KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration's Proposed Cuts To Foreign Aid Would Be 'Grave Mistake,' Hurt Women, Children Worldwide, Hillary Clinton Says In Georgetown University Speech

TIME: Hillary Clinton Warns President Trump of ‘Grave Mistake’ on Foreign Aid
“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that she thinks President Trump is making a ‘grave mistake’ on foreign aid. In a speech on women’s rights at Georgetown University Friday, Clinton said Trump’s proposed cuts to international aid in his budget would undermine American diplomacy…” (Berenson, 3/31).

USA TODAY: Hillary Clinton knocks Trump’s proposed diplomacy cuts for hurting women around world
“…She took aim specifically at the Trump administration for its proposed cuts in international aid and diplomatic programs that help promote peace and stability. ‘I know we’ve seen positive results’ in the advancement of women’s rights over the past couple decades, Clinton said. ‘But I’m here also to say we are seeing signals of a shift that should alarm us all.’ ‘This administration’s proposed cuts to international health, development, and diplomacy would be a blow to women and children and a grave mistake for our country,’ she said. ‘Turning our back on diplomacy won’t make our country safer. It will undermine our security and our understanding in the world,’ said Clinton…” (Przybyla, 3/31).

Yahoo News: Clinton calls Trump’s budget ‘a blow to women and children’
“…Clinton’s remarks at Georgetown followed a speech before thousands of businesswomen in San Francisco earlier [last] week — one of her first since losing the election to Trump in November — and in both cases she alternated between throwing sharp critiques at the current administration and poking fun at herself. … ‘Advancing the rights and full participation of women and girls,’ she continued, is ‘not just a nice thing to do,’ but rather, ‘strategic and necessary for matters of peace, prosperity, and security.’ ‘It is not a partisan issue,’ she insisted. ‘It’s a human issue’…” (Dickson, 3/31).

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Trump Administration Expected To Announce UNFPA Defunding, Devex Reports

Devex: UNFPA expects defunding announcement ‘at any moment’
“The administration of President Donald Trump is expected to imminently pull U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund, costing the organization a major supporter. The announcement of the defunding move — which has also happened under previous Republican administrations — is expected ‘at any moment’ according to multiple sources, including a senior source within the UNFPA who spoke anonymously due to the sensitivities of the issue…” (Lieberman, 4/3).

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Devex Examines Efforts To Simultaneously Implement Emergency Relief, Development Programs In Countries With Food Security Crises

Devex: The U.N. is pushing for a dual-track response to the food insecurity crises. Is this feasible?
“Humanitarian responses to simultaneous food insecurity crises and famines in four countries across Africa and the Middle East remain firmly in the emergency response stage, leaving little room for necessary development work, according to interviews with international NGO workers in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. Last month, three of the United Nations’ highest-ranking officials called for a push beyond emergency work, and lobbied for a ‘dual track’ response, meaning development work should accompany the necessary humanitarian relief work underway. … However, the current multiple crises are seeing that strategy run into some difficulties…” (Lieberman, 4/3).

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Thomson Reuters Foundation, FT Health Feature Interviews With WHO DG Candidate David Nabarro

FT Health: FT Health: Pressure mounts on food industry to cut sugar
As part of its weekly newsletter, FT Health published a short interview with David Nabarro, candidate for director general of the World Health Organization. “What is the strongest argument to vote for you rather than the other DG candidates? The World Health Organization needs a DG with a track record of robust, impartial, and consistent leadership, who has worked on the front lines of health care in different regions, who has been successful at the top table leading and raising finance for global responses to complex challenges, who can enable the multilateral system to work effectively, and who is trusted as a transparent and accountable professional. I have these capabilities…” (Jack, 3/31).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: INTERVIEW — “White coats” alone can’t combat infectious disease outbreaks — U.N. adviser
“Poor countries need more resources and training on the ground to combat infectious diseases that are spreading in new ways and to new places partly due to a changing climate, a U.N. health adviser said. British trained doctor, David Nabarro, who is in the race to be the next head of the World Health Organization (WHO), said infectious diseases, like cholera and Ebola, wreak havoc if they are not identified and managed quickly. ‘You can’t do this stuff with white coats and kind of control from outside,’ Nabarro told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in Bogota…” (Moloney, 3/31).

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Foreign Policy Examines HIV-Positive Eastern Ukrainians' Struggle To Access Medicines, Care Amid War

Foreign Policy: Ukraine’s Underground AIDS-Treatment Railroad
“For HIV-positive eastern Ukrainians, the struggle against Russian-backed separatists isn’t just about dignity — it’s about their right to stay alive. … The future of HIV and tuberculosis treatment in eastern Ukraine remains uncertain, but Ukraine’s AIDS activists are determined to do everything they can to save it. With their unwavering commitment to helping some of the most vulnerable people in society, even at great personal risk, these activists believe they are embodying the best of Western values…” (Pinkham, 3/31).

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Myanmar Training Midwives To Improve Access To Care, Reduce Maternal Mortality

Reuters: Myanmar trains midwives to tackle maternal death rate
“Myanmar is training up hundreds of midwives in an effort to reduce the number of women who die in childbirth, one of many social policy reforms launched by the country as it emerges from decades of military rule. Statistics show childbirth and pregnancy-related complications are the leading causes of death among women in Myanmar, mainly due to delays in reaching emergency care…” (Myint, 4/1).

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Scientists Begin Phase 2 Clinical Trial Of NIH-Developed Experimental Zika Vaccine

STAT: Scientists begin mid-stage trial of Zika vaccine for first time
“Scientists have begun a Phase 2 trial of a vaccine to protect against the Zika virus, the first time an experimental Zika vaccine has gone beyond initial safety testing…” (Branswell, 3/31).

Wall Street Journal: Experimental Zika Vaccine Shows Promising Early Results
“An experimental Zika vaccine developed by an arm of the National Institutes of Health showed promising results in early human trials, a tentative validation for a new DNA-based technology that scientists say could significantly strengthen defenses against emerging epidemics…” (McKay/Loftus, 3/31).

Washington Post: Zika vaccine test moves to next stage with more than 2,000 volunteers in U.S., abroad
“…Testing [of the experimental vaccine will first begin in Houston,] Miami, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and by June, researchers hope to enroll more than 2,000 volunteers in those cities and other regions in the Americas to determine whether the vaccine is effective in preventing infection, a top U.S. researcher said Friday…” (Sun, 3/31).

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Editorials and Opinions

Indonesia Serves As Example Of How U.S. Foreign Aid, Support For Contraceptives Can Lift Nations Out Of Poverty

USA TODAY: Melinda Gates: Foreign aid cuts to contraceptives in Trump’s budget hurt millions of women
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Indonesia has strategically used foreign aid to transform itself from a poor nation into a middle-income one. I was there [recently] to talk about the role that smart investments in contraceptives have played in the transformation. … Consider the fact that 50 years ago, fewer than one in 10 Indonesian women were using family planning tools. The average Indonesian woman had five or six children, and she was raising them in extreme poverty. Then, with support from donor nations like the U.S., Indonesia implemented a hugely successful family planning program. In just one generation, access to contraceptives skyrocketed to over 50 percent. … Today, Indonesia is the world’s eighth largest economy and one of our country’s biggest trading partners. … Even so, our work is not finished. Indonesia has yet to complete the transition to a fully developed nation — in part because there are still millions of women across the country who are not using contraceptives due to a lack of access, information, or options that meet their needs. … As the debate over cutting funding for development assistance continues, we will be asked whether we believe that investing in developing countries and the women and girls who live there is worth it. … Indonesia is only one of many countries whose future will be impacted by the funding decisions the U.S. makes — and its story is a reminder both of what is possible and what is at stake…” (4/2).

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Development Aid Critical To Reducing Disparities In Global Health, Eliminating Extreme Poverty

Project Syndicate: The Truth About Development Aid
Mark Suzman, chief strategy officer and president of global policy and advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Without aid funding, rising poverty and instability can draw developed countries into faraway conflicts and bring instability to their doorsteps, in the form of immigration and refugee crises, as well as pandemics. By contrast, when aid is used to support rising incomes in developing economies, it can create export-oriented jobs at home. … [D]onor aid remains essential … And make no mistake: despite the tremendous gains of the last couple of decades, much work remains to be done to sustain progress on health and development. … [T]hose of us in the development field must work hard to improve communication with policymakers and the public, demonstrating how development aid works and the progress it has facilitated. … Despite current uncertainties, I am optimistic that progress in global health and development will continue. … I know that the case for development aid is clear and compelling. I believe the world will not turn its back on the historic challenge of reducing disparities in global health, eliminating extreme poverty, and building a more equitable and secure world” (4/3).

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Mexico City Policy Could Fuel Extremism In Fragile Countries

TIME: The Connection Between the Global Gag Rule and Extremism
Elizabeth Weingarten, director of the Global Gender Parity Initiative at New America

“…[The Mexico City] policy will increase gender inequality. Gender inequality can fuel extremism. Extremism fuels terrorism. … Limiting access to reproductive health services impedes declines in women’s fertility in countries with large family sizes. Sustained high fertility can produce large populations of young people, which, combined with an absence of economic opportunities may, according to some analysts, be one of the best long-run predictors of state weakness, risk of civil conflict, and vulnerability to social unrest. … The Trump administration has claimed to prioritize fighting terrorism. Yet actions like the global gag rule perpetuate both gender inequality and destructive gender norms. They enable groups like ISIS to achieve one of their key objectives: dominating women, and controlling female bodies for their own use. As it prepares to implement further guidance for the Mexico City policy and to even potentially expand it, the White House can’t afford to ignore these potential consequences. If it doesn’t consider the interconnectedness of women’s rights, family planning, global health, and overall security, we are far more likely to lose the battle against extremists” (3/31).

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Counter-Terrorism Argument For U.S. Foreign Aid Could Contribute To Xenophobia

Washington Post: This common argument for U.S. foreign aid is actually quite xenophobic
William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University

“…The counter-terrorism argument for foreign aid after 9/11 indeed succeeded for a long time at increasing and then sustaining the U.S. foreign aid budget. However, the continued reliance on this national security argument by people such as Gates has now left aid extremely vulnerable to deep cuts, even while that argument has generated collateral damage in other areas. First, the link from aid to counter-terrorism never had any evidence behind it. … Second, the argument falsely generalized that the nationals of the poorest countries … were prone to terrorism, which has at least in small part contributed to today’s toxic xenophobia toward refugees and migrants from those countries. … I agree with Gates that there are some good programs, especially in health, that are likely to be a real loss for needy individuals if they are cut. There are other bad kinds of aid — especially official aid for corrupt dictators — but the cuts are unlikely to distinguish between good and bad aid. Far more important, I lament how the aid narrative unintentionally reinforced xenophobia toward the same people that were the main intended beneficiaries of aid. Let’s transcend our pettier squabbles about aid to come together in affirming the equal dignity and worth of all persons, regardless of religion, income level, or nation of origin” (3/31).

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WHO Should Include TB On List Of Priority Drug-Resistant Pathogens

Live Science: Tuberculosis Needs More Recognition As a Worldwide Health Threat
Deliana Garcia director of international relations, research, and development for the Migrant Clinicians Network

“…Here are four reasons TB should hold the No. 1 spot on the WHO’s [priority pathogens] list: 1. TB is the No. 1 infectious-disease killer on the planet, surpassing HIV/AIDS. … 2. It’s inexpensive to cure TB. Yet, we can’t manage to stamp it out. … 3. Drug-resistant TB is on the rise, and it’s deadly. 4. Doctors continue to rely on 110-year-old skin tests to diagnose TB, because funding dedicated to finding easier, quicker, and cheaper methods has stagnated. … TB should already be wiped off the planet, but we lack the political will and funding focus to deliver it a death blow. Instead, public health officials continue to make major missteps, like leaving it off of the WHO list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, when it should be center stage. … Leaving TB off this list makes it appear that it is less critical than the other bacteria listed — and gives the dangerous impression that TB is under control. We urge the WHO to include drug-resistant TB on its list, because new lines of defense are urgently needed to head off this surge of drug-resistant TB” (3/31).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Former USAID Administrator Gayle Smith Discusses South Sudan Conflict, Potential U.S. Foreign Aid Funding Cuts In Podcast

Development Policy Centre’s “DevPolicy Blog”: The future of USAID and more
Ashlee Betteridge, research officer at the Development Policy Centre, highlights the most recent “Pod Save the World podcast, where former National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson under Obama, Tommy Veitor, interviews Gayle Smith, the former head of USAID.” The two discuss the crisis in South Sudan and the potential impact of proposed cuts to foreign aid under the Trump administration. “Smith makes a strong case for the importance of USAID and the skills and value of its staff, highlighting some of its success stories in recent years…” (4/3).

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USGLC Blog Post Highlights Importance Of U.S. Investments In Women, Girls Worldwide

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: Investing in Women around the World: Supportive Voices in the Administration
Sung Lee, deputy policy director, writes, “Against the backdrop of proposed dramatic budget cuts to the State Department and USAID, prominent voices in the administration have been speaking on behalf of investments in the empowerment of women and girls around the world.” He notes recent comments from First Lady Melania Trump and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and continues, “The First Lady and Ambassador Haley’s remarks on empowering and expanding opportunities for women and girls are encouraging, but the proposed budget cuts could wipe out funding for programs that are giving women and girls in developing countries the tools to lift themselves out of violence and poverty. … As we conclude Women’s History Month, let’s remember that empowering women and girls is a strategic, cost-effective investment that builds a better, safer world for America and for people across the globe” (3/31).

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