KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Future Of DFID Uncertain As Boris Johnson's Conservative Party Wins U.K. Election

Devex: Future of DFID hangs in the balance after Conservative landslide
“The fate of the U.K. Department for International Development appears more uncertain than ever after aid-skeptic Boris Johnson’s Conservative party secured a decisive majority in Thursday’s election. The landslide victory, which saw the Conservatives win 365 seats in parliament — the party’s biggest majority since the 1980s — reignited fears that the prime minister could merge DFID with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office…” (Edwards, 12/13).

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Asia Regional Workshops Address Various Health Issues, Global Fund Opportunities

Xinhua: ASEAN officials discuss in Laos improvement of health services for needy
“Senior officials from Laos and other ASEAN member countries are meeting in the Lao capital Vientiane this week to discuss the improvement of health services for ethnic communities and vulnerable populations in the region. The two-day regional workshop is identifying policies and strategies to improve health services for ethnic groups and vulnerable populations in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) technically and financially supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) via the Health Security Project, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday…” (12/13).

Xinhua: Mekong subregion discusses in Laos on new funding to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria
“Participants from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Thailand were reunited recently in Lao capital Vientiane to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the new funding cycle of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the Greater Mekong Region. The four sessions of the regional conference emphasized innovative approaches to achieve sustainability of the intervention in Global Fund grants and discussion on technical assistance and expertise possibilities for beneficiary countries, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday…” (12/13).

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AP Examines Rampant Abuse Of Opioid Tramadol In Developing Nations

AP: Mass opioid abuse is ‘destabilizing’ world’s poorest nations
“…Mass abuse of the opioid tramadol spans continents, from India to Africa to the Middle East, creating international havoc some experts blame on a loophole in narcotics regulation and a miscalculation of the drug’s danger. The man-made opioid was touted as a way to relieve pain with little risk of abuse. Unlike other opioids, tramadol flowed freely around the world, unburdened by international controls that track most dangerous drugs. But abuse is now so rampant that some countries are asking international authorities to intervene…” (Schmall et al., 12/13).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Death Toll At 2,209 As Of December 8, According To African Union

Xinhua: Death toll from Ebola outbreak in DRC rises to 2,209: A.U.
“The death toll from the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has climbed to 2,209, the African Union (A.U.) disclosed on Thursday. According to the 55-member pan African bloc’s latest periodic report on the status Ebola virus, a total of 2,209 deaths were reported due to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC as of Dec. 8, registering additional 59 new human causalities from the 2,150 deaths that were reported as of October 13…” (12/12).

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Famine Threatens South Sudan Due To Drought, Floods, Political Instability, WFP Warns

Reuters: Famine stalks millions in South Sudan after droughts, floods — U.N
“Famine threatens the lives of up to 5.5 million people in South Sudan, where droughts and flooding have destroyed crops and livestock, compounding ‘intense political instability,’ the United Nations warned on Thursday…” (Nebehay, 12/12).

U.N. News: South Sudan famine threat: UN food security agency in ‘race against time’
“… ‘South Sudan is in trouble, serious trouble. Not just because of the conflict but because of the rains and the flooding that has hit in the last few months. It is much worse than we had anticipated,’ said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. ‘In fact, if we don’t get $100 million in the next few weeks … we are literally talking about famine in the next few months’…” (12/12).

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ECOWAS Court Rules Sierra Leone's Ban On Pregnant Girls Attending School Discriminatory, Violates Human Rights

The Guardian: Sierra Leone ordered to revoke ban on pregnant schoolgirls
“Pregnant schoolgirls in Sierra Leone will no longer be banned from attending class or sitting exams, after a regional court ordered the immediate overturn of a ‘discriminatory’ policy that has denied tens of thousands the right to finish their education. In a ruling handed down in Nigeria on Thursday, a top regional court found that a 2015 directive barring pregnant girls from attending school amounted to discrimination and a violation of human rights…” (Hodal, 12/13).

Reuters: West African court voids Sierra Leone’s ban on pregnant schoolgirls
“…Sierra Leone’s education minister David Senghe declined to comment on whether the government would respect the ruling. Previous Sierra Leonean governments have ignored decisions by the ECOWAS court. The government has created part-time centers where pregnant girls could study but the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court in Nigeria ruled that this was not sufficient…” (Inveen, 12/13).

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Costa Rica President Issues Technical Decree Allowing Therapeutic Abortions

Reuters: Costa Rica’s president says therapeutic abortions will be allowed
“Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado on Thursday issued a technical decree that will allow for therapeutic abortions in the Central American nation, despite opposition from religious and conservative political groups. On paper, a 50-year-old law allows a pregnancy to be terminated only if the mother’s health is at risk, but a lack of regulatory clarity at hospitals has meant the law could not be applied. … Health Minister Daniel Salas said in a statement therapeutic abortions can be performed if three requirements are met: if there is no other medical alternative, if the woman gives consent, and after mandatory evaluation by three medical professionals…” (Murillo/Esposito, 12/12).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: Rwanda’s front line health supporters (Santoshini, 12/12).

The Economist: Tuberculosis kills more people than any other pathogenic illness (12/14).

ET HealthWorld: On Universal Health Coverage Day, India pledges to keep the promise (12/12).

Forbes: For Haiti, Victory Is in Sight in Fight Against Cholera (Buechner, 12/12).

Homeland Preparedness News: Partnership proposes $2.6B to stop, treat tuberculosis (Kovaleski, 12/12).

Newsweek: Smallpox Was Eradicated 40 Years Ago, So Why Are The U.S. And Russia Still Holding Stocks Of The Virus? (Gander, 12/13).

New York Times: In Pakistan Hospital, It Was Lawyers vs. Doctors. 3 Patients Died (Masood, 12/12).

NPR: A New HIV Vaccine Effort With A Different Kind Of Strategy (Huang, 12/12).

Reuters: Scientists home in on potential treatments for deadly Nipah virus (Kelland, 12/12).

Reuters: GSK’s ViiV seeks marketing license for baby-friendly HIV pill (Kelland, 12/13).

U.N. News: Unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Mali revealed in new report (12/12).

Wired: The War on Polio Just Entered Its Most Dangerous Phase (McKenna, 12/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Japan PM Abe, WHO DG Tedros Discuss Importance Of Achieving UHC In Opinion Pieces

Washington Post: All nations should have universal health care
Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization

“…We believe that health care is a human right for all people, not a privilege for those who can afford it. If that’s the case, we can’t accept a world in which people are impoverished by exercising that right. That’s why we are both committed to universal health coverage, so that all people can access the health services they need without financial hardship. … The good news is that countries such as Japan have shown that universal coverage is not only possible but also pays long-term dividends for the prosperity and stability of nations. Investing in health at an early stage of a country’s economic development can create the fundamental infrastructure for sustainable and comprehensive economic growth and social development. … Each government has to have a sense of responsibility to adopt consistent policies and to implement them effectively and efficiently to realize this ambitious goal. At the state, regional, and global levels, universal coverage creates a common front against poverty, pandemics and the health effects of climate change. Strong coverage builds healthier people everywhere — for individuals, families, communities, and nations” (12/12)

The BMJ: Healthcare for all: every country can do it — an essay by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization

“…[U]niversal health coverage (UHC) is not a luxury for wealthy countries: it’s the foundation of development and it is possible in every country. … [T]he one thing I believe should be the same in every country is that primary healthcare must be the bedrock of UHC, with an emphasis on promoting health and preventing disease. … Seeing the benefits of UHC around the world over the years and then working to reinvent Ethiopia’s health system fueled my passion for achieving health for all. Having an opportunity not only to spread the health for all message, but also to help all countries to make that goal a reality, is humbling and inspiring. I am optimistic. One of the fundamental truths of global health is that health is a political choice. There are so many highly skilled, hard working health workers around the world, and so many policy makers with their hearts in the right place. But without political will at the highest level, UHC will remain just a goal for many countries” (12/12).

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Inaugural World NTD Day To Kick Off Year Of New Goals To Guide Progress Against Diseases, Lancet Editorial Notes

The Lancet: 2020: a crucial year for neglected tropical diseases
Editorial Board

“The inaugural World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day will be marked on Jan 30, 2020. ‘#BeatNTDs: For good. For all’ is the slogan aiming to gather support and build momentum for a decisive year of action against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). … To inform efforts to reduce the global impact of NTDs, a discussion paper by UNDP draws attention to the gender dimensions of NTDs. The available evidence on how gender influences the risk of acquiring NTDs, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes is reviewed. … 2020 is particularly notable because WHO is expected to launch new goals during the year to guide progress against NTDs until 2030. Reducing the burden of disease and disability caused by NTDs is essential to improving the health of the world’s poorest people” (12/14).

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Argentina's New President Should Legalize Abortion, Opinion Piece Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: OPINION: It’s time to legalize abortion in Argentina
Jessie Clyde, director of grantmaking and international partnerships at the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC)

“As Argentina’s new president takes office this week, he will be met with hope and high expectations. For many, Alberto Fernandez holds the promise of progressive social and economic change, but for members of the feminist movement and National Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, his inauguration presents an opportunity to finally legalize abortion. … [A]bortion remains one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in Argentina. … The legalization of abortion in Argentina would be a watershed moment not only for the country, but also for the region. Latin America is home to the world’s most restrictive abortion laws. … I stand alongside other feminist activists to urge Argentina’s new president to fulfill his promise and prioritize the decriminalization of abortion…” (12/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

IOM Expert Discusses Movement Of People In DRC, Implications For Ebola Control Efforts

IOM: Curbing an Epidemic on the Move, Stopping Ebola in its Tracks
Angela Wells, IOM public information officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies, discusses the implications of the movement of people for Ebola control efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), highlighting the role of frontline health workers at border crossings, as well as the challenges presented by the internal displacement of people within DRC. Wells concludes, “A more concerted international investment in preparedness and prevention efforts — and broader humanitarian response — is crucial if governments and humanitarian organizations are to effectively save more lives and ensure that the outbreak does not impact further the citizens of DRC and its neighbors” (December 2019).

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UNFPA Reports On ICASA's Closing Ceremony

UNFPA East and Southern Africa: With genuine partnership and effective collaboration, we can end the HIV epidemic together
This release reports on comments made by leaders at the closing of the recent International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), including remarks by UNFPA Regional Director for East and West Africa Mabingue Ngom and Rwanda’s Minister of Health Diane Gashumba (12/12).

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IFRC Scaling Up Efforts, Calling For Funds To Mitigate Food Crises In Southern Africa

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: Immediate action needed as millions face hunger in Southern Africa, warns the Red Cross
“Hunger is threatening the lives of 11 million people in Southern Africa due to deepening drought and in the region. Red Cross teams across Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia are scaling up their response to emergency and crisis levels of food insecurity. … The IFRC is calling for 7.7 million Swiss francs to mitigate the food crisis in the region. The overall objective of the multi-country Emergency Appeal is to provide immediate food assistance and livelihood recovery support to the most affected households in the targeted communities for a period of 14 months” (12/12).

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Lancet Publishes Articles On Dengue Outbreaks In Latin America, Asia

The Lancet: Dengue in the Americas: Honduras’ worst outbreak (dos Santos et al., 12/14).

The Lancet: The dengue epidemic in Bangladesh: risk factors and actionable items (Mamun et al., 12/14).

The Lancet: The dengue epidemic and climate change in Nepal (Pandey/Costello, 12/14).

The Lancet: Vaccine-attributable severe dengue in the Philippines (Wilder-Smith et al., 12/14).

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