KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Focus On Wider Development Goals Needed To Help Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO Says; Donors Make Financial Commitments At NTD Summit

Deutsche Welle: WHO: more than just drugs needed to fight tropical diseases
“In the past 10 years, ‘unprecedented progress’ has been made in tackling tropical diseases worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday. To continue targeting invisible killers like schistosomiasis, however, drug companies, aid organizations, and politicians must confront the added challenges created by poverty…” (Morris, 4/19).

Devex: Commitments made on neglected tropical diseases at WHO summit
“…Amid cheering for progress made, there was recognition that hundreds of millions of people still lack access to health care and quality diagnostics. Key challenges to be discussed in the coming days of the summit — which runs through Saturday — include the availability of affordable drugs and timely diagnostics, particularly in the absence of robust health systems in many of the affected countries, and continued out-of-pocket expenditure by patients…” (Patnaik, 4/20).

U.N. News Centre: Progress against tropical diseases must be backed by poverty alleviation efforts — U.N. health agency
“…Meeting global targets for water and sanitation, such as those under the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be key. WHO estimates that 2.4 billion people still lack basic sanitation facilities such as toilets and latrines, while more than 660 million continue to drink water from ‘unimproved’ sources, such as surface water. ‘Further gains […] will depend on wider progress towards the SDGs,’ said Dirk Engels, director of WHO’s Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases…” (4/19).

VOA News: Goal to Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases Moves Ahead
“Governments and private donors have pledged $812 million to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) at a five-day summit convened to advance efforts to fight river blindness, sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis, and other disabling diseases of poverty…” (Schlein, 4/19).

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U.K. Prime Minister May Ambiguous About Continuing To Meet Foreign Aid Spending Target; Bill Gates Urges Support For Spending Level During General Election Campaign

Devex: U.K. snap election: Are aid commitments at risk?
“Concerns are being raised about the United Kingdom’s government’s commitment to spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on foreign aid, after the prime minister appeared to repeatedly dodge questions about it ahead of a snap election on June 8. The Conservative Party’s commitment to maintaining the U.K. Department for International Development as a standalone entity — separate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office or the Department for International Trade, for example — may also be vulnerable…” (Anders, 4/20).

Financial Times: Bill Gates defends Britain’s foreign aid spending
“Bill Gates has urged Theresa May to protect aid spending in her general election manifesto, saying that any cuts would ‘cost lives’ and undermine British influence in poor countries. He said that the Department for International Development, with whom his Gates Foundation partners, is ‘widely recognized as one of the most effective, efficient, and innovative aid agencies in the world’…” (Mance, 4/19).

The Guardian: Lives at risk if Tories choose to ditch U.K. foreign aid pledge, says Bill Gates
“Speaking to the Guardian on the second day of the general election campaign, the billionaire philanthropist spelled out the potential consequences of dropping the existing pledge to spend 0.7 percent of GDP on aid, hours after the prime minister refused to recommit to it. … Gates said: ‘The big aid givers now are the U.S., Britain, and Germany — those are the three biggest and if those three back off, a lot of the ambitious things going on with malaria, agriculture, and reproductive health simply would not get done’…” (Wintour/Mason, 4/20).

The Independent: Theresa May opens door to dropping Britain’s international aid target after election
“…The aid target of spending 0.7 percent of GNI on development assistance is unpopular with some right-wing newspapers and politicians, but was supported by David Cameron’s government as a way of helping the poorest. … The Prime Minister’s ambiguity comes as computer billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates says the Brexit vote must not be used as an excuse for Britain to drop its aid commitments. Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Independent, the world’s richest man said: ‘We are hopeful that the commitment to 0.7 percent — and things like neglected diseases — stays strong’…” (Stone, 4/19).

International Business Times: Bill Gates warns Theresa May cutting foreign aid spending will put lives at risk
“…The Guardian noted that May dodged a question on aid funding pledge on Wednesday (19 April) at Prime Minister’s Question time, choosing only to tell a Labour MP that the U.K. is meeting its commitment on foreign aid now. … Kate Osamor, the shadow development secretary said: ‘Bill Gates is right to point out that cutting the U.K. international development budget could cost lives. Theresa May must not step away from our commitment to foreign aid. She talks about a Global Britain but she seems keener to turn us into a Little England’…” (Middleton, 4/20).

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Bill Gates Speaks About Meeting With U.S. President Trump To Discuss Foreign Aid, Global Health Spending

Fortune: Why Bill Gates Is Counting on President Trump to Change His Mind on Foreign Aid
“Bill Gates said he hopes President Donald Trump will be ‘pragmatic’ and will rethink his proposed cuts to health spending and foreign aid. … The billionaire philanthropist met with Trump at the White House last month, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation criticized the cuts to foreign aid included in Trump’s proposed budget…” (Reilly, 4/19).

STAT: The education of President Trump by Bill Gates, global health advocate
“…In a recent interview with STAT, the philanthropist talked about how he made the case for global health — and vaccines — to Trump. … Gates … said he believed that Congress would use a more measured approach to crafting next year’s budget. Many of the elected representatives there have traveled to distant parts of the world to see how U.S. aid money changes lives. The Gates Foundation has organized many of those trips; Gates calls those efforts ‘the most valuable thing we’ve done’…” (Branswell, 4/20).

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World Bank President Kim Pledges To Prioritize Gender-Based Violence Prevention During Second Term

Devex: World Bank ramps up work on preventing gender-based violence
“World Bank President Jim Kim has called gender-based violence against women and girls a ‘worldwide epidemic’ that ‘undermines all our work to end poverty and boost shared prosperity.’ Speaking during the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., Kim described GBV as ‘completely preventable’ and vowed to make its prevention a priority during his second term as head of the institution…” (Edwards, 4/19).

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Investments In Adolescent Health, Education Could Yield 10-Fold Economic Returns, Lancet Study Says

HealthDay News: Money Spent on Teen Health a Good Global Investment
“Worldwide investments in teen health could yield significant economic returns, a new study contends. ‘Investing in young people is in everyone’s interest,’ said Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund. ‘A small investment in empowering and protecting the world’s over a billion adolescents can bring a 10-fold return, or sometimes even more.’ Improving the physical, mental, and sexual health of kids aged 10 to 19 — at a cost equivalent to US$4.60 per person per year — could result in a 10-fold economic return by preventing 12 million deaths and more than 30 million unwanted pregnancies, the study authors reported…” (Preidt, 4/20).

OnMedica: Investing in adolescent health can bring huge benefits
“Countries that invest in adolescent health and education could see a 10-fold economic benefit and millions of saved lives, claims a study published [Wednesday] in The Lancet. Researchers from Australia’s Victoria University, the University of Melbourne and the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) found that investments in adolescent health and wellbeing were some of the best that could be made towards achieving global goals to cut poverty and guarantee healthy lives…” (O’Dowd, 4/20).

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U.S. Women's Rights Campaigner Warns Of 'Real Human Cost' Of Mexico City Policy In Africa

Thomson Reuters Foundation: INTERVIEW — African women pay for Trump’s anti-abortion move — activist
“In one of his first actions as president, Trump reinstated a policy known by critics as the ‘global gag’ rule, which withholds U.S. funding for international organizations that perform abortions or tell women about legal options for abortion. … ‘We think cutting foreign aid is okay because we are not actually looking at the human face of it,’ said [Lisa Shannon, a U.S. women’s rights campaigner,] … ‘These are real people and there is a real human cost’…” (Migiro, 4/19).

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Climate Change Creating Wider Areas Of Favorable Environments For Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

New York Times Magazine: Why the Menace of Mosquitoes Will Only Get Worse
“…Climate change is turning abnormal weather into a common occurrence: Last year was the warmest year on record, the third in a row, and there were more heat waves, freezes, and storms in the United States that caused $1 billion or more in damage just in 2016 than in the years 1980 to 1984 combined. Anything that improves conditions for mosquitoes tips the scales for the diseases they carry as well: the West Nile virus that flattened Dallas, the dengue that returned to Florida in 2009 after 63 years and the newest arrival, Zika, which gained a toehold in the United States last year and is expected to surge this summer…” (McKenna, 4/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress, Administration Should Act Quickly To Address Looming Famine In South Sudan, Other Nations

The Hill: Ringing the alarm in Congress: 20 million lives at risk due to famine
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations

“…When Congress returns [from recess], we will debate how to continue funding the U.S. government. … President Trump has the opportunity to step out on the world stage and declare that the United States will continue to play a leadership role in the face of [the] humanitarian crisis [in South Sudan]. If President Trump is not moved by the sheer scale of human suffering and the daily starvation deaths of children, then perhaps the national security threat and international refugee crisis will move the administration to act. … Thus far, the potential starvation of 20 million people has not grabbed the attention of the world. And given that the president’s proposed budget slashes foreign assistance by more than 30 percent, it is not clear whether the Trump administration is particularly concerned. In 2011, it took more than 200,000 people to starve to death in Somalia before the world responded. President Trump has a rare opportunity to demonstrate his ability to lead by saving the lives of millions of children and addressing a humanitarian crisis in a unified fashion. We can — and should — end famine now” (4/19).

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U.S. Funding For Basic Scientific Research 'Will Save Lives'

Washington Post: The March for Science could save lives
Editorial Board

“…Many of those organizing and participating in the March for Science [on April 22] say it is a statement of belief in the power of empirical discovery, and not an anti-Trump protest. It is fine to remain nonpartisan, but that should not mean being blissfully ignorant of the realities of politics. The battles to come in Washington over spending priorities could determine whether the United States will remain a global leader in scientific research. President Trump’s first budget, while declared dead on arrival in Congress, nonetheless starkly reflected his priorities. Along with cuts to environmental and climate science, [his] proposed [cuts to] the National Institutes of Health budget for fiscal 2018 … would send a wave of disruption through biomedical research efforts across the country and around the world. This research is a pillar of American strength in innovation and pays enormous dividends in fighting and preventing disease. As the Ebola research shows, the simple reality is that robustly funding basic science will save lives. That ought to be the basis for bipartisan agreement” (4/19).

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Participatory Approaches, Women's Involvement Critical To Eradicating NTDs In Africa

Project Syndicate: Enlisting Women in Africa’s Health Fight
Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa at the WHO

“…Because women and girls in their childbearing years suffer disproportionately from the health and social effects of [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), it is critically important that they be included in any large-scale health policy interventions that are proposed. And, beyond making women the focus of NTD programs, we should acknowledge that they will play a central role in advancing the sustainable development agenda. We need to empower women and girls to promote and lead social mobilization efforts in Africa. Women are front-line partners for public health advocates who are working to make essential medicines available across the continent. Moreover, women can help to control NTD vectors at the source, by ensuring that all members of their community are complying with anti-NTD drug distribution and treatment programs. Ongoing efforts to control and eliminate NTDs in Africa have made some progress. But the time has come to develop more innovative policy tools. We urgently need integrated, inter-programmatic, and inter-sectoral approaches that address NTDs’ social, economic, and etiological dynamics. And we will need the full participation of the most vulnerable communities. Without that, no program aimed at ultimately eradicating NTDs can succeed…” (4/19).

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U.N. Must Provide Proper Resolution Package To Haiti Cholera Victims

The Conversation: Haiti’s cholera victims still can’t get what they need from the U.N.
Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, senior lecturer in the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham, and Rosa Freedman, professor of law, conflict, and global development at the University of Reading

“…The U.N.’s plan for Haiti includes both a commitment to consult with victims [of the cholera epidemic] and a preference for collective reparations, but it’s succeeding on neither front. … [T]he U.N. Development Programme isn’t offering cash payments to Haiti’s cholera victims. Why? Because the money and political will aren’t there. Whereas the Ebola cash transfers came out of the U.N.’s budget, money for the cholera effort is meant to come in the form of voluntary donations from U.N. member states, who have so far collectively contributed only a tiny percentage of the target amount. This is yet another slap in the face for the victims: the U.N. played a role in causing the outbreak, and its budget can certainly spare the money required. Is this behemoth of an organization really so worried about the consequences of giving a couple of hundred dollars each to some of the poorest people in the world? This epidemic is a terrible stain on the reputation of the U.N. and its peacekeeping missions, and it will only be removed if a proper resolution package is created and implemented. And whatever form that package takes, it must be built around victims’ actual needs and concerns, not the U.N.’s own idea of what they might be” (4/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

2 Studies Published In The Lancet Examine History, Future Of Global Health Financing

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation: Widely disparate spending on health forecast through 2040
“Spending on health care by nations is expected to increase significantly over the next two decades, but the rates of increase and sources of spending will differ widely, according to a new analysis. If current trends continue, overall expenditures will increase from U.S. $9.2 trillion in 2014 to U.S. $24.5 trillion in 2040, concludes a paper led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. … The study, ‘Future and potential spending on health, 2015-2040,’ is one of two papers published April 19 in The Lancet. The other study examines health spending trends globally between 1995 and 2014. The work was conducted by a health financing collaborative network, a group of nearly 250 economists and researchers in more than 60 countries…” (4/19).

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IHME Releases Reports On Global Health Financing, Path To Universal Health Coverage

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation: Financing Global Health 2016: Development assistance, public, and private health spending for the pursuit of universal health coverage
“Financing Global Health 2016 is the eighth edition of IHME’s annual series on global health spending and health financing. In addition to describing the trends in development assistance for health (DAH), this year’s report features an expanded discussion of domestic spending across low-, middle-, and high-income countries to describe the context in which DAH operates, identify health financing gaps, and support the pursuit of universal health coverage. Also new in Financing Global Health this year are detailed data for the funding of specific program areas within DAH for malaria and more thorough analysis of DAH for health system strengthening. This adds to the existing detailed tracking of DAH by program area for HIV/AIDS, maternal, newborn, and child health, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs)…” (4/19).

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation: Disparities on the Path to Universal Health Coverage: Findings from Financing Global Health
“Disparities on the Path to Universal Health Coverage presents a retrospective and prospective look at global trends in health financing, with a focus on understanding trends related to economic development and development assistance for health. This report is based on the Financing Global Health (FGH) 2016 study, a yearly effort conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle…” (4/19).

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Despite Challenges, Polio Eradication Efforts Continue To Progress

Humanosphere: Range of setbacks slow progress toward polio eradication
Humanosphere correspondent Tom Murphy discusses several challenges to polio eradication in the three remaining endemic countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan — including a lack of access to certain regions and vaccine shortages. He writes, “Despite the challenges, the effort for eradication persists” (4/19).

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Improper Immune Reaction To Onchocerciasis Parasite Potentially Causes Nodding Syndrome

JAMA: Potential Cause of Nodding Syndrome Identified
JAMA reports on a study published in Science Translational Medicine that hypothesizes nodding syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, might be caused by an inappropriate immune reaction to the parasite that causes onchocerciasis, otherwise known as river blindness (4/18).

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From KFF

Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet Examines President's Malaria Initiative, Other U.S. Government Global Malaria Efforts

Kaiser Family Foundation: The President’s Malaria Initiative and Other U.S. Government Global Malaria Efforts
This fact sheet examines the U.S. government’s role in global malaria efforts, including the President’s Malaria Initiative and funding; effective malaria interventions; and global goals for control and eradication (4/18).

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