KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Global Health Leaders Vow To Continue Multisectoral Collaborations, Encourage U.S. Foreign Aid Spending During Trump Administration

Devex: Global health leaders including WHO’s Margaret Chan call for teamwork in the face of an inward political turn
“Margaret Chan, outgoing director of the World Health Organization, is urging greater collaboration among global health organizations in the face of a challenging political environment in the United States. Speaking at an event hosted by the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health on Wednesday, Chan warned that the political climate made the work of public health more important than ever in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which she described as a ‘corrective strategy’ to the root causes of inequality. … Global health organizations attending the event — which marked the university department’s 10th anniversary — echoed this call for collaboration. They described coalitions they have built across sectors, countries, and organizations as more necessary than ever in the face of an inward turn in politics and growing concerns regarding the direction of U.S. policy under President Donald Trump…” (Cheney, 2/9).

GeekWire: Melinda Gates on working with the Trump administration and the importance of foreign aid
“…Melinda Gates — one of the world’s leading philanthropists and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — said she hopes the Trump administration will be able to see the importance of [U.S. foreign aid]. ‘What you will continue to hear Bill and I say is that less-than-one-percent portion of the U.S. government budget is highly effective,’ she said yesterday, at a talk celebrating the 10th anniversary of the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health. She also emphasized that the money isn’t just helping the recipients, but that foreign aid creates sustained stability across the world…” (McGrane, 2/9).

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Women's Rights Advocates Fear Trump Administration Could Roll Back Advances In Gender Equality, Family Planning Access, Economic Empowerment

PRI: The future of global women’s rights under Trump? ‘It could be devastating.’
“…Trump’s team wanted details about the U.S. State Department’s spending on gender equality, and names of people whose primary function was to promote gender issues. … Trump has also threatened to end funding for the U.N. and specifically the U.N. Population Fund, which provides contraceptives to tens of thousands of women in Africa and in some of the poorest regions of the globe. … All of this has rattled the tightly knit, yet influential world of women’s rights advocates in Washington, D.C., many of whom worked closely with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state and considered her a champion of global women’s issues. Some among these groups accuse the current administration of showing little interest in advancing women’s rights — others fear something worse: a conspiracy-laden, anti-abortion-driven agenda to dismantle decades of work promoting women’s inclusion in national security, access to family planning, and economic empowerment…” (Asquith, 2/9).

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The Guardian Speaks With International NGO Officials About Mexico City Policy's Impacts

The Guardian: ‘There will be more deaths’: NGOs on Trump’s anti-abortion rule
“Three days after his inauguration, Donald Trump reinstated the ‘global gag’ rule, which … prevents [foreign] NGOs from using private funds for abortion services, from referring women to groups that provide abortions, and even from offering information on services. We asked NGOs around the world to tell us how the policy impacted them in the past, and what it means for their work today…” (Purvis, 2/9).

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CSIS Global Food Security Expert Discusses New Report In Devex Interview

Devex: Q&A: Emmy Simmons, author of ‘Recurring Storms’ report, on food insecurity and political instability
“In a new report, ‘Recurring Storms: Food Insecurity, Political Instability, and Conflict,’ Emmy Simmons, senior adviser on the Global Food Security Project at Center for Strategic and International Studies, highlighted recent trends in food insecurity and its connection to political instability. She recommended the establishment of an annual high-level summit to review progress on the global food crisis and called for more collaboration between stakeholders. In this way the international development community can take actions to reduce the political, social, and economic shocks caused by events associated with food insecurity. Devex talked with Simmons to learn more about her research and recommendations for the global development community…” (Ehidiamen, 2/10).

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Multiple U.S. Billionaires Funding Global Health Initiatives

International Business Times: A Cure For All Disease? Mark Zuckerberg Isn’t Only Billionaire Trying To Save Lives, So Are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, And Ray Dalio
“Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the only billionaire trying to eradicate diseases. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bridgewater Associates Chairman Ray Dalio also have ponied up big bucks to eliminate such scourges as polio. Berkshire Hathaway genius Warren Buffett has donated billions…” (Kreiter, 2/9).

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Cambodia Reports 1 Malaria-Related Death In 2016; Number Of Reported Cases Down 53% Compared With 2015

VOA News: Cambodia Reports Just One Malaria Death in 2016
“Cambodia has reported only one death from malaria in 2016, down from nearly 400 a decade ago. Huy Rekol, director of the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM), said the figures showed a drop of 53 percent in overall reported malaria cases compared with 2015, from 51,262 to 24,237 last year. Rekol said the patient who died of malaria in 2016 contracted the blood disease in Thailand and was brought to Cambodia for treatment…” (Narin, 2/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Letter To Editor, Opinion Pieces Discuss Potential Implications Of Mexico City Policy Reinstatement, Expansion

New York Times: Letter to the Editor: The Gag Rule, Expanded
José Luis Castro, president and chief executive of Vital Strategies

“‘Supersizing’ the global gag rule to defund organizations with family planning activities not funded by the United States will render the world, and America, more vulnerable to the next global pandemic. … No country is a public health island, and Zika, Ebola, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or the next health threat will not stop at America’s shores. These health crises must be stopped at the source by strong health systems and smart policies before they balloon out of control. The United States funds some of this critical work; defunding it because an organization’s brief may include family planning with abortion services is shortsighted. Even if one is not swayed by the strong evidence that comprehensive reproductive health services are critical for women’s health and for societies, supersizing the global gag rule threatens America’s security and may harm the global economy and stability if a pandemic should strike. We urge the administration to rescind this ill-advised rule” (2/9).

Huffington Post: Trump’s Expanded Global Gag Order Is Dangerously Restrictive
Jacquelyn Corley, Duke neurosurgery resident, global health advocate, and health care journalist

“…According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the Mexico City policy specifically targets organizations that provide abortions, but it also restricts reproductive health NGOs from providing advice and information about abortion, offering referrals for abortions, promoting policy changes or lobbying for legislation that promotes abortion, or conducting public information campaigns about abortion. … In 2003, President George W. Bush assured funds given to address other issues separate from family planning services would be secure, stating in his Mexico City policy memorandum funding for global HIV/AIDS programs and multilateral organizations that are associations of governments would not be at risk. With [President] Trump’s additions, however, all U.S. global health assistance, not just funds focused on family planning, must now comply with the order, KFF reports. … [F]unding is needed for reproductive health in developing nations and … any policy that limits foreign health aid is potentially destructive. Should the current global gag order remain in effect, its large scope will reach beyond reproductive health issues, making it likely there will be unnecessary and preventable deaths. This tragedy can and should be avoided…” (2/9).

New York Times: How the Trump Gag Rule Threatens Women’s Lives in Nepal
Subina Shrestha, journalist, filmmaker, and Nieman fellow at Harvard

“…As soon as abortion became legal in Nepal [in 2002], the Family Planning Association of Nepal, the largest organization providing contraceptives, lost part of its American funding [because of President George W. Bush’s reinstatement of the Mexico City policy]. It was doing pioneering work in expanding awareness of reproductive health and contraceptive use in Nepal. FPAN refused to renounce counseling or referrals on abortion. It was forced to lay off 60 health workers and give up its mobile health clinics on reproductive health in rural areas, and its capacity to provide contraceptives was substantially impaired. The group didn’t use American funds for abortion or abortion counseling, but it worked with government hospitals and clinics that provided the procedure. … In 2015, [FPAN] received a USAID grant of more than $5 million spread over four years. The grant helped [FPAN] train more than 80 health workers in three districts. They were to go from house to house to educate people on family planning, set up health camps, and screen for sexually transmitted infections and uterine cancer. If the Trump administration withholds funding, the program won’t take off. American aid has made a very valuable contribution to women’s health, but these policy reversals undermine it. Nepali women’s welfare is vulnerable to the whims of each new administration…” (2/9).

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Continuing PEPFAR In Africa Important Humanitarian Effort, Critical To U.S. Interests

New York Times: America First, in Africa
David Leonhardt, columnist at the New York Times

“…The Chinese government is financing and subsidizing $1 trillion in spending, mostly in low-income countries around the world. … It’s a wonderful development in many ways. It’s also a reminder of China’s rising strategic challenge to the United States. … Our country is not exactly in the midst of a sustained campaign of reaching out to the rest of the world. … On [Thursday’s] Op-Ed page, Bill Frist, the former Republican Senate leader, makes an urgent plea for continuing the PEPFAR program. … President Trump and some close aides have spoken favorably about PEPFAR, but the administration has also raised questions about its ‘massive’ (sic) cost. The overwhelming reason to continue PEPFAR is humanitarian. Yet it has the ancillary benefit of promoting American interests on a continent where our main rival for global influence is very active. As Frist writes: ‘PEPFAR is the greatest humanitarian effort undertaken by the United States in more than 60 years. But it also makes us safer by making afflicted countries stronger, more stable, and more grateful to us'” (2/9).

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International Attention On Zika Must Focus On Affected Individuals, Long-Term Consequences

The Lancet: Another kind of Zika public health emergency
Editorial Board

“…It would be tempting to laud the Zika response as a success and redirect attention to other emergent issues. To do so would ignore the continued spread of Zika virus and its under-appreciated long-term effects. As WHO shifts direction under a new director general, we need even bolder Zika leadership that keeps victims and their families firmly on our public health agenda. … As the world waits for a vaccine, public health efforts will necessarily focus on prevention in the form of mosquito control and travel advisories. But health agencies like WHO, public health researchers, and policymakers must also not forget the individuals affected. They require our unrelenting attention” (2/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

NIAID Director Discusses How Lessons Learned Over 5 U.S. Administrations Can Inform Future Responses To Health Threats

Health Affairs Blog: What Three Decades Of Pandemic Threats Can Teach Us About The Future
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), reflects on lessons learned during his more than 30-year tenure advising five presidents on public health and describes how the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama responded to public health crises. Fauci writes, “If history has taught us anything, it is that the new administration is likely to experience at least one infectious disease crisis of significance. We have learned from the past decades that it is important to have strong global surveillance systems; transparency and honest communication with the public; strong public health and health care infrastructure, or capacity building efforts where needed; coordinated and collaborative basic and clinical research; and the development of universal platform technologies to enable the rapid development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. We also have learned that it is essential to have a stable and pre-established funding mechanism to utilize during public health emergencies” (2/9).

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MFAN Partners Release Reports On Country Ownership

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: MFAN Partners Break New Ground in Measuring Aid Impact
Jill McArthur, program and membership coordinator at MFAN, discusses findings and recommendations from two new resources from MFAN partners on country ownership: a joint report from Oxfam America and Save the Children, which examines USAID and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) projects in Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, and Rwanda, and uses a jointly developed tool that “seeks to determine how country ownership helped: 1) enhance local leadership; 2) improve basic service delivery; and 3) forge new partnerships with the private sector to accelerate economic growth,” as well as a Center for Global Development report that “analyzes how USAID and MCC conceptualize and apply country ownership across their programs, featuring field research in Liberia, El Salvador, and Kosovo” (2/9).

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Family Planning Plays Important Role In Saving Women's Lives, Reducing Poverty, Lowering Carbon Footprint, Blog Post Says

The Life You Can Save: Trump’s Policy Threatens Reproductive Rights of Global Poor
Frances Kissling, co-founder of the Global Fund for Women and the Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health, and Ethics, lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, and fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, discusses the potential implications of President Trump’s reinstatement and expansion of the Mexico City policy. “For the most part, population size and growth and family planning have been under addressed in the movement for effective philanthropy. … Perhaps it’s time for effective philanthropy to take a closer look at the role family planning pays in saving women’s lives and well being as well as reducing poverty and our carbon footprint,” she writes (2/6).

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'Science Speaks' Blog Highlights Articles, Opinion Pieces Examining Importance Of U.S. Global Health Leadership

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: What we’re reading: Making the case for, maintaining the impact of U.S. global health leadership — abroad and at home
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses several recently published articles and opinion pieces examining global health policies under the Trump administration, including a piece published in Clinical Infectious Diseases by Sten Vermund of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, who “notes that attention to global disease responses was slight during the 2016 presidential campaign but is critical to U.S. stature in a safer, healthier world” (2/9).

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