KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Interagency Stabilization Assistance Review Provides Framework For U.S. Government Agencies To Coordinate Responses In Conflict Zones, Fragile States

Devex: USAID, State, and DOD to release first-ever Stabilization Assistance Review
“The Trump administration is releasing the first of its kind interagency review of United States overseas involvement that creates a framework for how the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Department of Defense can coordinate efforts to streamline diplomacy, aid, and military operations around the world and maximize resources and results. The Stabilization Assistance Review, or SAR, is based on lessons from Syria and Iraq, as well as other areas of the world in which the U.S. government is engaged, and is intended to be a guide for operations in conflict zones and fragile states…” (Welsh, 4/16).

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Bipartisan Senate Delegation Visits Africa To Reaffirm U.S. Commitment To Relations On Continent

VOA News: Senators Seek to Reaffirm Value of U.S.-Africa Relations
“A bipartisan delegation of five U.S. senators [last week] returned from a week-long trip to four African countries to show America’s commitment to the continent. … Although no new programs were announced ahead of the trip, the senators pointed to a range of bipartisan initiatives dating back several administrations that has deepened U.S.-Africa ties. … Those initiatives include PEPFAR, an AIDS-relief initiative founded by former President George W. Bush; the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a foreign aid agency created by the U.S. Congress in 2004; and Power Africa, former President Barack Obama’s 2013 initiative to bring clean energy to the 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africans without access to reliable electricity…” (Solomon, 4/12).

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3 South African Civil Society Groups Call For Independent Inquiry Into UNAIDS' Handling Of Sexual Assault Allegations

The Guardian: U.N. agency chief under pressure to quit over handling of sexual assault inquiry
“The director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, is facing calls to resign over his handling of a recent sexual assault investigation. Three South African civil society groups have called for an independent inquiry into the agency’s leadership, while the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has written to António Guterres, the U.N.’s secretary general, calling for Sidibé to stand down. Professor François Venter, deputy director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, has also resigned from a UNAIDS advisory committee in protest at its ‘deeply disturbing and tone-deaf’ response to criticism…” (Ratcliffe, 4/13).

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Advocates Worry Decline In Funding Will Follow Drop In Child Marriage Prevalence

Devex: With improvements in child marriage fight, some fear a funding drop
“…While this decline [in child marriage prevalence] of more than one-third has drawn praise, it also doesn’t fully represent the realties on the ground, according to groups that focus on child marriage. And some fear the rare positive news could lead to a drop in funding — and a backsliding in progress…” (Bader, 4/16).

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Argentina Lawmakers, Special Commission To Consider Legislation To Legalize Abortion In Some Cases

New York Times: Legal Abortion in Argentina? A Long Shot Is Suddenly Within Reach
“…[L]awmakers in Pope Francis’ homeland began considering legislation this past week that would allow women to have an abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. If backers of the measure succeed, Argentina would become the most populous country in Latin America to allow women to terminate pregnancies — a milestone in a region where strict abortion laws are the norm. … Hundreds of experts and witnesses are scheduled to appear before a special commission that will meet twice a week over the next two months to consider the bill…” (Politi, 4/14).

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Syrian Government Routinely Removes Medical Supplies From Humanitarian Aid Convoys

NPR: Syria Systematically Harasses Medical Aid Convoys
“Amid suspected chemical attacks and shelling, medics treating nearly any injury in a conflict zone in Syria need supplies like anesthetics, IV catheters, syringes, and sterile surgical gloves. These items are routinely included in humanitarian aid shipments. But in February, they were among the 3,810 medical treatments that Syrian authorities removed from aid convoys headed to Nashabiyah, a city in Ghouta, according to the U.N. Security Council. … It’s part of the Syrian government’s larger strategy to control the flow of aid to conflict zones…” (Wilhelm, 4/13).

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Donors Pledge $528M For DRC, Fall Short Of $1.68B Needed For Humanitarian Assistance

Devex: Donors fall short of targets on funding pledges for DRC, but see progress
“Donors mustered less than a third of the annual funding needed for the Democratic Republic of the Congo at a pledging conference in Geneva on Friday, which was boycotted by leaders of the central African nation. … Donors on Friday hit $528.1 million in pledges for this year, well short of the DRC’s needs, which are estimated at $1.68 billion. The U.N. refugee agency is also seeking $508 million to help roughly 800,000 Congolese refugees in surrounding countries…” (Chadwick, 4/16).

U.N. News: Donors pledge over $500 million to tackle growing needs in DR Congo; U.N. warns humanitarian crisis cannot be ignored
“…In Geneva, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock told donors that more than two million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition in DRC and 13 million people require assistance there urgently — double the number of those in need last year. He added that DRC is also facing ‘the worst outbreak of cholera in fifteen years,’ as well as ‘an epidemic of sexual violence,’ committed mainly against children…” (4/13).

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Drug-Resistant Typhoid Outbreak Serves As Warning For Global Disease Prevention Efforts

New York Times: ‘We’re Out of Options’: Doctors Battle Drug-Resistant Typhoid Outbreak
“The first known epidemic of extensively drug-resistant typhoid is spreading through Pakistan, infecting at least 850 people in 14 districts since 2016, according to the National Institute of Health Islamabad. The typhoid strain, resistant to five types of antibiotics, is expected to disseminate globally, replacing weaker strains where they are endemic. Experts have identified only one remaining oral antibiotic — azithromycin — to combat it; one more genetic mutation could make typhoid untreatable in some areas. Researchers consider the epidemic an international clarion call for comprehensive prevention efforts…” (Baumgaertner, 4/13).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremists hamper polio eradication (Umar/Larson, 4/16).

Associated Press: Brazil yellow fever vaccination campaign far short of goal (DiLorenzo, 4/13).

The Economist: Senegal’s innovative approach to prostitution (4/12).

The Guardian: ‘The earlier you go, the longer you live’: HIV self-testing in South Africa (Ratcliffe, 4/16).

New York Times: Trillions Upon Trillions of Viruses Fall From the Sky Each Day (Robbins, 4/13).

STAT: In encouraging sign, Ebola vaccine appears to provide long-lasting protection (Branswell, 4/16).

Xinhua News: Accelerated action called for to end hunger in Asia-Pacific region (4/14).

Xinhua News: Kenyan researchers to use drugs, vaccine to end malaria menace (4/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Developing Comprehensive National Health Equity Strategies Requires Inclusive Participation, Political Support

Devex: Opinion: Countries need to build National Health Equity Strategies. Here’s how.
Eric A. Friedman, project leader for the Platform for a Framework Convention on Global Health at the Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

“…As the persistence of deep health inequities demonstrates, progress on overall health indicators … far from guarantees a reduction in health inequities. Instead, a deliberate effort is required — and an area this complex will require thoughtful and thorough strategies. One concrete step that could serve as a foundation for comprehensive action toward health equity would be for countries to develop and implement National Health Equity Strategies, grounded in human rights and nondiscrimination. … Critically, people from populations experiencing health inequities should be central to the processes of developing any strategies around this challenge. … Along with being owned by people who typically have little power, they will need to have strong political support if the law and policy changes and resources required for their implementation is to follow. … Working closely with the Stop TB Partnership, USAID, and other partners, … the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at the Georgetown University Law Center is promoting National Health Equity Strategies, and has drafted an implementation guide that could aid in developing them. … Through the Sustainable Development Goals, the world promised to leave no one behind. Join this initiative to contribute to making that promise real” (4/13).

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Lack Of Surveillance, Infection Control Procedures During Humanitarian Responses Could Spur Drug Resistance

New York Times: Will the Next Superbug Come From Yemen?
Sam Loewenberg, public health reporter

“…After years of bombardment that has crippled the food supply, destroyed basic infrastructure, and disrupted medical care, Yemen has become a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant disease, with potentially catastrophic consequences — and not just for Yemen. … More than 60 percent of the patients admitted to [Doctors Without Borders’] hospital in Aden have antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their systems. … In humanitarian crises, the focus is on emergency care, and other problems are often missed. … It’s a recipe for catastrophe: a struggling health system where antibiotics remain widely available with little oversight, combined with an overwhelming number of wounded in hospitals and weak hygiene and infection-control practices. Doctors in Yemen, struggling to treat the rush of patients, often use broad-spectrum antibiotics on even simple infections. … This goes to a core problem: a lack of surveillance and infection-control procedures as part of humanitarian response, which are increasingly a necessity with so many prolonged conflicts…” (4/14).

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Lax Oversight, Corruption Raise Concern Over China's Bioethics Practices, Potential Impacts To Medicine

Foreign Policy: China Will Always Be Bad at Bioethics
Yangyang Cheng, postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University’s Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education (CLASSE) and member of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider

“…As China’s advances in biotechnology come closer to the secrets of life, they pose tantalizing prospects for the future. But when standards for research on the latest technological frontiers are being set by a government that has always prioritized power over ethics, there’s also plenty of cause for concern. … [M]any of the country’s rules and regulations, as in other fields, exist more on paper than in practice. While the Chinese Communist Party has a branch office at every school and every hospital, the presence of ethics boards is optional. … The fragile bioethics system in China is further weakened by rampant corruption. … And in medicine, as with much else in China, authorities will often evade laws that exist on paper if there are customers (or, in this case, patients) willing to pay. … The willingness to overlook safety for financial gain hints at a greater challenge with bioethics in China — not just structural, but ideological. Authoritarian states naturally prioritize the strength of their own power, including the size of their economy, above all else; this runs contrary to, and inevitably undermines, the healing purpose of medicine” (4/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO High-Level Regional Meeting To Address Global Goal Of Reducing Premature Deaths From NCDs In Europe

WHO: WHO urges action on Europe’s biggest killers to reduce early deaths by a third
“How can health systems in the WHO European Region save more people from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and help meet the global goal to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 33 percent by 2030? Ministers of health and senior policymakers are gathering in Sitges, on 16-18 April 2018, to address this question at the High-Level Regional Meeting: Health Systems Respond to NCDs…” (4/16).

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Development Policy Centre Associate Examines Progress On NCDs In Asia-Pacific

Devpolicy Blog: Latest findings on non-communicable diseases: what is happening in Asia and the Pacific?
Ian Anderson, associate at the Development Policy Centre and PhD student at Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, discusses recent WHO findings on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), looking specifically at progress in Asia and Pacific region countries (4/16).

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CSIS Event Highlights Role Of Women, Girls In Ensuring Food Security During Conflict

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Taking Our Power Back: Women and Girls Are Key to Food Security During Conflict
Saiyara Khan, intern with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, discusses remarks from panelists at a CSIS event on the “role of women and girls in ensuring food and nutrition in times of conflict” and how structural inequalities limit their participation in this role (4/13).

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FT Health Discusses Debate Over Taxing Unhealthy Products, Features Interview With Jim O'Neill

FT Health: Why ‘sin taxes’ are good economics
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the debate over taxing unhealthy products to improve the health of populations. The newsletter also features an interview with Jim O’Neill, former chair of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, about his co-authorship of a new book on antimicrobial resistance, and provides a round-up of other global health-related news stories (Dodd/Jack, 4/13).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Military Health System Committed To Advancing GHSA

Military Health System: In it together: Fighting global health threats takes partnerships
This news piece from the Military Health System Communications Office discusses the U.S. military’s commitment “to advancing the Global Health Security Agenda, recognizing the need for collaboration across sectors, governments, and areas of expertise.” The piece summarizes comments made by Thomas McCaffery, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, at the 2018 Medical Support Operations Conference in London. The article states, “‘[O]ur ability to work in a concerted global effort across … nations, the private sector, academia, and non-governmental organizations is not just smart leadership. It’s a strategic, moral imperative,’ said McCaffery, stressing the impact of health threats on economic stability, food security, development, and private-sector growth” (4/12).

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U.S. Announces Nearly $16M In Humanitarian Assistance To Venezuelan Refugees, U.S. Officials Offer Remarks

U.S. Department of State: United States Assisting Venezuelans in Need
“[Friday], the United States announced nearly $16 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans who have fled their country due to the crisis there. This funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development includes a contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s regional response to the Venezuela crisis and humanitarian aid to Venezuelans and host communities in Colombia and Brazil. This assistance will help provide the people of Venezuela safe drinking water, hygiene supplies, shelter, protection from violence and exploitation, and work and education opportunities, in coordination with other humanitarian organizations and government partners…” (4/13).

U.S. Department of State: Remarks on Venezuela Humanitarian Aid
In his remarks on the U.S. provision of additional humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans fleeing their country, Francisco Palmieri, acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, notes, “[W]ith this U.S. funding, UNHCR will work with local governments to increase registration of Venezuelans and support their access to local services such as health care, education, food, and shelter” (4/13).

USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green’s Remarks on Humanitarian Assistance for Venezuela
In his remarks, USAID Administrator Mark Green states, “[W]e all know that this action is merely a short-term response, not a solution. For the sake of the Venezuelan people and the entire region, we must hope that the Maduro regime releases its crushing grip and that we see a return to democracy and to rule of law, for the sake of the Venezuelan people who deserve a peaceful, hopeful future” (4/14).

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