KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

News Outlets Examine How Mexico City Policy Impacting NGOs Working On Women's Health In Zimbabwe, India

Christian Science Monitor: As aid rules tighten under Trump, Africa’s family planning clinics gear up for major gap
“In Zimbabwe, family planning aid has dramatically reduced maternal and infant mortality. Now, one group is scrambling to make up aid it will lose as the ‘Mexico City’ policy is reinstated — even though the group doesn’t perform abortions in the country…” (Brown, 4/7).

Scroll.in: The Trump gag rule hits India: Organizations asked to declare they do not provide abortion services
“…In January, soon after he came to power, United States President Donald Trump had reinstated the contentious global gag rule … In March, USAID revised its policy to restrict funding as per the gag rule. Within weeks, organizations in India that receive or seek USAID funding have been asked to sign self-certifications stating: ‘Organization does not provide abortion services, counsel or refer for abortion, or advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws with U.S. Govt. or non-U.S. Govt. funds, including its own funds’…” (Rao, 4/6).

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Zika To Cost Latin American, Caribbean Region Up To $18B From 2015-2017, With Poorer Nations Hit Hardest, UNDP/IFRC Report Shows

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Latin America’s poor need more help to tackle Zika: U.N.
“The ripple effects of the Zika virus are hitting the poor hard in Latin America and the Caribbean, and could knock back development unless states involve communities in a stronger push to tackle the disease, a U.N.-led study said on Thursday. The mosquito-borne Zika virus will cost the region between $7 billion and $18 billion from 2015 to 2017, said the report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)…” (Hares, 4/6).

U.N. News Centre: Zika could end up costing Latin America and the Caribbean up to $18 billion, U.N. reports finds
“…The report, Socio-economic impact assessment of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, … has a particular focus on Brazil, Colombia, and Suriname — countries that first reported the outbreak in October-November 2015. … While larger economies such as Brazil could bear the greatest ‘absolute’ burden, but the most ‘severe’ impacts are likely be felt in the poorest countries such as Haiti…” (4/6).

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Health Officials In Africa Should Begin Consulting Weather Forecasts To Help Predict Malaria Outbreaks, Expert Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Doctors must check weather forecasts to stop epidemics in their tracks
“Health agencies in Africa need to start consulting seasonal weather forecasts to help prepare for malaria epidemics and ensure outbreaks are spotted early and curbed before they become severe, a malaria expert said. Rising temperatures, floods, and droughts can cause major epidemics in areas not usually affected by malaria, particularly as people may lack immunity to the disease and are therefore more likely to fall ill or even die, said Tarekegn Abeku, senior technical specialist at international non-profit Malaria Consortium…” (Whiting, 4/6).

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Malnutrition Worsens Disease Outbreaks Among Population Displaced By Boko Haram In Northeastern Nigeria

Science: Hunger amplifies infectious diseases for millions fleeing the violence of Boko Haram
“…[Nigerians uprooted by Boko Haram] are crammed into squalid camps and towns already too destitute to deal with the influx. Food, water, and sanitation are scarce or nonexistent, leaving few options other than open defecation. The camps and slums provide a perfect breeding ground for disease. In a deadly cycle, malnutrition renders children more susceptible to infection and less able to fight it. Epidemics of measles and malaria rage, and polio has resurfaced. Child mortality is off the charts, ‘two, three, four times’ above the emergency threshold, says Marco Olla, a pediatric specialist with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Paris. Malaria has been the biggest killer, accounting for about half of all deaths, but acute respiratory infections and diarrhea are now vying for the top spot. It is hard to rank human tragedies, but by all accounts this is one of the worst on the African continent today…” (Roberts, 4/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

PEPFAR Investments Continue To Achieve Progress Toward Ending AIDS

Huffington Post: Strengthening Global Health Security and Ending AIDS
Deborah L. Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy

“On World Health Day (April 7), we recommit ourselves to making the world a healthier and more secure place. Fifteen years ago, an HIV diagnosis was often a death sentence, and controlling the AIDS pandemic was unimaginable. … Today, we can tell a far different story. A story of millions of men, women, and children who are alive and healthy thanks to the tremendous progress achieved through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, host countries, and many other partners. … PEPFAR is accelerating progress toward controlling the AIDS epidemic. … The value of the American people’s investments in PEPFAR also goes beyond health. … Healthy populations are a prerequisite for prosperous and stable societies. Investing in the well-being of our partner countries not only saves lives, but also enhances global public health and security. In our interconnected world, there is no better investment” (4/6).

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U.S. Should Continue To Invest In PEPFAR To End Pediatric AIDS

National Review: The U.S. Should Continue Its Fight against AIDS in Children
Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.

“Early in his tenure, President George W. Bush did something that would become an important footnote of his foreign policy legacy. With strong backing from the faith community, he launched the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003. … It is no exaggeration to say that this one foreign policy program, which enjoys robust bipartisan congressional support, has saved millions of lives and restored hope and vitality to millions more. PEPFAR’s story, which is still unfolding today, is instructive as observers in Washington assess the Trump administration’s proposed budget and the reflex to pull back on foreign aid. … Steep reductions in U.S. foreign assistance funding jeopardize the goal of ending pediatric AIDS in our lifetime. Significant cuts would inevitably roll back the dramatic progress brought about largely by both the generosity of the American people and the global faith community. … [O]ur hope is that President Trump, too, will stand behind a policy untethered to politics, so we can defeat a disease unbound by borders. With continued political and financial commitment, this could and should be the administration that can celebrate the end of AIDS in children” (4/7).

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Cutting U.S. Foreign Aid Would Reduce U.S. Credibility And Global Influence, 'Make Americans Less Safe'

The Conversation: U.S. foreign aid, explained
Joannie Tremblay-Boire, assistant professor in the Department of Public Management and Policy at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University

“…With foreign aid on the chopping block, it’s important for Americans to understand how it works, who benefits from it, and how U.S. contributions stack up. I’ve done that here while attempting to debunk three common myths: 1. The U.S. spends too much on foreign aid. 2. The U.S. spends more than its fair share on foreign aid compared to other countries. 3. Corrupt governments squander U.S. foreign aid. … As Congress decides whether to follow Trump’s lead by slashing foreign aid spending, lawmakers should take into account the fact that U.S. taxpayers already spend far less than our global peers on foreign aid. Even without these prospective cuts, other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany, are paying far more on economic assistance for the world’s poorest people as a share of their economy than we do. Slashing foreign aid would damage U.S. credibility with our allies, reduce U.S. influence around the globe and — a group of more than 120 retired generals and admirals predict — make Americans less safe” (4/6).

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On World Health Day, WHO Director General Candidates Discuss Need To Address Global Mental Health

Huffington Post: Let’s Talk about Depression and Scale Up Mental Health Services
Tedros Adhanom, special adviser to the prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and a candidate for WHO director general

“…[W]e can and must address the grand challenge of mental health if we are to fully prevent and treat non-communicable diseases and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. … As a candidate for director general of the WHO, I believe there is a key role WHO needs to play to improve and advance mental health. It can help advocate for efficient resources and services — and efforts to reduce stigma — to be in place at local, national, and global levels. It can help accelerate the implementation of the Global Mental Health Action Plan (2013-20) and document best practices and bottlenecks. Finally, WHO can play a pivotal role in positioning universal health coverage including mental health services at the center of implementation of all the Sustainable Development Goals. … Today, World Health Day, let’s not shy away from talking about depression and mental illnesses. Our actions will make all the difference” (4/7).

TIME: Now Is the Moment to Tackle Mental Illness Across the Globe
David Nabarro, special adviser to the U.N. secretary general on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change and a candidate for WHO director general

“…[Regarding mental health,] I want to see the World Health Organization (WHO) employ a relentless international focus, which is long overdue. … How can depression be better understood and treated? First — we must recognize the problem. Second — we must talk about it. Third — we must ensure that depressed people are effectively treated. … As a global organization, WHO is well placed to share experiences and knowledge from across the world on what works best. I want to see it utilize its regional offices and embed best practice, encouraging more training, more treatment, and more openness. … The WHO should not only dismantle stigma but go further and make people everywhere able to express mental health issues openly. It is good to talk. The time is right for a mental health movement, and we must seize the moment. … I am one of the three nominees for the [position of WHO director general] … and I guarantee that mental health will be one of my top priorities if I’m elected” (4/7).

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Addressing Poverty, Inequality Critical To Responding To Zika, Other Emerging Infectious Diseases

Huffington Post: To Fight Zika, Fight Poverty And Inequality
Magdy Martínez-Solimán, U.N. assistant secretary general, UNDP assistant administrator, and director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support at the UNDP; and Jessica Faieta, U.N. assistant secretary general and director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at the UNDP

“…[A] report by the U.N. Development Programme and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, shows that Zika is a disease of poverty and inequality. … The report calls for a range of inter-related responses to the social and economic impacts of Zika. It urges wide-reaching action to combat mosquito-borne diseases, as the factors that shape vulnerability lie largely beyond the health sector: housing, sanitation, gender inequality, socio-economic status, and urban infrastructure all influence the risk of infection. … The Zika epidemic provides a valuable insight: to prepare for and respond to emerging infectious diseases, health and other development goals must be addressed together. If we fall short of improving daily conditions for families in poverty, do not address gender inequality, and fail to recognize the impact that poor urban environments have on the spread of disease, then public health will increasingly be at risk and social and economic progress for all will remain precarious. … Zika reminds us that all countries and peoples remain vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases, and that a disease that primarily affects poorer populations has wide-ranging social and economic implications for entire communities, regions, and nations” (4/6).

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Supporting Long-Term Approaches To Conflict Prevention, Peace-Building Vital To Addressing Underlying Causes Of Famine

The Guardian: Feed the starving? Guns are the true cause of hunger and famine
Simon O’Connell, executive director of Mercy Corps’ European entity and senior vice president for global partnerships

“…In South Sudan, as in Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen, it is not a lack of food that creates famine. Crises exist because of violence and conflict. They don’t need more food, they need investment into conflict prevention and the stability that brings. … Addressing the root causes of conflict and building resilience to crisis is difficult and complicated. But organizations like Mercy Corps are constantly developing better ways to promote peace-building and conflict prevention, particularly at [the] community level. … Once a community is in the grip of famine it needs assistance, and fast. These responses save lives. But unless we take time to understand and support long-term approaches like conflict prevention and peace-building, we will continue to find ourselves wrestling with protracted crises, forced migration, and the associated security issues that affect everyone of us” (4/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Community Should Find Ways To Fill Gaps Left By U.S. Withdrawal Of UNFPA Funding, Expert Says

Overseas Development Institute: President Trump, the facts show that defunding the U.N. Population Fund won’t work
Nicola Jones, principal research fellow with ODI, discusses the potential negative impacts of U.S. President Trump’s defunding of UNFPA and possible next steps of the non-profit and private sectors. Jones writes, “The global community should view the cuts to UNFPA as just the start of a major assault on women’s and girls’ rights. It should call out the U.S. government accordingly and identify ways to innovatively plug these critical gaps…” (4/7).

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Blog Post Discusses Importance Of Fogarty International Center In Implementing NIH Discoveries In Low-Income Nations

PLOS Blogs’ “Speaking of Medicine”: Fogarty’s Essential Role in Implementation
Arthur Ammann, pediatrician and founder of Global Strategies, “discusses the role of the Fogarty International Center in implementing the discoveries at the NIH to improve health in low-income countries.” Ammann writes, “The influence of the Fogarty International Center and its health care programs and training in low-income countries is great but for too long, it has been the recipient of only modest amounts of funding. Any reductions in funding would have a disproportionate impact on global health in low-income countries…” (4/6).

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Friends Of Global Fight Hosts Capitol Hill Panel To Highlight Successes Of Global Fund Partnerships With Private Sector, FBOs

Friends of the Global Fight Blog: The Global Fund and the Private Sector: Partnerships for Better Health
“…On April 5, Friends of the Global Fight (Friends) hosted an expert panel on Capitol Hill to shine a spotlight on the Global Fund’s successful partnerships with faith-based organizations [FBOs] and private sector companies. Panelists included Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund; Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Johanna Nesseth Tuttle, who manages development and public policy for Chevron; and Michael Goltzman, vice president of international government relations and public affairs at The Coca-Cola Company…” (4/6).

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Harvard Global Health Expert Discusses Priorities For Next WHO Director General

Health Affairs Blog: A Race To Restore Confidence In The World Health Organization
Ashish K. Jha, K.T. Li professor of international health in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, discusses a panel he moderated this January in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center, the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Health Affairs. Jha writes, “The election for the next director general (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has stirred a quiet but important conversation about the agency’s future role. Yet the two major questions driving this uncertainty — do we really need a WHO and, if yes, what do we need the WHO to do — are often avoided in polite company. The next DG needs to answer both of those questions…” (4/6).

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Blog Posts Address Mental Health In Recognition Of World Health Day

OECD Insights: Depression: let’s talk. And act
Emily Hewlett with the OECD Health Division discusses depression and mental health, writing, “We need better information, to understand what works, and where countries are falling short; at OECD, we are particularly keen to further improve international benchmarking of data and policies so as to drive improvements across countries. We need innovation to find the effective, novel, adaptable, and affordable policies that work, for depression and for all mental disorders. And we need implementation, so that better policies for depression can already start transforming peoples’ lives…” (4/7).

World Bank’s “Investing in Health”: On World Health Day, why I’m choosing to talk about depression
Patricio V. Marquez, lead health specialist with the World Bank’s Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice, discusses his own struggles with depression at various times in his life, concluding, “On this World Health Day, we will do well in expressing our compassion and understanding for those affected by these mental maladies that harm the health, functioning, and well-being of people. In the pursuit of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals, we cannot forget that the achievement of mental health parity in health care and social services provision should be a fundamental measure of effective health and social policy, planning, organization, and financial protection arrangements for people in need across the world” (4/6).

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Investments In Health Workforce Critical To Creating Emergency Preparedness Within Health Systems

ONE Blog: This is the simple reason some countries struggle to fight pandemics
Spencer Crawford, research assistant at the ONE Campaign, discusses the importance of a robust health care workforce to promptly respond to health emergencies. Crawford writes, “A country’s investment in its own health system, with support from foreign aid when needed, is essential to building health workforce capacity and emergency preparedness. … Investing in health systems and the health care workers that make them work today — especially in the world’s poorest countries — can stop disease outbreaks tomorrow both at home and abroad” (4/6).

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Blog Post Highlights MMWR Reports On DRC Yellow Fever Outbreak, Global Polio Surveillance Efforts

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Yellow fever, polio reports highlight obstacles to disease prevention, control, eradication
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” highlights two recent reports published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. One report discusses an August 2016 yellow fever outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the other piece summarizes polio surveillance systems used in worldwide eradication efforts (4/6).

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