KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

UNAIDS Executive Director To Step Down In June Following Independent Report Calling For Leadership Change

Associated Press: UNAIDS head to quit post early following scathing report
“The head of the U.N. agency focusing on AIDS said he would leave the job six months early, bowing to apparent pressure just a week after independent experts looking into sexual harassment blasted the ‘defective leadership’ at UNAIDS. At least one major donor reportedly threatened to halt its funding. Executive Director Michel Sidibé revealed his plans to leave in June at a UNAIDS board meeting Thursday, agency spokesman Mahesh Mahalingham said. Sidibé took up the job in 2009…” (Keaten, 12/13).

New York Times: Leader of U.N. AIDS Agency to Step Down After Damning Review
“…Critics believed the hard-hitting report left Mr. Sidibé little choice but to resign or, lacking that, left United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres few options but to fire him. In an email sent to the staff after the report came out, Mr. Sidibé acknowledged that he was the person most responsible for the organizational culture, but set out a five-point agenda for change and signaled his intention to continue leading. The UNAIDS governing board decided Thursday to set up a working group to oversee Mr. Sidibé’s proposed overhaul, deferring discussion of the experts’ report to a special meeting sometime before March…” (Cumming-Bruce, 12/13).

Science: Despite scathing harassment report, UNAIDS board gives agency head a reprieve for now
“…It’s too early to say, however, whether Sidibé’s job is safe until next summer. Sweden, UNAIDS’s second largest donor, announced earlier this week that it would freeze support for the agency until Sidibé leaves. Other donors — including the United States, the largest donor — have yet to take such a public stance…” (Cohen, 12/13).

Additional coverage of Sidibé’s announcement and the governing board meeting is available from Al Jazeera, Reuters, and Science.

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CHANGE Index Gives U.S. Government C Grade For Sexual, Reproductive Global Health Assistance

Devex: U.S. gets a C on sexual and reproductive global health assistance, new index finds
“The U.S. government’s overall grade on sexual and reproductive health and rights in its global health assistance dropped from a B in 2016 to a C in 2017, according to a new index published Wednesday by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Health and Gender Equity, or CHANGE. The CHANGE index examines policies and funding on SRHR from six federal government actors: the White House, Congress, USAID, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Each department is graded on the three separate categories of HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and family planning. Grades ranged from an F for the White House on the family planning indicator to an A for the U.S. Agency for International Development on HIV/AIDS work…” (Welsh, 12/13).

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Yemen Peace Talks End With Ceasefire Agreement For Major Port City; U.S. Senate Votes To End Military Assistance For Saudi Arabia; WFP Says Agency Cannot Meet Country's Needs

The Guardian: Yemen: ceasefire agreed for port city of Hodeidah
“Yemen’s warring parties have agreed to an immediate ceasefire in the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, the U.N. secretary general has said, in a potential breakthrough at the end of a week of peace talks in Sweden. … If implemented on the ground, the deal would represent a breakthrough because the port is the gateway for the bulk of humanitarian aid coming into the country, and has been the subject of intense fighting. Ceasefires have also been agreed at two other ports, Salif and Ras Issa…” (Wintour/McKernan, 12/13).

New York Times: Senate Votes to End Aid for Yemen Fight Over Khashoggi Killing and Saudis’ War Aims
“The Senate voted on Thursday to end American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen in the strongest show of bipartisan defiance against President Trump’s defense of the kingdom over the killing of a dissident journalist. The 56-to-41 vote was a rare move by the Senate to limit presidential war powers and sent a potent message of disapproval for a nearly four-year conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and brought famine to Yemen…” (Davis/Schmitt, 12/13).

Devex: As Senate votes on Yemen, WFP says it can’t meet country’s need
“As the U.S. Senate made a largely symbolic vote Thursday to cut off support from the United States for the war in Yemen, World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley said that his agency will not be able to meet the country’s spiking humanitarian need with 16 million on the brink of starvation. Beasley said that the man-made war, which has been marked by sustained bombing campaigns of civilian areas and port blockades of desperately needed food aid, has gone on for so long that the country’s economy is in shambles and the number of people who are able to meet their basic needs without help continues to shrink…” (Welsh, 12/14).

Additional coverage of the ceasefire agreement is available from Al Jazeera, CNN, New York Times, NPR, VOA News, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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U.S. Scientists Working To Track Uganda's Bats In Effort To Learn More About Marburg, Ebola Viruses

Washington Post: On a Bat’s Wing and a Prayer
“…[B]ats carry the deadly Marburg virus, as fearsome and mysterious as its cousin Ebola. Scientists know that the virus starts in these animals, and they know that when it spreads to humans it is lethal — Marburg kills up to nine in 10 of its victims, sometimes within a week. But they don’t know much about what happens in between. … [A] team of scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traveled [to Uganda] to track [bat] movements in the hopes that spying on their nightly escapades could help prevent the spread of one of the world’s most dreaded diseases. … U.S. officials are so concerned about Marburg becoming a global threat that the CDC is seeking funding from the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency to cover the cost of the bat trackers, which are about $1,000 each. The CDC is hoping to track more of these Rousettus aegyptiacus bats in several other caves in Uganda…” (Sun/Mount, 12/13).

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Young Infant Recovers From Ebola In DRC As Officials Report 10 Additional Cases

Associated Press: ‘Young miracle’: Baby recovers from Ebola in Congo outbreak
“They call her the ‘young miracle.’ A baby who was admitted to an Ebola treatment center just six days after birth is now recovered from the virus. Congo’s health ministry calls the baby the youngest survivor in what is now the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak. … Experts have reported worryingly high numbers of children with Ebola in this outbreak…” (Anna, 12/14).

CIDRAP News: Officials note 10 new Ebola cases as youngest patient recovers
“The pace of new Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saw no let-up [Thursday], with 10 more illnesses reported across five locations in the affected area, the country’s health ministry said in its latest update. The 10 new cases push the overall outbreak total to 515 cases, 467 of them confirmed, and 48 listed as probable…” (Schnirring, 12/13).

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Countries Must Improve Access To, Quality Of Newborn Health Care Services To Help Save 30M Premature Infants, U.N. Report Says

Healio: WHO, UNICEF: ‘Far from our goal of reducing newborn deaths’
“Thirty million infants are born prematurely around the world, according to a report issued by a global coalition that includes WHO, UNICEF, and other organizations. The report’s findings showed that in 2017, 2.5 million of these children died as a result of preventable causes, including prematurity, complications occurring near birth, infections, and congenital conditions…” (Bortz, 12/13).

U.N. News: Better care, stronger laws needed to save 30 million babies on the brink of death
“…The report, ‘Survive and Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn,’ finds that babies with complications from being born premature, or suffering brain injury during childbirth, severe bacterial infection, or jaundice, risk death and disability. Furthermore, the financial and psychological toll on their families can affect their cognitive, linguistic, and emotional development…” (12/13).

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Gates Foundation CEO Discusses Biggest Threat To Global Progress, Importance Of Innovation, Prioritization

Devex: Gates Foundation CEO on the importance of innovation, but also prioritization
“…On Thursday, the Gates Foundation released its annual year in review, capturing what happened in 2018, including the launch of three new strategies: $170 million for gender equity, $68 million for global education, and $158 million for mobility from poverty in the United States. [Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,] says that while ‘innovation is helping more people than ever’ lead healthy and productive lives, the Gates Foundation strategy moving forward must involve innovation, as well as prioritization…” (Cheney, 12/14).

GeekWire: Interview: Gates Foundation CEO on global progress in 2018, and the biggest threat to the world’s future
“As the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sue Desmond-Hellman oversees the world’s largest philanthropy, on a mission to transform U.S. education and global health. But when asked to identify the biggest threat to the future of the world, she doesn’t point to a disease or a dictator. ‘One of the biggest threats in my mind is a sense of despair and pessimism,’ Desmond-Hellmann said in an interview with GeekWire. … ‘I think the investments we make in everything — from global health, family planning, nutrition, agriculture — these are investments in human capital,’ Desmond-Hellmann said. ‘Throughout history, when you invest in human capital, good things happen’…” (Bishop/Catalano, 12/13).

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India's PM Modi Pledges $100B Increase To Country's Health Services By 2025 At 2018 Partners Forum

Devex: India claims it will boost health spending by $100B
“India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a $100 billion boost to the country’s health services by 2025 on Wednesday, but advocates expressed doubt about whether and how the money would materialize. The huge figure represents 2.5 percent of India’s gross domestic product, up from 1.15 percent, and an actual increase in health spending of 345 percent over the current share, according to Modi…” (Abrahams, 12/14).

The Guardian: Health care to get $100bn boost as India aims to cut maternal deaths
“…Quoting from Hindu scriptures — he said that ‘where women are honored, divinity blossoms there’ — Modi told a meeting in New Delhi of the 2018 Partners Forum that India would achieve global targets to reduce maternal and infant deaths before the 2030 deadline. The forum is an amalgamation of national and global organizations working to improve maternal and child health…” (Dhillon, 12/14)

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Call for road deaths to be recognized as child health emergency (Abrahams, 12/14).

Devex: Aid community silenced in Ethiopia (Root, 12/14).

Devex: The impact of climate inaction on food security (Cornish, 12/13).

The Guardian: ‘A child is killed daily’: saving lives in Brazil’s deadliest city for adolescents (Griffin, 12/14).

The Lancet: Funding falling for mine victim assistance (Zaracostas, 12/15).

Reuters: With no antiretrovirals, Venezuela HIV patients rely on leaf remedy (Ramos/Sequera, 12/13).

STAT: China’s history with AIDS explains a puzzling aspect of the ‘CRISPR babies’ story (McLaughlin, 12/14).

U.N. News: Civilian death toll continues to mount in Syria, U.N. relief chief tells Security Council (12/13).

VOA News: International Charities Work to Brighten Malawi Girls’ Future (Masina, 12/13).

Xinhua News: U.N. General Assembly resolution calls for better nutrition for women, children (12/14).

Xinhua News: U.N. says 26 mln Central Africans need aid in 2019, 22 pct up from 2018 (12/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Republicans Should Retake Leadership Role On HIV/AIDS, Opinion Piece Says

The Hill: Republicans should take the lead on HIV/AIDS
Jerri Ann Henry, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans

“…Republicans played a part in [U.S. and global successes against HIV/AIDS], and it would be politically expedient for today’s GOP to reclaim its victories. Despite the prevailing narrative, Republicans don’t have an absent track record on HIV/AIDS. … [Former Republican President George W. Bush created] the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which can be credited with saving more than 16 million lives across the globe. … Republican leadership on HIV/AIDS could spark a watershed reversal in the balance of power on the issue, if for an unorthodox reason. … But achieving this end requires real leadership where governance is required, and deference to HIV/AIDS experts where science must prevail. From a purely political standpoint, President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress should hastily pursue both” (12/13).

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U.S. Congress Should Repeal Helms Amendment To Improve Women's Access To Health Care Globally, Opinion Piece Says

The Hill: Helms 45 years later: It’s time for Congress to repeal it
Kiefer Buckingham, senior policy advocate on public health issues at the Open Society Policy Center

“…Led by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), opponents [of abortion] wanted to include a provision in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1973 that would prohibit the use of U.S. foreign assistance for abortion ‘as a method of family planning.’ Helms’ amendment, which eventually became law, was antithetical to [the] notion of sovereignty, not to mention reproductive rights. And it still is. … Fast forward 45 years with Democrats having just won 40 seats — including electing a record number of women — in the 2018 midterms, House Democrats have the chance to introduce legislation to repeal the Helms and Hyde amendments to improve access to health care for women around the world…” (12/13).

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U.N. Security Council Should Consider Actively Protecting Health Care Workers Responding To DRC Ebola Outbreak

The Conversation: Worsening Ebola crisis leaves U.N. Security Council with few options
Mark Eccleston-Turner, lecturer at Keele University’s Law School

“…The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) … acknowledged the situation in the DRC by issuing a resolution (resolution 2439) that calls for an end to the violence so that humanitarian groups can have better access to the region [to respond to the Ebola outbreak]. … It condemns the killing of health care workers, calls for peace on both sides (which has been ignored), and calls on the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue its leadership on Ebola, but does not say much else. With the violence continuing, the number of cases and deaths from Ebola rising, and the withdrawal of international health experts, it is likely that the UNSC will need to return to this issue — this time with a more robust response. But what form might this response take? One option is for the UNSC to do nothing. … Another option is for the UNSC to draft another resolution … A more likely option appears to be expanding the role of the MONUSCO peacekeepers to take a more active role in protecting health care workers in the DRC so that health care workers can safely carry out their work. … Creating a safety zone around the Ebola outbreaks could allow health care professionals to carry out their work in safety and may inspire international assistance to flow into the area where it is so badly needed. While mission creep within peacekeeping operations is rightly subject to considerable criticism, if the situation in the DRC worsens, it may be the only option” (12/12).

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International Community Should Take Opportunity To Improve Global Nutrition

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Malnutrition: the new challenges are also the new opportunities…
Lawrence Haddad, executive director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

“Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) organized a Symposium on the double burden of malnutrition. … Truly the double burden has become the ‘new normal.’ But there are several ways in which this creates a series of opportunities. New Allies … New Agents of Change … New Stakeholders … New Awareness of Competing Interests … Becoming Global Nutrition Researchers … It is a truism that every crisis is an opportunity. And make no mistake the double burden is a crisis. But, true to the saying, it is also an opportunity. We need big answers to these big problems and to make this a shared global task is fundamental. The Global Nutrition Summit of September 2020 in Tokyo is the next big chance to do this — the best we will have before 2030. … Let’s bring these ‘opportunity perspectives’ to Tokyo and make it a moment that grows the nutrition movement, rather than merely consolidates past gains, one that elevates nutrition into the consciousness of those who rarely think about it, and one that supercharges the nutrition movement, rather than simply fills up its tank. We need to be bold and ambitious for this generation — and for future ones” (12/13).

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Health Argument Vital To Discussions, Policies On Climate Change

Newsweek: The Paris Agreement Will Save Our Lives
Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental, and Social Determinants of Health at the WHO

“As parties gather this week in Poland at the annual United Nations climate change conference, the health sector is making a loud and strong argument for health to be at the heart of all discussions and policy decisions on climate change. Though the focus of the Paris Agreement is on rising temperatures and increased carbon dioxide, at its core, it is a safeguard for human health worldwide. The Paris Agreement is not only an historic climate pact, but also an unprecedented health treaty. … The health benefits of switching to low-carbon energy sources are not just felt in improvements in air quality. When cities promote active transport methods — such as biking or walking as alternatives to using private vehicles — not only can they reduce carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution, but also decrease traffic injuries and encourage increased physical activity which helps prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. … Health implications must be part of the equation every time governments discuss climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and policies. When the full value of health is taken into account, the case for investing in cleaner technologies is clear. … We have the health community’s strong backing for action on climate change…” (12/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

MFAN Joins Congressional Leaders In Calling On OMB To Release Progress Report On Foreign Aid Transparency, Accountability Act

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: MFAN Joins Congress in Calling for Foreign Aid Transparency Progress Report
In a statement delivered on behalf of MFAN, MFAN Co-Chairs George Ingram, Lester Munson, and Tessie San Martin join eight congressional leaders calling on the “Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney to report on implementation of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016 (FATAA; PL 114-191)” (12/13).

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NTI Launches Interactive Infographic On Preparing For Biological Threats

NTI: NTI | bio Launches New Interactive on Biological Threat Preparedness
“Are we ready to prevent a global biological catastrophe? NTI | bio is asking U.S. and international decision makers this tough question in a new interactive infographic that explores the vulnerabilities that exist in any country, examines global risk factors, and highlights the potentially staggering consequences of a biological event” (12/12).

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CGD Podcast Examines How IDFC Institutions Could Help Achieve SDGs

Center for Global Development: The International Development Finance Club with Scott Morris — CGD Podcast
In this podcast, Holly Shulman, director of communications at CGD, speaks with Scott Morris, senior fellow and director of the U.S. Development Policy Initiative at CGD, about results from “a six-month survey of the 24 members of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC) to determine how equipped they are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.” Shulman and Morris discuss “how IDFC institutions could increase their development impact, and, in light of the passage of the BUILD act earlier this year, how the new U.S. Development Finance Corporation can get off to a good start” (12/12).

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PAHO Expert Discusses Efforts To Address AMR In Pew Interview

Pew Charitable Trusts: International Efforts Critical to Global Fight Against Superbugs
David Hyun, senior officer for the Antibiotic Resistance Project at Pew, speaks with Pilar Ramon-Pardo, director of PAHO’s efforts to combat AMR, on “the threat posed by AMR and PAHO’s work to fight superbugs” in Latin America and the Caribbean (12/13).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. National Security Adviser Delivers Remarks On Trump Administration's New Africa Strategy

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: A New Africa Strategy
This blog post highlights remarks delivered by Ambassador John Bolton, U.S. national security adviser, on the Trump administration’s new Africa strategy. Bolton “emphasized that President Trump’s Africa strategy is the result of an intensive interagency process, and reflects the core tenets of President Trump’s foreign policy doctrine” (12/13).

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