KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Bill Gates, Other Panel Members At Munich Security Conference Warn Of Potential For Global Pandemic, Urge Preparedness

Bloomberg: Superbugs, Climate Chaos Have Bill Gates and the U.N. Worried
“Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates joined the United Nations to warn world leaders about a new series of threats shaping up as megatrends, led by global warming, superbugs, and artificial intelligence. U.S. Vice President Michael Pence and trans-Atlantic military officials were on the receiving end of the warnings issued by Gates, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They all said that the world isn’t prepared to deal with the emerging risks…” (Tirone, 2/18).

Forbes: Bill Gates Warns Of Epidemic That Will Kill Over 30 Million People
“…At the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the man who tops the FORBES richest person in the world list and is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: ‘Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.’ Notice that this was at a security conference and not a health meeting…” (Lee, 2/19).

The Guardian: Bill Gates warns tens of millions could be killed by bio-terrorism
“…Gates, who has spent much of the last 20 years funding a global health campaign, said: ‘We ignore the link between health security and international security at our peril’…” (MacAskill, 2/18).

Huffington Post: Bill Gates Warns That A Devastating Pandemic Is Right Around The Corner
“…Gates’s speech … wasn’t all hell and high water. He said we’re underprepared for a global pandemic, but we have the technology to work on vaccines and other drugs. We just need the investment…” (Campbell, 2/18).

Intellectual Property Watch: Health Security An Integral Part Of International Security, Experts Warn
“…Pandemic preparedness worldwide was estimated to cost $3.4 billion a year, Gates said, ‘yet the projected annual loss from a pandemic could run as high as $570 billion.’ Gates in Munich also signed a memorandum of understanding with the German Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) to intensify joint work to reach Agenda 2030 goals. This includes joint programs related to financial inclusion, food security, rural development, and access to water…” (Ermert, 2/20).

Washington Post: Bill Gates: Bioterrorism could kill more than nuclear war — but no one is ready to deal with it
“…While some others on the panel — ‘Small Bugs, Big Bombs‘ — focused on the threat of natural diseases, Gates called for ‘germ games’ simulations, better monitoring to spot outbreaks early, and systems to develop vaccines within weeks — rather than the 10-year lead time he said was more common. ‘We need a new arsenal of weapons, antiviral drugs, antibodies, vaccines, and new diagnostics,’ he said…” (Selk, 2/18).

Xinhua News: Genetic engineering could become terrorist weapon: Bill Gates
“…’Getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe. Innovation, cooperation, and careful planning can dramatically mitigate the risks presented by each of these threats,’ said Gates…” (2/20).

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At Least 9 Nations Pledge Support To Dutch-Led Fund Aiming To Fill Funding Gap Left By Mexico City Policy Reinstatement

Devex: Europe raises at least $32.2M to plug ‘global gag rule’ shortfall
“NGOs say they are ‘heartened’ by the creation of a Dutch-led fund that aims to replace aid lost for women’s health issues as a result of the U.S. president’s reinstatement of the ‘global gag rule.’ The fund has gained the support of at least nine countries and raised tens of millions of dollars. But advocates also told Devex there is still a long way to go to make up for the loss of funds triggered by the executive order from the Donald Trump administration, estimated to be at least $600 million and as much as $9.5 billion…” (Abrahams, 2/21).

Reuters: Norway pledges $10 million to counter Trump’s global anti-abortion move
“Norway has joined an international initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls left by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S.-funded groups worldwide providing information on abortion. In January, the Netherlands started a global fund to help women access abortion services, saying Trump’s ‘global gag rule’ meant a funding gap of $600 million over the next four years, and has pledged $10 million to the initiative to replace that. Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada, and Cape Verde have all also lent their support…” (Fouche, 2/20).

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Al Gore, Carter Center Host Conference On Climate, Health Connections Originally Cancelled By CDC

Global Health NOW: A Civil Response to Climate Change
“When the CDC canceled a planned Climate Change & Health conference — apparently seeking a low profile on the issue given the new administration in D.C. — civil society stepped up. Former Vice President Al Gore called former President Jimmy Carter, who offered to host the conference at the Carter Center in Atlanta. … The meeting focused on connecting the dots between climate change and health — and rallying civil society and the public health community to step up its response…” (Myers, 2/17).

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U.S. Embassy In Tanzania Warns Government's Ban On Some HIV/AIDS Services Could Lead To Increase In Cases, Impact U.S. Funding

The Citizen: Tanzania: U.S. Warns Govt Ban May Stall HIV Fight
“The United States [Saturday] warned the government against its decision to ban HIV/AIDS services at 40 health facilities, and introduce new guidelines for Key Populations (KP), saying the move could cause a flare-up of the epidemic among those afflicted. In a statement, the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam said the decision could impact HIV/AIDS programs funded by the American government, and impede progress made over the years in addressing the epidemic in Tanzania…” (Buguzi, 2/19).

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South Sudan Government, U.N. Agencies Declare Famine In Two Counties Heavily Impacted By Civil War

Reuters: Parts of South Sudan suffering famine: govt official
“Parts of war-ravaged South Sudan are suffering famine, a government official said on Monday, adding nearly half the country’s population would lack reliable access to affordable food by July. … The United Nations defines famine as when at least 20 percent of households in an area face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent, and two or more people per 10,000 are dying per day…” (Dumo et al., 2/21).

Washington Post: Famine declared in South Sudan, with 100,000 people facing starvation
“A severe food shortage has deteriorated into a famine in two counties in South Sudan, the government and United Nations announced Monday, with 100,000 people facing starvation. Joyce Luma, head of the World Food Programme in South Sudan, called the famine ‘man-made,’ blaming it on political turmoil in a country engulfed in civil war since late 2013…” (Ombour, 2/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

New York Times Letters To Editor Discuss U.S. Role In Realizing AIDS-Free Generation

New York Times: Letters to the Editor: How to Move Toward an AIDS-Free Generation
The newspaper published two letters to the editor in response to “Why Trump Should Keep PEPFAR,” a New York Times opinion piece written by Bill Frist and published on February 9.

Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), member of the House Budget and Appropriations Committees and co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus

“…The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, has been one of the most successful public health and peace initiatives in our country’s history. This lifesaving program is an important example of what our government can accomplish when we set aside partisan disagreements and focus on saving lives. … Under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, we have strengthened the program. As a direct result of this bipartisan work, public health experts believe that we are on the cusp of realizing an AIDS-free generation by 2030. Right now, we are at a turning point in the AIDS epidemic. Either we can redouble our investments and eradicate the disease, or we can retreat from our leadership in the world. I urge President Trump to learn from the successes of PEPFAR and choose the first option” (2/20).

Sean Strub, executive director of the Sero Project, and Joel Goldman, managing director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

“If President Trump wants to make a difference in preventing HIV in the United States and around the world, ending HIV criminalization — the wrongful use of someone’s HIV-positive status in a criminal prosecution — is the first step. These laws impose criminal penalties on people living with HIV based on exaggerated fears and misinformation about HIV transmission. … A growing body of evidence demonstrates that HIV criminalization statutes are making the epidemic worse, because of how they discourage people at risk from getting tested for HIV (one can’t be prosecuted if one doesn’t know he or she has HIV) and create mistrust of the public health system. We can prosecute HIV or we can prevent it, but we can’t do both. Ending HIV criminalization will save money, reduce HIV-related stigma, protect the rights of people living with HIV, and, most important, improve public health here in the United States and around the globe” (2/20).

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'Strengthening Health Systems, Intensifying Cross-Sectoral Collaboration, Improving WHO's Effectiveness' Vital To Enhancing Global Health Security

POLITICO: Global health security: Let’s prove Camus wrong on plagues
Stefan Oschmann, chair of the executive board and chief executive of Merck

“…Health is a precondition for social and economic development and, ultimately, for international security. It is therefore more than justified that health security is now firmly anchored on the agenda of the Munich Security Conference … The next health security challenge is a known unknown. While it is impossible to predict exactly what it will be, we do know that it will come. And we need to be prepared. In my view, there are three crucial topics that we must address. First and foremost, we have to strengthen health systems in low- and middle-income countries. … [S]econdly, we need an approach involving stakeholders from all sectors. … Thirdly, an effective global governance framework is critical for cross-sectoral collaboration to yield the best possible results. … By strengthening health systems, intensifying cross-sectoral collaboration, and improving the WHO’s effectiveness, we can make sure that the next plague does not catch us completely off-guard. … The time to act is now” (2/16).

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World Must Take Militaristic Approach To Prepare For Potential Pandemics, Whether Naturally Occurring Or Intentional Biological Attacks

Business Insider: BILL GATES: A new kind of terrorism could wipe out 30 million people in less than a year — and we are not prepared
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…[W]e ignore the link between health security and international security at our peril. … The good news is that with advances in biotechnology, new vaccines and drugs can help prevent epidemics from spreading out of control. And, most of the things we need to do to protect against a naturally occurring pandemic are the same things we must prepare for an intentional biological attack. … First and most importantly, we have to build an arsenal of new weapons — vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics. … Because epidemics can quickly take root in the places least equipped to fight them, we also need to improve surveillance. … The third thing we need to do is prepare for epidemics the way the military prepares for war. … I’m optimistic that a decade from now, we can be much better prepared for a lethal epidemic — if we’re willing to put a fraction of what we spend on defense budgets and new weapons systems into epidemic readiness. When the next pandemic strikes, it could be another catastrophe in the annals of the human race. Or it could be something else altogether. An extraordinary triumph of human will. A moment when we prove yet again that, together, we are capable of taking on the world’s biggest challenges to create a safer, healthier, more stable world” (2/18).

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Gates's Annual Letter Contains 'Sharp Contrasts' Between Their Outlook, President Trump's Worldview

Fortune: What Bill and Melinda Gates See That Donald Trump Doesn’t
William C. Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company

“…[T]his year’s [annual letter from Bill and Melinda Gates] is particularly powerful — and, truth be told, disconcerting. That’s because the world [they describe] seems completely at odds with the attitudes, priorities, and policies of Donald Trump and the new administration in Washington. … Here … are a few things that Bill and Melinda Gates see that Donald Trump doesn’t. Things keep getting better, not worse, and progress will accelerate, not slow down. … Science and technology really matter, and sometimes the simplest technologies have the most dramatic impact. … You can’t be serious about creating wealth and improving society unless you’re serious about elevating the status of women. … Those are just a few of the sharp contrasts between the outlook of Bill and Melinda Gates and Donald Trump. I urge you to read the whole letter and develop your own takeaways. … [I]t’s impossible not to be struck by how differently these supremely powerful people see and explain the world. I’ll leave it to you to reckon with the implications of these differences for your business, your approach to leadership, and the future of the planet” (2/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Discusses 5 Insights From 2016 Global Hunger Index

Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Guest Commentary: Five Data-Driven Insights For Greater Food Security In 2017
Craig Burnett, former digital content editor at Concern Worldwide, discusses five insights from the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report: “1. Every year brings millions of success stories. … 2. But hunger is still wrecking lives. … 3. There are worrying gaps in what we know. … 4. Peace fights hunger. … 5. We are losing the battle to end world hunger by 2030” (2/17).

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New Issue Of 'Global Fund News Flash' Available Online

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund News Flash
The latest issue of the Global Fund News Flash contains an article describing how Sierra Leone is working to rebuild and strengthen its health system since the Ebola epidemic, as well as an article about Global Fund investment and engagement in challenging operating environments, such as areas that experience disease outbreaks, natural disasters, armed conflicts, and weak governance (2/20).

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