KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Retiring California U.S. Rep. Royce Discusses Work On Foreign Affairs, Humanitarian Assistance In Devex Interview

Devex: Q&A: A career spent advocating for effective U.S. foreign assistance
“After 26 years in the U.S. Congress and six years as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Ed Royce is retiring. The Republican from California was known in the development and humanitarian community as a tireless advocate for effective United States foreign assistance programs. His departure, along with that of his counterpart Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, has led NGOs to honor their work advancing a robust development agenda while looking out for champions for the same issues in the next Congress…” (Welsh, 12/11).

Devex: Royce leaves lasting legacy on development
“…Royce channeled the personal passion for effective and robust U.S. foreign aid programs into accomplishments on numerous development and humanitarian issues throughout his career in Congress — from programs in Africa to reforming U.S. food assistance, to helping create a new U.S. development finance institution through the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act…” (Welsh, 12/11).

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Nobel Peace Prize Winners Call On International Community To Make More Efforts To Prosecute Perpetrators Of Wartime Sexual Violence, Bring Justice To Victims

New York Times: Nobel Peace Prize Winners Demand Global Action on Mass Rape
“Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege, who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their campaigns to end mass rape in war, condemned on Monday what they called the international community’s indifference to wartime sexual violence and pleaded for new efforts to arrest or punish those responsible…” (Mueller, 12/10).

Additional coverage of this story is available from the Associated Press and The Hill.

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International Community Becoming 'Complacent' On Human Rights, U.N. Special Rapporteur Says

The Guardian: Humanity is on path to self-destruction, warns U.N. special rapporteur
“…Human rights are facing a ‘worrying backlash’ from a global community that has failed to ‘learn the lesson’ of the past. Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said the global community had become ‘complacent’ in the face of injustice because the world no longer understood why human rights should be protected or what the world would look like without them…” (Hodal, 12/10).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Continues To Grow; WHO Official Urges World To Prioritize Response

CIDRAP News: DRC Ebola cases approach 500 as infections continue
“Over the weekend and through [Monday] the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR) reported 13 new Ebola cases in several outbreak areas, as neighboring South Sudan prepared to vaccinate health care and frontline workers in bordering regions. … In its Dec. 8 update, the DRC health ministry added eight older cases to the total, part of ongoing efforts to clean up the database. That and the new cases lifts the overall outbreak total to 498 cases, 450 of them confirmed and 48 listed as probable…” (Schnirring, 12/10).

Science: Ebola vaccine is having ‘major impact’ but Congo outbreak may still explode
“…More than 40,000 people have received the vaccine, by far the largest use of it since a trial in 2015 showed it worked well. The vaccine’s effectiveness in this outbreak has not been formally assessed. But Peter Salama, who heads the Ebola response for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, says, ‘I think it’s having a major impact.’ … Salama estimates that even in a best-case scenario the outbreak will run another six months. And it could be far worse. ‘This is the kind of massive, massive priority that the whole world should be very much focused on and willing to contribute to solving'” (Cohen, 12/10).

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Niger Becomes First African Nation To Approve Law Protecting People Displaced Due To Violence, Environmental Impacts

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Niger adopts law to protect displaced people in first for Africa
“Niger has adopted Africa’s first national law for the protection and assistance of people fleeing violence, floods, and droughts, the government and United Nations said on Thursday. … The new law was approved unanimously by the national assembly on Monday, Magagi said. It is based on the Kampala Convention, a 2009 African Union treaty that establishes guiding principles for protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Other African countries have ratified the Kampala Convention, but not incorporated it into national law, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR)…” (Peyton, 12/6).

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Treatment, Diagnostic Advancements, Health Worker Training Help Reduce Malaria Death Rates Among African Children

New York Times: In Remote Villages, Surprising New Measures Save Children With Malaria
“…Now, after 13 years of effort, a set of stopgap measures to keep youngsters alive long enough to get them to a clinic has been developed. Initial testing suggests the measures can dramatically cut death rates; in one pilot project in Zambia, they dropped by 96 percent. The most important new element is artesunate delivered as a soft rectal suppository. … Other advances that help save children with malaria include rapid diagnostic tests, training local health workers to recognize the disease, and a fleet of bicycle ambulances…” (McNeil, 12/10).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Romania hospital says 39 babies now diagnosed with superbug (12/10).

Devex: New WHO initiative targets emergency ‘blind spot’ (Ravelo, 12/11).

The Guardian: Australia ranks well in global health, despite cancer and obesity alarm bells (Henriques-Gomes, 12/10).

Intellectual Property Watch: Experts Call For Global Accountability Mechanism For Access To Essential Medicines (12/10).

U.N. News: Major U.N. aid operation for 650,000 gets underway across Syria-Jordan border (12/10).

U.N. News: Iraq: Over 150,000 children endangered by ‘freezing’ temperatures, warns UNICEF (12/10).

VOA News: Kenyan Advocacy Group Works to Counter Stigma and Superstitions About Albinos (Ombuor, 12/10).

Xinhua News: Afghanistan launches polio vaccination in 10 provinces (12/10).

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Editorials and Opinions

Politics Play Role In Italy's Anti-Vaccination Movement, Threatening Herd Immunity

Washington Post: Italy’s right wing is waging a dangerous attack on vaccinations
Michael Gerson, columnist for the Washington Post

“…Italy’s right-wing coalition government … has provided a political home for the anti-vaccination movement. … The arguments of the Italian anti-vaccination movement are the same as elsewhere. Its members believe vaccinations are somehow associated with either autism, tumors, or allergies. Since there is no reputable science to support this view — none at all — they turn to the language of parental choice and ‘more freedom’ for families in health care. And they often add a conspiratorial element, accusing Big Pharma of making a profit from unnecessary vaccinations. The problem, of course, is that when too many parents in a community choose to believe these myths, herd immunity is lost. … And when herd immunity is lost, this leaves children who truly can’t be vaccinated — children with weak immune systems, cancer, or chronic illness — vulnerable to dangerous infections. … The populist revolt against the ‘establishment’ has been extended from the governing establishment to the medical and scientific establishment. … But pathogens really don’t care about political constructs. They lurk in small pockets of humanity and return with a vengeance when humans are not vigilant. When politics lessens that vigilance, it can leave not only confusion but also victims” (12/10).

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'Push,' 'Pull' Market Incentives Needed To Spur Antibiotic Drug Development

STAT: What’s holding pharma back from the next antibiotic breakthrough?
Peter Bak, vice president for life science strategy at Back Bay Life Science Advisors

“…While scientists work to uncover new ways to combat antibiotic-resistant microbes … the question of how to best develop and commercialize novel antibiotics while at the same time creating a return for investors remains just as puzzling as the most recalcitrant bacteria. Any company considering investing in novel anti-infectives faces substantial commercial headwinds despite a clear and urgent need for them. Cost pressure is one formidable obstacle. … How the treatment of infections is paid for is another obstacle. … The [small] population of potential recipients is another impediment. … Although these hurdles may hold back any investor considering an anti-infective opportunity, several incentives and economic models have been proposed to reduce clinical development time and costs for anti-infectives, and ensure a commercially viable payment and reimbursement structure. These concepts are generally known as ‘push’ and ‘pull’ incentives. A variety of mechanisms are currently in place to help push an anti-infective through the clinical development process. … What pull incentives might look like in the future remains cloudy, though some groundwork has been established. … The next few years will prove critical for organizations developing novel antibiotics. Commercial successes could be the tipping point that pulls together stakeholders to reinvigorate the commercial model for anti-infectives…” (12/10).

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Using Collaborative Approach To Philanthropy Could Help Bridge Gaps In Health Care, Other Issues

Devex: Opinion: Richard Branson on why philanthropists should club together
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and co-founder of the Audacious Project

“To bring about radical change, sometimes you have to be audacious. … Yet, too often, the really big ideas just don’t get the backing they need and fail to get off the ground. … Over two events, we raised $250 million for world-changing ideas and the Audacious Project was born. … [T]his collaborative approach to philanthropy seeks to turn ideas into action and is already helping to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. One example is an initiative to improve access to health care … by putting digital technology into the hands of community health workers. … The project is not only working to boost the number of trained community health workers, but also to extend their reach through digital technology. Equipped with smartphones, they will be able to carry out automated diagnoses of deadly diseases and to capture the immunization status of every child in real-time and with a time-stamped geo-location identifier. This will help to build up a record of children that are not being reached, making it easier for vaccinators to pinpoint them and ultimately close the gaps in immunization. … The Audacious Project provides a … process that actively encourages people to think bigger and brings them together with a groundbreaking coalition of funders, including philanthropists, donors, and the public. … [F]rom this, new opportunities will emerge — not just to bridge the gap in health care, but also to solve some of the biggest challenges our planet faces…” (12/10).

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Design-Led Solutions Could Transform HIV Prevention For Women

STAT: A makeover for oral PrEP: designing real-world HIV prevention for women
Ann S. Kim, director of health and well-being at IDEO Cambridge and documentary director and cinematographer

“…Time and time again, women have told me they are waiting for a solution that would put them in control of protecting themselves against HIV. … V was designed as an experience ecosystem that supports a woman’s journey, from her initial awareness of HIV to getting tested for it, accessing PrEP, and staying on it. V is meant to feel more like a branded self-care product than a medical treatment. This de-stigmatizes PrEP as a way to lower for women the barrier to taking it. … Input from health care providers, the gatekeepers of oral PrEP, was key. We heard from doctors, nurses, and pharmacists working on the front lines of HIV treatment and prevention that the boldness and vibrancy of the V approach would help them better connect with the women they’re trying to reach. Designers believe that changing behavior starts by designing for a new mindset. With HIV and other afflictions, like addiction, mindsets are defined by stigma. … In a world where women do not always have agency, my hope is that design-led solutions can transform prevention from a source of shame into an empowering ritual of self-care” (12/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

PATH Report Examines Potential Of Regulatory Harmonization On Accelerating Access To Health Products In Africa

PATH: Making the Case: How Regulatory Harmonization Can Save Lives in Africa
“This report uses modeling to explore the potential impact — measured in lives saved — of regulatory harmonization on accelerating access to health products across countries in Africa…” (December 2018).

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World Bank Experts Discuss Challenges Of Providing Primary Health Care In Libya

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: Is there a doctor in the house? The challenge of primary health care in Libya
Ernest Massiah, practice manager in the Health, Nutrition & Population Global Practice at the World Bank’s Middle East North Africa Region; Moustafa Abdalla, senior health specialist at the World Bank; and Kent Garber, consultant for Health, Nutrition & Population at the World Bank, discuss the challenges of providing primary health care in Libya and considerations for improving care in the country (12/10).

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Uzbekistan Receives WHO Certification Of Malaria-Free Status

WHO: WHO certifies that Uzbekistan has eliminated malaria
“…After enduring a decades-long return of the malaria parasite, Uzbekistan eliminated malaria for a second time, in 2010. Now, the country has gone one step further, securing the official WHO certification of malaria-free status. … Uzbekistan’s malaria-free certification brings to 19 the number of countries in the European Region that have received the WHO certification. The European Region as a whole was declared as having interrupted indigenous malaria transmission in 2016…” (12/7).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Administrator Provides Statement On Gavi's Mid-Term Review

USAID: Statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green on the Mid-Term Review of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
In a statement congratulating Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on progress highlighted in its Mid-Term Review, USAID Administrator Mark Green says, “Gavi contributes directly to USAID’s goals to prevent child and maternal deaths, protect communities from infectious diseases, and to support countries on their Journey to Self-Reliance. … Sustainability and self-reliance are central to Gavi’s model, which employs a unique policy that requires all countries to pay a share of their vaccine costs, and to take on a greater share as their economies grow. We are proud to continue to work with Gavi and support efforts in achieving its 2020 targets to immunize 300 million additional children, transition 20 countries to full self-financing, and save upwards of six million lives” (12/10).

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U.S. Officials Recognize Human Rights Day, Reflect On 70th Anniversary Of Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Celebrating Human Rights Day and 70 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This post recognizes International Human Rights Day, observed annually on December 10, highlights a statement made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and features video remarks made by colleagues from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor reflecting on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (12/10).

USAID: Statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green on International Human Rights Day
USAID Administrator Mark Green provides a statement, noting, “On International Human Rights Day, we recommit ourselves towards meeting the shared commitments of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reiterate our offer of assistance to those in need, and call on every country to respect the human rights and dignity of all people” (12/10).

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