KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

State, USAID Working To Develop Implementation Plan For Mexico City Policy; NGOs Remain Confused

U.S. News & World Report: Global Gag Order Leaves NGOs Confused, U.S. Agencies Scrambling
“Weeks after President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum banning federal funds for foreign nonprofits that perform or advise patients about abortion, the effects of the order are still not clear because officials in the U.S. and abroad are still trying to figure out how to implement it. Until that happens, officials at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development say, there will be no changes to the distribution of U.S. federal funds. … State Department and USAID officials say the agencies are working together to develop a plan, but would not say what sort of guidance, if any, they received from the Trump administration on how to implement the order. Meanwhile, representatives from foreign and domestic NGOs say they are worried millions of people will die as a result of the executive order…” (Cakir, 2/14).

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Australia To Provide $7.3M To International Planned Parenthood Federation; Move Seen By Many As Rebuke To Mexico City Policy Reinstatement

Devex: Australia responds to the global gag rule
“Australia [Wednesday] announced $9.5 million Australian dollars ($7.3 million) in funding for the International Planned Parenthood Foundation. The move was seen by many as a pointed rebuke to President Donald Trump’s controversial reinstatement of a strengthened ‘global gag rule,’ which bars any foreign NGO that offers or advises on abortion from receiving U.S. funds. The announcement by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the 2017 Australasian Aid Conference, in Canberra on Feb. 15, was made in a keynote address that pointedly spoke to the importance of an aid program that supports women and girls…” (Cornish, 2/15).

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Anxiety, Urgency Build Over President Trump's Pick To Head USAID

POLITICO: Will Trump keep ‘America first’ with USAID pick?
“President Donald Trump’s pledge to put ‘America first’ could spell bad news for the federal agency that helps foreign countries during times of disaster, famine, and war. But the two people believed to be the leading candidates to head the United States Agency for International Development are at least giving the global do-gooder community some hope. Martin Silverstein, a former ambassador to Uruguay, and Mark Green, a former ambassador to Tanzania who also served in Congress, are considered by much of the international development community as qualified picks with significant experience abroad, and they are the only two people known to have met with Trump personally so far to talk about the administrator job. … But anxiety is building over what Trump will do with USAID, especially given his campaign rhetoric. … Meanwhile, a sense of urgency is growing…” (Kullgren, 2/13).

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News Outlets Continue To Report On Gates's Annual Letter, Couple's Discussion Of Foreign Aid Importance In Interviews

Business Insider: Bill Gates is worried about the risk Trump poses to global aid efforts
“Microsoft cofounder turned billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is worried about what President Donald Trump means for foreign aid efforts. On Tuesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation published their annual letter for 2017, outlining the work the organization is doing to improve ‘global health’…” (Price, 2/14).

Devex: What drives the Gates Foundation’s global health work? Data.
” … ‘The best investment any of us can ever make is in the lives of others,’ they wrote. ‘The returns are tremendous.’ But they said they want to make sure [Warren Buffett’s $30 billion] investment continues to pay higher returns, which means the foundation will have to save more lives in the future than it has in the past. The letter revealed the scope of the data-driven approach the foundation takes in its work on global health in order to try and fulfill that aim…” (Cheney, 2/15).

Forbes: Bill Gates Just Wrote A Valentine’s Love Letter To Warren Buffett
“…To commemorate [Warren Buffett’s $30 billion donation], Gates and his wife Melinda [Tuesday] released their annual letter, which outlines the priorities of their eponymous foundation, the world’s largest and most influential. They did so in the form of a missive addressed directly to Buffett. The Valentine’s Day release may be coincidental, but it’s fitting — it reads like a love letter…” (Lane, 2/14).

POLITICO: The Playbook Interview: Bill Gates
“…[T]he world’s richest man, who now focuses on global health and development through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has a newfound appreciation for the need to aggressively engage with American and foreign governments as he tries to fight disease and eradicate inequality around the world. ‘I’ve had to learn a lot about working with governments in this foundation role because we’re partnered together,’ Gates said in an expansive recent Playbook Interview at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offices in Seattle, touching on everything from the progress the nonprofit has made over the past 10 years on children’s health to the potential impact of Donald Trump’s presidency on their work…” (Palmer, 2/14).

Wall Street Journal: Gates Foundation Asks U.S. and Other Nations to Not Give Up on Foreign Aid
“Bill and Melinda Gates have a message to the U.S. and other nations that have recently signaled they will prioritize domestic needs: Don’t give up on foreign aid. … ‘We have new leadership in the U.S., so we need to engage with them. We have new leadership in the U.K., so we need to engage with them,’ Mr. Gates said in an interview. While the administration of President Donald Trump has yet to declare its stance on foreign health aid, Mr. and Mrs. Gates say they are concerned. ‘Of course I’m worried,’ Mr. Gates said. ‘What I’m hoping is that it remains enough of a priority that it at least stays as strong as it is’…” (McKay, 2/14).

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U.S. To Provide More Than $25M In Humanitarian Aid To Uganda To Assist With East African Refugee Influx

Agence France-Presse: U.S. to give Uganda $25 mln in aid for refugees
“The United States will give over $25 million in humanitarian aid to Uganda, to help the nation cope with a huge influx of refugees fleeing conflict in East Africa, the U.S. ambassador in Kampala said Tuesday. Uganda is hosting more than a million refugees, nearly 700,000 of whom escaped the brutal civil war raging in neighboring South Sudan since December 2013…” (2/14).

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NPR Launches Series On 'Killer Viruses,' Including Story On U.S.-Sponsored Virus Hunter Program

NPR: Why Killer Viruses Are On The Rise
“…We’re in the middle of Malaysia’s Borneo rain forest. [EcoHealth Alliance virus hunter Kevin Olival] has brought us here because this is the type of place where pandemics are born. HIV came from a rain forest. So did Ebola. Yellow fever. And Zika. … [Olival’s work is] part of a $200 million project called PREDICT, sponsored by the U.S. government and led by University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. The goal is to figure out the viruses that are lurking inside animals around the world. So we are ready when a new and potentially harmful virus jumps from animals into people and causes an outbreak…” (Doucleff/Greenhalgh, 2/14).

NPR: What Do You Want To Know About Pandemics? Submit A Question
“Goats and Soda is now running a series on pandemics. Dangerous viruses like Ebola and MERS are emerging in greater numbers than ever before. We’re looking at how pandemics start, how diseases jump from animals to humans, and why the number of newly discovered viruses is on the rise…” (2/14).

NPR: From Vector To Zoonotic: A Glossary For Infectious Diseases
“The world is in a hyperinfectious era. And that means there are a lot of words being tossed around that you might not be familiar with. Or maybe you have a general idea of what they mean but wish you knew more. Here are some key terms and definitions. And yes, there will be a quiz (coming in March so you have time to study)…” (Jacewicz, 2/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Continued Bipartisan U.S. Investment In Foreign Assistance Programs Can Benefit Both U.S., Aid Recipients

The Hill: Continued foreign assistance is a smart and easy win for the new administration
Paul Weisenfeld, executive vice president for international development at RTI International

“…Today’s assistance programs have embraced the best lessons of modern management: evidence-based programs focused on key priorities, applying context-appropriate technologies, and building ownership among a broad range of stakeholders to achieve sustainability. Working in partnership with other countries and putting these modern concepts into practice, U.S. development assistance has contributed to tremendous progress. … Americans should … feel confident that their investments are benefiting U.S. national interests. And while the impact of foreign assistance is vast, its price is surprisingly low. Total spending on foreign aid accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget, making it perhaps the best return on investment in national security. …[F]or more than a half century, Republicans and Democrats have agreed that foreign aid is an investment that pays off. What we’re doing is working, and my advice for the new administration is ‘be bold.’ … [E]fforts like PEPFAR and Feed the Future show that bold, smart programs can be transformative and benefit the United States and our aid recipients alike. Continuing this bipartisan investment in assistance will promote a safer and more prosperous world, and the United States will be better off for it” (2/14).

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Gates Foundation's Approach To 'Focus On Best Investments First' Serves As Lesson For Governments

Project Syndicate: Learning from Bill Gates
Bjørn Lomborg, visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

“…[An] analysis for Copenhagen Consensus shows that each dollar of Warren Buffett’s money spent by the Gates Foundation on vaccination, contraception, and nutrition is generating a return worth $45-120. Buffett is famous for his canny investments, but such a return — in development terms — is as phenomenal as any business achievement. Herein lies the lesson for governments. The Gates Foundation has a sharp-eyed focus on powerful investments that can achieve astounding results at low cost. If we can’t fix everything at once, we should start where we can do the most good. Contrast this with the United Nations’ approach to development. Its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — the important agenda that will shape the allocation of trillions of dollars of spending on government aid over the next 15 years — include an unmanageable 169 complex development targets. … The SDGs replaced the Millennium Development Goals, which comprised eight clear, simple promises such as halving global poverty, reducing child mortality, and getting children into school. The MDGs saved at least 21 million lives. It would be reductionist and wrong to suggest that the private sector succeeds at development aid and the public sector fails; many of the Gates Foundation’s greatest successes have resulted from partnerships with governments. But the most compelling argument for sustaining and increasing spending on development aid is to focus on the best investments first. The Gates Foundation’s approach should be an inspiration” (2/14).

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Innovation, Partnerships, Political Will Crucial For Continuing Progress Against Infectious Diseases, Addressing Rising NCDs

New Dawn Liberia: Confronting the Next Global Health Challenge
Jörg Reinhardt, chair of the Novartis Board of Directors

“…[W]hile mortality rates from infectious diseases are declining, developed countries’ sedentary lifestyles, tobacco use, and poor diets are catching on in the developing world, and [noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)] such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are increasing at an alarming rate. … The challenge for governments and global health agencies is to continue making progress against infectious diseases, while also addressing the rising NCD threat. Fortunately, we can apply lessons from the successful fight against infectious diseases to the emerging fight against NCDs. … For starters, we need innovation. … Beyond innovation, we need strong partnerships to manage NCDs and ensure that patients have access to the treatment they need. … A third lesson to take from the fight against infectious diseases is that political commitment is crucial. … Through innovation, dynamic partnerships to strengthen health systems, and political will, the world can sustain the gains made against infectious disease, while also effectively combating NCDs” (February 2017).

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Veterinarians Play 'Pivotal Role' In Defense Against Animal-Borne Diseases

The Hill: Veterinarians: Warriors in the battle against disease
Arve Lee Willingham, associate dean for research and postgraduate studies and professor of One Health at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

“…60 percent of all human diseases are [transmitted by animals]. … Who’s manning the front lines against these diseases? Increasingly, veterinarians. … The medical and veterinary communities increasingly recognize that the health and well-being of animals, humans, and the environment are inextricably linked — a concept known as ‘One Health.’ Veterinary schools are at the forefront in training their students to tackle these ‘one health’ crises. … The health of our ecosystems requires harmony between human health, animal heath, and a healthy environment. Veterinarians play a pivotal role in the defense against animal-borne diseases that threaten our physical and financial health. It’s up to veterinary schools to equip their students to think outside the box for this battle” (2/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Council Releases Congressional Briefing Book Highlighting U.S. Leadership In Global Health

Global Health Council: Global Health Council Launches Global Health Briefing Book for U.S. Congress
“Global Health Council (GHC) will release its publication Global Health Works: Maximizing U.S. Investments for Healthier and Stronger Communities [Wednesday] at a launch event on Capitol Hill. This biennial publication provides a comprehensive set of statistics and impact stories illustrating how the United States has been a leader in global health over the past decade. There are 18 briefs in total that address some of the most pressing global health issues, from maternal and child health to global health security. This resource builds the case for global health across multiple priorities and stakeholders…” (Muradali, 2/15).

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Blog Post Highlights Importance Of Understanding Interconnectedness Of Agriculture, Global Health

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: Global Health & Global Agriculture: Emerging Diseases and Agriculture’s Expanding Footprint
Marcus Glassman, research associate with the Chicago Council’s Global Food and Agriculture Program, writes, “[A]s populations swell and agriculture’s footprint sprawls, there are some real, and serious, public health consequences,” including “spillover,” when animal diseases jump to humans. Glassman provides several examples of zoonotic diseases appearing in humans, concluding, “[I]t’s … important to understand the interconnectedness of agriculture and public health, and to better see how we in agriculture are part of an even bigger picture than feeding the world” (2/14).

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CGD Blog Post Examines Results Of Systematic Review On Cash Transfer Programs, Family Planning

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: New Systematic Review on Cash Transfers and Contraceptive Use — Good Research and Bad Advice?
Tia Palermo, social policy specialist at UNICEF, and Amanda Glassman, chief operating officer and senior fellow at CGD, discuss the results of a recently published systematic review on cash transfer programs and their impact on family planning, writing, “We commend [the authors’] efforts to summarize this important literature and second their call for more research on the topic, however we strongly disagree with their concluding recommendation to condition transfers on having no more than two children. This undermines women’s and couples’ rights to autonomy and reproductive freedom and may translate into dangerous unintended consequences … Further, it may not make sense to condition transfers on such specific objectives. … We do, however, agree with the authors’ recommendation to simultaneously address supply factors for better outcomes” (2/14).

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WHO Committee Recommends Extension Of Polio As Public Health Emergency Of International Concern

WHO: Twelfth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2015) regarding the international spread of poliovirus
“The twelfth meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the international spread of poliovirus was convened via teleconference by the director general on 7 February 2017. … The committee unanimously agreed that the international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and recommended the extension of the Temporary Recommendations for a further three months…” (2/13).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 305 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including a news article on the selection of a new executive director, an analysis on global health financing mechanisms, and an announcement of a new issue brief by the Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that “makes the case for the U.S. continuing to invest in global health generally, and in the Global Fund” (2/15).

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From KFF

Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Updated Fact Sheet On U.S. Government, Global TB Efforts

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Government and Global Tuberculosis Efforts
This fact sheet explains the U.S. government’s role in addressing global tuberculosis (TB), including the history of U.S. involvement and funding trends (2/14).

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