KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO, Private Sector, Philanthropists, Other Partners Begin NTD Summit To Discuss Progress On London Declaration

CNN: Winning the war against ancient diseases
“The World Health Organization is on track to meet its goals to control, eliminate, or eradicate sleeping sickness, Chagas, and other ancient illnesses by 2020. At Wednesday’s Global Partners’ Meeting in Geneva, WHO recognized the goals set forth in the Neglected Tropical Diseases Roadmap and the achievements of the past decade…” (Scutti, 4/18).

Deutsche Welle: WHO reports ‘remarkable’ progress after decade of fighting tropical diseases
“A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) hailed what it calls ‘remarkable achievements in tackling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)’ over the past decade, according to a press statement released on Tuesday…” (Conradis, 4/19).

Devex: Strides in progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases as global partners meet
“…The number of people at risk for NTDs has fallen by 20 percent in the five years since [2012], according to WHO. In 2015 alone, nearly one billion people received treatment — many donated by pharmaceutical companies — for at least one NTD, a 36 percent increase since 2011…” (Cheney, 4/18).

The Guardian: World Health Organization hails major progress on tackling tropical diseases
“…In the same year, there were fewer reported cases of sleeping sickness than in any other year since records began. Roughly 3,000 cases of sleeping sickness, also called human African trypanosomiasis, were recorded in 2015, an 89 percent reduction since 2000. Last year, there were only 25 cases of Guinea worm disease, a debilitating condition that affected an estimated 3.5 million people in 1986. The cases occurred in three countries: Chad, Ethiopia, and South Sudan…” (McVeigh, 4/19).

Intellectual Property Watch: Neglected Tropical Diseases: Gates Celebrates Industry Contribution, Chan Concurs
“…The Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) coalition, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, is organizing the NTD Summit 2017, from 19-22 April. The Uniting to Combat NTDs coalition was set up to fulfill the London Declaration’s commitments. [Wednesday], an event hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation celebrated the progress made on the declaration and praised the efforts carried out by endorsers of the London Declaration, and in particular pharmaceutical companies…” (Saez, 4/19).

International Business Times: WHO and Bill Gates seek more help from big pharma companies to fight neglected tropical diseases
“…Governments, drug companies, and charitable organizations that participated in the meeting with Gates committed to expend $812m (£641m) as assistance to fight NTDs. Gates also lauded the U.K. government’s pledge to double its support for the cause. Later, WHO said that GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Sanofi are among the major donors of medicines for NTDs…” (Roy, 4/19).

Nature: Global coalition chips away at neglected tropical diseases
“…Gates told Nature that recent successes are the result of global partnerships between governments, companies, and nongovernmental organizations that have formed over the past decade. Multiple groups, including the Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the DFID, signed a global agreement in 2012 called the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases to eliminate or reduce the prevalence of ten neglected diseases by 2020…” (Maxmen, 4/18).

Reuters: Fight against neglected tropical diseases needs Big Pharma push: WHO
“…The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is backing research and development into NTDs. Bill Gates met with CEOs of major pharmaceutical companies in Geneva on Tuesday. ‘Good progress, some of these diseases are on track to be done (eliminated) by 2020, some by 2025. Some will take longer than that,’ Gates told a news conference, noting that there were only 3,000 cases of sleeping sickness last year…” (Nebehay, 4/18).

STAT: The world’s assault on tropical diseases is working
“…Neglected diseases have historically been overlooked by the scientific community and pharmaceutical industry, but advocates believe they are beginning to turn that tide. At the same time, they fear that the effort could be undermined by waning support for global health funding in Washington and elsewhere. ‘We’re not big enough to do this without the incredible generosity of the big governments that are far bigger than us,’ Bill Gates, who argued that the programs are money well spent, told STAT in an interview. ‘Under any framework, whether it’s humanitarian or strategic, maintaining these investments makes sense.’ Gates, who met last month with President Trump, said he made a point of telling the president how effective money spent on neglected tropical diseases can be…” (Branswell, 4/18).

VOA News: WHO Reports ‘Record-breaking’ Progress in Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases
“…The WHO’s fourth report on neglected tropical diseases was launched to coincide with a one-day meeting Wednesday at the agency’s headquarters to take stock of what has been achieved in the fight against NTDs and to explore ways to move the process forward…” (Schlein, 4/18).

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Bill Gates Expresses Hope U.S. President Trump's 'Pragmatism' Will Inform Global Health-Related Policies, Foreign Aid Funding

Bloomberg: Gates Says He’s Counting on Trump’s Pragmatism for Health, Aid
“Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates says he’s counting on Donald Trump’s pragmatism when it comes to the president’s policies on health spending and foreign aid. ‘I’ve talked to him about HIV and how the U.S. should be proud of our work there,’ Gates said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Manus Cranny in Geneva, less than a month after meeting with Trump at the White House. ‘This dialog is important: you’ve seen his pragmatism on a number of things, and I’m certainly hoping that these health-related budgets receive some of that attention’…” (Paton/Torsoli, 4/18).

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U.S. State Department, HHS Conduct International Inter-Agency Drill To Test Disease Outbreak Preparedness

Associated Press: Feds practice Ebola evacuations despite past Trump criticism
“Donald Trump railed against President Barack Obama’s decision to bring patients with Ebola to the United States for treatment in 2014. Now that Trump is president, his administration is preparing for similar, and possibly larger-scale, evacuations. The State Department and Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday they led an unprecedented inter-agency drill last week to test their preparedness to deal with a new outbreak of Ebola or another deadly, highly infectious disease…” (Lee, 4/18).

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News Outlets Highlight Humanitarian Crises, Hunger, Disease Outbreaks In Conflict-Affected Nations Of Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria

Christian Science Monitor: As global famine aid comes up short, Somalis abroad step up
“Every year, Somalis abroad send about $1.4 billion back home — almost a quarter of the country’s GDP. As organizations like the United Nations warn that famine could spread, those remittances are an especially vital form of aid…” (Brown, 4/18).

Foreign Policy: Get Ready for Another Famine-Fueled Migrant Crisis — In Nigeria
“Over the past few years, conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, and Afghanistan have created the largest international refugee crisis since World War II. Now, according to a top government official, another massive migrant crisis is looming in a far more populous country: Nigeria…” (Allen-Ebrahimian, 4/18).

News Deeply: Cholera Stalks ‘Refugee Islands’ in Swamplands of South Sudan
“In South Sudan, people are sheltering from conflict wherever they can, including a network of islands in the swamps of Unity State. On one island, where 2,300 displaced people live without access to clean water or toilets, cholera has become rife.

U.N. News Centre: Diseases and sexual violence threaten Somalis, South Sudanese escaping famine — U.N.
“Millions of people are facing the peril of famine in Somalia and South Sudan, and the situation is expected to worsen as the drought and violence fueling the crises widen, cautioned senior United Nations officials who have just returned from the area. Speaking to journalists in New York, John Ging from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the situation in Somalia was ‘very fast moving’ with more than 6.2 million people in need of food and water, and at risk for cholera and measles…” (4/18).

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Financial Times Special Report Focuses On Vaccines

Financial Times: FT Health: Vaccines
“Vaccine research grows vigorously, propelled by rising world demand to fight existing diseases and to guard against new threats. Ebola and Zika have recently caused huge international alarm. Yet the Trump era may give voice to increased vaccine skepticism…” This special report includes eight articles on various aspects of vaccine research and development, immunization programs, and challenges including funding and political opposition (Multiple authors, 4/18).

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Some Experts Question Low Number Of Zika-Affected Infants Born In Puerto Rico

STAT: ‘They’re just hiding’: Experts say Puerto Rico may be underreporting Zika-affected births
“The number of babies born in Puerto Rico with microcephaly and other birth defects caused by the Zika virus appears to be unexpectedly low — so low that experts are beginning to question whether the actual count is being significantly underreported by authorities on the island. … Some observers believe Puerto Rico, which is heavily dependent on tourism, is downplaying the scale of its Zika problem…” (Branswell, 4/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

Proposed Cuts To NIH Budget Threaten Scientific Research

Washington Post: Why slashing the NIH budget is indefensible
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine

“…When news of the proposed NIH cuts broke, scientists expressed fear about the far-reaching implications. In addition to biomedical research conducted at NIH headquarters in Maryland, more than 80 percent of the NIH budget is used to fund research at universities and other institutions nationwide. In many cases, NIH grants account for most of a laboratory’s funding, and they often drive follow-on contributions from other sources. … [T]he debate over NIH funding is further evidence of what has been clear for quite some time: Science is now political. In response, scientists are becoming more political, too. The March for Science is merely the most visible manifestation to date of an emerging social movement built on the common-sense principle that scientific findings should inform policy and not the other way around. … While some politicians would have us believe that we can’t spare money for scientific research, the opposite is true. We can’t afford to defund the vital efforts that could help solve some of our greatest challenges, from cancer to climate change. Those who plan to attend the March for Science — who are not just progressives or Democrats but represent an ideologically and culturally diverse movement — know that science is for all. They are sending an unequivocal message that while science may have become political, it will never be negotiable” (4/18).

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U.S. Should Continue To Invest In Preventing Female Genital Mutilation At Home, Abroad

The Hill: Michigan case shows more needs to be done to confront female genital mutilation
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Democratic Caucus

“…[D]espite politics, the U.S. should not weaken its investments in critical funding sources like USAID and the U.N. Population Fund that support the culturally appropriate work being done on the ground in countries where [female genital mutilation (FGM)] is prevalent. But equally important is the need to invest at home in strategies that both prevent FGM and care for those at risk or who have undergone FGM. Our federal agencies … have made significant strides in improving public awareness and outreach efforts, making sure that everyone in the U.S. and coming to the U.S. knows that FGM is illegal. To build on those efforts, we need a comprehensive, multi-agency national strategy to fight FGM on every front … FGM is a human rights violation — one which a global community is working to end. …[T]he focus on FGM cannot be fleeting. The U.N. has called for an end to FGM within a generation. That goal is achievable, but only if we bring this issue out of the shadows, confront it head on, and provide the strategy and the resources to truly fight FGM once and for all” (4/18).

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Ending Malaria Possible With Intensified Efforts From Global Community

Huffington Post: Ending Malaria Is Possible
Melvin Sanicas, regional medical expert at Sanofi Pasteur, consultant for the WHO, and agenda contributor for the World Economic Forum

“…[I]f we are to realize our goal of eliminating malaria, the world must commit to finishing what has been started. Now, more than ever, countries and their development partners need to work together to close the gap of access to proven prevention measures and greater investment in the development and deployment of new malaria control tools. Malaria elimination also depends on the abundance of new tools in the pipeline. Up to two-thirds of malaria-endemic countries are facing antimalarial drug resistance and insecticide resistance. To beat malaria, we must be as smart and adaptive as the malaria parasite itself. Ending malaria is possible — but it will require intensified efforts from across the global community” (4/18).

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Long-Term Partnerships Could Help Bridge Global Surgical Gap By Training Surgeons, Skilled Health Care Professionals

STAT: I taught a non-MD to do brain surgery. This radical approach could solve the global surgeon shortage
Dilan Ellegala, neurosurgeon and founder of Madaktari Africa

“…Instead of focusing solely on treating those in need of medical care [during short-term medical missions], we need to build long-term partnerships in countries that will focus on training new surgeons and skilled health care officials. We can look to the Global Fund, which focuses on infectious diseases, as a model. Corporations and foundations have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into this organization to help end AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as epidemics. … We need a Global Fund for Surgery. A coalition of corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and universities could help bridge the surgical gap, just as the Global Fund has done for infectious diseases. The focus for the Global Fund for Surgery should be first and foremost on teaching local doctors new skills. It needs to emphasize skills, not equipment, because these new surgeons will find ways to get equipment and technology on their own. Transferring stuff is easy. Transferring skills and knowledge, though, are truly lasting gifts” (4/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO Releases 10-Year Review Report Chapter Focusing On NTDs

WHO: The neglected tropical diseases: a rags-to-riches story
The next chapter in the WHO’s “Ten years in public health 2007-2017” report focuses on neglected tropical diseases. “Since 2007, WHO has helped streamline delivery of donated drugs. In the London Declaration of 2012, leading pharmaceutical companies agreed to billions of dollars’ worth of drug donations through 2020, guided by a technical strategy devised and managed by WHO. This bold collaboration is providing close to a billion people per year with access to free treatment and helping to put several of these tropical diseases on the path to elimination…” (4/18).

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World Bank Releases 2017 Atlas Of SDGs, Offering Maps, Visualizations Of Progress Toward Achieving Global Goals

World Bank’s “The Data Blog”: The 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: a new visual guide to data and development
“The World Bank is pleased to release the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. With over 150 maps and data visualizations, the new publication charts the progress societies are making towards the 17 SDGs. The Atlas is part of the World Development Indicators (WDI) family of products that offer high-quality, cross-country comparable statistics about development and people’s lives around the globe…” (4/17).

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Physicians For Human Rights Executive Director Calls For Protection Of Syrian Health Professionals

Open Society Foundations’ “Voices”: In the Crosshairs, Syria’s Doctors Are Still Saving Lives — and Bearing Witness
Donna McKay, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, discusses the challenges of delivering health care in Syria and the role health professionals play in advocating for human rights. “In Syria, attacks on hospitals, clinics, maternity wards, pediatric centers, and field hospitals have become a horrific weapon of war. … Syrian health professionals — and indeed health professionals around the world — put their lives on the line every day, bearing witness to atrocities in the hopes that someday justice will come. The least we can do is call for their protection, amplify their voices, and ensure that once this awful conflict ends, the evidence they have gathered can be used to hold war criminals to account” (4/18).

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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, published Issue 309 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including an article on the release of Aidspan’s Asia Pacific report, which provides an overview of the history and status of Global Fund support in the region, and an article describing a new antiretroviral database being piloted in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (4/19).

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From the U.S. Government

Global Community On Path Toward Eliminating NTDs

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Closer than Ever
As experts gather for the 2017 NTD Summit in Geneva, Stephanie Bialek, chief of parasitic diseases in CDC’s Division of Parasitic Disease and Malaria, discusses progress and achievements made toward eliminating NTDs (4/19).

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