodes badly for us being able to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals’…” (O’Toole, 4/11).

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Blended Finance Has Role In Achieving SDGs But Financial Systems Need Reform, Experts Say

Devex: Blended finance’s role in SDGs depends on these changes
“Blended finance can play a critical role in bridging philanthropic or public dollars and private capital in trying to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals. But its potential is threatened by a financial system that isn’t forward-looking, according to a group of development financiers and practitioners gathered on a panel at Skoll World Forum this week…” (Saldinger, 4/12).

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'Clock Is Ticking' To Meet SDGs, U.N. Deputy SG Says, Highlighting Climate Change, Access To Health Care, Education

U.N. News: ‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, says U.N. deputy chief
“Pointing to climate change, inequalities, and other serious challenges, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a forum on Thursday that ‘the clock is ticking’ down, to making the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. ‘Climate change is ravaging the planet … staggering numbers of children and youth — especially girls and young women — still lack access to basic education and health care services, [and] people in many countries are starved of economic opportunities, decent work, and social protection measures,’ she told the 2019 ECOSOC Partnership Forum, where governments, business representatives, and other influencers met to discuss how partnerships can best advance and the 17 SDGs…” (4/11).

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Red Cross To Triple Humanitarian Assistance To Venezuela

The Guardian: Red Cross aid to Venezuela to triple as Maduro stance softens
“The International Committee of the Red Cross is to triple aid to Venezuela, a day after the crisis-riven country’s leader approved the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The organization announced the increase in the face of mounting calls for the U.N. to recognize the scale of the crisis facing Venezuela, and amid continued moves by the Trump administration to persuade other countries to back its calls for the removal of President Nicolás Maduro…” (Beaumont, 4/12).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Sets New One-Day Record With 20 Cases; WHO Emergency Panel Meeting, To Make Recommendations

CIDRAP News: DRC Ebola surge marks 2nd straight record-setting day
“For the second day in a row [on Thursday], the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported a record number of Ebola infections — this time, 20 cases — putting an exclamation point on the outbreak ahead of [today’s] World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee meeting to assess whether the developments constitute a public health emergency declaration…” (Schnirring, 4/11).

The Guardian: Emergency panel meets as Congo Ebola outbreak gathers pace
“…It is thought the panel, which first met in October 2018, have not previously done so because the epidemic has not spread into other countries. ‘Though the risk of spread within the country and to neighboring countries is very high, the risk remains low globally,’ the WHO said in a statement on Wednesday. A declaration would boost the international response and help to mobilize resources and research. The committee is also expected to give updated recommendations on how global health officials should manage the outbreak…” (Ratcliffe, 4/12).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and the WHO committee meeting is available from the Associated Press and Bloomberg.

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Taliban Bans Red Cross, WHO From Operating In Afghan Areas Under Its Control

Associated Press: Taliban declare start of spring offensive amid talks with U.S.
“Taliban announced Friday the start of their spring offensive despite talking peace with the United States and ahead of a significant gathering of Afghans meant to discuss resolutions to the protracted war and an eventual withdrawal of American troops from the country. … Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP on Friday that the insurgents banned the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization from operating in territory under their control. This is the second time in the past year the insurgents have barred Red Cross workers…” (Shah, 4/12).

Reuters: Afghan Taliban bans WHO and Red Cross work amid vaccination drive
“The Afghan Taliban have banned the World Health Organization and the Red Cross from operating in areas under their control until further notice, a spokesman said on Thursday, citing unspecified ‘suspicious’ actions during vaccination campaigns. The move comes as the WHO is carrying out a vaccination campaign in Afghanistan, one of the last countries in the world where polio is still endemic…” (Mackenzie, 4/11).

VOA News: Afghanistan’s Taliban Bans ICRC, WHO Relief Work
“…An ICRC spokesman confirmed the organization has suspended its relief work because of the withdrawal of security guarantees by the Taliban. ‘Therefore, we are now in the process of contacting the (Taliban) to initiate a bilateral and confidential dialogue in view of the (Taliban) statement,’ Robin Waudo told AFP. There was no immediate reaction from the WHO or the Afghan government to the Taliban’s warning…” (Gul, 4/11).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press/Dallas News: George W. Bush honors Bill and Melinda Gates in Dallas with leadership award (4/11).

The Lancet: Disease X and other unknowns (Honigsbaum, 4/13).

NPR: Chickenpox, The Latest Burden On The Rohingya Refugees (Beaubien, 4/11).

NPR: South Korean Court Strikes Down Decades-Old Abortion Ban (Gong, 4/12).

Quartz: An alarming kids’ health report shows cities must act now on traffic pollution (Timsit, 4/12).

Reuters: World Bank puts Mozambique’s economic losses from Cyclone Idai at up to $773 million (Rumney, 4/11).

Reuters: Disease outbreaks feared in Libya, as supplies stretched: WHO (Nebehay, 4/12).

VOA News: Malawi Deploys Mobile Clinics for Cyclone-Affected Children (Masina, 4/11).

Xinhua News: U.N., Iranian Red Crescent jointly aid victims of flood (4/12).

Xinhua News: U.N. releases emergency funds for life-saving assistance in Sudan (4/12).

Xinhua News: Tibet establishes HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment association (4/11).

Xinhua News: Kenya roots for quality health systems to overcome disease burden (4/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trump Administration Views Foreign Assistance As 'Transactional'; Congress Likely To Reject White House Budget Proposal, Opinion Piece Says

Washington Post: Congress scorns Trump plan to cut, weaponize foreign aid
Joe Davidson, Washington Post columnist

“Mark Green did his best to put a winning face on a losing proposition. The administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) told Congress about a proposed ‘increase’ in his budget and funding for a program that ‘will allow us to maintain the highest level ever of U.S. humanitarian assistance programming.’ But Democrats and Republicans at Tuesday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing saw right through Green’s masquerade. They can read budgets and they’re aware of the Trump administration’s plans to significantly cut foreign assistance. Congress has ignored larger proposed cuts twice before, a fate that surely awaits the current plan. More than numbers, the budget represents a steady American retreat from global leadership and an attempt to weaponize foreign assistance. … One example of the good [foreign aid] does is in the fight against HIV/AIDS [through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)]. … Trump, however, considers foreign aid a transactional exercise. … Trump’s transactional approach … can lead to shortsighted, counterproductive decisions, such as the one to cut assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, the Central American countries the administration claims are not doing enough to stop migration. This weaponizes assistance by threatening to withhold it despite the humanitarian need…” (4/12).

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World Bank Must Renew Commitment To Eradicating Poverty

Project Syndicate: The World Bank Must Change Course
Bjørn Lomborg, visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

“…The argument for approaching development through the prism of climate change is that rising temperatures exacerbate challenges such as malaria and lack of access to education. Though this is true, almost all problems impact all others. An increase in malaria makes children more susceptible to hunger; poor nutrition and a lack of sanitation worsen educational performance; missing school leads to greater poverty; and so on. The more important consideration is which policy helps the most. Should we help the poor by cutting carbon dioxide emissions now and reducing temperatures a bit in 100 years’ time, or instead focus immediately on malaria and education? … The world will reduce its reliance on fossil fuels only when genuine alternatives are cheaper and better. This will require innovative research and development to bring the price of green energy below that of fossil fuels. The World Bank could even play a role in supporting this. But [new World Bank President David] Malpass must first refocus the Bank on its core mission. … Malpass should ensure that it concentrates on its most effective initiatives — including freer trade, combating tuberculosis, early childhood nutrition, family planning, and computer-aided education. The new World Bank president has a chance to make his mark on a still-valuable organization. He should start by making a renewed commitment to eradicating poverty — including the energy poverty that wrecks so many lives” (4/11).

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Experts Must Work Together To Address Global Vaccine Dissent

Science: Reverse global vaccine dissent
Heidi J. Larson, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health and director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and William S. Schulz, Ph.D. student in the Department of Politics at Princeton University and affiliated researcher at the Vaccine Confidence Project

“This year, the World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats, alongside threats as grave as climate change, antimicrobial resistance, Ebola virus, and the next influenza pandemic. What happened? How did vaccine reluctance and refusal become such a major risk? The concerns driving antivaccine sentiment today are diverse. … The phenomenon of vaccine dissent is not new. … [T]his is not merely an issue of correcting misinformation. There are social networks in which vaccine views and information are circulating in online communities, where vaccine choices become part of one’s overall identity. To mitigate the globalization of vaccine dissent, while respecting legitimate sharing of concerns and genuine questions, a mix of relevant expertise is needed. Technology experts, social scientists, vaccine and public health experts, and ethicists must convene and take a hard look at the different roles each group has in addressing this challenge. It needs everyone’s attention” (4/12).

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Cyclone Idai Response Efforts Must Focus On Both Short-, Long-Term Impacts, Outcomes

The Conversation: Cyclone Idai is over — but its health effects will be felt for a long time
Kerrigan McCarthy, head of the outbreak response unit at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and Lucille Blumberg, deputy director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and member of the joint staff at the University of the Witwatersrand

“…Nearly a month on, the flood waters [of Cyclone Idai] have receded. But in some ways, [the affected] countries’ problems are just beginning. That’s because floods always increase the risk of major health problems in affected populations during the weeks and months that follow the actual event. … It’s important that [relief efforts] don’t just focus on the short-term effects of Idai and the floods — it’s crucial to look ahead and try to guard against major health crises. … The Mozambican Ministry of Health is coordinating flood relief efforts with the support of the World Health Organization and many partners, agencies, and non-governmental organizations. … All these efforts are necessary and welcome. But it will also be crucial to look beyond the initial disaster response to ensure the countries that have been shattered by Cyclone Idai rebuild their infrastructure, and develop response plans to deal with future cyclone damage” (4/12).

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Editorial Discusses Potential Of Artificial Intelligence In Global Health

The Lancet: Artificial intelligence in global health: a brave new world
Editorial Board

“Despite decades of progress in global health, many low- and middle-income countries are not reaching their health Sustainable Development Goals, creating a sense of urgency to prioritize health in resource-strained environments. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly attractive to the health care industry. The accompanying enthusiasm remains awkwardly placed somewhere between aspiration and reality. … The [Artificial Intelligence in Global Health] report sets the framework for a proactive and strategic approach to accelerate the development of cost-effective use of AI in global health by investing in case-specific, systematic, and technology-related key areas. This report outlines an aspirational yet pragmatic framework for better coordination for AI investment between donors, governments, and the private sector, while harnessing a futuristic vision — the digitization of global health. Because the cost-effectiveness of these AI solutions has yet to be validated, the call for investments feels somewhat premature. Traditionally, the global health community is a late adopter of new technologies. Hence, it is imperative that they have an integral and active role in the dialogue early on. As this report rightfully stipulates, technology will get there, but will the world follow?” (4/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Bipartisan Group Of U.S. Representatives Reintroduce Global Health Security Act

Global Health Council: Global Health Security Act Reintroduced in Congress
“Global Health Council welcomes the reintroduction of the Global Health Security Act of 2019 (bill number pending) by U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). This bipartisan legislation supports the U.S. commitment to elevating global health security and the Global Health Security Agenda, an international partnership that works to build capacity to prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks…” (4/10).

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PLOS Medicine Consulting Editor Examines Recent History Of World Bank's Global Health Efforts, Prospects For New President's Leadership

PLOS Blogs’ “Speaking of Medicine”: The next World Bank president: Can Malpass beat expectations?
“PLOS Medicine Specialty Consulting Editor Lorenz von Seidlein wonders if the controversial new World Bank president can provide effective leadership of the international agency especially around public health…” (4/12).

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FIGO Supports Political Declaration Reaffirming Global Support Of Reproductive Health, Rights

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics: ICPD at 25: SRHR takes center stage
This post discusses the impact of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), adopted 25 years ago, on women’s reproductive health and rights. The post states, “Last week, at the 52nd session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (UNCPD), ministers and representatives of governments unanimously adopted a political declaration reaffirming support for the Programme of Action. … We affirm that efforts to strengthen sexual and reproductive health are fundamental to efforts that strengthen the overall health system, and welcome the declaration” (4/11).

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CGD Expert Outlines 5 Key Messages From Report Calling For Higher Taxes On Tobacco, Alcohol, Sugary Beverages

Center for Global Development: New High-Level Report Calls for Higher Taxes on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Sugary Beverages to Prevent Millions of Deaths
William Savedoff, senior fellow at CGD, discusses five key messages from a report by the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health calling on governments to raise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and sugary beverages: “1. Tobacco, alcohol, and sugary beverages consumption accounts for a large and growing share of premature death and disease, especially in low- and middle-income countries. … 2. Raising the price of tobacco and alcohol by increasing excise taxes reduces consumption and saves lives, while generating additional tax revenues. … 3. The economic rationale for raising excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and sugary beverages is well-established. … 4. Implementing taxes on products that harm health is a test of government effort and resolve. … 5. Raising taxes on tobacco can do more to reduce premature mortality than any other single health policy” (4/10).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Administrator Mark Green Discusses Agency's Policy Framework During Opening Remarks At CSIS' Global Development Forum

USAID: USAID Administrator Mark Green’s Opening Remarks on the Policy Framework at CSIS’ Global Development Forum
During opening remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies 2019 Global Development Forum, USAID Administrator Mark Green discussed the agency’s Policy Framework, noting, “[W]hat we believe is, where a country has taken on the tough choices in doing the difficult things that they need to do to become self-reliant and hopefully prosperous, well, we should walk with them along the way” (4/11).

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U.S. Government Hosts Panel Discussion On Ending FGM/C At U.N. CSW

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: U.S. Champions Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women
Linsey Armstrong of the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department highlights a March 14 panel discussion on global efforts to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) during the 63rd session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). “[T]he Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations (USUN) convened FGM/C survivors, government officials, civil society representatives, and multilateral partners … [for] the Implementing Commitments and Supporting Survivors: Advancing Efforts to End FGM/C program … The panelists shared examples from their work to end FGM/C and offered recommendations based on lessons learned in efforts to implement legislation, design programs, and engage stakeholders to change norms. … In 2018, the Department of State contributed more than $5 million to help end this heinous practice…” (4/11).

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