KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Guardian Podcast Reviews Global Development In 2017, Focuses On Mexico City Policy, Humanitarian Crises, Natural Disasters

The Guardian: ‘Everything was clouded by Trump in 2017’: a grueling year for poor nations — podcast
“Lucy Lamble looks back over 12 months of critical changes for developing countries, dominated by the devastating effects of the ‘global gag rule.’ One of the biggest events affecting the world’s poorest people this year was President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule … There were also elections in Africa and changes that saw long-standing rulers shown the door; humanitarian crises in Myanmar, South Sudan, and other countries, where millions fled their homes; and hurricanes that devastated Caribbean islands. Lucy Lamble is joined to discuss these and other events by Jason Burke, the Guardian’s Africa correspondent, and Liz Ford, deputy editor for global development” (Lamble et al., 12/19).

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PBS NewsHour Examines Mexico City Policy's Impacts On Health Groups In Kenya

PBS NewsHour: Impact of ‘global gag rule’ goes beyond abortion for these health groups in Kenya
“Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Kenya on a policy governing foreign aid for health care services. … In a nearby tent, health workers offer contraception for anyone that requests it. … It’s all sponsored by Marie Stopes International, a British-based health care charity that works in 37 developing countries. … Marie Stopes had received about $30 million annually worldwide from the U.S. government to do its work, but all of that was cut last January when President Trump reinstated the so-called Mexico City rule, which its critics call the global gag rule. … But the Trump administration has gone much further, applying the rule to an organization’s entire U.S. [global health] aid grant, not just money for reproductive health care. … So far, Marie Stopes has been able to continue offering family planning services for free by getting some emergency funding from a coalition of European governments and organizations. That funding, however, will run out in mid-2018. Meanwhile, the impact of the new rule is already being felt by smaller groups, like Family Health Options of Kenya…” (Woodruff/de Sam Lazaro, 12/19).

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U.S. State Department Legal Adviser Indicates Saudi Arabia Could Be Violating U.S. Law By Blocking Yemen Aid; Hundreds Call For Action By U.S., U.K., France

Foreign Policy: Trump Nominee Concedes Saudi Siege of Yemen Could Be Violating U.S. Law
“U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for the top legal adviser at the State Department has acknowledged that Saudi Arabia could be violating U.S. and international law by restricting the flow of humanitarian aid in Yemen, highlighting what appears to be an increasingly tough administration stance toward Riyadh. In written answers to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month before her confirmation Tuesday, Jennifer Newstead moved away from the State Department’s previous policy and indicated a stricter reading of statutes that prohibit American assistance to foreign countries blocking or hindering the flow of humanitarian aid, Foreign Policy has learned…” (De Luce, 12/19).

The Hill: U.S. renews call for aid to enter Yemen in wake of Houthi missile launch
“The U.S. reiterated on Tuesday its call to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid into Yemen after the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels there said the group had fired a ballistic missile toward Riyadh. Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, condemned the missile launch in a statement, calling on the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels to cease hostilities and end the conflict that has plunged Yemen further into humanitarian crisis…” (Greenwood, 12/19).

The Hill: Hundreds demand U.S., U.K., French action to end Yemen civil war
“More than 350 international politicians, celebrities, Nobel laureates, and other prominent figures signed a statement Tuesday demanding U.S., U.K., and French action to end the Yemeni civil war. ‘The U.S., U.K., and France, as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and major weapons suppliers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, bear a special responsibility to use the full extent of their leverage to press their partners in the region to end the crisis,’ read the statement, dubbed ‘A global call to President Trump, Prime Minister May, and President Macron’…” (Kheel, 12/19).

New York Times: Rebels in Yemen Fire Second Ballistic Missile at Saudi Capital
“Rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile on Tuesday at Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, for a second time in two months, though Saudi officials said that it had been intercepted and that there were no casualties. … The Saudis are at the forefront of a coalition that has been waging a bombing campaign in Yemen for two and a half years against the rebels, known as the Houthis, that has contributed to a humanitarian crisis that United Nations officials consider among the worst in the world…” (Hubbard/Cumming-Bruce, 12/19).

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U.S. Government Lifts 3-Year Moratorium On Pandemic Virus Research, Releases New Funding Framework

New York Times: A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted
“Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal. Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks…” (McNeil, 12/19).

NPR: NIH Lifts Ban On Research That Could Make Deadly Viruses Even Worse
“…The research involves three viruses — influenza, SARS, and MERS — that could kill millions if they mutated in a way that let the germs spread quickly among people. … On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new framework for making decisions about funding research that has the potential to create a new pandemic strain…” (Greenfieldboyce, 12/19).

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USAID's Continuously Updated Business Forecast Database Allows Better Insight For Potential Partners

Devex: USAID’s business forecast provides insights for the year ahead
“2017 has provided new opportunities for businesses to engage in a real-time manner with the U.S. Agency for International Development and understand their business priorities and objectives. Converting their business forecast database from a quarterly snapshot to a live feed has enabled business insight into the rapidly evolving priorities of USAID. This is crucial as businesses and partners plan and prioritization potential tender opportunities…” (Cornish, 12/19).

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WHO Committee Recommends Limited Use Of Sanofi's Dengue Vaccine

STAT: Experts call for use of Sanofi’s dengue vaccine to be halted in most cases
“The use of the world’s first dengue vaccine should be temporarily suspended except in limited circumstances because of concerns that it could put some people at heightened risk of severe disease, according to prominent public health experts. … The experts, who include the co-chair of a technical group that advised the World Health Organization on the vaccine, said only people known to have contracted the disease — that is, those whose medical records confirm previous infection — should be offered the vaccine at this time…” (Branswell, 12/19).

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Bill Gates Summarizes Inspirational Stories Of 2017, Says Work To Eradicate Polio One Of Greatest Accomplishments

CNBC: Here’s what Bill Gates considers his ‘greatest achievement’ — and what he hopes to accomplish next
“Creating a software company with a $600 billion market value is a huge achievement. Meanwhile, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates considers his work helping to eradicate polio one of his biggest accomplishments as well. … Gates has made the eradication of polio one of his top philanthropic priorities. His foundation has contributed nearly $3 billion toward eliminating the disease by 2020…” (Umoh, 12/19).

International Business Times: If you’re struggling to remember any good things from 2017, Bill Gates has got your back
“…The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire has collated a series of inspirational stories and tweets of things that happened in 2017 to end the year on a positive note. He said: ‘There’s no denying that 2017 was a really tough year … but it also delivered some amazing moments of hope and progress’…” (Tobitt, 12/19).

TIME: Bill Gates Shares His Favorite Inspirational Stories of 2017
“…Three articles that Gates tweeted were related to health awareness. The first one focused on the movie Toilet, A Love Story, which Gates described as a Bollywood love story that ‘educated audiences about India’s sanitation challenge.’ Other articles included the Maldives and Bhutan eliminating measles and a study in the New York Times that doing good deeds has a positive impact on both the givers and receivers…” (Grossman, 12/19).

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More News In Global Health

NBC News: With end to polio in sight, vaccination gets creative (Fox, 12/19).

SciDev.Net: Pinprick test designed for Ebola heads for field trial (Rinaldi, 12/19).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: EXCLUSIVE — Congo’s hidden “mega-crisis” is most neglected of 2017 — poll (Batha, 12/20).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agencies scale up work in Bangladesh as Rohingya refugee crisis enters fourth month (12/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. State Department, USAID Reorganization Plans Should Strengthen USAID Administrator, Allow USAID More Control Over Foreign Assistance Budget

Foreign Policy: Let USAID Run USAID
Daniel Runde, William A. Schreyer chair at CSIS

“…For the last 10 years, USAID’s spending decisions have been controlled by the so called ‘F office’ (a central accounting and budgeting office) at the State Department. Now, under the Trump administration’s draft plans for reorganization, it seems likely that USAID will be held accountable for managing all foreign assistance implemented by USAID, while the State Department, through a more refined F office, will be responsible for State Department-controlled monies that are implemented by the State Department (checks to U.N. agencies, security sector assistance, etc.). … F has impeded the timely distribution of foreign assistance funds to USAID missions in the field. … In F’s current form, foreign assistance objectives have at times lost out to foreign policy objectives. This may produce outcomes counterproductive to both foreign policy and long-term development objectives. … In [a recent report, a CSIS task force] recommended that we ‘dual hat’ the USAID administrator as coordinator of all foreign assistance reporting to the Secretary of State, also giving him or her the authority to manage foreign assistance resources. … We need a strong State Department and a strong USAID that have the tools to succeed. The on-going reorganization at State and USAID should clarify roles and responsibilities. Control of the foreign policy budget should be with those accountable for execution of foreign policy. Control of the foreign assistance budget should be with those accountable for execution of foreign assistance. Strengthening the USAID administrator as the person solely responsible is a part of ensuring we are using all tools of American power effectively” (12/19).

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U.S. Politicians, Health Leaders Must Not Allow Limits To Language In Public Health Budget Discussions

Rewire: The CDC’s Language Ban Is More Than an Attack on Words — It’s an Attack on Basic Public Health Values
Sarah Roberts, associate professor at ANSIRH at the University of California, San Francisco; Ashish Premkumar, fellow in maternal-fetal medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and graduate student in anthropology at Northwestern University; and Monica R. McLemore, assistant professor in the UCSF Family Health Care Nursing Department, clinician-scientist at ANSIRH at UCSF, and member of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health

“…What are the implications for banning (at worst) or deeming unseemly (at best) words in budget discussions about the public health of our nation, and what does this mean for the future of public health in the United States? … We call upon members of the HHS and the CDC to both denounce such obvious manipulations of language while emphasizing transparency around budgetary policy and funding opportunities as they relate to public health and biomedical research and practice. Especially in our current political climate, physicians, nurses, public health leaders, and others engaged in preserving the health of our country will not stand idly by, nor will we stop critically evaluating data coming from the highest levels of government. We as biomedical and public health professionals are tasked with a responsibility to understand and promote good health for everyone in the United States; it is time for our elected and appointed officials to do the same” (12/19).

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U.S. Congress Must Be Prepared To Cut Funding To WHO's International Agency For Research On Cancer

The Federalist: It’s High Time To Cut U.S. Funding For This Troubled International Cancer Agency
Julie Kelly, food policy writer, and Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research

“Since Donald Trump’s election, international bureaucracies that receive U.S. tax dollars have been on notice that our unchecked government largess to them is about to end. The World Health Organization is one example of a bloated, inefficient agency that is ripe for reform. … Congress has recently begun asking oversight questions about potential misconduct at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a WHO affiliate based in Lyon, France. … Now, the committee doing the investigation, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is threatening to cut off federal funding until it gets answers. House leadership must recognize that this move comes not a moment too soon, and it must be prepared to back up the threat if necessary. … Given their brazen dismissals of any obligation to be transparent, Congress should immediately cut funding to the WHO and IARC to ensure that beneficiaries of our generosity use taxpayer dollars only for the legitimate purposes for which they were allocated” (12/19).

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Governments, Health Organizations Should Strengthen Tobacco Control Policies

Project Syndicate: Seeing Through Big Tobacco’s Smokescreen
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, and Tabaré Ramón Vázquez, president of Uruguay

“…Around the world, tobacco use kills more than seven million people annually. Enough is enough; at this critical moment, we must not let the momentum slip. Governments and health organizations like ours are at war with the tobacco industry, and we will continue fighting until we beat Big Tobacco. … Governments face a moral and legal imperative to use the strongest possible measures to protect their citizens from tobacco. One way forward would be for more governments to implement commitments enshrined in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. … But more can be done, which is why we are calling on governments around the world to strengthen implementation of the WHO FCTC by accelerating action on the ‘MPOWER’ tobacco control policies — measures intended to strengthen country-level implementation of the WHO FCTC. … Moreover, governments should endorse the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, which aims to prevent illicit trade, such as smuggling. … And, finally, looking ahead to the U.N.’s High-level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases in 2018, government leaders must be prepared to demonstrate their commitment to protecting people from heart and lung disease, cancer, and diabetes, by supporting stronger tobacco controls…” (12/19).

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African Leaders, Global Community Must Prioritize Health As Human Right To Ensure Access For All

allAfrica: Africa’s Health Challenge is a Human Rights Issue
Graça Machel, member of The Elders and founder of the Graça Machel Trust

“Access to health is a human right. … It follows that if people cannot live healthy lives or access the health services they need, then they cannot enjoy all their other human rights. And if policies, institutions, and systems restrict access to health care and prioritize profit over people, then that constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights. … These struggles are especially acute in Africa. Hundreds of millions of Africans are faced with the appalling choice between seeking life-saving medical care and putting food on their tables. This is a matter for outrage. It reflects a collective lack of political commitment to health across our continent. … Universal health coverage is rooted in equity and rights and is therefore a cause that is near and dear to The Elders. … African political leaders, and indeed leaders globally, need to place health as a priority, and confront the powerful vested interests of private medicine and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure access is affordable for all…” (12/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Examines O'Neill Institute Analysis On Implications Of State, USAID Reform On PEPFAR

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Analysis highlights role of diplomacy in U.S. HIV response leadership, PEPFAR gains
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” examines a new analysis from the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, titled “Reorganization and the Future of PEPFAR: Implications of State and USAID Reform” (12/19).

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Brookings Institution Analysis Examines Profitability Of New Drug Development For Neglected Diseases

Brookings Institution’s “TechTank”: Are drugs for neglected diseases profitable?
Jake Schneider, research assistant, and Jeremy Barofsky, non-resident fellow in governance studies, both with Brookings, discuss their new analysis in which they examine the profitability of new drugs for neglected diseases “using various incentive mechanisms.” They write, “Ultimately, we recommend necessary policy proposals to improve what portents a potential crisis in global health: 1. Alignment of public funding with the public benefit; 2. Private sector late-stage investment and risk sharing; 3. Public funding coordination and stewardship; 4. Advanced market commitments for hookworm and schistosomiasis; 5. Tiered [priority review vouchers (PRV)] based on social return and clinical stage; 6. Targeted domestic resource mobilization…” (12/19).

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DRC Landmark Case Sentences 11 Men To Life In Prison For Crimes Against Humanity, Using Sexual Violence As Weapon

Physicians for Human Rights: A Triumph for Justice in the Congo
This blog post highlights the conviction and life sentencing of 11 men in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) found “guilty of crimes against humanity for the rapes of 40 girls and the murders of two men. The landmark case was buttressed by crucial forensic evidence provided by local medical and legal professionals trained by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has assisted the investigation since the attacks began in 2013…” (12/19).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S.-Supported Mobile Technology Initiative Helping Egypt Better Address Drug Resistance In Hospital Settings

USAID/Medium: How to Fight Superbugs? The Antidote is in the Palms of These Nurses Hands
Angela Rucker, writer and editor at USAID, discusses a U.S. government-supported project with Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population to help “hospitals establish a national surveillance system to record infections that happen in their facilities as well as cases of antimicrobial resistance” and improve data collection through mobile technology to better inform treatment (12/18).

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From KFF

Kaiser Family Foundation Updates Fact Sheet Examining PEPFAR's Role, Efforts

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
This updated fact sheet examines the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its role in addressing global HIV/AIDS, including its structure, treatment and prevention targets, results, funding, and key issues (12/19).

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Kaiser Family Foundation Updates Fact Sheet On Key U.S. Government Officials In Global Health

Kaiser Family Foundation: Key Global Health Positions and Officials in the U.S. Government
This updated fact sheet lists U.S. government positions and officials related to global health operations, including links to agencies and officials’ profiles, when available (12/18).

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