KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Moves To Freeze WHO Funding Despite Warnings From U.S. Diplomats; Administration Officials Say Funds Could Be Diverted To Other Aid Groups

Bloomberg: World Health Body a Proxy in U.S.-China Clash
“The latest detente between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t last long. After vowing last month to fight alongside Xi against the coronavirus, the U.S. president turned his anger [Tuesday] toward the World Health Organization and its ties with Beijing, announcing a temporary halt in funding for the global body. Trump said the WHO took China’s claims about Covid-19 ‘at face value’ and failed to share information about the pandemic. China defended its response and blasted Washington. The WHO’s loss of its biggest donor during a pandemic is unprecedented, and Trump’s announcement drew criticism from the likes of billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. Infections are quickly heading toward the 2-million mark, with the U.S. now the epicenter of the outbreak…” (Pollard, 4/15).

The Hill: WHO’s diplomatic balancing act faces new challenge with Trump attacks
“President Trump’s attacks on the World Health Organization (WHO) over the coronavirus pandemic are shining a spotlight on the diplomatic balancing act the agency faces as it struggles to navigate the interests of member states that are often working at cross purposes. … [Some] experts say this pandemic has highlighted the fact that the WHO has few real powers. While it can use a megaphone to encourage member nations to take action, agency officials have almost no authority to enforce their guidance — especially when it comes to large nations like the United States or China…” (Wilson, 4/15).

New York Times: Urged On by Conservatives and His Own Advisers, Trump Targeted the WHO
“…[I]nside the West Wing, the president found little resistance among the China skeptics in his administration for lashing out at the WHO and essentially trying to shift the blame for his own failure to aggressively confront the spread of the virus by accusing the world’s premier global health group of covering up for the country where it started. Mr. Trump’s decision on Tuesday to freeze nearly $500 million in public money for the WHO in the middle of a pandemic was the culmination of a concerted conservative campaign against the group. But the president’s announcement on the WHO drew fierce condemnations from many quarters…” (Shear, 4/15).

ProPublica: Trump Administration Officials Warned Against Halting Funding to WHO, Leaked Memo Shows
“An internal memorandum written by U.S. officials and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that cutting funding to the World Health Organization, as President Donald Trump said he would do Tuesday, would erode America’s global standing, threaten U.S. lives and hobble global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The memo, which was prepared before Trump’s Rose Garden announcement, was written by officials within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and includes a detailed list of how U.S. funding to the WHO helps countries in the Middle East control the pandemic…” (Torbati, 4/15).

Reuters: U.S. funds that would have gone to WHO could be given to aid groups: Trump officials
“The United States could redirect to other aid groups some $400 million it would have paid the World Health Organization this year, senior Trump administration officials said on Wednesday after President Donald Trump halted funding for the U.N. agency over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic…” (Holland, 4/15).

Additional coverage of Trump’s freeze of WHO funding is available from ABC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, NPR, POLITICO (2), Roll Call, and TIME.

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WHO Assessing Impacts Of Trump Administration's Funding Suspension On COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Pledges Solidarity With Nations Worldwide

U.N. News: WHO reviewing impact of U.S. funding withdrawal amid COVID-19 pandemic
“The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday upheld the importance of international solidarity in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic: a ‘dangerous enemy’ to all humanity. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was speaking to journalists one day after the United States announced that it was cutting funding to the U.N. health agency, pending a review of how the agency responded to the initial outbreak in China that first surfaced at the very end of December. … WHO is reviewing the impact the funding withdrawal will have on its operations. The agency has begun working with partners to fill any resulting financial gaps, to ensure that its activities can continue uninterrupted. Tedros upheld WHO’s fundamental and founding commitment to public health and to science, and its mandate to work with all nations on equal terms…” (4/15).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s operations and how the U.S. funding freeze could impact the agency’s operations is available from Bloomberg, The Guardian, New York Times (2), NPR, Reuters, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Vox.

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China, Other Nations Condemn Trump's Move To Suspend WHO Funding; Congressional Democrats Pledge Action; Gates Foundation Increases Pledge For Pandemic Response

Bloomberg: China Blasts Trump’s Move to Pull WHO Funding, Pledges Support
“China criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organization and pledged to support the global health body…” (4/15).

Devex: Congress considers action in response to Trump WHO funding freeze
“Congressional Democrats are exploring how they might respond to protect the World Health Organization from the funding freeze President Donald Trump announced Tuesday, though they will likely face opposition from Republicans who have traditionally been reliable advocates for foreign aid…” (Saldinger, 4/16).

NPR: ‘We Alerted The World’ To Coronavirus On Jan. 5, WHO Says In Response To U.S.
” ‘We regret the decision of the president of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday in response to President Trump’s plan to stop U.S. money from going to the agency. The U.S. is the top contributor to the WHO, which is leading the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic…” (Chappell, 4/15).

Reuters: Gates ups pandemic funds to $250 million, says Trump WHO move makes ‘no sense’
“Pulling funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) is a dangerous and nonsensical move when the world is facing the health crisis brought by the COVID-19 disease pandemic, Melinda Gates said on Wednesday. Announcing an extra $150 million of funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help speed the development of treatments, vaccines, and public health measures to tackle the new coronavirus outbreak, Melinda Gates said the WHO was ‘exactly the organization that can deal with this pandemic’…” (Kelland, 4/15).

Washington Post: Congressional Democrats allege Trump’s move to defund World Health Organization is illegal
“Congressional Democrats alleged Wednesday it would be illegal for President Trump to withhold money from the World Health Organization, igniting a dispute that echoed the impeachment showdown over Trump’s delay of security assistance to Ukraine…” (Werner, 4/15).

Additional coverage of reaction to Trump’s suspension of WHO funding is available from ABC, Business Insider, Financial Times (2), Fox News, Globe and Mail, The Guardian, The Hill (2), NPR, POLITICO, Reuters, STAT (2), and VOA.

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Trump Administration Sidelining CDC, USAID In COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Experts, Diplomats Say

The Hill: Health experts pushed to side at Trump briefings
“Top public health officials have been pushed to the background at President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings this week. As the number of cases and deaths from the virus in the U.S. mounts, Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx have been less visible during what have increasingly become Trump-centric briefings in prime time…” (Samuels/Chalfont, 4/15).

POLITICO: The virus-fighting agency Trump gutted (it’s not the WHO)
“Donald Trump may be threatening to defund the World Health Organization, the United Nations agency he accuses of ‘severely mismanaging’ the coronavirus epidemic. But diplomats and public health experts at the WHO and elsewhere say the U.S. president has already gutted the agency that has traditionally taken the lead in battling global pandemics: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Wheaton et al., 4/15).

POLITICO: Trump hobbles foreign aid as coronavirus rips around the world
“Earlier this week, a group of officials with USAID, an agency on the front lines of the rapidly escalating global battle against the coronavirus, found themselves in an increasingly bizarre conversation with some of their colleagues inside the Trump administration. The officials wanted to know if they could tell America’s longtime global health partners, like the World Health Organization, the international Red Cross, and UNICEF, that they were allowed to use U.S. funds to buy coronavirus test kits and certain chemicals. But they couldn’t get a clear answer to their question. According to interviews with more than half a dozen current and former USAID officials as well as other people familiar with the agency, the baffling exchange is indicative of how many USAID staffers say they feel frozen as the virus rips through poor countries such as Pakistan and Ecuador. Instead of clear guidance from the Trump administration’s upper echelons, they are getting mixed signals on whether to push or hold back, wasting critical time that could be used to fight the outbreak…” (Toosi, 4/15).

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Media Outlets Examine Efforts Over Obama, Trump Administrations To Prepare For, Warn Of Potential Infectious Disease Outbreaks

AP: Medical intelligence sleuths tracked, warned of new virus
“In late February when President Donald Trump was urging Americans not to panic over the novel coronavirus, alarms were sounding at a little-known intelligence unit situated on a U.S. Army base an hour’s drive north of Washington. … On Feb. 25, the medical intelligence unit raised its warning that the coronavirus would become a pandemic within 30 days from WATCHCON 2 — a probable crisis — to WATCHCON 1 — an imminent one, according to a U.S. official. That was 15 days before the World Health Organization declared the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. At the time of the warning, few coronavirus infections had been reported in the United States. That same day, Trump, who was in New Delhi, India, tweeted: ‘The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.’ Soon, however, the coronavirus spread across the world, sickening more than 2 million people with the disease COVID-19 and killing more than 26,000 people in the United States…” (Riechmann, 4/16).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Obama warned of pandemic threat in 2014, but Republicans blocked funding
“Former President Barack Obama warned the nation in 2014 about the potential for a coming pandemic and pushed for billions in emergency funding that was ultimately blocked by Republicans in Congress. In a speech on December 2 that year in Bethesda, Maryland, Obama urged Congress to set aside partisan differences and pass funding to combat pandemics in the future. … Obama’s push for a national framework with installations ready to swoop in and curtail an outbreak like the coronavirus met fierce resistance, and funding for pandemics was forced to stay at the levels approved in 2010 through the end of Obama’s final term in office…” (Lee, 4/15).

MIT Technology Review: The lessons we didn’t learn from Ebola
“An interview with Christopher Kirchhoff, who wrote a post-mortem of the U.S. Ebola response for the National Security Council. … Do you think the existence of an office like that would have made a substantial difference to the prevalence of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. today? ‘Yes. The office was dissolved in May 2018. But Ebola taught us that there’s an incredible penalty for inaction, because epidemics grow exponentially: every day you delay responding, you end up facing a steeper exponential curve that makes the situation quickly transition from what would have been manageable to something that’s unmanageable. This is where we are today. You have to imagine that the presence of an office well staffed with professionals in emerging infectious diseases would have been able to help the U.S. government be more nimble in those crucial early days, when more capabilities could have been brought online and could have been ready to help us get ahead of the curve’…” (Kakaes, 4/15).

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Novel Coronavirus Pandemic, Trump Freeze On WHO Funding Have Implications For Global Efforts To Prevent, Treat Other Diseases, Including HIV, Polio

AP: Coronavirus could erode global fight against other diseases
“…As the world focuses on the [novel coronavirus] pandemic, experts fear losing ground in the long fight against other infectious diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis, and cholera that kill millions every year. Also at risk are decadeslong efforts that allowed the World Health Organization to set target dates for eradicating malaria, polio, and other illnesses…” (Ghosal et al., 4/16).

NBC: Trump move to end WHO funding would be ‘catastrophic’ for polio programs, experts warn
“If President Donald Trump carries out his threat to pull American funding for the World Health Organization, the impact on polio eradication efforts around the world could be ‘catastrophic,’ experts told NBC News on Wednesday…” (Marx, 4/15).

Washington Post: Global institutions are flailing in the face of the pandemic
“As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the world, institutions founded decades ago to organize and manage coherent responses to global crises seem to be flailing on the sidelines. … The question is not only whether the world order has stumbled but what direction it will take when the current crisis is over. Will there be a new appreciation of its importance, and a determination to make it work better? Or will pre-virus trends accelerate toward tighter borders, less cooperation, and a tilt toward nationalism? While no one knows the answer, many believe they know whom to blame for the global failure…” (DeYoung/Sly, 4/15).

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WHO Publishes COVID-19 Pandemic Strategy Update, Including Recommendations For Lifting Lockdowns

Reuters: Lockdowns should be lifted in two-week stages to stem COVID-19 spread: WHO
“Countries that ease restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the coronavirus should wait at least two weeks to evaluate the impact of such changes before easing again, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. In its latest Strategy Update, the U.N. agency said that the world stands at a ‘pivotal juncture’ in the pandemic and that ‘speed, scale, and equity must be our guiding principles’ when deciding what measures are necessary…” (Nebehay, 4/15).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s Strategy Update and recommendations is available from NPR and U.N. News.

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G20 Finance Ministers Agree To Suspend Debt Repayments For Poorest Countries; World Bank Seeks Shareholder Support Ahead Of Spring Meetings With IMF

Devex: As Trump attacks WHO, World Bank looks for shareholder support
“…The World Bank Group Development Committee — composed of finance ministers from the bank’s member countries — is set to meet Friday in hopes of reaching a consensus on the role that the world’s most influential multilateral development bank will play in responding to the multifaceted global crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The message that ministers deliver will be crucial in determining the scale and speed of the bank’s financial response, experts have said…” (Igoe, 4/16).

Reuters: G20 countries agree debt freeze for world’s poorest countries
“Finance officials from the Group of 20 major economies agreed on Wednesday to suspend debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries through the end of the year, a move quickly matched by a group of hundreds of private creditors…” (Barbuscia et al., 4/15).

Additional coverage of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is available from EURACTIV and VOA.

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U.K. NGOs Express Concern Over $25M For COVID-19 Response Work In 15 Countries, Saying Amount Too Low

Devex: U.K. NGOs ‘deeply concerned’ about £20M for COVID-19 work in 15 countries
“U.K. NGOs that are lined up to respond to the coronavirus pandemic around the world are ‘deeply concerned’ by the £20 million ($25 million) allocated to them by the government, saying the funding is drastically below what is needed for the work they are tasked with. NGO leaders said the money would be spread much too thinly across the 15 vulnerable countries identified by the Department for International Development and called on it to increase its spending on the humanitarian response…” (Worley, 4/15).

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African Nations To Provide 1M Novel Coronavirus Tests; Latin American Health Workers Face Hostility; Red Cross Warns Of Upheaval Across Middle East

AFRICA

AP: Africa to roll out more than 1 million coronavirus tests (Anna, 4/16).

Science: South Africa flattens its coronavirus curve — and considers how to ease restrictions (Nordling, 4/15).

U.N. News: Africa mobilizing to minimize losses as COVID-19 pandemic continues worldwide advance (4/15).

Washington Post: ‘Killing in the name of corona’: Death toll soars from Kenya’s curfew crackdown (Ombour/Bearak, 4/16).

ASIA

Al Jazeera: How an anti-malarial drug has become a tool of India’s diplomacy (Bisht, 4/16).

The Hill: New Zealand’s prime minister, leadership to take 20 percent pay cut to offset coronavirus impact (Johnson, 4/15).

Reuters: Taiwan reports no new coronavirus cases for first time in a month (Blanchard/Lee, 4/14).

EUROPE

The Atlantic: I Can’t Stop Thinking About Patient One (Donadio, 4/16).

New York Times: How Bubonic Plague Has Helped Russia Fight the Coronavirus (Kramer, 4/15).

POLITICO: As corona casualties mount, Putin keeps a low profile (Bennetts, 4/15).

Reuters: Europe coronavirus cases reach almost 1 million, coming weeks ‘critical’: WHO (Kelland, 4/16).

LATIN AMERICA

AP: Colombia rushes to make cheap ventilators for COVID patients (Rueda, 4/16).

CIDRAP News: COVID-19 poised to hit Americas nations with more force (Schnirring, 4/14).

Reuters: ‘It’s Covid! Stay away!’ Latin America’s health workers face rising hostility (Oré, 4/15).

MIDDLE EAST

Forbes: Middle East Set For Sharp Economic Fall Due To Covid-19 “Great Lockdown” Says IMF (Dudley, 4/14).

Foreign Policy: The Coronavirus Threatens Saudi Arabia’s Global Ambitions (Varagur, 4/15).

Reuters: Coronavirus could cause upheaval across Middle East — Red Cross (Nebehay, 4/16).

NORTH AMERICA

The Intercept: U.S. and Mexico Are Blocking Kids From Asking for Asylum Because of Coronavirus (Green, 4/16).

Newsweek: Mexico’s Coronavirus Response Could Plunge Country Into Deeper Recession, Experts Warn (Da Silva, 4/16).

VICE: Coronavirus Updates Canada: Trump Wants to Reopen the U.S.-Canada Border Soon (Zoledziowski, 4/16).

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R&D Efforts For Novel Coronavirus Treatments Disorganized, Lack Priority, Some Experts, Researchers Say

Washington Post: Chaotic search for coronavirus treatments undermines efforts, experts say
“…Development of effective treatments for covid-19, the disease the [novel coronavirus] causes, would be one of the most significant milestones in returning the United States to normalcy. But the massive effort is disorganized and scattershot, harming its prospects for success, according to multiple researchers and health experts. Researchers working around-the-clock describe a lack of a centralized national strategy, overlapping efforts, an array of small-scale trials that will not lead to definitive answers, and no standards for how to prioritize efforts, what data to collect, or how to share it to get to answers faster…” (Johnson, 4/15).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Yves Daccord: COVID-19 demands ‘radical’ collaboration (Root, 4/16).

The Economist: App-based contact tracing may help countries get out of lockdown (4/16).

Reuters: Polish MPs debate tighter abortion rules, protests muted amid coronavirus (Koper et al., 4/14).

Science: How a team of scientists studying drought helped build the world’s leading famine prediction model (Voosen, 4/15).

U.N. News: COVID-19 environmental roll back ‘irrational’ and ‘irresponsible’: rights expert (4/15).

U.N. News: Migrants among most vulnerable, as IOM ramps up coronavirus response worldwide (4/15).

VOA News: Why COVID-19 Hit High-Income Countries Harder (Baragona, 4/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Response, Including Role Of WHO

Bloomberg: Trump’s Cut to WHO Funding Is Another Nightmare for Yemen
Bobby Ghosh, columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board (4/15).

CNN: Doctors, nurses and scientists — not politicians — should be leading coronavirus briefings
Celine Gounder, internist, infectious diseases specialist, epidemiologist, and host of the podcast “Epidemic” (4/16).

Foreign Affairs: The Pandemic Won’t Make China the World’s Leader
Michael Green, professor of Asian studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Evan S. Medeiros, professor of Asian studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (4/15).

The Guardian: We’ll find a treatment for coronavirus — but drug companies will decide who gets it
Achal Prabhala, Shuttleworth fellow and coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, and Ellen ‘t Hoen, director of Medicines Law & Policy, researcher at the University Medical Centre Groningen, and founder of the Medicines Patent Pool (4/15).

The Hill: The WHO made mistakes, but it’s China that must be held accountable
K. Riva Levinson, president and CEO of KRL International LLC (4/15).

IPS: Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, SDGs are Even More Relevant Today Than Ever Before
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, president of the Republic of Ghana, and Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, both co-chairs of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the SDGs (4/16).

National Review: Trump Is Right about the WHO
Senior editorial staff at the National review (4/16).

Newsweek: Thank You, Dr. Fauci
David Lambert, writer and researcher, and Sam Hill, contributor to Newsweek (4/15).

New York Times: Trump’s Deadly Search for a Scapegoat
Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the New York Times (4/15).

New York Times: Cutting Corners for a Coronavirus Vaccine Could Cost Lives
Tim Lahey, infectious disease physician and vaccine researcher who leads the ethics program at the University of Vermont Medical Center (4/16).

New York Times: Surveillance Won’t Stop the Coronavirus
Petra Molnar, lawyer, and Diego Naranjo, head of policy at European Digital Rights (4/15).

New York Times: The Soft Side of China’s Coronavirus Propaganda
Maria Repnikova, assistant professor of global communication at Georgia State University and author (4/16).

POLITICO: It’s Not Just the WHO: How China Is Moving on the Whole U.N.
Kristine Lee, associate fellow in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Center for a New American Security (4/15).

Project Syndicate: Debt Relief Is the Most Effective Pandemic Aid
Gordon Brown, United Nations special envoy for Global Education, chair of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, and chair of the Advisory Board of the Catalyst Foundation, and Lawrence H. Summers, professor and former president at Harvard University (4/15).

Project Syndicate: How Global Public Health Could Revive Multilateralism
Arancha González, Spain’s minister of Foreign Affairs (4/15).

Project Syndicate: The Spies Who Predicted COVID-19
Kent Harrington, former senior CIA analyst (4/16).

Project Syndicate: Could Pandemic Lead to Famine?
Martin Ravallion, professor of economics at Georgetown University (4/15).

Project Syndicate: Post-Pandemic Cities
Patricia Viel, architect and co-founder of Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel architecture and design firm (4/16).

Reuters Breakingviews: Breakingviews — Guest view: Venezuela is least equipped for virus
Cristina Valencia, chief executive of Health Pioneers, and William Rhodes, president and chief executive of William R. Rhodes Global Advisors and chairman emeritus of the Council of the Americas (4/15).

Seattle Times: WHO needs funding, not scapegoating
Editorial Board (4/15).

STAT: Poor countries have made extraordinary progress against epidemic disease. We need to learn from them
Anne N. Sosin, program director of the Center for Global Health Equity at Dartmouth College (4/16).

TIME: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa: How Countries in Africa Are Working Together to Fight Coronavirus
Cyril Ramaphosa, president of the Republic of South Africa and chairperson of the African Union 2020 (4/15).

TIME: To End this Pandemic We’ll Need a Free Vaccine Worldwide
Gavin Yamey, physician and professor of global health and public policy at Duke University and director of Duke University’s Center for Policy Impact in Global Health (4/15).

USA TODAY: Hey Donald Trump, who’s blameless enough to blame WHO on coronavirus response? Not you.
Editorial Board (4/15).

USA TODAY: ER doctor and Ebola survivor to Trump: Build World Health Organization, don’t tear it down
Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, assistant professor of emergency medicine and population and family health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and member of the board of directors of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières USA (4/15).

Washington Post: The dangerous fallout from cutting U.S. funding for the WHO
Michael Merson, professor of global health at Duke University and visiting professor of global health at New York University (4/15).

Washington Post: The WHO that Trump wants to defund saves lives. Just ask his State Department.
Greg Sargent, writer for the Plum Line blog at the Washington Post (4/15).

Washington Times: Bill Gates — oh, boohoo — rails at Trump for pulling WHO funding
Cheryl K. Chumley, online opinion editor for the Washington Times (4/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blogs, Statements Address U.S. Freeze Of WHO Funding

International Women’s Health Coalition: IWHC Condemns U.S. Decision to Halt WHO Funding (4/15).

U.N. Dispatch: The Trump Administration’s Decision to Freeze Funding for the World Health Organization Will Make the Coronavirus Pandemic Much Worse
Mark Leon Goldberg, executive editor of U.N. Dispatch (4/15).

World Economic Forum: WHO officials respond to U.S. funding halt: ‘We regret the decision’
Linda Lacina, digital editor with the World Economic Forum (4/15).

World Economic Forum: How is the World Health Organization funded?
Josephine Moulds, freelance journalist (4/15).

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Oxfam, Aid Groups Urge USAID To Pause Aid Suspension To Yemen Amid Threat Of COVID-19

Oxfam America: Aid groups in Yemen push for USAID to pause its program suspension
“Imminent threat of COVID-19, ongoing war, and [a] fragile health system raise worries for people caught up in conflict. Two weeks after the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) suspended aid programs in northern Yemen, humanitarian groups are renewing their call for it to reconsider its decision. Since the U.S. decision, there is now a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country. Yemen Relief & Reconstruction Foundation, Yemeni Alliance Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, and Oxfam are collectively urging USAID to pause its aid suspension to ensure Yemen has all possible resources to prevent and respond to COVID-19. Without urgent and sweeping action, the aid groups warn that COVID-19 could quickly spread and overwhelm Yemen’s fragile health system…” (4/15).

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Global Health Community Publishes Blog Posts On COVID-19 Pandemic

Brookings: The coming of age of the Africa Centers for Disease Control
Aloysius Uche Ordu, managing partner with Omapu Associates and former vice president of the African Development Bank (4/15).

Brookings: How Congress can address the international dimensions of the COVID-19 response
George Ingram, senior fellow with the global economy and development program at Brookings, and Jeffrey L. Sturchio, CEO of Rabin Martin and former president and CEO of the Global Health Council (4/15).

Center for American Progress: To Protect Against the Coronavirus Pandemic at Home, the U.S. Must Also Help Those Beyond Its Borders
Michael Fuchs, senior fellow; Alexandra Schmitt, policy analyst; and Haneul Lee, research assistant; all with the Center for American Progress (4/15).

Gates Foundation: Twenty years in the making: The foundation’s response to COVID-19
Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (April 2020).

Gates Foundation: Our approach to COVID-19 in Africa with Oumar Seydi
Oumar Seydi, Africa director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (April 2020).

ONE: Why the G20’s decision to suspend debt repayments matters during COVID-19 (4/15).

Science Speaks: COVID-19: The virus arrives in war-torn Yemen where health care is challenged and hand-washing is hard to achieve
Kwan Kew Lai, Harvard Medical School faculty physician at Beth Israel Lahey Health, infectious disease specialist, and disaster relief volunteer (4/15).

World Bank: Measuring health financing needs for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Sub-Saharan Africa
Pia Schneider, lead economist; Fedja Pivodic, specialist focusing on health management information systems and data integration in the health sector; and Katelyn Jison Yoo, health economist in training; all with the World Bank (4/15).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 377 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter features an article on the Global Fund Board’s decision to double funds available for COVID-19-related responses to $1 billion, an article on President Trump’s suspension of U.S. funding for the WHO over the agency’s handling of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a commentary on the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of African health care (4/15).

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From the U.S. Government

President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of White House Coronavirus Task Force Provide Update On U.S. Response To COVID-19 In Press Briefing

White House: Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing
In this press briefing held Wednesday, President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force discuss developments regarding the U.S. response to COVID-19 (4/15).

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USAID Launches First-Ever Digital Strategy For Development, Humanitarian Assistance

USAID: USAID Launches First Strategy to Advance Development in a Digital Age
“[On Wednesday], the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released its first-ever Digital Strategy, which charts an Agency-wide vision for development and humanitarian assistance through the responsible use of digital technology in the world’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. … Now more than ever, as the global development community works to deliver life-saving assistance and relay crucial information in the face of COVID-19, the enabling role of digital technology is undeniable. The pandemic has disrupted daily life and forced physical distancing, which makes the Internet and mobile telephony even more indispensable…” (4/15).

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From KFF

KFF Resources Examine Global, Domestic Issues Related To COVID-19

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of April 16, 2020 (4/16).

Additional KFF COVID-19 resources, including those focused on the response and impact within the U.S., are available here. KFF’s new blog series “Coronavirus Policy Watch” is available here.

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