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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO DG Says Agency 'Can Cover' DRC Ebola Outbreak Without U.S. Experts In Region; Disease Continues To Spread, Concerns Emerge Over Vaccine Supply

Associated Press: WHO says it can fight Ebola outbreak despite U.S. withdrawal
“The head of the World Health Organization said Monday it can fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo despite the withdrawal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insisting: ‘We can cover it.’ The comments by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus came in the wake of commentaries in two medical journals appealing to the CDC to return to the epidemic zone in Congo — saying its expertise is needed. The U.S. experts have been sidelined for weeks, ordered away from the region because of State Department security concerns…” (Keaten, 12/3).

CIDRAP News: DRC Ebola total climbs to 444 with cases in several areas
“Over the weekend and through [Monday], the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported 16 new Ebola cases in several locations in and around the main hot spots. In other developments, health officials are starting to worry about the Ebola vaccine supply, especially if it’s needed to curb widespread disease in one of the DRC’s urban locations…” (Schnirring, 12/3).

The Guardian: Are we on the cusp of a breakthrough in Ebola treatment?
“Ebola could be transformed from a terrifying disease into something that can be managed at home if drug trials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are successful, a leading scientist believes. Four experimental drugs are starting to be used as part of a groundbreaking trial under extremely difficult conditions in an outbreak in conflict-ridden eastern DRC…” (Boseley, 12/4).

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New York Times Examines Late George Bush's Record On HIV/AIDS During Presidency

New York Times: ‘He Did Not Lead on AIDS’: For Bush, Activists See a Mixed Legacy
“The death of George Bush on the eve of World AIDS Day was a painful reminder for some of the most lethal days of the epidemic, when people — predominantly gay and bisexual — were struck down by an illness that few in the White House seemed to lose sleep over. For them, the 41st president was a slow-moving leader whose response to the crisis was hard to separate from his public uneasiness with gay men and lesbians…” (Stack, 12/3).

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U.N. Seeks More Than $20 Billion In Humanitarian Aid For Estimated 132M People In 42 Countries Expected To Need Assistance In 2019

Associated Press: U.N. aid chief: Yemen talks not an ‘easy or rapid process’
“…Mark Lowcock, head of the [U.N.] Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, spoke to the Associated Press on Monday after laying out the organization’s 2019 humanitarian appeal. OCHA says $21.9 billion is needed next year for food, shelter, health care, education, protection, and other assistance worldwide. It predicts nearly 132 million people in 42 countries will need assistance…” (12/4).

Reuters: U.N. seeks $21.9 billion in aid next year, largest needs in Yemen
“…The appeal to donor countries does not include the funding requirements for Syria, which are expected to bring the total up to $25 billion, it said” (12/4).

Reuters: U.N. seeks $738 million to help Venezuela’s neighbors handle migrant flood
“The United Nations said on Tuesday it was seeking $738 million in 2019 to help neighboring countries cope with the inflow of millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, who have ‘no prospect for return in the short to medium term’…” (Nebehay, 12/4).

U.N. News: Global aid appeal targets more than 93 million most in need next year
“Speaking at the launch of a major annual analysis of global humanitarian needs, Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said that a total of 132 million people will need assistance next year. Of that number, the UN and its partner organizations aim to support 93.6 million. While conflict is the main cause, climate-related risks such as drought and tropical storms are also significant contributors to the number of people in crisis…” (12/4).

Additional coverage of this story is available from Al Jazeera and the New York Times.

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U.K. DFID, U.N. Launch First-Ever Disability Strategy, Report, Respectively

Devex: DFID launches its first disability inclusion strategy
“The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development launched its first disability strategy Monday, which disability champions hailed as ‘ambitious’ but in need of dedicated financing to implement. The plans cover disability inclusion both in DFID’s external programs and within the department, fulfilling a key commitment made by Secretary of State for International Development and former minister for people with disabilities Penny Mordaunt…” (Edwards, 12/4).

U.N. News: First-ever U.N. report on disability and development, illustrates inclusion gaps
“The United Nations launched its first-ever flagship report on disability and development on Monday; published by, for, and with, persons with disabilities, in the hopes of fostering more accessible, and disability-inclusive societies. The U.N. Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 coincides with the annual International Day, marked on 3 December, which the U.N. chief described as important for ‘the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including people with disabilities,’ as promoted in the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs…” (12/3).

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African Child Policy Forum Releases 'Child-Friendliness Index' Ranking Continent's Countries On Child Well-Being

NPR: Africa Takes A Tough Look At Africa — And The Way It Treats Its Children
“The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) has released its latest rankings of African countries on a ‘Child-Friendliness Index.’ Every few years since 2008, the Ethiopia-based research center scores governments on their intentions to improve children’s legal protections, poverty rates, health, nutrition, and education — as well as the outcomes of those intentions…” (Lu, 12/4).

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WHO To Establish Panel To Study Gene Editing; Chinese Scientist's Whereabouts Unknown, University Denies Claims Of Detention

Associated Press: World Health Organization wants panel to study gene editing
“The chief of the World Health Organization says his agency is assembling experts to consider the health impacts of gene editing. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that gene editing ‘cannot be just done without clear guidelines’ and experts should ‘start from a clean sheet and check everything’…” (12/3).

South China Morning Post: University denies ‘Chinese Frankenstein’ He Jiankui detained over gene-edited babies claim
“A university in southern China has dismissed claims that its controversial former employee He Jiankui, the scientist who claimed to have produced the world’s first gene-edited babies, has been detained. A spokeswoman for the Shenzhen-based Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTC) said: ‘Right now nobody’s information is accurate, only the official channels are’…” (Zhang, 12/3).

Additional coverage of this story is available from Agence France-Presse, The AtlanticThe Hill, and Reuters.

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More News In Global Health

Homeland Preparedness News: Researchers create six antibodies with potential to test, treat Zika (Galford, 12/3).

MedPage Today: World AIDS Day: Positive Steps, but No End in Sight (Walker, 12/1).

NPR: Measles Cases Rise Globally With Spikes In The Middle East, Europe And The Americas (Beaubien, 12/3).

Reuters: Millions flock to free tests as Egypt seeks to eradicate hepatitis C (Mourad/Masri, 12/3).

SciDev.Net: ‘India’s unapproved drug combinations are risky’ (Baggchi, 12/3).

U.N. News: U.N. agriculture chief urges ‘transformative changes’ to how we eat (12/3).

U.N. News: ‘We need to do more’ to transform the world, deputy U.N. chief tells African audiences (12/3).

VOA News: IFRC: Migrant Children Traveling Alone ‘Most Vulnerable People in the World’ (12/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress Should Take Leadership Role On Global WASH Issues

The Hill: Water wars won’t be won on a battlefield
Bill Frist, former U.S. Senate majority leader and founder and chair of Hope Through Healing Hands

“…On the anniversary of the launch of the first-ever U.S. Global Water Strategy, we must actively engage water security as a strategic path for U.S. foreign policy. … As federal agencies align, Congress should step up to the plate. Our elected officials would be wise to prioritize and integrate water into legislation that encompasses everything from global health and food security to pandemic readiness and prevention to improving HIV/AIDS work under PEPFAR. Congressional intelligence committees should urge the intelligence community to closely monitor regions where water imbalances could accelerate or magnify humanitarian disasters and security threats to the U.S. and our allies. And congressional appropriators must prioritize global water. … This work is in America’s best interest. Global health and security improve economic outcomes and increase viable trade partners for American goods and services. There remains clear urgency and opportunity in increasing access to clean water. The U.S. Global Water Strategy must be increasingly included as a vital tool for U.S. defense, development, and diplomacy efforts across the globe. Water can be currency for global peace” (12/2).

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African Nations Must Make Girls' Education 'Immediate Priority' To Prevent Child Marriage, Improve Social, Health Outcomes

The Lancet: The cost of not educating girls in Africa
Editorial Board

“In sub-Saharan Africa, one in three girls is married before her 18th birthday, according to Educating girls and ending child marriage: a priority for Africa, published by the World Bank on Nov 19. The evidence against marriage before age 18 is extensive and forceful. Child brides have worse physical, psychological, and reproductive health outcomes than do their peers who marry later. … For future wellbeing, the most valuable alternative to marriage for young girls is secondary education. … The World Bank estimated that the cost of incomplete education related to child marriage for 12 African countries that make up half the continent’s population was US$63 billion in lost capital wealth. By comparison, the official development assistance for the entire continent was $41 billion in 2016. Whereas 75 percent of girls worldwide complete lower secondary education, only 40 percent do so in Africa. … Clearly, the African Union’s aspirations for 2063 of prosperity, inclusion, and development of women’s potential, can only be realized if the education of girls is made an immediate priority” (12/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CSIS Briefing Paper, Podcast Episode Examine How U.S. Leadership On Women's Economic Empowerment Could Strengthen Investments In Women's Health

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Women’s Economic Empowerment and Women’s Health Services: An Opportunity for U.S. Leadership
In this briefing paper, the first in a series of papers to be published under the CSIS Women’s Health Policy Forum, Janet Fleischman, senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses the links between women’s economic empowerment and health, and examines the opportunity for U.S. policy and leadership on the issue. Fleischman offers several policy recommendations that “would complement USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance framework since women’s health and empowerment tie directly to the long-term economic stability necessary for countries to move toward self-reliance” (December 2018).

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Take As Directed”: Women’s Economic Empowerment and Access to Women’s Health Services
In this podcast, Fleischman speaks with Margaret Schuler, senior vice president of the International Programs Group at World Vision, and David Ray, vice president for policy and advocacy at CARE, about “how the current bipartisan momentum around economic empowerment for women provides an opportunity to strengthen linkages with U.S. investments in women’s global health, how such an approach fits with USAID’s ‘Journey to Self-Reliance’ framework, and the role of women’s groups and faith-based organizations in promoting access to both economic empowerment programs and women’s health services” (11/30).

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Friends Of Global Fight Highlights Global Fund's Work With Faith-Based Organizations

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: The Global Fund and Faith-Based Organizations
This post highlights the Global Fund’s work with faith-based organizations, noting, “Faith-based organizations are critical partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. The Global Fund will continue to rely on faith groups for their insight, geographic spread, and social influence, and support their increasingly innovative programming” (12/3).

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CGD Experts Recognize World AIDS Day, Reflect On Importance Of Measuring Impact Of Global Health Programs

Center for Global Development: On World AIDS Day, a Moment for Celebration and Self-Reflection
Amanda Glassman, chief operating officer, senior fellow, and Board secretary, and Rachel Silverman, senior policy analyst and assistant director of global health policy, both at CGD, recognize World AIDS Day and discuss the importance of evaluation and impact measurement of global health programs. The authors write, “With a new round of global health replenishments in 2019, we are looking critically at recent claims of impact emerging from global health agencies … It is not our intent to diminish the organizations and individuals working diligently to end the epidemic, but instead to encourage the entire community to up its game by ensuring that we are delivering quality services and health impact for those affected” (12/3).

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ODI Research Fellow Outlines Potential Impact Of U.K. Counter-Terrorism Bill On Humanitarian Assistance Efforts

ODI: U.K. counterterrorism travel ban could criminalize humanitarian assistance
Sarah Adamczyk, research fellow at ODI, discusses the proposed U.K. Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which “criminalizes travel by British nationals to geographic areas the government designates as a no-go.” Adamczyk writes, “It was originally intended to enable prosecutions against those who travel abroad to join terrorist organizations … But the travel ban could have devastating impacts on British aid workers.” Adamcyzk further outlines four ways the bill relates to humanitarian aid: “1. It contradicts U.K. humanitarian policy … 2. It increases risks to U.K. aid workers … 3. It has unintended humanitarian consequences … 4. Other countries may follow suit” (11/30).

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WHO Announces Polio Outbreak In Syria Successfully Stopped, With No International Spread

WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean: Polio outbreak in Syria successfully stopped
“The polio outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) detected in 2017 in Syria has been successfully stopped, with no international spread, according to experts. An official outbreak response assessment, comprising experts in global public health, virology, and epidemiology, reviewed all available surveillance and immunization evidence from the past 18 months, and conducted first-hand field visits to the affected areas, including the epicenter of the outbreak, Deir Ez-Zor. The group concluded that the outbreak could now be closed…” (12/2).

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From the U.S. Government

White House Releases Presidential Proclamation Commemorating World AIDS Day 2018

White House: Presidential Proclamation on World AIDS Day, 2018
The White House last week released a statement by President Trump commemorating World AIDS Day and highlighting U.S. efforts nationally and internationally to address the epidemic. The proclamation states, “With American leadership, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has shifted from crisis toward control. … For the first time in modern history, we have the ability to sustainably control an epidemic, despite the absence of a vaccine or cure, and create a future of flourishing, stable communities in the United States and around the globe” (11/30).

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