KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House Sends $2.5B Emergency Coronavirus Plan To Congress; Democrats Say Request Insufficient

AP: White House unveils $2.5B emergency coronavirus plan
“The White House on Monday sent lawmakers an urgent $2.5 billion plan to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak, whose rapid spread and threat to the global economy rocked financial markets. … The administration is requesting $1.25 billion in new funding and wants to transfer $535 million more in funding from an Ebola preparedness account that’s been a top priority of Democrats. It anticipates shifting money from other HHS accounts and other agencies to complete the $2.5 billion response plan…” (Taylor, 2/25).

The Hill: White House asking Congress for $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus
“…However, the request met quick resistance from Democrats. Just $1.25 billion of the request is for new funding, with the rest requested to be taken from existing health programs, including $535 million from fighting Ebola. ‘The Trump administration’s request for emergency funding is woefully insufficient to protect Americans from the deadly coronavirus outbreak,’ said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)…” (Sullivan, 2/24).

New York Times: White House Asks Congress for Billions to Fight Coronavirus
“…Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in a letter to Congress obtained by the New York Times that the funds would be spent on emergency medical supplies, lab testing, the development of vaccines, and other forms of monitoring, among other features. And it indicated that the Trump administration was prepared to send money to states helping with the national response…” (Weiland et al., 2/24).

POLITICO: Trump sending coronavirus budget request to Congress
“…More than $1 billion would go toward vaccine development, and the other funds would go toward stockpiling protective equipment like masks, according to the Office of Management and Budget. While the money is meant to be spent in 2020, the request contains language that would allow the spending to continue through 2021 if needed…” (Cook et al., 2/24).

Additional coverage of the White House funding request is available from The Hill and Reuters (2).

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U.N. SG Guterres Urges Countries To Prevent Coronavirus From Impacting Economy; Trump Downplays Outbreak As U.S. Stock Market Plunged Monday

Reuters: World must avert ‘dramatic’ effects of coronavirus on health, economy: U.N.’s Guterres
“United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged countries to prevent the novel coronavirus epidemic from spiraling into a crisis with ‘dramatic consequences’ for global health and the world economy. Guterres, speaking to reporters during a visit to the World Health Organization center for managing emergencies, called for fully funding the WHO’s appeal of $675 million to cover its overall response for three months…” (Nebehay, 2/24).

Washington Post: Market plunge over coronavirus fears underscores political risk to Trump
“As President Trump spent Monday sightseeing in India, the U.S. stock market plunged amid growing concerns about a deadly virus spreading quickly across continents — a split screen that brought into stark relief how the coronavirus is testing the White House and undercutting Trump’s central reelection message. The Trump administration’s disjointed handling of the outbreak has faced mounting criticism as the president’s allies have scrambled to take preventive steps while seeking to reassure the public, at times struggling to explain their decisions and offer a consistent message. The president’s strategy of publicly downplaying the threat that the virus poses to the United States was undermined Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average — a measure he follows closely — shed more than 1,000 points for its largest drop in two years. Investors acted on growing fears of a worldwide pandemic as the virus took hold in multiple countries, threatening to disrupt global commerce…” (Olorunnipa et al., 2/24).

Additional coverage of the coronavirus’s impact on U.S. and global economies is available from the AP, CNBC, NPR, and Reuters.

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WHO Warns World Not Ready For Major Disease Outbreak As COVID-19 Continues To Spread In Europe, Middle East, Asia

New York Times: As Fears of a Pandemic Mount, WHO Says World Is Not Ready
“As new cases of the coronavirus spiked on two continents, the World Health Organization warned on Monday that the world was not ready for a major outbreak, even as it praised China’s aggressive efforts to wrest the epidemic under control…” (Myers et al., 2/24).

POLITICO: Brussels thinks global on coronavirus, but local fears mount
“…Monday was supposed to be all about Europe’s global cooperation to block the spread of coronavirus in Africa. Instead, as the death toll in Italy ticked up, E.U. officials found themselves on the defensive about free movement within the bloc. ‘This is a global challenge,’ said Janez Lenarčič, the Commission’s emergency response chief, as he announced €232 million in new funding to fight the outbreak. … The coronavirus will be a top agenda item when Commission officials gather in Ethiopia for meetings with their African Union counterparts later this week…” (Wheaton et al., 2/24).

STAT: WHO tells countries to prepare for coronavirus pandemic, but insists it’s too soon to make that call
“The World Health Organization said the coronavirus outbreak that has swept from China to a number of countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe is not yet a pandemic, but it urged countries to prepare for its arrival on the assumption that a declaration may come. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries should be working to protect health workers, engaging groups that are at highest risk — for instance, the elderly — and striving to contain spread of the virus to the highest degree possible to slow its arrival in countries that don’t have the means to respond to its threat…” (Branswell, 2/24).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus’s Global Spread May Not Be Contained, WHO Says
“The World Health Organization said Monday it isn’t yet clear whether the coronavirus can be stopped from spreading further globally, as growing outbreaks in Italy, South Korea, and Iran heightened concerns. … The virus could be contained, develop a regular pattern of continual or seasonal transmission, or become a pandemic, said Michael Ryan, the WHO’s chief of health emergencies, speaking at a news conference…” (McKay et al., 2/24).

Additional coverage of the spread of and responses to COVID-19 is available from New Humanitarian, New York Times (2), NPR (2) (3), Reuters, Science Speaks (2), STAT, Telegraph, and Wall Street Journal.

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U.S. Plans To Suspend Aid To Houthi-Controlled Regions In Yemen If Impediments To Humanitarian Operations Not Removed

AP: U.S. to stop aid in Yemen’s Houthi areas if rebels don’t budge
“USAID said late Monday that it will suspend aid to Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, where most of the country’s people live, if the rebels don’t remove impediments obstructing aid operations. In a statement, the agency said it informed partners including U.N. agencies about the plan last week. It said the suspension will start in late March if Houthis take no action…” (Michael, 2/24).

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Expected U.S., Taliban Deal Offers No Protections For Afghan Women's Rights

NBC News: No guarantees for Afghan women in draft U.S.-Taliban deal
“The United States once vowed to liberate Afghan women from the draconian repression of the Taliban, but a planned deal between the U.S. and the insurgents offers no protections for the country’s women, who fear that their hard-won rights could be lost. … For years, the U.S. promoted the idea of safeguarding Afghan women’s rights as a part of the rationale for its fight against the Taliban, a cause first championed by President George W. Bush. But President Donald Trump’s impatience with the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, and the uncertainty surrounding a potential peace process, could jeopardize two decades of progress for Afghan women, who have gained a foothold in the workplace and in political life, according to rights advocates, Afghan officials, and former U.S. officials…” (De Luce, 2/23).

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GAO To Release Study On Diversity Among State Department Employees

Foreign Policy: State Department Struggling on Diversity, New Report Finds
“The U.S. State Department’s efforts to increase diversity in its ranks have fallen short and in some cases resulted in an actual decline in the percentage of women and ethnic and racial minorities employed there, according to a new study from a U.S. federal watchdog. This week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent federal watchdog, will release a comprehensive study on diversity at the State Department in a first-of-its-kind analysis that will publicize data on the department’s efforts to recruit and retain a diverse talent pool…” (Gramer, 2/24).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: ‘I wish I was a boy’: The Kenyan girls fighting period poverty (Mire, 2/24).

Devex: Migration, LDCs key concerns for NGOs as French development bill progresses (Chadwick, 2/25).

Devex: What do strategies from 2019 tell us about donors’ priorities? (Stibi, 2/21).

Devex: Can village nutrition schools reduce widespread malnutrition? (Root, February 2020).

The Guardian: ‘We’re not baby factories’: the refugees trying injectable contraceptives (Okiror, 2/25).

New York Times: New Genomic Tests Aim to Diagnose Deadly Infections Faster (Jacobs, 2/24).

Reuters: South African HIV carriers bullied before giving birth to accept sterilization (Rumney, 2/24).

Washington Post: Trump squeezes Venezuela’s regime, while ordinary Venezuelans go hungry (Tharoor, 2/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss COVID-19, Outbreak Preparedness, U.S. Response

Washington Post: Coronavirus dangers loom. Complacency is one of them.
Editorial Board

“…The [coronavirus] is highly infectious, and an explosion of cases over the weekend in South Korea, Italy, and Iran suggests the window of opportunity for containment is ‘narrowing,’ as the World Health Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, put it Friday. If the fire starts to burn beyond the firebreak, then strategy shifts to mitigation: helping the sick cope, saving lives, and keeping economic and logistical lifelines open. … To make sure workers are protected, health care systems must prepare now with personal protective equipment — masks and more. Just as important is public response. … If the virus begins to spread widely, it will require such simple individual responses as hand-washing, and it may demand social isolation: closed schools, idled mass transit, disrupted businesses, and canceled events. It is absolutely essential that governments — starting in Washington — be able to speak with credibility and authority. All experience suggests that truth and transparency are as indispensable as face masks. … If the case data from China on Monday is correct, and the epidemic there is easing, then there is hope it will not become a global pandemic. But a moment of optimism should not distract from preparations for a less favorable outcome” (2/24).

The Atlantic: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus
James Hamblin, preventive medicine physician and staff writer at The Atlantic (2/24).

Bloomberg: The Coronavirus Is Starting to Go Global
David Fickling, Bloomberg opinion columnist (2/24).

CNN: Under Trump, America is less prepared for a coronavirus outbreak
Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation and lecturer at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and Devi Sridhar, professor and chair in Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School (2/24).

Foreign Policy: The West Is About to Fail the Coronavirus Test
Melissa Chan, collaborator with the Global Reporting Centre and term member with the Council on Foreign Relations, and Ethan Guillén, executive director of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (2/24).

Global Health NOW: COVID-19 Expert Reality Check
Multiple authors (February 2020).

The Hill: Coronavirus and what needs to be done to get in front of global pandemics
Jonathan Fielding, professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (2/24).

New York Times: The Coronavirus Is More Than a Disease. It’s a Test.
Ross Douthat, opinion columnist at the New York Times (2/25).

Project Syndicate: Will the Coronavirus Trigger a Global Recession?
Jeffrey Frankel, professor at Harvard University and research associate at the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (2/24).

South China Morning Post: Letters: Climate change and coronaviruses: a warming world encourages the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases
Wendell Chan, program officer at Friends of the Earth (HK) (2/24).

Washington Post: Years of coronavirus warnings got us nowhere. Here’s how to fix that.
William Haseltine, founder of Harvard University’s cancer and HIV/AIDS research departments and chair and president of ACCESS Health International (2/18).

Washington Post: Here are the steps Trump should take to counter coronavirus fears
Hugh Hewitt, political analyst for NBC, professor at Chapman University Law School, and president of the Nixon Foundation (2/24).

Washington Post: As coronavirus fear grips Wall Street, the White House moves decisively to protect Trump from germs
Dana Milbank, opinion columnist at the Washington Post (2/24).

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U.S. Should Lay Groundwork For Safe Zone To Protect Syrians Fleeing Conflict, Expert Writes In Opinion Piece

Foreign Affairs: Washington Must Protect Syrians Fleeing Idlib
Robert S. Ford, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and Kissinger senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs

“In Syria’s last opposition stronghold, the worst fears of millions of people are coming true. With the help of brutal Russian airstrikes, Syrian government forces have seized about a third of Idlib Province over the last two months, pushing over 900,000 of the region’s 3.5 million people out of their homes and north toward the nearby Turkish border, where another 800,000 displaced people already live in crude, overcrowded camps. The current wave of refugees fleeing Idlib, about 80 percent of whom are women and children, is now the largest exodus of Syria’s nine-year conflict. Aid agencies are overwhelmed, and food is scarce. With tent camps and even public buildings near the Turkish border already housing as many refugees as they can hold, 170,000 displaced people have been forced to sleep in unfinished buildings, in fields, or along roads in temperatures that frequently drop below freezing; babies and young children have died of exposure. … Washington needs to start laying the groundwork for a safe zone now. That means starting to talk with Moscow immediately about the unacceptability of driving refugees to Turkey, how to identify jihadis, how to determine the shape of a safe zone, and how to arrange de-escalation measure so that another Russian aircraft is not shot down inside Turkey. That also means rallying the support of NATO members to back Turkish plans and to organize a humanitarian response to support the safe zone. The next Syrian army offensive could begin within weeks. There is no time to waste” (2/24).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CSIS Expert Discusses U.S. Support For Gavi, Provides Recommendations For Ongoing Support In Brief, Video

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Sustaining U.S. Support for Gavi: A Critical Global Health Security and Development Partner
In this new brief, Katherine Bliss, senior fellow at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses the work of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, including the history of U.S. support and engagement with Gavi and recommendations on how the U.S. can support Gavi’s work in the 2021-2025 strategic period. The brief is accompanied by a video “explaining how Gavi works and how U.S. support for Gavi in 2020 and beyond helps protect the health of future generations in the United States and around the world” (2/24).

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CFR Blog Posts Examine Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Outbreak

Council on Foreign Relations: The Coronavirus, Oil, and Global Supply Chains
Amy M. Jaffe, David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment and director of the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), examines the impacts the coronavirus outbreak is having on oil and gas markets, global supply chains, and economies (2/24).

Council on Foreign Relations: African Students in Wuhan Confront Staying Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
In this guest post, Alvin Young, a Rangel Fellow and master’s candidate at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, discusses the nearly 5,000 African students stuck in Wuhan during the COVID-19 outbreak (2/24).

Council on Foreign Relations: The Coronavirus Outbreak Is the Shape of Things to Come
In his weekly column for World Politics Review, Stewart M. Patrick, James H. Binger senior fellow in global governance and director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at CFR, examines how development and globalization are driving a new era of infectious disease (2/24).

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WASH In Health Care Facilities Critical To Improved Global Health, Experts Write

Think Global Health: Getting WASH into Health Care Facilities: An Urgent Global Health Need
John Simon, managing partner of Total Impact Capital, and Susan K. Barnett, founder of Cause Communications and communications consultant at Global Water 2020, discuss the importance of access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in global health and the WHO’s new prioritization of WASH in health care facilities, writing, “Let’s hope prioritization breeds resolute action” (2/22).

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Investment In Fast-Track Response To HIV Brings Economic Returns, UNAIDS Says

UNAIDS: Investing in HIV really does pay off
“…[T]he case for investing in the AIDS response is strong, and a recent analysis of costs and benefits using the full income approach by Lamontagne et al. (2019) has demonstrated the economic returns of ending the AIDS epidemic. It has been shown that under the Fast-Track approach — whereby a high upfront investment leads to large reductions in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths — each dollar invested brings up to US$ 6.44 of economic returns in low- and middle-income countries…” (2/24).

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ODI Study Examines Sexual, Reproductive Health, Role Of Social Norms In Cuba

Overseas Development Institute: Family, sexuality, and sexual and reproductive health in Cuba: the role of social norms
“Globally, today’s cohort of adolescents and young people is the largest ever, and 90% of them live in low- and middle-income countries. This study aims to enhance knowledge and evidence on how best to reach poor and vulnerable persons in developing countries, especially women and girls, by exploring [three] research questions within the Cuban context … This report, based on a literature review and interviews with 74 people in two sites in Cuba, presents findings related to [sexual and reproductive health (SRH)]. … A companion report presents findings related to women’s economic empowerment in Cuba…” (Samuels et al., February 2020).

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