KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

USAID Reviewing Agreements With Oxfam In Light Of Misconduct Reports

Devex: USAID chief orders review of all current Oxfam agreements
“U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green has ordered a review of all of the agency’s current agreements with Oxfam, in response to reports of sexual misconduct committed by Oxfam employees…” (Igoe, 2/16).

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Lancet Examines CDC's Reduction In Pandemic Prevention Activities, Leadership Changes, U.S. Global Health Budget

The Lancet: CDC faces leadership changes, potential spending cuts
“The CDC has indicated it will reduce its foreign presence, and proposed budget cuts make some fear its core functions are threatened. Susan Jaffe, The Lancet’s Washington correspondent, reports…” (Jaffe, 2/17).

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U.S. Senators Push For Funds To Develop Universal Flu Vaccine

Associated Press/U.S. News & World Report: Senators Call for $1B for Flu Vaccine Development
“There’s a push in Washington to spend $1 billion over the next five years to encourage the development of a universal flu vaccine…” (2/17).

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U.N., IMF, Other Partners Call For Strengthening Of Tax Systems, Domestic Resources In Developing Countries To Help Finance Achievement Of SDGs

U.N. News: Efficient national tax systems critical for sustainable development and inclusive growth, urge U.N., partners
“Countries need to strengthen the effectiveness of their tax regimes to unleash much-needed domestic resources to ensure the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the promotion of inclusive economic growth, United Nations and as key international economic and financial organizations have urged…” (2/16).

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New UNICEF Report Examines Newborn Deaths Globally

Associated Press/ABC News: UNICEF says Pakistan is riskiest country for newborns
“The U.N. children’s agency in a report released Tuesday singled out Pakistan as the riskiest country for newborns, saying that out of every 1,000 children born in Pakistan, 46 die at birth. … The report, with its dismal figures that show South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa as the worst places for a child to be born, is part of UNICEF’s new campaign, launched to raise awareness to bring down neonatal mortality rates…” (Gannon, 2/20).

The Guardian: Newborn survival rates in U.S. only slightly better than in Sri Lanka
“The risk of dying as a newborn in the U.S. is only slightly lower than the risk for babies in Sri Lanka and Ukraine, according to UNICEF. A report by the U.N. children’s agency found that five newborn babies die around the world every minute, or about 2.6 million every year. The figure is described as ‘alarmingly high,’ particularly as 80 percent of these deaths are from preventable causes. A million babies draw their last breath the same day they took their first. … The risk of dying as a newborn, which is closely linked to income level of countries, varies enormously. … But a country’s income explains only part of the story…” (McVeigh, 2/20).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: More newborns dying in West and Central Africa as world “fails poorest babies”
“More babies are dying each year in West and Central Africa even as child health improves overall, aid agencies said on Tuesday, calling the region’s newborn death rate a ‘hidden tragedy.’ Five of the 10 most dangerous countries to be born are in West and Central Africa, with infants there 50 times more likely to die within a month than if they were born in Japan or Iceland, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said in a report…” (Peyton, 2/20).

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NPR Examines Issues Surrounding Pox Virus Research

NPR: Did Pox Virus Research Put Potential Profits Ahead of Public Safety?
“In the brave new world of synthetic biology, scientists can now brew up viruses from scratch using the tools of DNA technology. The latest such feat, published last month, involves horsepox, a cousin of the feared virus that causes smallpox in people. Critics charge that making horsepox in the lab has endangered the public by basically revealing the recipe for how any lab could manufacture smallpox to use as a bioweapon. … For more than a decade, policymakers and biologists have been debating how to oversee new advances that might be misused to create germs that could — by accident or on purpose — start a global outbreak…” (Greenfieldboyce, 2/17)

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Malnutrition Deeply Interviews Expert On Nutrition Challenges Among Adolescent Girls

Malnutrition Deeply: Nutrition Community ‘Leaving Adolescent Girls Behind’
“Marie T. Ruel, the director of the poverty, health, and nutrition division of the International Food Policy Research Institute, believes the nutrition community cannot afford to ignore adolescent girls anymore. Ruel thinks these efforts need to be modeled along the 1,000 Days campaign, which prioritized the nutrition and care practices for mothers through pregnancy and the first two years of an infant’s life. Armed with the right advocacy and programming, the nutritional status of adolescent girls can be made a priority. The success in saving newborns and infants from malnutrition in the 1,000 Days campaign has created new challenges, including how to continue to protect these young people as children and as they move into adolescence. One particular concern is the nutritional health of adolescent girls. Once they leave infancy, girls have little interaction with the health system…” (Byatnal, 2/19).

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African Leaders Review Index To Help Monitor NTD Treatment, Progress

SciDevNet: Index adopted to track NTD treatment in Africa
“African leaders have adopted a new index that helps track progress in mass treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Five NTDs — lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, and trachoma — were added to African heads of states’ annual scorecard or index on disease progress last month (28 January), during the 30th African Union summit in Ethiopia…” (Hinneh, 2/16).

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More News In Global Health

BBC: Life after Ebola (Cunningham, 2/19).

Devex: UN to development community: Think urban for the SDGs (Scruggs, 2/16).

The Lancet: Yemeni health under relentless pressure (Devi, 2/17).

The Lancet: End of a cholera epidemic in South Sudan declared (Burki, 2/17).

New York Times: Lassa Fever Erupts in Nigeria (McNeil, 2/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: FEATURE-A side effect of tuberculosis in India: crippling debt (Nagaraj, 2/20).

Washington Post: Brazil battles yellow fever — and a ‘dangerous’ anti-vaccination campaign (Kaiser, 2/18).

Xinhua: Number of polio cases declines in Pakistan due to gov’t efforts (2/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trump Administration's Proposed Budget Does Not Reflect 'Values-Driven International Leadership'

The Globalist: Trump’s Budget Priorities: Crimes Against Humanity?
Frank Vogl, co-founder of Transparency International

“U.S. President Trump’s new budget proposes a dramatic cut in spending on diplomacy and economic assistance, while advocating further major boosts to defense outlays. … The plans highlight the increasing White House determination to find military solutions to the world’s ills. President Trump’s willful neglect of the vast humanitarian crises that now abound — the worst since World War Two — is a crime against humanity. … Now, under the leadership of President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the values-driven international leadership of the United States has been hurled aside. … The U.S. has long seen the United Nations as playing important roles in explicitly addressing humanitarian crises — no longer. … Worse still, the administration is encouraging some of the kleptocratic authoritarian leaders who are most responsible for the unfolding disasters. … From the ashes of World War Two, and the strident spread of communism, the United States sought to create order in a world of disorder. It pledged to promote freedom and democracy and human rights as the means to provide hope and opportunity to all peoples. … Now, President Trump is telling the world that those values are irrelevant to the goal of putting the United States first…” (2/19).

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U.S. Congress Should Ensure Robust Foreign Assistance Investment In Women, Girls

The Hill: We have too much to lose by not investing in women and girls
Rachel Clement and Teresa Casale, policy advocates at the International Center for Research on Women

“…This year’s [White House] budget proposal … and the message it sends about our commitment to the safety and health of those abroad and at home, and to supporting women and girls in particular, is nothing less than alarming. … Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the world’s biggest development and humanitarian challenges. … [T]his year’s proposal for the foreign assistance budget — which like last year proposes a cut of [about] a third — would have deadly consequences for women and girls if enacted. This proposal is on top of Trump’s expanded Mexico City Policy and completely defunding United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), one of the only organizations able to provide maternity care in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach places. … It is worth the penny of every dollar spent by the U.S. government to support girls to stay in school and to help women entrepreneurs, business owners, and small shareholder farmers to become more self-reliant. … Congress should act to ensure that strong investments in women and girls are made and that these are seen as investments with a high return on security, prosperity, and America’s own role on the global stage. There is too much to lose if we don’t” (2/18).

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U.S. Should Invest In The Protection Of Children In Conflict Zones

The Hill: Timing could not be worse to cut foreign assistance
Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children

“The White House is proposing a massive cut to the international affairs budget again this year. The timing could not be worse. More than 350 million children — more than the entire population of the United States — live in conflict zones today, and conflict is more dangerous for children now than at any time in the last 20 years. … Save the Children worked with the Peace Research Institute Oslo to study the new trends in warfare that are putting more children on the front lines of conflict, conducting one of the most comprehensive overviews of existing data on armed conflict and children to date. The War on Children report draws on case studies of children and their families in conflict-affected countries, and interviews with 40 experts, including former senior military officials, strategists and historians, legal experts and humanitarians. … Now is the time for the U.S. to work with governments and partners to uphold and enforce the international laws and standards agreed to by the global community after World War II. … The U.S. and its partners must hold accountable those who violate these laws and norms. … When we invest in the next generation’s safety, health, and education, we stop the cycle of violence and support stability in conflict affected regions. As we’ve heard directly from humanitarians, diplomats, and military officials alike, foreign assistance is a smart investment for all of us” (2/15).

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Opinion Piece Explores FDA's Priority Review Voucher Program For NTD Medicines

Financial Times: Getting medicines to the people who need them
Jeffrey Moe, professor of the Practice of Global Health at Duke University, and Kamran Rafiq, founder and communications director for the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

“A decade ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced a ‘priority review voucher’ (PRV) program to encourage the discovery of medicines for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affecting the world’s 1.5 billion poorest people. The scheme was an important step in that it provided an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to conduct research into NTD medicines they might otherwise not have undertaken. But it has been criticized because there is no incentive for the companies that develop new drugs to make them available to the people who need them. … Organizations such as the [Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi)] and [Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)] have criticized previous PRV awardees for pocketing the proceeds of voucher sales but not doing enough to get their drugs to patients, such as by pricing them appropriately or registering them in the countries where they are most needed. Now, however, the DNDi must practice what it preached, as it has become the most recent voucher winner for benznidazole, a drug used to treat Chagas disease, which has an estimated 8 million sufferers in poor countries. … [P]ublic commitment to increased access for poor patients through direct linkage to the voucher value demonstrates a novel approach: a voluntary access plan that does not require any action by the FDA. … Critics such as MSF say regulatory reform is essential. We disagree: we prefer the voluntary approach because the FDA does not have the skills to evaluate or monitor an access plan. … The DNDi, with its own voucher, can show the NTD community how to close the access gap in the PRV program without waiting for the U.S. Congress to make reforms that the FDA has neither the capacity nor the expertise to deliver” (2/15).

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The Lancet Discusses Germany's Role In Global Health

The Lancet: Germany’s contribution to global health
Mathias B. Bonk, founder and global health consultant and scientific writer at Think Global Health; Ole Döring, faculty at the Institute of Philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin; and Timo Ulrichs, Akkon University for Human Sciences

“Four years after the adoption of Germany’s first global health strategy, an expansion of Germany’s role in global health is being observed and praised. … However, Germany still has a long way to go. … We argue that global health requires a multidisciplinary, transnational approach that considers and cross-links the social, environmental, political, commercial, and other determinants of health. Therefore, global health needs to become part of Germany’s foreign policy agenda, and new approaches such as the introduction of a State Secretary for Global Health in the Chancellor’s office, measurable goals, and additional funding should become part of the 2018 update of the German global health strategy. Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education and research need to be scaled up substantially before Germany can show its full potential in this field.” This issue of The Lancet includes additional pieces on Germany’s role in global health (2/17).

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Heads Of Gates Foundation's 3 Global Programmatic Areas Answer 'Tough' Questions On Development

Devex: Opinion: The global development community asks tough questions. Here are the answers.
Chris Elias, president of Global Development; Rodger Voorhies, executive director of Global Growth & Opportunity; and Trevor Mundel, president of Global Health; all at the Gates Foundation

“Last week, Bill and Melinda Gates released their 10th annual letter, focused on the 10 toughest questions they receive in their work. To mark the occasion, the heads of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s three global programmatic areas — Global Development, Global Growth & Opportunity, and Global Health — answer the toughest questions they are asked. Here they are: Trevor Mundel, president of Global Health: Why don’t you invest more in fighting noncommunicable diseases? … Rodger Voorhies, Executive Director, Global Growth & Opportunity: Why does a foundation like yours engage with the private sector? Markets aren’t designed to serve the most marginalized. … Chris Elias, President, Global Development: Do you have too much influence over the World Health Organization?…” (2/19).

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Opinion Piece Discusses Oxfam Scandal, Haiti's History With Aid Organizations

Washington Post: For Haiti, the Oxfam scandal is just the latest in a string of insults
Joel Dreyfuss, columnist at the Washington Post

“By now, many Haitians must be asking themselves: What is the price we have to pay for foreign aid? The Oxfam sex scandal is just the latest humiliation heaped on this poor country by those who claim to be helping it. … Haitians have long known that foreign intervention — whether it be military or charitable — comes at a price to your sovereignty, as well as your dignity. … After the earthquake, Haiti was in no condition to monitor the thousands of NGOs that descended on the country, nor did it have an established mechanism to track the aid groups. A government starved of funds, even now, has little capacity to exercise oversight over hundreds of foreign organizations. … The best Haiti and other poor countries can hope for is that the wave of indignation over the behavior of certain aid workers will translate into real reforms in the charities’ home countries and into stricter controls within these organizations. For its part, Oxfam has announced that an independent commission will investigate the culture of sexual predation within the organization and set up mechanisms to prevent future acts. But if those promises do not result in real change, Haitians will not be shocked when the next scandal bursts into the headlines — a harsh reminder to beware of those who say they come to help” (2/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Blog Post Explores Potential Impact Of FY 2019 Budget Proposal On U.S. State Department, USAID Reform Efforts

Center for Global Development’s “U.S. Development Policy”: Will Trump’s Big Aid Cuts Hurt Chances for Reform?
Erin Collinson, senior policy associate and assistant director of the U.S. Development Policy Initiative at CGD, discusses the international affairs aspects of the Trump Administration’s FY 2019 budget proposal released last week and examines how it could affect State Department and USAID reform efforts (2/16).

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Center For Reproductive Rights, Ipas Leaders Discuss Trump Administration's Expanded Mexico City Policy

Elite Daily: The Global Gag Rule Is Harming Women Around The World — EXCLUSIVE
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Anu Kumar, the interim CEO of Ipas, discuss the anniversary of the Trump Administration’s reinstated and expanded Mexico City Policy, noting, “The Global Gag Rule undermines fundamental human rights to life, health, equality, information, privacy, and expression. It silences advocates, stifles partnerships, and undermines local governments’ ability to improve health outcomes for women and girls. Restricting abortion access does not stop people from seeking abortion care, it only makes the procedure less safe, ultimately contributing to maternal mortality. Under this policy, the U.S. has turned its back on the human rights of women and girls around the world…” (2/19).

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Blog Post Examines Changing Landscape Of Global Health Finance

PLOS Blogs: Global health finance: adapting to a new reality
Oleg Kucheryavenko, senior consultant at the World Bank, highlights an event hosted by UBS Optimus Foundation and USAID on accelerating innovation and impact in global development and discusses the changing landscape of global health finance (2/19).

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WHO Announces New High-Level Commission On NCDs

WHO: World leaders join new drive to beat noncommunicable diseases
“WHO is announcing … a new high-level commission, comprised of heads of state and ministers, leaders in health and development, and entrepreneurs. The group will propose bold and innovative solutions to accelerate prevention and control of the leading killers on the planet — noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like heart and lung disease, cancers, and diabetes. … [The commission] will provide actionable recommendations to contribute to the Third United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on NCDs scheduled for the second half of 2018…” (2/16).

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FT Health Issues Latest Weekly Global Health Newsletter

FT Health: Lessons from the Oxfam scandal
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses “the responsibilities of humanitarian aid organizations, focused on how Oxfam handled the departure of its head of mission in Haiti in 2011 following allegations of sexual exploitation”; features an interview with Stewart Cole, the newly appointed director of the Pasteur Institute; and provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 2/16).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID, DFID Announce Humanitarian Grand Challenge

USAID: USAID and DFID Launch Humanitarian Grand Challenge
In this press statement, USAID and DFID announce the first-ever Humanitarian Grand Challenge at the Overseas Development Institute in London, noting “‘Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge’ calls on innovators around the world to submit ideas to save and improve the lives of the most-vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people affected by humanitarian crises caused by conflict…” (2/19).

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IMPACT Program In Kenya Aims To Develop Leaders, Strengthen Country's Public Health System

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: IMPACT Program in Kenya: A Fellow’s Experience
Oren Nyambane Ombiro, fellow at CDC’s Improving Public Health Management for Action (IMPACT) program in Kenya, discusses his experience working with the program, and writes, “I believe improving public health management through innovative programs like IMPACT is a step in the right direction for [Kenya]. Delivery of health services is becoming increasingly complicated, with the rising burden of noncommunicable diseases and injuries on top of communicable diseases, frequent disease outbreaks, numerous industrial actions, devolution of health services, shortage of health workers and supplies, emergence of new technologies, and persistence of cultural barriers among other complexities. Navigating these challenges calls for stronger leadership and management ability at all levels of the health system, and I am glad IMPACT is coming in to strengthen public health systems towards achievement of the highest attainable standard of health as envisioned in our country’s Constitution” (2/15).

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