KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

At International Forum, Japan Pledges $2.9B To Help Countries Pursue UHC; U.N. SG Stresses Need For UHC To Improve Economic Growth

Japan Times: Japan pledges $2.9 billion to support countries pursuing universal health coverage
“Japan will contribute about $2.9 billion to programs combating infectious disease and treating young children in developing countries that are pursuing universal health coverage, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday at an international forum on the topic in Tokyo. … Abe made the announcement alongside U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and world leaders attending the Universal Health Coverage Forum, which was organized by the Japanese government and international organizations including the World Bank and World Health Organization…” (12/14).

U.N. News Centre: In Japan, U.N. chief spotlights power of universal health coverage to unlock economic growth
“Health is everyone’s right and a driver of economic development, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed Thursday, expressing the U.N.’s readiness to help countries move towards health coverage for all. … Noting that every $1 spent on health yields up to $20 in full-income growth within a generation, Mr. Guterres stressed the critical importance of political commitment to unlocking these investments. … The secretary general will convene a General Assembly high-level meeting on universal health coverage in 2019…” (12/14).

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U.S. Investments Drive First Annual Increase In Funding For Neglected Diseases Research Since 2012, G-FINDER Report Shows

Devex: R&D for neglected diseases reliant on just two donors, G-FINDER report warns
“…The G-FINDER report, released on Wednesday, tracks investments in drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, microbicides, and vector control products and also basic research across 33 neglected diseases — a group of diseases that lead to approximately 6.4 million deaths per year and disproportionately affect people in developing countries. A smaller commercial market means the diseases typically struggle to attract sufficient research and development. The 10th edition of the report, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, revealed that between 2015 and 2016, $3.2 billion was invested in neglected disease R&D — an increase of 3.4 percent on the previous year, and the first annual increase since 2012…” (Edwards, 12/14).

Intellectual Property Watch: G-FINDER Report: Global Funding For R&D In Neglected Diseases Increasing, Overreliance On U.S. Funding Dangerous
“A report released [Wednesday] on global funding of research and development for neglected diseases found that global funding has increased but warns that overreliance on funding from the United States, which the report says is ‘unparalleled,’ and leads to a heavy concentration of global funding on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. This overreliance could also lead to change in total global funding, the report found…” (Saez, 12/13).

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Half Of World Population Goes Without Basic, Essential Health Services, World Bank/WHO Report Says

Financial Times: World Bank plans to name and shame countries on health spending
“The World Bank plans to name and shame countries that are failing to invest in health and education for their citizens, following a new analysis showing that less than half of the world’s population has access to essential health services…” (Jack, 12/13).

The Guardian: Almost 100 million people a year ‘forced to choose between food and health care’
“…A report, published by the World Health Organization and the World Bank on Wednesday, found the poorest and most vulnerable people are routinely forced to choose between healthcare and other necessities for their household, including food and education, subsisting on $1.90 (£1.40) a day…” (Bowman, 12/14).

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO, World Bank Say Half The World Population Cannot Access Essential Health Services
“… ‘Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report,’ released [Wednesday], is a key point of discussion at [the] Universal Health Coverage Forum 2017, currently taking place in Tokyo, according to a WHO press release…” (Saez, 12/13).

NPR: Health Care Costs Push A Staggering Number Of People Into Extreme Poverty
“…Another 800 million people are spending at least 10 percent of their household budget on health care. And 3.5 billion people — accounting for more than half of the world’s population — are simply forced to go without most essential services…” (Aizenman, 12/14).

Reuters: Half of world’s people can’t get basic health services — WHO
“…The report had some good news: This century has seen a rise in the number of people getting services such as vaccinations, HIV/AIDS drugs, … mosquito-repelling bednets, and contraception, it said. But there are wide gaps in the availability of services in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, the report found…” (Kelland, 12/13).

U.N. News Centre: Half the world lacks access to essential health services — U.N.-backed report
“…In other regions, basic health care services such as family planning and infant immunization are becoming more available, but lack of financial protection makes it difficult for families to pay for these services. Even in more affluent regions such as East Asia, Latin America, and Europe, a growing number of people are spending at least 10 percent of their household budgets on out-of-pocket health expenses…” (12/13).

Xinhua News: Health expenses push 100 mln people worldwide into extreme poverty: report
“… ‘It is completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services,’ said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. ‘A solution exists: universal health coverage allows everyone to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship,’ he said. For his part, World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim called for urgently scaling up global efforts on universal health coverage, as ‘investments in health, and more generally investments in people, are critical to build human capital and enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth'” (12/13).

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Global Estimates Of Annual Influenza Deaths Higher Than Previously Predicted, CDC Study Shows

PBS NewsHour: CDC says more people die of influenza worldwide than some experts have estimated
“As many as 646,000 people may die from influenza each year worldwide, according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a larger number than what other health experts have predicted in years past…” (Santhanam, 12/13).

Reuters: Seasonal flu kills more globally than previously thought: U.S. study
“…Global death rates from seasonal influenza are likely between 291,000 and 646,000 people each year, depending on the severity of the circulating flu strain, they said. That is up from a prior estimate range of 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, according to officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the medical journal The Lancet…” (Steenhuysen, 12/13).

Xinhua News: Seasonal flu kills up to 650,000 people worldwide every year: study
“…Results also showed that the greatest flu mortality burden was in the world’s poorest regions and among older adults. People aged 75 years and older and people living in sub-Saharan African countries experienced the highest rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths. Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asian countries had slightly lower but still high rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths…” (12/14).

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UNICEF Vaccine Independence Initiative Funds More Than Doubled Over Past Year

Xinhua News: UNICEF: Funds for vaccination initiative double in past year
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday announced that funding for its Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII), a mechanism to help countries secure a sustainable supply of life-saving vaccines, has more than doubled in the past year. The increase was made possible especially by a financial guarantee of 15 million U.S. dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, adding to a capital base that also includes recent contributions from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the United States Fund for UNICEF…” (12/14).

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G20 Health And Development Partnership Taskforce Meets In U.K., Agrees To Boost Health On G20 Agenda

HuffPost U.K.: Government Could Help Save 97 Million Lives By Supporting U.N. Health Goals, MPs Say
“The U.K. government could help save millions of lives across the world if it commits to a U.N. health strategy, MPs say. The G20 Health and Development Partnership met in Parliament for the first time this week to agree [to] its strategy to push global health up on the G20 agenda, and convince governments and treasuries around the world to make global health a core economic issue…” (Forrester, 12/13).

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Pharmaceutical Industry Spending More, Seeing Fewer Returns On R&D, Survey Shows

Financial Times: Pharma industry’s return on R&D investment falls sharply
“The world’s 12 biggest drug companies are making a return of just 3.2 percent on their research and development spending this year — down from 10.1 percent in 2010, according to Deloitte’s annual survey of pharma R&D investment. At the same time the average cost of bringing a drug to market has soared to a record $2bn from $1.5bn in 2016 and $1.2bn in 2010, when the professional services firm launched its pharma survey…” (Cookson, 12/13).

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Philippines Dengue Vaccine Campaign Begun In Good Faith, President Duterte Says; Former President Aquino Defends Decision To Implement Program

Philippine Star: No one to blame for dengue vaccine mess — Duterte
“President Duterte is not passing judgment on anyone with regard to the Dengvaxia vaccine mess but is hopeful that the truth about the controversy will come out. This developed as former president Benigno Aquino III said he would face the Senate probe into the controversy, to present the truth and promote a ‘sober discussion’ leading to the crafting of ‘appropriate actions’ on the issue…” (Romero/Calica, 12/14).

Reuters: Philippines’ Duterte says dengue campaign carried out in ‘good faith’
“…The campaign was started by Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, who approved the use of 3.5 billion pesos ($69 million) in savings in 2016 to buy millions of doses of Dengvaxia, the world’s first approved vaccine against the mosquito-borne virus. The campaign was halted on Dec. 1, after the vaccine maker, French drug firm Sanofi, said Dengvaxia’s use was to be strictly limited due to evidence it could worsen the disease in people who had not previously been exposed to the virus…” (Lema, 12/13).

Reuters: Former Philippine President defends controversial dengue program
“Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino defended on Thursday his decision to implement a controversial immunization program using a new dengue vaccine in 2016, saying it was justified with millions of people at risk of being infected by the virus. … Two Philippine congressional inquiries have begun and a criminal investigation has also been launched to determine how the danger to public health came about…” (Lema, 12/14).

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Studies Examine Links Between Zika, Microcephaly, Guillain-Barre Syndrome

CIDRAP News: Study bolsters Zika-microcephaly link, rules out others
“A new Brazilian study adds further evidence to the link between Zika and microcephaly while ruling out for the first time an association between microcephaly and an important insecticide and between the condition and vaccines. In a final report of the case-control study, which was published [Tuesday] in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, investigators analyzed data on 91 babies born with microcephaly last year (the cases) and 173 babies born with no microcephaly (matched controls) in Recife, a city in northeastern Brazil that was hit hard by the virus in 2015 and 2016…” (Wappes, 12/13).

Reuters: U.S. study sheds light on how Zika causes nerve disorder
“A new study sheds light on how the mosquito-borne Zika virus causes a rare neurological condition, and the findings could have implications for companies working on Zika vaccines, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. … To study the nerve disorder, Dr. Tyler Sharp of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dengue Branch in San Juan and colleagues in Puerto Rico examined the rare case of a 78-year-old man from San Juan who had been infected with Zika in 2016, developed Guillain-Barre and subsequently died…” (Steenhuysen, 12/13).

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Ebola Survivors Continue To Produce Antibodies 40 Years After Initial Infection, Research Shows

Nature: Ebola survivors still immune to virus after 40 years
“Survivors of the world’s first known Ebola outbreak have immunity to the virus 40 years after they were infected, scientists have found…” (Hayden, 12/14).

Science: Forty years later, Ebola survivors are still making antibodies to the lethal virus
“…The find bolsters the widely held assumption that Ebola survivors remain immune to the virus for life. The work may also help guide development of new medicines and clarify the long-term health consequences of an Ebola infection…” (Cohen, 12/14).

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More News In Global Health

New York Times: In Myanmar’s Divided Villages, Fear Prevails and ‘Life Has Stopped’ (Cumming-Bruce, 12/13).

New York Times: Irish Lawmakers Recommend Repealing Strict Abortion Ban (O’Loughlin, 12/13).

NPR: Our 10 Most Popular Global Health And Development Stories Of 2017 (Gharib, 12/13).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Stephen Hawking says eliminating neglected tropical diseases “within our grasp” (Suliman, 12/13).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Abortions in India are 20 times higher than estimated: study (Bhalla, 12/12).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Rescued child sex workers in India reveal hidden cells in brothels (Nagaraj, 12/13).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: War-torn Yemen faces new threat of deadly diphtheria outbreak, aid groups say (Kanso, 12/13).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: India draws flak for banning ‘indecent’ condom ads on daytime TV (Bhalla, 12/13).

TIME: For Refugee Moms, Giving Birth Can Be Fraught with Danger (Baker/Addario, 12/13).

U.N. News Centre: Thousands of children need assistance three months after Caribbean hurricanes — UNICEF (12/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S.-Funded Research Critical To Advancing HIV Treatments, Improving Health

Durham Herald-Sun: A mystery illness, and the importance of research dollars — Dr. Charles van der Horst
Charles van der Horst, emeritus professor of medicine at UNC and global health consultant

“…[R]esearch conducted by the National Institutes of Health and CDC-funded scientists, many at Duke and UNC, and scientists at companies, including GlaxoSmithKline … led to the development of many new medications to treat HIV and its complications. Advocacy from patients forced the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the process of drug approval and to permit access to medications even before final approval. These medicines allowed patients to live a normal life and to virtually eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. These miracles of science were all launched by taxpayer-supported agencies, specifically the NIH, CDC, FDA, the 50 state public health departments, and our research universities. Epidemiologists at the CDC monitored the spread of the epidemic allowing us to target our prevention efforts. Scientists at the FDA facilitated drug development. … Painstaking, federally funded research and the generosity of patients who participated in research studies showed us the way forward [on HIV]” (12/7).

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Achieving Global Health Milestones Depends On 'Harnessing The Power' Of Partnerships Among Public, Private, Philanthropic Sectors

CNBC: From the fewest polio cases to the greatest contraceptive use — 2017 saw a range of health milestones
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…[O]ne important factor [behind the global health achievements of 2017] that often goes unnoticed is the collaboration between the public, private, and philanthropic sectors — an indispensable nexus in saving and improving lives. … In the coming years, I see unparalleled opportunity to unleash the full potential of human capacity to solve our greatest challenges. But success depends on us harnessing the power of partnerships. We’ll need the scholarship and new ideas of academia as well as the talent and sense of urgency found in the private sector to drive scientific and technological breakthroughs. We’ll need increased investment and thoughtful policy from governments, while ensuring that communities are able to drive change from within. And we’ll need all colleagues in our own not-for-profit sector to take risks when others can’t or won’t. Research and development has the potential to consign humankind’s biggest threats to the history books. When that happens, it will be front page news” (12/14).

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UNICEF's Vaccine Independence Initiative Has Potential To Ensure All Children Have Access To Vaccines

HuffPost: An added boost to help countries ensure more children receive life-saving vaccines
Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…[UNICEF’s Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII)] is a key element in UNICEF’s supply financing portfolio. It provides technical support to governments and short-term bridge financing to help countries procure vaccines and other immunization-related supplies. Now, to assist countries in their Gavi transition period, UNICEF has announced a new $15 million financial guarantee to VII from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, more than doubling VII’s total available funds to $35 million and coming on the heels of other recent contributions from Gavi and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. … It would be easy to view VII as merely a matter of dollars and cents. However, we’re ultimately most excited about VII’s potential to help countries minimize the risk of vaccine stock outs, achieve full ownership in financing their immunization systems, and most importantly, ensure that all children have access to lifesaving vaccines” (12/13).

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Integrating Innovative Technologies Into Health Care Infrastructures Vital To Achieving UHC

Devex: Opinion: Business unusual — innovating for health systems of the future
John Sargent, co-founder of BroadReach

“…For [universal health coverage (UHC)] to become a reality, … the widespread adoption of innovative technology in the health care industry must become ‘business as usual.’ The transformative power of technology empowers providers and payers of health care services to operate efficiently, generating the best possible health outcomes for the greatest number of people, in the most economical way possible. … Without an established health care infrastructure and entrenched practices built up over many decades, developing countries can innovate more nimbly and consequently bring health care to some of the world’s most marginalized populations. Dec. 12 and every day forward is the time to galvanize the widespread adoption of technology to achieve UHC” (12/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

MFAN Highlights Several Articles, Remarks On U.S. Foreign Assistance Reform

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: Community Rallies Behind MFAN Effectiveness Principles
Jill MacArthur, digital content and communications coordinator at MFAN, highlights several articles and remarks from the development community and members of Congress on U.S. foreign assistance redesign efforts (12/13).

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WHO Recommends Sanofi's Dengue Vaccine Only For People Previously Infected With Virus

World Health Organization: WHO advises Dengvaxia be used only in people previously infected with dengue
“Following a consultation of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that the dengue vaccine CYD-TDV, sold under the brand name Dengvaxia, prevents disease in the majority of vaccine recipients but it should not be administered to people who have not previously been infected with dengue virus. This recommendation is based on new evidence communicated by the vaccine’s manufacturer (Sanofi Pasteur), indicating an increase in incidence of hospitalization and severe illness in vaccinated children never infected with dengue…” (12/13).

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Japan To Contribute $50M To Global Financing Facility To Support Every Woman Every Child

World Bank: Government of Japan to Invest US$50 million in Global Financing Facility to Accelerate Progress on Universal Health Coverage
“The Government of Japan announced [Thursday] that it was contributing US$50 million to the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child (GFF), a country-led model of development finance that brings together multiple sources of financing in a synergistic way to support countries’ priorities…” (12/14).

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Global Fund, Asian Development Bank Sign MoU To Help Countries Strengthen Health Systems In Asia

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund, ADB Sign MOU to Help Countries in Asia Strengthen Health Systems to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria
“The Global Fund and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a memorandum of understanding to support the financing, design, and implementation of country-led programs to fight HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, and build resilient health systems in ADB member countries eligible for Global Fund financing…” (12/8).

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CGD Previews Findings From Analysis On Size, Composition Of Health Commodity Markets In Low-, Middle-Income Countries

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Sizing Up Health Commodity Markets in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Take One
Contributor Daniel Rosen; Kalipso Chalkidou, director of global health policy and senior fellow at CGD; and Janeen Madan Keller, policy analyst at CGD, discuss their research on health commodity markets across low- and middle-income countries. The authors note their research is “part of the background work to inform the CGD Working Group on the Future of Global Health Procurement” (12/13).

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New PLOS Collection Focuses On High-Quality Health Systems In SDG Era

PLOS Blogs’ “Speaking of Medicine”: High-Quality Health Systems in the Sustainable Development Goal Era: A Special Collection
Margaret Kruk, associate professor of global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a member of the PLOS Medicine editorial board; Hannah Leslie, postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Muhammad Ali Pate, adjunct professor at Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University, introduce the PLOS Collection on High-Quality Health Systems in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Era. The authors write, “The papers will feature research related to the Lancet Global Health Commission on High Quality Health Systems, a global effort to 1) define health system quality, 2) describe the quality of care for sentinel SDG conditions in low- and middle-income countries and its equity, 3) propose tractable measures of quality, and 4) identify structural approaches to improve quality. The focus of this collection will be on innovative tools and interventions for quality measurement and improvement at scale” (12/13).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Secretary Of State Delivers Remarks On U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities, Including State Department Redesign

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Secretary Tillerson Addresses Foreign Policy Challenges at Atlantic Council Forum
This blog post highlights remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlining the administration’s foreign policy priorities, including redesign efforts “aimed at modernizing the State Department, USAID, and making it easier for both entities to deliver on their missions” (12/13).

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