KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

10 Senators Send Letter To U.S. Secretary Of State Tillerson Urging End To Department Hiring Freeze, Transparency In Restructuring Efforts; Candidates For Cancelled USAID Jobs Reinstated As 'Active Applicants'

The Hill: Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress
“The 10 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a lengthy letter Wednesday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanding that he end a hiring freeze at the State Department and explain his plan to restructure the agency to Congress. In a lengthy letter to Tillerson, the group of senators, led by ranking member Ben Cardin (Md.) blasted Tillerson for making the changes to the department ‘largely behind closed doors’…” (Bowden, 12/6).

Devex: 6 weeks after cancellations, USAID reinstates foreign service applicants
“Applicants for the United States Agency for International Development’s foreign service still don’t have jobs, but at least they won’t have to start the hiring process all over again. In late October, USAID abruptly informed candidates for the agency’s foreign service — many of whom had spent more than a year in the application and clearance process — that the positions they had applied for no longer existed. They still don’t, but now those job seekers will be allowed to remain on USAID’s active roster for jobs that may or may not become available in the future. The news comes as a qualified consolation prize for applicants otherwise faced with having to start the lengthy foreign service application process all over again…” (Igoe, 12/6).

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Canadian Support For UNFPA Critical Following U.S. Withdrawal Of Funding, U.N. Agency Head Says

Global and Mail: U.N. says Canadian funding for reproductive health agency critical after U.S. cuts
“The head of the U.N. reproductive health and rights agency says Canada’s financial support has been critical to the agency’s work after President Donald Trump cut U.S. funding this year. Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, says the withdrawal of almost $70-million (U.S.) in American funding will put millions of women’s lives at risk in the years to come. Dr. Kanem, who was in Ottawa on Wednesday to launch the agency’s annual population report, said the Canadian government’s renewal of $15.6-million (Canadian) in funding is ‘lifesaving’ for vulnerable women and girls in some of the poorest regions of the world. ‘The loss of the U.S. funding has affected – and it’s not an exaggeration to say – hundreds of thousands of women around the world. And cumulatively, over the course of years, it will be in the millions,’ Dr. Kanem said. … In 2016, prior to the U.S. funding withdrawal, Canada was the fourth-largest donor to the UNFPA … behind Britain, Sweden, and the United States…” (Zilio, 12/6).

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As Crisis In Yemen Worsens, U.N. Evacuates Staff, President Trump Urges Saudi Arabia To Allow Food, Medicine Into Country

Devex: U.N. evacuates staff as Yemen crisis worsens, threatens women, girls
“The United Nations Population Fund has evacuated part of its team from Yemen, in another sign of the country’s worsening humanitarian crisis…” (Lieberman, 12/7).

New York Times: Trump Urges Saudi Arabia to End Blockade of Goods Into Yemen
“President Trump pressed Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to fully end its blockade of food, water, medicine, and fuel into Yemen, a rare humanitarian rebuke to the Middle East ally that he has firmly embraced since taking office…” (Shear/Hubbard, 12/6).

Washington Post: Trump calls on Saudi Arabia to allow food, other aid to reach Yemen
“President Trump on Wednesday called on Saudi Arabia to allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the people of Yemen, in a statement that reflected the growing alarm of relief agencies and amounted to an unusually harsh public scolding of one of his administration’s closest allies. … The conflict has created a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. Food, medicine, and fuel are scarce and too expensive for most to afford. Drinking water is hard to come by. More than 10,000 people have been killed and two million displaced, and seven million are totally reliant on humanitarian aid. Without that aid, a famine would immediately break out, international observers say. This week’s fighting resulted in the disruption of emergency services in Sanaa…” (Bearak, 12/6).

VOA News: Trump Urges Saudis to Immediately Allow Aid Supplies Into Yemen
“…In a short statement Wednesday, Trump said, ‘This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately,’ saying the Yemeni people ‘desperately need it’…” (12/6).

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U.S., Partners Investigate Illegal Sale Of Aid-Provided HIV, Malaria Testing Kits In Zambia

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Six Arrested in Zambia in Crackdown on Illegal Sale of Foreign Aid
“Six people, including two pharmacy owners, have been arrested in Zambia and accused of the illegal sale of HIV and malaria testing kits as part of an international crackdown on profiteering from foreign aid, U.S. officials said on Wednesday. The test kits are provided in developing countries like Zambia for free distribution, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Inspector General (OIG) said. It said the arrests stem from an effort to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective and accountable by investigating complaints of fraud and misconduct in global health programs…” (Wulfhorst, 12/6).

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Media Outlets Continue To Cover Study, UNICEF Report On Impact Of Air Pollution On Babies

CNBC: Millions of babies are breathing in toxic air, UNICEF report says
“Nearly 17 million babies under the age of one are living in places where air pollution is ‘at least six times higher’ than international limits, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Its report, Danger in the air: How air pollution can affect brain development in young children,’ states that breathing in particulate air pollution can both undermine cognitive development and damage brain tissue…” (Frangoul, 12/6).

Deutsche Welle: UNICEF: Contaminated air threatens millions of babies
“‘Not only do pollutants harm babies’ developing lungs: They can permanently damage their developing brains — and, thus, their futures,’ UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said. The report urges parents to reduce children’s exposure to harmful chemicals, including from tobacco products and cooking stoves. It also urged public authorities to invest in cleaner renewable energy and to make it feasible for children to travel at times of day with diminished pollution, as well as to zone major sources of pollution far away from schools, clinics and hospitals…” (12/6).

U.N. News Centre: Millions of babies, mostly in South Asia, risk brain damage from breathing toxic air, UNICEF warns
“Satellite imagery reveals that South Asia has the largest proportion of babies under the age of one living in the worst-affected areas, with 12.2 million babies residing where outdoor air pollution exceeds six times international limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The East Asia and Pacific region is home to some 4.3 million babies living in areas that exceed six times the limit…” (12/6).

Newsweek: Air pollution is harming unborn babies and decreasing the benefits of exercise
“Air pollution from road traffic could have detrimental effects on your baby’s health. In particular, pregnant women who breathe dirty air could have babies with low birth weight, according to a new study published in The BMJ on Tuesday. And air pollution is also negating the benefits of exercise, another study, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, showed…” (Pereira, 12/6).

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More Countries Adopting Measures To Prevent Antibiotic Resistance As Threat Continues To Grow

Inter Press Service: Resistance to Antibiotics: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
“The growing resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials due to their overuse and misuse both in humans and animals has become an alarming global threat to public health, food safety, and security, causing the deaths of 700,000 people each year. … The good news is that now more and more countries have adopted measures to prevent the excessive and wrong use of antimicrobials. The bad ones are that these drugs continue to be intensively utilized to accelerate the growth of animals, often for the sake of obtaining greater commercial benefits. According to the first annual survey conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and … the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), more than 6.5 billion people — over 90 percent of the world’s population — now live in country that has in place, or is developing, a national action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR)…” (Kamal, 12/6).

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Countries Implementing Policies, Taking Actions To Force Companies To Reduce Sugar, Salt, Fat In Effort To Address NCDs

Financial Times: Manufacturers respond to health edicts in food and drink recipes
“…President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka marked World Diabetes Day in November by joining a walk in the capital city of Colombo, as he has for the past eight years. This time, however, the country’s president did something unusual. During a speech, he brandished the distinctive green pack of Milo, a popular chocolate malt drink manufactured by Nestlé and aimed at children, demanding the world’s biggest food company reduce the product’s sugar content. … In response, Nestlé said that over the past five years it had cut the amount of added sugar in Milo by 32 percent and that the drink now contains less than five percent sucrose — equivalent to two teaspoons of sugar. The public spat marked a new front in a battle that has gradually moved from nutritional experts and health-conscious consumers to politicians, who are increasingly taking legislative action to force companies to go easy on sugar, salt, and fat in foods…” (Daneshkhu, 12/6).

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Pilot Testing For Effectiveness Of RTS,S Malaria Vaccine To Begin In 2018 In Ghana, Kenya, Malawi

The Economist: Saving the children
“…The coming year will see the widespread testing of the first effective vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most deadly type of malaria. The vaccine, called RTS,S, will be given exclusively to children. It has been under development since 2001 by a collaboration between Glaxo SmithKline, a British drug company, and PATH, an American global-health charity. … Although the deployment of RTS,S in 2018 — in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi — will only be a pilot scheme intended to test the vaccine’s effectiveness in the rough and tumble of African clinical life, it will be a big one…” (Carr, December 2017).

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3 Studies Assess Impact Of Severe Flu In Developing Countries

CIDRAP: Studies spotlight heavy burden of severe flu in developing nations
“Three new studies shed more light on the burden of flu hospitalizations and deaths in developing countries, one a meta-analysis that compared levels of serious illnesses in high- and lower-income countries, and others that looked at severe infections in Rwanda and deaths in Bangladesh. The reports were published in the Dec. 2 early online edition of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses…” (Schnirring, 12/4).

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Philippines Threatens To Sue Sanofi Over Dengue Vaccine

Financial Times: Philippines threatens Sanofi with legal action over dengue vaccine
“The Philippines plans to sue Sanofi over its dengue fever vaccine in response to the French drugmaker’s warning that the drug could lead to severe infections in some cases, the country’s health secretary said on Thursday. … [Francisco Duque, the health secretary,] also said that the Philippines would seek both a refund of vaccines it had not used and an indemnity fund if cases of vaccinated children manifesting severe symptoms were identified…” (Reed/Agnew, 12/7).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Zambia’s multipronged strategy for eliminating malaria (Jerving, 12/7).

The Guardian: Children bear ‘disproportionate lethal impact’ of Syrian war, warns study (McVeigh, 12/7).

Reuters: Indonesia fights ‘extraordinary’ diphtheria outbreak that has killed 32 (Kapoor, 12/7).

WHO: Diphtheria is spreading fast in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (12/6).

WHO: Dementia: number of people affected to triple in next 30 years (12/7).

Xinhua News: 515 cholera cases recorded in Zambian capital (12/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Has Critical Role To Play In Ensuring Women's Sexual, Reproductive Rights, Addressing Gender-Based Violence

HuffPost: How One Woman In Uganda Is Speaking Out Against Gender-Based Violence
Seema Jalan, executive director at Universal Access Project

“…Women and girls who experience gender-based violence have had their basic human rights violated and are at increased risk of a myriad of other sexual and reproductive health threats, including unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. … Gender-based violence is exacerbated in humanitarian emergencies and conflicts, where violence and rape are used as a tactic of war and displaced women and girls are at increased risk in the midst of chaos. … [T]he U.S. has a critical role to play in ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls worldwide, including standing up against gender-based violence. Bipartisan leaders in Congress have taken an important first step in re-introducing the International Violence Against Women Act. But the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule and the defunding of UNFPA, two harmful actions by the U.S. administration, jeopardize the work of international gender-based violence programs … In adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, 193 countries — including the United States — agreed that the world should leave no one behind. It’s time we live up to those goals. Every person, every story counts” (12/6).

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Pakistan Must Declare Population Control A National Emergency, Welfare Of Women Should Be At Center Of Population Planning

DAWN: Population emergency
Roshaneh Zafar, founder and managing director of Kashf Foundation

“There is no doubt that conducting a population census is an important planning and development tool for a country’s policymakers. … How­ever, for a child born in Pakistan today the census highlights some crucial aspects: geography to a large extent will determine future opportunities, while gender will determine the access to resources. … Unfortunately, for the Pakistani government, all the development planning for the last 19 years has been done without knowledge about the actual growth or size of the population. … The only path towards progress and improving Pakistan’s dire socioeconomic conditions is through declaring population control a national emergency, while ensuring that the welfare of women is kept at the center of any population planning strategy. Similarly, based on reliable census data, Pakistan needs to devise well-knit, objective policies to adequately plan growth and solve the country’s apparently insurmountable socioeconomic problems. It is hoped that the government realises its priorities and responsibilities” (12/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

FCAA Report Finds Overall HIV/AIDS Philanthropic Funding Increased In 2016

FCAA: Philanthropic Support to Address HIV/AIDS in 2016
Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) released their annual report on philanthropic funding for HIV/AIDS efforts. The report finds that “HIV/AIDS-related giving among private philanthropic organizations in 15 countries totaled approximately $680 million in 2016, representing a two percent increase ($16 million) from 2015, and the highest amount of disbursements to date. … However, although we saw a boost in total funding, the overall trend is showing decreases from the majority of funders” (12/7).

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WHO Supports South Africa's Decision To Pass Law Taxing Sugary Drinks

WHO: WHO commends South African parliament decision to pass tax bill on sugary drinks
“The South African Parliament has taken a brave and powerful step towards promoting the health of the country’s citizens and reducing diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, by passing a bill [on Tuesday] to implement a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, according to Dr. Rufaro Chatora, WHO’s Representative to South Africa…” (12/6).

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Blog Post Discusses Role Of Human Rights In Reaching Global Health Goals

BMC Blog: Human Rights Day: Advancing Human Rights for Global Health through the World Health Organization
Benjamin Mason Meier, associate professor of global health policy, and the Zachary Taylor Smith, distinguished chair in public policy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues discuss the importance of International Human Rights Day, which takes place annually on December 10th. The authors examine “the context of human rights as a basis for the advancement of global health,” and write, “The celebration of International Human Rights Day provides a reminder that human rights are universal and inalienable, and yet are all too often flouted in meeting health goals, raising an imperative to take stock of how far global actors have come in delivering on the right to health, health-related human rights, and rights-based approaches to health” (12/6).

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Brookings Post Examines IMF Report On Income, Health Inequality In Sub-Saharan Africa

Brookings Institution: Figures of the week: Inequality in health and education outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa
Dhruv Gandhi, research assistant for the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings, discusses the 2017 IMF Fiscal Monitor report, which “addresses trends in income inequality, its impact on health and educational outcomes, and policy options to address those gaps,” and highlights three figures from the report showing sub-Saharan Africa’s rankings compared to other regions (12/6).

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