KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

News Outlets Examine Possible Tracks For Foreign Aid, Global Health Spending Under Trump Administration

BBC News: Will Trump embrace the funding of overseas aid?
“America is the biggest single donor of overseas aid in the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) spent $31bn (£25bn) last year. But like other areas of foreign policy, we can only speculate what a Trump administration will do. Donald Trump’s pronouncements so far on international aid are what you might expect from a proponent of the ‘America First’ world view. … Many Republicans on Capitol Hill may not like the idea of government largesse, but they will be the first to acknowledge that overseas aid makes up less than one percent of the federal budget. The religious right, too, remains very supportive of humanitarian spending — particularly in global health…” (Grimley, 12/20).

New York Times: Trump Administration Puts the U.S. at a Crossroad for Global Health Aid
“The United States is the pillar of global health aid, donating billions of dollars annually — more than any other country — to fighting disease in the world’s poorest countries. But even as the faltering battles against AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases hang in the balance, advocates for the poor, health experts, and government officials admit that they have no idea what direction the incoming Trump administration is going to take. President-elect Donald J. Trump has almost never addressed the issue, and many of the leadership posts central to the global health mission, such as the United States Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are still in the hands of Obama administration appointees…” (McNeil, 12/19).

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The Atlantic Looks At How Trump Might Respond To Disease Outbreak Threats

The Atlantic: How a Pandemic Might Play Out Under Trump
“…Obama had a good track record of responding to these [disease outbreak] threats, and channeling funds into fighting outbreaks around the world — as did his predecessor George W. Bush. As Donald Trump prepares to become America’s 45th president in January 2017, the question isn’t whether he’ll face a deadly outbreak during his presidency, but when? And more importantly, how will he cope? Outbreaks of disease are among the ultimate tests for any leader who wants to play on the global stage. They demand diplomacy, decisiveness, leadership, humility, and expertise — and they quickly unearth any lack of the same. … For now, we can only speculate, using the president-elect’s own words and actions to predict how he might fare in an outbreak…” (Yong, 12/20).

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Women's Health, Reproductive Rights Advocates Raise Concerns Over Secretary Of State Nominee Tillerson's Record

Yahoo Beauty: What ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State Could Mean for Women
“ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has garnered criticism for his close relationship with the Russian government since it was reported that he was President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. But it isn’t only Tillerson’s alleged friendship with Vladimir Putin that is of concern to some Americans, but also his track record as an executive on issues of women’s health and workplace equality has been questioned…” (Uffalussy, 12/19).

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OMB Head Nominee Rep. Mick Mulvaney Expresses Doubts Over Federal Funding For Disease Research In Facebook Post

Mother Jones: Trump’s Pick for Budget Director Isn’t Sure the Government Should Fund Scientific Research
“Mick Mulvaney, the ultra-conservative South Carolina congressman whom Donald Trump has tapped to be his budget director, has questioned whether the federal government should spend any money on scientific research. If confirmed by the Senate to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney, a deficit hawk who recently spoke before a chapter of the right-wing-fringe John Birch Society, would be in charge of crafting Trump’s budget and overseeing the functioning of federal agencies. One thing he seems to believe the budget and the agencies should not be funding is research into diseases like the Zika virus…” (Levy, 12/19).

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WHO's New Health Emergencies Program To Help Streamline Responses To Disease Outbreaks

Nature: World Health Organization rethinks its response to disease outbreaks
“Three years after the start of the world’s worst Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has created a program to improve its response to disease outbreaks and to prevent another such calamity. In June, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan named medical epidemiologist Peter Salama to lead a new health emergencies program intended to streamline the agency’s response to crises. As part of that program, the WHO has launched the Emerging Diseases Clinical Assessment and Response Network (EDCARN) to provide guidance on how to care for people during disease outbreaks…” (Hayden, 12/20).

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Food Industry-Funded Study Attempts To Discredit U.S., WHO Sugar Intake Guidelines

New York Times: Study Tied to Food Industry Tries to Discredit Sugar Guidelines
“A prominent medical journal on Monday published a scathing attack on global health advice to eat less sugar. Warnings to cut sugar, the study argued, are based on weak evidence and cannot be trusted. But the review, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, quickly elicited sharp criticism from public health experts because the authors have ties to the food and sugar industries…” (O’Connor, 12/19).

NPR: How Much Is Too Much? New Study Casts Doubts On Sugar Guidelines
“…Over the past two years the World Health Organization and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines have begun urging us to consume no more than 10 percent of our daily calories from added sugar. Drinking more than one sugar-sweetened soda a day can put you over that limit. But a new industry-funded study published in a prominent medical journal questions the evidence used to generate the specific recommendations to limit sugar in our diets…” (Aubrey, 12/19).

Reuters: Study funded by food makers disputes advice to cut sugar intake
“…The review of research used as a basis for policymaking was funded by the International Life Sciences Institute, which includes among its members Coca Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., Mars Inc., and Hershey Co. … In a rare move, AIM published an editorial in the same issue that slammed the latest study as a ‘politicization of science’ and said that recent guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Public Health England, and WHO all show ‘remarkable consistency.’ AIM decided to publish both the new study and the critical editorial because sugar consumption is ‘of great interest’ to readers and their patients, said Editor-in-Chief Christine Laine in an emailed statement…” (Prentice, 12/19).

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New WHO Antenatal Care Guidelines Encourage More Health Care Visits For Pregnant Women

Devex: New WHO guidelines signal greater focus on antenatal care experience
“…In the [new WHO antenatal care] guidelines released in November, the WHO now recommends eight contacts with health services instead of four over the course of a woman’s pregnancy. This shift provides more opportunity for women to meet with medical professionals throughout their pregnancies to reduce stillbirths and complications and represents renewed focus on women’s overall experience of care, said Ozge Tunçalp, the lead scientist on WHO’s antenatal care guideline development…” (Rogers, 12/20).

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El Niño Weather Phenomenon, Warming Climate Might Have Contributed To Zika Outbreak, Study Says

HealthDay News: Did El Niño Weather Give Zika a Boost?
“The weather phenomenon called El Niño might have aided the explosive spread of the Zika virus throughout South America, a new study reports. Climate patterns caused by El Niño could have increased reproduction rates in the mosquito species that carry the Zika virus and allowed those mosquitoes to live longer, researchers found…” (Thompson, 12/19).

Washington Post: El Niño on a warming planet may have sparked the Zika epidemic, scientists report
“…The [researchers’] model produced an unusually high disease transmission potential in the tropics for the year 2015, including in Colombia and Brazil, the countries hit hardest by Zika. Similar results occurred between 1997 and 1998, one of the only other times on record to experience such a brutal El Niño event. ‘[O]ur model indicates that the 2015 El Niño event, superimposed on the long-term global warming trend, has had an important amplification effect,’ the researchers note in the paper…” (Harvey, 12/19).

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Infant, Baby Foods From Low-, Middle-Income Countries Have Unpredictable Quality, Study Shows

New York Times: The Baby Is Getting Fed — but What?
“Baby food is sold in every country on Earth, but in poor and middle-income countries, its quality is completely unpredictable, a new study has found. Children would be healthier if an international agency tested brands and certified them as nutritious, the study’s authors argued…” (McNeil, 12/19).

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Menstruation Banishment Still Practiced In Nepal Despite Bans, Deaths Of Women

Washington Post: They banished their 15-year-old for having her period. She died in a cold Nepali hut.
“A 15-year-old Nepali girl died over the weekend in a hut to which she had been banished for menstruating — the latest victim of an ancient ritual that persists in parts of south Asia. … Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called for an end to the custom known as Chaupadi a month earlier, after a 21-year-old woman in a nearby village died the same way. But with centuries-old roots in Hinduism, Chaupadi has survived in some regions despite bans, a U.N. alert, and the deaths of many women. Nepal outlawed it in 2005, yet a 2011 bulletin from the United Nations said that nearly every woman in Roshani’s district of Achaam still lived under the practice…” (Selk, 12/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Examine President-Elect Trump's Foreign Policy Team

Washington Post: Trump is unifying the fractured GOP foreign policy establishment
Hugh Hewitt, host of The Hugh Hewitt Show, NBC News political analyst, and author

“Candidate Donald Trump never had much in the way of support from the traditional Republican foreign policy establishment. President-elect Trump is changing that. He has surprised again, assembling a team of national security heavyweights, both impressive and diverse. … Rex Tillerson, the nominee to lead the State Department, is a new name to foreign policy but a man with decades of experience dealing with heads of government and state. … Trump is — quite surprisingly — unifying the fractured GOP foreign policy establishment. Winning does that. As does the dire situation of the world. … The result is reassuring. Most of Trump’s incoming team has three or four or even five times as much serious national security experience coming into their new jobs as has, say, Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes going out. … The grown-ups are back. And they have agreed to support the new guy” (12/19).

New York Times: Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Team: Built to Fail
James Mann, resident fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author

“With the announcement that he will nominate the Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, President-elect Donald J. Trump has rounded out a foreign policy team that is, to put it mildly, profoundly different from that of any of his six Republican predecessors since World War II. It’s also unlikely to last particularly long. … [Previous presidents’] teams included people with experience at the top or second levels of the cabinet and national-security apparatus in previous administrations. The Trump team has none. … It’s not just their lack of experience that will make for an unstable foreign policy ship. Mr. Trump has, perhaps by design, chosen people who do not know one another, and appear to disagree in personality and worldview. … It’s up to the president to decide where and how his team should advance. If Mr. Trump doesn’t, then his team of rivals and outsiders will quickly devolve into a battle royal” (12/17).

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WHO Must Provide Leadership To Help All Nations Implement UHC, Achieve SDGs

Mail & Guardian: Universal health coverage will lead to a healthier and more equitable world
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, special adviser to the prime minister of Ethiopia, and Aaron Motsoaledi, minister of health of South Africa

“…We are convinced that Universal Health Coverage (UHC), with strong primary care and essential financial protection, is the key to achieving the ambitious health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to avoiding impoverishment from exorbitant out-of-pocket health expenses. Strong health and disease surveillance systems halt epidemics that take lives, disrupt economies, and pose global health security threats. … UHC is achievable, by or even before 2030, through strong political will, innovative service delivery, and sustained financing. Ensuring UHC must be the foundation for the SDGs, aimed at ending poverty and inequality by 2030. … We believe WHO can and must continue to play an instrumental role with its partners to promote knowledge sharing across countries; and to strengthen core responsibilities, benchmark successful financial models, and enact policies that make UHC possible. This includes supporting national health authorities’ efforts to strengthen their health workforce, service delivery, and health information systems — and to enact policies aimed at ensuring health coverage, including mental health care, is equitable and affordable for all. … A strong, effective WHO that is able to meet the emerging challenges of implementing quality UHC will lead the world in the achievement of the SDGs” (12/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Security Vital To National Security

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: The Case for Global Health Security
Maureen Bartee, principal Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) coordinator in CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection, discusses CDC’s efforts to strengthen global health security, writing, “Global health security is a national security issue. … There is no doubt that CDC’s global health security work has the value, necessity, and power to literally save lives. Working with dedicated partners and government to address global health security issues builds a safer America and a safer world” (12/16).

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CDC Publishes 50-Year Review Of Global Immunization Activities, Overview Of Future Directions

Public Health Reports Journal: Fifty Years of Global Immunization at CDC, 1966-2015
“…Since [the launch of the Smallpox Eradication Program in January 1966], CDC’s global immunization endeavors have encompassed global smallpox eradication, the establishment and growth of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) to strengthen national immunization programs, global efforts to eradicate polio and eliminate measles and rubella, and vaccine introduction into national immunization schedules beyond the original six EPI vaccines. CDC has provided scientific leadership, evidence-based guidance, and programmatic strategies to build public health infrastructure around the world, needed to achieve and measure the impact of these global immunization initiatives. This article marks the 50th anniversary of CDC’s global immunization leadership, highlights key historical events, and provides an overview of CDC’s future directions…” (12/19).

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Global Food Security Act Makes Direct Impact On Communities In Senegal

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Why Food Security Matters
Zach Blackburn, presidential management fellow in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, discusses a recent trip to Senegal to observe USAID-supported programs and to see first-hand the impact of the Global Food Security Act, which Congress passed in July (12/19).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 302 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics including information on the Global Fund’s 2017-2019 allocations; the launch of the Global Fund’s Prioritized Action Plan, which aims to improve the impact of the programs it finances through monitoring and assessing implementation efforts; and an analysis on how opioid substitution therapy protocols contribute toward the sustainability of harm reduction programs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (12/19).

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