KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

USAID Looks For Alternate Partners Amid U.S. Funding Freeze For WHO; U.S. Officials To Review WHO Operations But Offer Few Details

Devex: With WHO funding on hold, USAID looks to alternate partners
“With U.S. funding to the World Health Organization frozen for 60 to 90 days while the White House conducts a review of the international body’s response to COVID-19, the U.S. Agency for International Development is looking for alternate partners to carry out health programs that it previously supported through WHO. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, U.S. officials could not confirm who will lead the review of WHO that President Donald Trump announced along with the pause on funding last week, nor could they say what conditions WHO will have to meet in order to see its funding resumed…” (Igoe, 4/23).

Reuters: U.S. says review of WHO to assess if the body is run in ‘the way it should be’
“The United States will assess if the World Health Organization is being run properly following President Donald Trump’s pause in U.S. funding to the global body, the acting head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said on Wednesday. Washington will also use this time to look for alternative partners outside the WHO to continue to carry out ‘important work’ such as on vaccines, to ensure there is no disruption to U.S. aid efforts, added John Barsa, who heads USAID, the key U.S. government agency that administers foreign aid. Separately, the United States announced more than $270 million in additional foreign assistance provided by Congress to respond to the coronavirus outbreak…” (Brunnstrom et al., 4/22).

Additional coverage of global funding for the COVID-19 pandemic response is available from Devex.

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U.S. Secretary Of State Pompeo Urges China To Close Wet Markets, Criticizes Chinese, WHO Response To Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

The Hill: Pompeo uses Earth Day commemoration to urge China to shutter wet markets
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an Earth Day message on Wednesday urged China to discontinue its wet markets where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated. … A bipartisan group of lawmakers made a similar call earlier in April in a letter led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai…” (Budryk, 4/22).

Reuters: Pompeo renews criticism of China over virus but welcomes supplies
“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hit out at Beijing again on Wednesday over the coronavirus outbreak and accused it of taking advantage of the pandemic to bully neighbors, even as he welcomed China’s provision of essential medical supplies. … Even after Beijing notified the WHO of the outbreak, Pompeo said, ‘It did not share all of the information it had. Instead it covered up how dangerous the disease is.’ President Donald Trump last week suspended U.S. funding of the WHO, accusing the U.N. agency of promoting China’s ‘disinformation’ about the outbreak. WHO officials have denied this and China has said it has been transparent and open…” (Brunnstrom et al., 4/22).

Additional coverage of calls for China to close its wet markets is available from Al Jazeera, BBC, and NPR.

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China Pledges Additional $30M To WHO As DG Tedros Urges U.S. Reconsider Funding Freeze, Saying COVID-19 Pandemic Will Continue

Reuters: China pledges $30 million more for WHO’s coronavirus fight
“China said on Thursday it would donate a further $30 million to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is seeking more than $1 billion to fund its battle against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 people worldwide. The pledge comes about a week after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO and accused the Geneva-based organization of promoting Chinese ‘disinformation’ about the virus, which emerged in the central city of Wuhan last year…” (Lee, 4/23).

Reuters: WHO chief urges U.S. to reconsider funding, says ‘virus will be with us for a long time’
“The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that he hoped the Trump administration would reconsider its suspension of funding, but that his main focus was on ending the pandemic and saving lives…” (Nebehay/Farge, 4/22).

U.N. News: Still ‘a long way to go’ in coronavirus battle, WHO chief warns
“…Speaking on Wednesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reported that most countries are still in the very early stages of their epidemics, while some that had been affected earlier are now starting to see a resurgence in cases. ‘Make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time,’ he stated…” (4/22).

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BARDA Official Says Demotion Related To Efforts To Press For Hydroxychloroquine Testing; Media Outlets Examine Trump's Treatment Of Scientists

New York Times: Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster
“The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put ‘politics and cronyism ahead of science.’ Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and removed as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. He was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health…” (Shear et al., 4/22).

New York Times: Trump’s Scientists Push Back on His Claim That Virus May Not Return This Fall
“In February, President Trump told the public that the coronavirus should ‘go away’ by April. In March, he said that the virus may ‘wash’ away by summer. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump told the American public that the virus ‘won’t be coming back in the form that it was’ this fall or winter. He then mused that it might not come back at all. The scientists flanking him at a White House briefing explicitly said otherwise…” (Rogers, 4/22).

Reuters: Special Report: Former Labradoodle breeder was tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force
“…Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him ‘the dog breeder.’ Azar’s optimistic public pronouncement and choice of an inexperienced manager are emblematic of his agency’s oft-troubled response to the crisis. His HHS is a behemoth department, overseeing almost every federal public health agency in the country, with a $1.3 trillion budget that exceeds the gross national product of most countries…” (Roston/Taylor, 4/22).

Washington Post: Under Trump, coronavirus scientists can speak — as long as they mostly toe the line
“…The result is a culture in which public health officials find themselves scrambling to appease and placate Trump, a mercurial boss who is focused as much on political and economic considerations as scientific ones…” (Parker et al., 4/22).

Additional coverage of the Trump administration’s treatment of scientists is available from Financial Times, The Hill, New York Times, and POLITICO.

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Trump, Pakistan PM Discuss Coordination On COVID-19 Response, Afghanistan Peace Deal

Reuters: Trump and Pakistan’s Khan discuss coordination against COVID-19
“U.S. President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday discussed the global coronavirus pandemic and efforts to blunt its spread, the White House and the Pakistani leader’s office said. The two also discussed the U.S.-led effort to bring peace to Afghanistan, Khan’s office said in a statement distributed by the Pakistani embassy…” (Landay/Holland, 4/22).

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Coronavirus Disinformation Campaigns Accelerating, U.S. Intelligence Agencies Warn; Nearly 25K Emails, Passwords From NIH, WHO, Gates Foundation Dumped Online

New York Times: Chinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say
“…United States intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives helped push [false and alarming] messages across platforms, according to six American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss intelligence matters. The amplification techniques are alarming to officials because the disinformation showed up as texts on many Americans’ cellphones, a tactic that several of the officials said they had not seen before. That has spurred agencies to look at new ways in which China, Russia, and other nations are using a range of platforms to spread disinformation during the pandemic, they said…” (Wong, 4/22).

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Adversaries Are Accelerating, Coordinating Coronavirus Disinformation, Report Says
“The State Department has assessed that Russia, China, and Iran are mounting increasingly intense and coordinated disinformation campaigns against the U.S. relating to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, according to an internal report. All three countries are using state-controlled media, social media, and government agencies and officials to disseminate information to domestic audiences and global audiences alike that denigrates the U.S. and spreads false accounts, the State Department report says…” (Donati, 4/21).

Washington Post: Nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords allegedly from NIH, WHO, Gates Foundation and others are dumped online
“Unknown activists have posted nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords allegedly belonging to the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation and other groups working to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism and terrorist groups. While SITE was unable to verify whether the email addresses and passwords were authentic, the group said the information was released Sunday and Monday and almost immediately used to foment attempts at hacking and harassment by far-right extremists. An Australian cybersecurity expert, Robert Potter, said he was able to verify that the WHO email addresses and passwords were real…” (Mekhennet/Timberg, 4/22).

Additional coverage of disinformation campaigns and email hacks is available from BBC, Fast Company, and New York Times.

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European Commission Aid Budget Should Be Reexamined Amid COVID-19, E.U. Official Says; E.U. Urges U.S. To East Iran Sanctions

Devex: E.U. humanitarian boss says COVID-19 warrants aid budget ‘rethink’
“The coronavirus crisis should prompt an increase in the European Union’s long-term aid spending, the bloc’s humanitarian chief said Tuesday. In the twilight of the 2014-2020 budget period, all eyes are on April 29, when the European Commission will announce a fresh proposal for the long-term budget covering 2021-2027, which national leaders were still debating when the pandemic hit…” (Chadwick, 4/22).

Reuters: E.U. regrets U.S. refusal to allow economic aid for Iran to fight coronavirus
“The European Union has urged the United States to ease its sanctions on Iran and approve economic aid to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but its calls were rejected, the E.U.’s top diplomat said on Wednesday. E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the United States was preventing the International Monetary Fund from assisting Iran, the Middle Eastern country most affected by the coronavirus, adding that he regretted Washington’s position…” (Emmott, 4/22).

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Novel Coronavirus Spread In U.S. Earlier Than Expected, Studies Show; Authoritarian Governments In Europe, Middle East Use Pandemic As Tool Of Oppression

AFRICA

Reuters: Tanzania’s president calls for debt forgiveness to help battle virus (Dausen/Miriri, 4/22).

ASIA

New York Times: Coronavirus Crisis Offers Taiwan a Chance to Push Back Against China (Hernández et al., 4/22).

Reuters: South Asia coronavirus cases top 37,000, headache for governments eyeing lockdown end (Miglani, 4/23).

Science: Did Japan miss its chance to keep the coronavirus in check? (Normile, 4/22).

Washington Post: As the world looks for coronavirus scapegoats, Muslims are blamed in India (Slater et al., 4/23).

EUROPE

Bloomberg: Iceland Is a Perfect Laboratory for Studying Covid-19 (Brown, 4/22).

New York Times: Poland and Hungary Use Coronavirus to Punish Opposition (Erlanger, 4/22),

Washington Post: Russian medical workers say coronavirus is ravaging their ranks. But hospital chiefs are silent (Dixon/Abbakumova, 4/22).

LATIN AMERICA & CARIBBEAN

New York Times: Covid-19 Trickles Into Haiti: ‘This Monster Is Coming Our Way’ (Porter/Dugan, 4/22).

Washington Post: Limits on coronavirus testing in Brazil are hiding the true dimensions of Latin America’s largest outbreak (McCoy/Traiano, 4/23).

MIDDLE EAST

New York Times: Imams Overrule Pakistan’s Coronavirus Lockdown as Ramadan Nears (Abi-Habib/ur-Rehman, 4/23).

Washington Post: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard capitalizes on pandemic to strengthen grip on the country (Warrick et al., 4/22).

NORTH AMERICA

The Hill: Pandemic sparks concerns about surging STD, HIV rates (Hellmann, 4/23).

The Hill: Mississippi to sue China over response to coronavirus outbreak (Folley, 4/22).

New York Times: Hidden Outbreaks Spread Through U.S. Cities Far Earlier Than Americans Knew, Estimates Say (Carey/Glanz, 4/23).

New York Times: Covid-19 Arrived in Seattle. Where It Went From There Stunned the Scientists (Baker/Fink, 4/22).

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COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Food Security Worldwide, Agencies Warn; Remittances Set To Collapse, World Bank Warns

Devex: Trade within Africa will help maintain food security through the pandemic, FAO says (Jerving, 4/23).

The Guardian: World Bank warns of collapse in money sent home by migrant workers (Inman, 4/22).

New York Times: ‘Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us.’ A Global Food Crisis Looms (Dahir et al., 4/22).

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In STAT Interview, Unitaid Interim Executive Director Discusses Organization's Efforts To Address COVID-19 Pandemic, Importance Of Access To Medical Products

STAT: Poor countries must not be forgotten in the Covid-19 battle, Unitaid director warns
“Founded more than a dozen years ago, Unitaid has received more than $3 billion in donations for its work to research and identify solutions to such tenacious diseases as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. … Unitaid recently endorsed the idea of having the WHO create a voluntary pool to collect intellectual property, which would gather patents, regulatory test data, and other information to ensure ‘equitable access’ to vaccines, treatments, and other medical products for combating Covid-19. We spoke with Philippe Duneton, the interim executive director, about Unitaid efforts to combat the pandemic and why widening access to medical products must be a global priority…” (Silverman, 4/22).

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COVID-19 Pandemic 'Unprecedented Wake-Up Call' On Climate, U.N.'s Guterres Says In Earth Day Message; In Video Message, SG Warns Of Health Delivery Human Rights Crisis

AP: U.N. chief: Pandemic is fast becoming a ‘human rights crisis’
“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic is ‘a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis.’ The U.N. chief said in a video message that there is discrimination in the delivery of public services to tackle COVID-19 and there are ‘structural inequalities that impede access to them’…” (Lederer, 4/23).

U.N. News: COVID-19 pandemic, an ‘unprecedented wake-up call’ for all inhabitants of Mother Earth
“In his message for International Mother Earth Day this Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledged that all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic, which he flagged as ‘an unprecedented wake-up call.’ Recognizing the ‘immediate and dreadful’ impact of the coronavirus, the U.N. chief urged everyone to ‘work together to save lives, ease suffering and lessen the shattering economic and social consequence.’ At the same time, he observed that climate disruption is approaching ‘a point of no return,’ and a ‘deep emergency’ that long predates the pandemic…” (4/22).

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Global TB, Polio Efforts Under Threat As COVID-19 Continues To Spread, Experts Say

Devex: TB programs, trials pause as COVID-19 spreads
“…Health care workers and TB experts have told Devex COVID-19 has significantly disrupted TB programs, particularly in some of the highest-burden countries…” (Ravelo, 4/23).

Devex: Polio eradication efforts under threat as vaccine campaigns halted
“…The fight against polio — which causes paralysis and primarily affects infants — had looked promising, with two of the three wild poliovirus strains eradicated. However, it is now in a precarious position, as vaccination campaigns are halted until at least June because of the risk that health care workers could spread COVID-19 among communities. Funding is also a concern…” (Worley, 4/22).

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More News In Global Health

Borgen Magazine: The Global Food Security Act (Ostuni, 4/20).

Devex: Q&A: Life after COVID-19 for eye health and development (4/22).

Devex: Remote technologies find a role in COVID-19 response (Jerving, 4/23).

The Economist: By invitation: Bill Gates on how to fight future pandemics (4/23).

The Economist: How to build and deploy coronavirus testing at unprecedented scale (4/22).

The Guardian: ‘It’ll cause a water war’: divisions run deep as filling of Nile dam nears (Michaelson, 4/23).

New York Times: Coronavirus Threatens Press Freedom Around the World, Report Says (Gross, 4/21).

New York Times: ‘This Government is Lucky’: Coronavirus Quiets Global Protest Movements (Wang et al., 4/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Potential Impact On Economy, Response To Other Diseases, Global Hunger

Bloomberg: Haphazard Reopening Risks Public Health and Economy
Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz SE, CEO and co-CIO of Pimco, president-elect of Queens’ College, Cambridge, senior adviser at Gramercy, and professor of practice at Wharton (4/21).

The Hill: How to better prepare us for the next pandemic
Dennis Blair, former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and former director of National Intelligence (4/22).

The Hill: Coronavirus is teaching us that we have a role to play to improve our environment
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee (4/22).

IPS: A Global Crisis Like No Other Needs a Global Response Like No Other
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (4/22).

Los Angeles Times: We are losing ground on every other disease while fighting COVID-19
Sallie Permar, physician and associate dean and professor of pediatrics, immunology, and molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine (4/21).

New York Times: Covid-19 Threatens Global Safety Net
Editorial Board (4/22).

New York Times: Trump: Why Waste a Crisis?
Editorial Board (4/22).

New York Times: This Pandemic Is Bringing Another With It
Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the New York Times (4/22).

Wall Street Journal: A Coronavirus Vaccine: Faster, Please
Henry I. Miller, physician, molecular biologist and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute (4/22).

Washington Post: Covid-19 could detonate a ‘hunger pandemic.’ With millions at risk, the world must act
David M. Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme (4/22).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Experts Contribute To White Paper Outlining Global COVID-19 Action Plan

Georgetown University: Top Global Health Experts Release Action Plan: COVID-19: A Global Pandemic Demands a Global Response
Various global health experts contributed to a white paper focused on the global response to COVID-19. According to the press release, “In a comprehensive white paper (COVID-19: A Global Pandemic Demands a Global Response) … Georgetown professor and the former head of the Global Fund and an architect of PEPFAR, the Hon. Mark Dybul, MD, and other top global health leaders say, ‘Outlining what needs to be done is not particularly difficult. The actual implementation and the politics in each country and globally make it complicated.’ With a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa, the team explores the possible scenarios for the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, what we know, what we need to know, and how we can effectively respond now to limit new infections and deaths and to best prepare for an uncertain future…” (4/23).

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Blogs, Releases Address COVID-19 Pandemic

BMJ Opinion: Coronavirus has been an unpleasant wake-up call of more than one sort
James Hospedales, director of the Defeat-NCD partnership, and Chris Newman, medical doctor and co-founder of Doctors for XR (4/22).

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): Racing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in over 70 countries (4/22).

Science Speaks: Now, more than ever, U.S. policies should reflect the value of flu vaccines
Erin Keizur, medical student, and Jeffrey Klausner, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the David Geffen School of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology in the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California Los Angeles (4/22).

U.N. Department of Global Communications: United Nations working to flatten COVID-19 curve in Southeast Asia (April 2020).

U.N. OHCHR: “Responses to COVID-19 are failing people in poverty worldwide” — U.N. human rights expert
Philip Alston, U.N. OHCHR special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (4/22).

World Bank: World Bank Group Provides Financing to Eswatini for COVID-19 (4/20).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Department Of State Publishes Press Statements, Briefing Transcript On U.S. Global Response To COVID-19

U.S. Department of State: The United States Continues Leadership in the Global COVID-19 Response With More Than $270 Million in Additional U.S. Foreign Assistance
In a press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discusses the additional $270 million in U.S. foreign assistance for the global COVID-19 response and notes, “This new funding will provide approximately $170 million in humanitarian aid to allow communities in some of the most at-risk countries to prepare for, and respond to the pandemic. At the same time, we are also providing more than $100 million to help governments, civil society, and the private sector prepare for, mitigate, and address second-order economic, civilian-security, stabilization, and governance impacts of COVID-19” (4/22).

U.S. Department of State: The United States and ASEAN are Partnering to Defeat COVID-19, Build Long-Term Resilience, and Support Economic Recovery
In a press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discusses the ongoing U.S. partnership with ASEAN countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic, build resilience, and support economic recovery. Pompeo notes, “We commit to continue to build for the future based upon the tried and true principles that we share — ASEAN centrality, openness, transparency, a rules-based framework, good governance, and respect for sovereignty” (4/22).

U.S. Department of State: Background Briefing with a Senior Administration Official on COVID-19 in Africa and the U.S. Response
During this telephone briefing, a senior administration official from the National Security Council provides an update on the U.S. response to COVID-19 in Africa (4/22).

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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: 4/22/20: Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a 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 (4/22).

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Secretary Pompeo Launches U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures Initiative

U.S. Department of State: U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures
“[On Wednesday], Secretary Pompeo launched the U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures initiative. Health Futures captures our existing and ongoing work with ASEAN on public health and lays the groundwork for long-term partnership, targeted assistance, and a renewed focus on our most fundamental resource — the health and well-being of our combined one billion people. … We have advanced our shared goals for a healthy future in a wide variety of fields, including HIV/AIDS and other infectious disease control, expanding safe water access, and improving nutrition and maternal and child health. Together, we are conducting joint health research, strengthening health capacity across the region, and working to develop the next generation of human capital. We are also exploring smart city health solutions through the U.S-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership…” (4/22).

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U.S. Officials Recognize 50th Anniversary Of Earth Day

U.S. Department of State: 50th Anniversary of Earth Day
In a press statement recognizing the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discusses the U.S. commitment to the environment, including “promoting clean water and air, conserving natural resources, and protecting nature while driving economic growth and fostering resilience to natural disasters at home and abroad” (4/22).

USAID: Statement from USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa on Earth Day
In a statement recognizing the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa discusses U.S. efforts to “increase the health of ecosystems around the world,” noting, “Our approaches include the conservation, management, and restoration of forests, three major pathways for addressing the habitability of our planet” (4/22).

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From KFF

KFF, Global Health Council To Host Upcoming Discussion On COVID-19's Implications For LMICs

KFF, in partnership with the Global Health Council (GHC), presents a discussion on Tuesday, April 28 from 12:00-1:00 pm ET, on the challenges and opportunities of resource mobilization in response to COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Speakers will share updates on how COVID-19 is impacting global health programs and review recent data of COVID-19 funding trends. This is the third discussion in the GHC conversation series on COVID-19. Speakers include Jennifer Kates, senior vice president and director of Global Health & HIV Policy at KFF; Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council; and representatives from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), Medtronic Foundation, and World Vision. Register here (4/21).

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

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of April 23, 2020 (4/23).

KFF: The U.S. Government and the World Health Organization (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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