KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House Expresses Concern Over Amendment In SFOPs Bill That Would Require USAID Contractors To Adhere To Obama-Era Anti-Discrimination Law

Roll Call: Foreign aid rider tangles up final spending talks
“…[T]he White House is raising concerns in year-end spending talks about language secured by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in the Senate’s State-Foreign Operations bill they fear could cut out faith-based aid groups from U.S. Agency for International Development contracts. Shaheen argues the provision in the bill would simply require USAID contractors to adhere to current law, which stipulates they can’t deny services to individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, political affiliation, or other factors. The Shaheen amendment would require USAID to notify the committee of instances where contractors receiving family planning, reproductive health, or global HIV/AIDS program funds run afoul of an Obama-era regulation prohibiting discrimination against potential aid recipients…” (Shutt, 12/6).

Link to individual story

HIV Prevention Group Files Petition With U.S. Patents Office Alleging Gilead Delayed Improved HIV Drug Development To Gain Profits From Older Medicines

Washington Post: Gilead delayed safer HIV drug to extend monopoly profits, advocates allege
“…An HIV-prevention group called PrEP4All Collaboration filed a petition Wednesday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office contending Gilead knew its new, improved drug — approved in 2015 and now part of Gilead’s combination therapies Genvoya and Descovy — was safer. But it alleged Gilead postponed development so it could continue to gain monopoly profits from its older combination HIV drugs, including Viread and Truvada, for a longer period, before those drugs went off patent and faced generic competition. Gilead used the delaying tactic even though the older drugs posed more risks to bone and kidney health, PrEP4All alleged…” (Rowland, 12/5).

Link to individual story

Inaugural African Conference On NTDs Calls For Increased Efforts, Broader Partnerships To Eliminate Diseases

Health Policy Watch: First African Conference On Neglected Diseases Calls For Increased Efforts To Tackle The Challenges
“An International Conference on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) ended in Nairobi on Friday with calls for increased research, resources, and strengthened cross border partnerships to accelerate the elimination of the diseases. The three-day inaugural conference in Africa brought together some 230 participants including scientists, researchers, policy makers, and pharmaceutical companies from 19 countries…” (Nzwili, 12/6).

Link to individual story

Corruption Hinders Efforts To Achieve SDGs, Must Be Eliminated, U.N. Official Says On International Anti-Corruption Day

U.N. News: Corruption thwarts attempts to build a better world and ‘must be fought by all, for all’
“As we enter a decade of ambitious action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stepping up efforts to eradicate corruption and promote good governance is ‘essential … to deliver on our global pledge to leave no one behind,’ the U.N. anti-crime chief has said. ‘Corruption affects people in their daily lives,’ said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in his statement for International Anti-Corruption Day, which is commemorated annually on 9 December…” (12/8).

Link to individual story

Samoa Measles Outbreak Death Toll Reaches 68; Nearly 90% Of Eligible People Vaccinated, Officials Say

Reuters: Samoa says almost 90% of people vaccinated against measles after deadly outbreak
“Samoa said on Saturday nearly 90% of eligible people had been vaccinated against measles as it lifted a two-day curfew imposed amid an outbreak that has killed 65 in recent weeks. There were, however, 103 new cases of measles reported since Friday, Samoa’s Health Ministry said it a statement…” (Kelly, 12/6).

VOA: Samoa’s Measles Death Toll Rises to 68
“Samoa said Sunday its death toll from measles has risen to 68, with three fatalities recorded in the previous 24 hours. The Health Ministry has confirmed 4,581 cases of the disease. Most of the victims have been young children…” (12/8).

Washington Post: If the U.S. had Samoa’s current level of measles cases, there would now be more than 7 million infected Americans
“…Whereas flawed health-care systems have been associated with surges in measles cases in some countries, the key reason for Samoa’s woes appear rooted in recent anti-vaccine activism, which pushed vaccination rates to dangerously low levels, partially because two nurses mixed vaccines with liquid muscle relaxant instead of water, which caused the deaths of two infants there in 2018. Even though the two responsible nurses were sentenced to prison, the country’s immunization coverage dropped below 40 percent that year, amid mounting distrust in government vaccination programs…” (Noack/Berger, 12/6).

Additional coverage of the measles outbreak in Samoa is available from ABC and Washington Post.

Link to individual story

Malaysia Reports First Polio Case In 27 Years, Begins Vaccination Campaign

AFP: Polio returns to haunt Malaysia after almost 30 years
“Malaysia has reported its first polio case in 27 years, health authorities said Sunday, announcing a three-month-old baby had been diagnosed on Borneo island…” (12/8).

AP: Malaysia vaccinating for polio after first case in 27 years
“Malaysia began a vaccination campaign in a rural town on Borneo island after a 3-month-old boy was confirmed to have polio in the country’s first case of the highly infectious virus in 27 years…” (12/9).

Reuters: Malaysia reports first case of polio since 1992
“…Malaysia was declared polio-free in 2000, after reporting its last known case of the disease in 1992. Its resurgence comes just months after the Philippines, north of Borneo, reported its first cases of polio since 1993 in September…” (Latiff, 12/8).

Link to individual story

Violence Continues To Hinder DRC Ebola Response; Survivor Falls Ill 2nd Time, Officials Say, Unsure Of Reinfection Or Relapse

CIDRAP News: More Ebola cases noted as conflict still hinders response
“Two more Ebola infections were reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [Friday], with the World Health Organization (WHO) detailing some of effects that attacks and insecurity have had on the response in recent weeks and a key response group pulling staff out of one health zone…” (Schnirring, 12/6).

Reuters: Congo authorities say Ebola survivor falls ill a second time
“An Ebola survivor has fallen ill with the disease for a second time in eastern Congo, the Congolese health authorities said on Sunday, saying it was not yet clear if it was a case of relapse or reinfection. … There have been no documented cases of reinfection but some researchers consider it to be at least a theoretical possibility, while the recurrence of a previous infection is considered extremely rare…” (Mahamba/Holland, 12/8).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and related stories is available from AFP, New Humanitarian, and NPR.

Link to individual story

More News In Global Health

Devex: A ‘new generation of inequalities’ requires sharper measurement, UNDP chief says (Lieberman, 12/9).

Financial Times: FT Health: Regenerative Medicine (Multiple authors, 12/8).

The Guardian: Nepal makes first ‘period hut’ arrest after woman dies during banned custom (Budhathoki, 12/6).

Health Policy Watch: Cancer Organizations Across Latin America Vow To Intensify Action Against Expected ‘Tsunami’ Of New Cancer Deaths (12/5).

New York Post: How Peru forced poor women to get sterilized — and robbed one mother of her life (Mosher, 12/7).

Reuters: Health experts warn of emerging threat of Nipah virus (Kelland, 12/8).

U.N. News: ‘We all must step up’ collective action on disability inclusion — U.N. deputy chief (12/7).

VOA: Drones: A New Weapon in the Fight Against Malaria in Tanzania (Diallo, 12/6).

Link to individual story

Editorials and Opinions

Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Editorials Discuss Measles Outbreak In Samoa, Importance Of Vaccination

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Measles outbreak in Samoa shows what can happen when vaccine opponents prevail
Editorial Board

“In July 2018, two young children died shortly after being injected with a contaminated measles-mumps-rubella vaccine in a clinic in Samoa. A nurse, it turned out, had mixed the vaccine powder with expired muscle relaxant instead of water. … [A]nti-vaccination activists seized upon this sad story to push their false narrative that immunizations are more harmful to children than the diseases they are designed to protect against. … Vaccination rates in the Pacific island nation plummeted to just 31%, far below the 95% immunization rate that public health officials say is necessary to prevent a disease from spreading through a community. … An estimated 2% of the population [in Samoa] has been infected, killing 63 people as of Friday afternoon … This is a stark and sad illustration of what can happen when the agents of fear and misinformation (Robert F. Kennedy Jr., we are looking at you) convince caring parents to shun childhood vaccinations. Too often the fact that measles and other preventable infectious diseases are extremely effective killers gets lost in the debates focusing on parental rights and the mostly unfounded fears about ‘vaccine injuries’…” (12/7).

Washington Post: The measles outbreak in Samoa must be a lesson for the rest of the world
Editorial Board

“The tragedy now unfolding in the Pacific island state of Samoa is a case study of how wrongheaded information about vaccines can lead to injury and death. … [I]t has suffered a major outbreak of measles that has led to 68 deaths, most of them children. It could and should have been prevented, and must be taken as a lesson for the rest of the world. … The Post reports that anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s advocacy group, Children’s Health Defense, made several Facebook posts in July and August 2018 that questioned the safety of the vaccines the infants received. The charity did not update the posts to explain the nurses’ error to its audience. A recent study showed that 54 percent of the advertisements spreading false information about vaccines on Facebook were bought by two groups, one of them Mr. Kennedy’s. Mr. Kennedy on Nov. 19 wrote to the Samoan prime minister again raising a question about the safety of the vaccines, and has visited Samoa. … What is dangerous, as the Samoa crisis demonstrates, is to spread false information that leaves a community seriously vulnerable. The World Health Organization reports another major surge in measles around the globe over the past year. Bad information that leads people to hesitate about vaccines is a killer” (12/8).

Link to individual story

Fourth Industrial Revolution Technology Can Help Collect, Effectively Use Data To Achieve UHC, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: Achieving UHC with fourth industrial revolution technology
John Sargent, co-founder of BroadReach

“…Health care leaders operating at all points along the continuum of care understand that UHC by 2030 will require them to do a lot more with the same amount of resources. Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR, technology, enables more efficient, effective management and implementation of health resources and interventions — this is where much of its application to achieving UHC by 2030 can be seen today. The real catalytic potential of 4IR technology — in combination with better management of resources — is its ability to fundamentally change models of care so that patients are empowered to take greater ownership of their health care, with a focus on prevention. … [D]ata, as it relates to a health program’s operations, is an invaluable resource; it can be used to optimize the way a health program is run and thereby increase the program’s impact in communities. … Data-driven insight can provide both a broad and deep organizational oversight for leaders and — if captured in real-time and analyzed shortly thereafter, e.g. daily and weekly — it enables more dynamic management…” (12/9).

Link to individual story

Community Input Vital To Build Trust Of Humanitarian Actors, IFRC President Writes In Opinion Piece

New Humanitarian: To repair trust, we have to listen and then act
Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

“There is a troubling gap between the way humanitarian actors see themselves and the way they are perceived by the people they set out to help. We must close this divide if we are to rise to the challenge of humanitarian action in the 21st century. … When people don’t trust us, then our ability to help them — to do what we are supposed to do — is eroded. And, for people affected by crises, the result can be deadly if it means they forgo lifesaving services. … To build trust, we need to be representative of the communities we serve. … To build trust, we have to listen, and we have to act. We need to do better. We need to make sure that people are able to participate in the decisions that affect them. … As we put people’s feedback at the heart of our operations, and hopefully start shifting the power imbalances that continue to exist, not only will we gain the trust of the people we serve, but we will ensure that our work is relevant and impactful…” (12/6).

Link to individual story

Vladimir Putin Should Take Greater Lead In HIV Prevention, Opinion Piece Says

The Independent: Vladimir Putin bears responsibility for the HIV epidemic facing Russia
Iskander Yasaveev, doctor of sociology and senior researcher at the Center for Youth Studies at the Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg

“…Vladimir Putin has not spoken about HIV during his third presidential term, and is silent about it to this day. … Since 2010, there have been no presidential statements about HIV on the Kremlin website. … Putin’s inattention to the problem is one of the factors contributing to the epidemic. In recent years, there has been no ‘top-down’ signal from the established hierarchy of power that HIV/AIDS is important. … Another circumstance that contributes to the HIV epidemic in Russia is the traditionalist attitudes of Putin and his entourage. … Instead of sexual education, the government suggests young people follow the slogan: ‘The main weapon against HIV is love and fidelity.’ … Putin, through his silence and traditionalism, bears a significant part of the responsibility for the HIV epidemic in Russia” (12/8).

Link to individual story

From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Experts Examine U.K. Political Party Manifestos For ODA, Global Health Mentions

Center for Global Development: U.K. Elections: What’s News on Global Health So Far?
Amanda Glassman, executive vice president and senior fellow; Kalipso Chalkidou, director of global health policy and senior fellow; and Nurilign Ahmed, senior policy analyst, all with the Center for Global Development, examine U.K. political party manifestos for mentions of official development assistance (ODA) and global health in advance of the U.K. election next week. The authors write, “Despite the commitment to 0.7 percent of GDP, what we did not see is an intention (and some idea of the ‘how’) to boost impact of the U.K. ODA budget in reducing poverty and improving health and eradicating disease. … The recent international push on health systems strengthening and universal health coverage do not appear anywhere outside of domestic policies for the NHS, and perhaps more concerningly, there is little mention of the global issues like pandemic threats and antibiotic resistance that require global and concerted efforts — even treaties as well as serious investment — to enable a more effective response than that seen to date” (12/6).

Link to individual story

BMJ Releases New Collection Issue On NCDs

The BMJ: Solutions for non-communicable disease prevention and control
The BMJ released a new collection issue focused on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). According to the BMJ website, the issue “brings together a wide and diverse author group, to focus on key issues and suggest scalable solutions to accelerate the implementation of the high-level commitments made in the three U.N. general assembly meetings. As this collection expands over time, it looks to cover the major issues in prevention and control of NCDs, and to provide a holistic perspective on the current challenges and scope of future action to tackle NCDs and improve health worldwide” (December 2019).

Link to individual story

Expert Examines Nigeria's Suspension, Reinstatement Of NGOs Operating In Country's Northeast

Council on Foreign Relations: Nigeria’s Feud With INGOs Is a Gift to Boko Haram. It Must End.
In this guest post, Bulama Bukarti, sub-Saharan Africa analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, discusses the suspension and reinstatement of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) operating in northeastern Nigeria. These organizations were accused by Nigeria’s government of providing support to Boko Haram while carrying out their aid efforts. Bukarti writes, “To stand a fair chance of defeating this brutal group, both the hard-power approach of the military, and the softer approach of INGOs, must be utilized and coordinated. Steps should be taken by both parties to reset their relationship and realign their efforts. Abuja and INGOs must see themselves as partners in their decade-long effort to defeat Boko Haram” (12/6).

Link to individual story

From the U.S. Government

NIH's Fogarty Center Publishes List Of 2019's Top Global Health Research Stories

NIH Fogarty International Center: Top global health research stories of 2019 from Fogarty and NIH
NIH’s Fogarty International Center released a list of the top global health research stories of 2019, as chosen by the editors and readers of the organization’s Global Health Matters newsletter (December 2019).

Link to individual story