KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Senate Democrat Asks HHS Director For Clarification Of CDC Director's Salary

The Hill: Dem senator demands answers on CDC director’s high salary
“Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is pressing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for answers on the unusually high salary of Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a letter to Azar on Friday, Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee, voiced concern about Redfield’s salary, which is nearly double what his predecessor at the agency made, and asked for a briefing on the matter…” (Greenwood, 4/27).

New York Times: New CDC Director’s $375,000 Salary Under Scrutiny
“…Dr. Robert R. Redfield, who became the director in March, is receiving $375,000 a year, a substantially higher salary than the heads of many other government agencies. It was granted under a provision known as Title 42, which gives the department the authority to pay staff more than the approved government rate if the personnel provide a specific scientific need that cannot otherwise be filled…” (Kaplan, 4/27).

Washington Post: Top Democratic senator questions CDC director’s $375,000 salary
“…Murray wrote: ‘It is difficult to understand why someone with limited public health experience, particularly in a leadership role, is being disproportionately compensated for his work as compared to other accomplished scientists and public health leaders in comparable roles within the federal government.’ … Redfield earned an annual salary of $645,676 at the University of Maryland. The upper end of the basic salary range for CDC director is about $190,000…” (Sun, 4/27).

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Bill Gates Announces $12M Grand Challenge For Universal Influenza Vaccine Development, Discusses Global Health Work, Meeting With Trump In Interviews

Devex: Bill Gates calls for new ideas for a universal influenza vaccine
“On Friday, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates announced the launch of the $12 million Universal Influenza Vaccine Development Grand Challenge. … Gates broke the news during a talk at the Massachusetts Medical Society annual meeting, where he stressed the high stakes through an animation showing how quickly the 1918 flu virus spread across the United States. A simulation showed that today, an airborne pathogen could kill 33 million people in six months…” (Cheney, 4/27).

Quartz: Bill Gates is donating $12 million to help develop a universal flu vaccine
“…To combat [potential disease outbreak] threats, Gates announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with Lucy and Larry Page, (the chief executive of Alphabet) to establish a $12 million fund for researchers working on a universal flu vaccine…” (Foley, 4/27).

STAT: With cash and a call for new ideas, Bill Gates tries to boost the campaign for a universal flu vaccine
“…The science Gates is hoping to unleash would revolutionize influenza vaccination and render the virus a much less potent threat, both year to year and during flu pandemics. But the figure on offer is a small fraction of what it is expected to cost to develop a vaccine that would generate long-lasting protection against the wide range of flu viruses…” (Branswell, 4/27).

Washington Post: Bill Gates calls on U.S. to lead fight against a pandemic that could kill 33 million
“… ‘This could be an important first step if the White House and Congress use the opportunity to articulate and embrace a leadership role for the U.S.,’ Gates said in the speech. No other country, he noted, has the depth of scientific or technical expertise that the United States possesses, drawing on the resources of institutions such as NIH, CDC, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, as well as the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency” (Sun, 4/27).

Additional coverage of this story is available from ABC News, The Atlantic, Business Insider, The Hill, Newsweek, NPR, Scientific American, STAT, UPI, and U.S. News & World Report.

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U.S. Senate Committee Releases Draft Pandemic, CBRN Threat Preparedness Bill

Homeland Preparedness News: Bipartisan effort to improve bioterrorism, pandemic response drafted in Senate HELP Committee
“Bipartisan members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a discussion draft on Thursday aimed at improving the nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to deliberate bioterrorist attacks or naturally occurring pandemics in the United States. … The draft Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation (PAHPAI) Act will focus on updating the [2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA)] framework to address 21st century public health threats including the spread of infectious diseases or chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) attacks. Comments on the discussion draft are due to the committee by May 4…” (Flax, 4/27).

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U.N. To Reopen Investigation Into Allegations Of Sexual Assault By UNAIDS Official; Agency Places Key Witness On Administrative Leave

CNN: U.N. reopens sexual assault investigation into top official Luiz Loures
“The United Nations is to reopen an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by one of its top officials after the original inquiry, criticized as ‘deeply flawed’ by his accuser, cleared him earlier this year. The claims against Luiz Loures, an assistant secretary general, will be re-examined ‘as part of a broader investigation in the light of additional allegations,’ the U.N. said. … The original case centered on claims by Martina Brostrom, an employee of the U.N. global anti-AIDS program, where Loures was deputy executive director…” (4/27).

The Guardian: U.N. suspends key witness in alleged sexual assault inquiry
“A key witness in a sexual assault investigation involving a U.N. assistant secretary general has been suspended from her job, in a move campaigners say is a show of ‘pure intimidation tactics.’ … Miriam Maluwa, who has worked for the U.N. for more than 25 years, was placed on administrative leave from her post as country director for UNAIDS in Ethiopia on 27 March. In a letter from the agency she was told this action did not amount to disciplinary measures, but that UNAIDS would be conducting a management and operational review of the country’s office during her absence. … Last year, Maluwa was a key witness in an investigation into sexual assault and harassment allegations involving the UNAIDS deputy director, Luiz Loures, who was alleged to have assaulted a colleague in a hotel lift…” (Ratcliffe, 4/30).

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U.N. Must Make More Effort To Address Cholera In Haiti, Advocates Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: U.N. criticized for failing on promise to help Haiti cholera victims
“Haitians battling cholera blamed on United Nations peacekeepers are getting little support with only two percent of promised funds materializing, according to campaigners accusing the global community of again failing the Caribbean nation. … The United Nations has not accepted legal responsibility for the outbreak but in late 2016 outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized to Haiti for the organization’s role and announced a $400 million fund to help affected Haitians. But to date — almost halfway through the fund’s expected three-year term — the U.N. Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund has only raised $8.7 million or 2.2 percent of the total — and less than half has been spent, U.N. figures show…” (Moloney, 4/30).

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More News In Global Health

BRIGHT Magazine: Barbara Bush On Why Global Health Needs Authentic Leaders, Not Just Tech (4/26).

Devex: Innovation at UNICEF: Do it for the kids (Cheney, 4/30).

News Deeply: Deeply Talks: Encouraging Investment in Nutrition (Green, 4/27).

U.N. News: Aid agencies face ‘life threatening’ funding crisis as monsoon rains barrel towards Cox’s Bazar camps — U.N. (4/27).

U.N. News: Colombia: U.N. food relief agency seeks urgent funds to help 350,000 Venezuelan migrants (4/27).

Wall Street Journal: A Limit to China’s Economic Rise: Not Enough Babies (Qi/Wang, 4/29).

The Wire: India Leads in Vaccine Production but Not in Vaccination (Chopra, 4/30).

Xinhua News: U.N. urges Kenya to enhance family planning measures to save health costs (4/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

Universal Flu Vaccine Research Should Include Exploration Of Innovative, Novel Approaches

USA TODAY: After deadly flu season we’re desperate for fresh thinking
Bruce Gellin, president of global immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute

“…[I]t is imperative, and urgent, that the world turn what has been a marathon into a sprint to create a universal influenza vaccine … Such a vaccine would offer broad, long-standing protective immunity not only against known seasonal strains but also pandemic strains that have yet to emerge. … [W]e must embrace fresh thinking and approaches. [Last] week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lucy and Larry Page announced a $12 million challenge that invites researchers from any discipline to submit innovative ideas for safe, effective, affordable flu vaccines. At the Sabin Vaccine Institute, we are working to invigorate influenza research by fostering innovative approaches from diverse disciplines to accelerate the development of a universal flu vaccine. We must explore novel and even revolutionary approaches to research, try things we have yet to imagine, and even invite innovators from outside our traditional research silos. … [W]e will only achieve a history-bending breakthrough by taking an unconventional path…” (4/27).

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Development Community Must Address 4 Key Issues When Considering Blended Finance

Devex: Opinion: Four things to get right about U.S. blended finance
Brigit Helms, development finance professional

“…The prospect of a new United States development finance institution (USDFI) and the pivot toward ‘blended finance’ are two of the hottest topics [in the development community in Washington, D.C.] … Blended finance — using concessional resources to catalyze commercial funding for riskier and/or longer-term opportunities — has been around for a long time, but now new players are entering the fray, including the U.S. Agency for International Development. The scale now is much bigger than ever before. … Given the scale and promise of the opportunity at hand, there are four [areas] we need to get right. 1. Institutional blending … 2. Mind-melding … 3. Risk appetite … 4. Over-blending … If we can get these and other questions ironed out, we will be better able to offer a whole-of-government approach that equips the U.S. government and its partners overseas to bring the right instruments to the right problems at the right time…” (4/27).

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Innovative Financing Should Include Imitation, Adaptation Of Proven Efforts

Devex: Opinion: Innovative finance doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, senior adviser at Lazard, and chair of the board of the African Union’s African Risk Capacity

“…[G]overnment aid budgets alone cannot get us [to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals] and we know that more funding will need to come from institutional capital and the private sector. Innovative financing models appear to hold the key as to how we do that. But in the hunt for solutions, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. … [I]n the world of childhood immunization, there are existing models with a proven track record of leveraging additional private capital in ways that amplify global health outcomes. … [I]nnovation doesn’t always have to mean coming up with an entirely new solution. Sometimes it can pay to look around at what’s already out there and working. During World Immunization Week — following the Commonwealth leaders meetings to discuss how they can protect their citizens from infectious disease, poverty, illiteracy, and climate change, and how to pay for it — remember that we don’t just need innovation, we also need imitation and adaptation” (4/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Secretary Of State Pompeo Remains 'Blank Slate' On U.S. Role In Global Health Efforts

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: New Secretary of State a blank slate on global health
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s testimony before Congress during his confirmation hearing, writing, “Pompeo’s take on the role of global infectious disease responses led by his department in international development, stability, and security remains an open question. … [T]he soft power of U.S. global health leadership went largely unmentioned in subsequent questioning during the hearing … As a potential global health leader, … he remains a blank slate, with only the outcomes of U.S. global infectious disease efforts ahead, to provide answers” (4/27).

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Physicians For Human Rights Senior Fellow Outlines 10 Reasons Health Professionals Should Oppose CIA Director Nominee

Physicians for Human Rights: 10 Reasons Health Professionals Should Oppose Gina Haspel as CIA Director
Sarah Dougherty, senior fellow for PHR’s U.S. Anti-Torture Program, discusses the nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA director and her alleged involvement in controversial interrogation techniques. Dougherty offers 10 reasons why Haspel should not be confirmed, writing, “Health professionals have long been in the vanguard of the international effort to eradicate torture and ill-treatment, and they play a leadership role in redressing the consequences of torture, providing medical, mental health, and other services to survivors of torture” (4/27).

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HRC Video Examines U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's Record On HIV Prevention

Human Rights Campaign: HRC Releases Hard-Hitting Video Highlighting Mike Pence’s Dangerous Record on HIV and AIDS
Allison Turner, deputy press secretary at HRC, highlights the release of a video on U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s record on HIV prevention issues (4/27).

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FT Health Discusses Immunizations, Features Interview With Association Of British Pharmaceutical Industry Outgoing President

FT Health: Outfoxing the anti-vaxxers
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses immunizations and how “‘anti-vaxxer’ sentiment has contributed to serious gaps in coverage in richer countries.” The newsletter also features an interview with Lisa Anson, outgoing president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, and provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Dodd et al., 4/27).

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