KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration's Proposed Cuts To U.S. Public Health, Foreign Aid Increase Risk Of Inadequate Disease Outbreak Response

Vox: Trump vs. “disease X”
“…Current proposals from the Trump White House would slash funding for foreign aid and U.S. public health agencies. And that is expected to have a ripple effect around the world. … Countries can’t isolate themselves from the flow of disease across borders, and fighting and preventing pandemics requires cross-border collaboration and cooperation. … Putting aside the Trump administration’s fumbling on public health leadership, its ‘America First’ mentality, and its proposed funding cuts — there’s a larger structural problem that is greater than the president or any administration. ‘The bigger issue is the ability of governments and organizations to put money into preparedness,’ [Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation,] summed up…” (Belluz, 2/26).

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CDC Seeks More Than $400M To Build New High-Containment Research Laboratory

Associated Press: CDC seeking $400 million to replace lab for deadliest germs
“Thirteen years after building a state-of-the-art lab for the world’s most dangerous germs, the nation’s top public health agency is asking for more than $400 million to build a new one. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the current lab building in Atlanta is quickly wearing down, and cannot be upgraded without shutting down the facility for years. The lab investigates deadly and exotic germs like Ebola, smallpox, and dangerous new forms of flu…” (Stobbe, 2/23).

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U.N. Security Council Unanimously Votes For Ceasefire In Syria To Safely Deliver Humanitarian Aid

New York Times: U.N. Security Council Votes in Favor of Syria Ceasefire After Week of Bloodshed
“The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday in favor of a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, after days of bombardment by the Syrian government on a Damascus suburb left hundreds of civilians dead. The resolution called for all parties to ‘cease hostilities without delay’ across the country to enable the ‘safe, unimpeded, and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded’…” (Specia et al., 2/24).

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Aid Sector Needs System To Prevent Staff From Job-Hopping Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Aid sector needs oversight to stop sex abuse staff job-hopping: experts
“The aid sector needs an independent database and whistleblower system to stop workers accused of sexual misconduct hiding such allegations to find jobs with other charities, experts said, as a sex scandal sparked by Oxfam ricochets through the industry…” (Guilbert, 2/23).

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UNAIDS Official Not Seeking Contract Renewal; Move Follows Sexual Assault Allegations But Agency Says Decision Unrelated

The Guardian: Top U.N. official accused of sexual harassment stands down
“Luiz Loures, a U.N. assistant secretary general and the subject of a recent sexual assault allegation, is standing down from his position. UNAIDS said Loures would not seek renewal of his contract, which is due to expire at the end of March, adding that the decision had no connection to the allegations against him…” (Ratcliffe, 2/23).

The Guardian: ‘A boys’ club’: U.N. agency accused over sexual harassment claims
“…Malayah Harper, now general secretary of the World YWCA, one of the world’s oldest women’s rights organizations, said the agency UNAIDS must urgently review how sexual harassment allegations are handled. Her call for an inquiry is supported by testimonies from six [other] current or former UNAIDS employees…” (Ratcliffe, 2/25).

Reuters: Senior UNAIDS official latest to go after sex harassment allegation
“…Luiz Loures’ exit was the second of a high-level United Nations official in as many days, after Justin Forsyth, deputy director of the U.N. Children’s Fund, resigned saying he did not want coverage of his past mistakes to damage UNICEF…” (Miles/Nebehay, 2/23).

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POLITICO Magazine Examines Role Of Social Conservatism, Religion In Russia's HIV Epidemic

POLITICO Magazine: How Social Conservatism Fueled Russia’s HIV Epidemic
“…The Kremlin and its allies are pushing a socially conservative, hands-off, and often church-influenced approach to sexual and reproductive health, as well as drug policy. Fueling an epidemic, state policies and inaction have led to more cases than ever of Russians contracting or dying from HIV/AIDS. … Russia’s growing HIV crisis is seemingly no match for the Orthodox Church, which preaches faith and family values as the cure-all for the virus. A burgeoning alliance between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the church in recent years has fueled an environment where sexual education in schools is forbidden, clean needle programs are shunned as sinful, and attacks on women’s and gay rights are state-sanctioned…” (Jones, 2/25).

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Food Start-Up JUST Aims To Improve West African Nutrition With Fortified Cassava Porridge

Washington Post: The Silicon Valley food start-up best known for its vegan mayo thinks it can cure malnutrition in Africa
“…[Food start-up company] Hampton Creek, recently renamed JUST, has far grander ambitions than turning the U.S. food market on its head. This month it’s going public with a product it describes as its solution to addressing West African malnutrition. The product, a fortified cassava porridge dubbed Power Gari, is cheap to produce, popular with consumers and tailored to the exact dietary needs of the market where it’s sold, the company says. … But the company’s claims have also raised eyebrows among development experts, who say that other, larger food companies have attempted almost identical projects, without success…” (Dewey, 2/23).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: Women with HIV abused by partners, rejected by society (Roache, 2/25).

Deutsche Welle: Dengue vaccine controversy sparks panic in Philippines (Santos, 2/23).

Devex: The rocky road toward disease eradication (Anders/Mihara, 2/26).

Intellectual Property Watch: CARB-X Announces 2018 Round Of Funding For Antibacterial Research (2/23).

NPR: No One’s Quite Sure Why Lassa Fever Is On The Rise (Wilhelm, 2/23).

NPR: How One Country Drastically Cut Its Newborn Death Rate (Aizenman, 2/25).

Reuters: South Sudan food survey sees 155,000 in famine within months (Miles, 2/26).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: India TB survivor helps patients tackle society, sex, and stigma (Srivastava, 2/26).

Xinhua News: Aid agencies decry decision to encourage FGM in Somaliland (2/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Community Must Do More To Address Rise Of Drug Resistance, Develop New Antibiotics

Washington Post: A new superbug requires urgent attention
Editorial Board

“…Antibiotics are a pillar of modern medicine and have saved lives for decades, but the rise of resistance threatens a back-to-the-future moment when small infections could become fatal, as they once were. This reckoning was postponed for a long time because a robust pipeline of new antibiotics was discovered and brought to market. But then the flow began to dry up. Antibiotics are often not as profitable as other drugs, making costly development less attractive for pharmaceutical companies. The Pew Charitable Trusts and the World Health Organization published analyses in December of the worldwide pipeline of products in clinical development with the potential to treat drug-resistant infections, and they called the findings ‘grim.’ They said too few new antibiotics are under development, and too few represent new classes of drugs. … Just as vital, the overuse of antibiotics in human and animal health must be curbed. Fortunately, there is more attention these days to providing better stewardship of existing drugs. No less is at stake than preserving these miracle medicines, now and for future generations” (2/25).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Project Syndicate Podcast Examines Research Focused On Improving Maternal, Newborn Survival

Project Syndicate’s “PS Editor’s Podcast”: Saving Mothers and Newborns
Atul Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, executive director of Ariadne Labs, and chair of Lifebox, interviews Katherine Semrau, an epidemiologist who leads the Better Birth program at Ariadne Labs, “about how to improve maternal and newborn health worldwide” (2/23).

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'Disease X' On WHO's Prioritized List Of Diseases Represents Placeholder For Unknown Pathogens

U.N. Dispatch: The World Health Organization Wants You To Worry About “Disease X”
Alanna Shaikh, international development writer, discusses the WHO’s list of priority diseases, which includes familiar diseases, like Ebola, Zika, and Lassa Fever, but also includes “Disease X.” Shaikh notes, Disease X “is quite literally a mystery disease. It’s a recognition that we can’t see everything coming. In 2018, it’s entirely possible that we’ll see a brand-new pathogen. Or, as with Zika, an old disease will suddenly demonstrate a new way to harm us” (2/25).

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South African Water Research Commission CEO Highlights Lessons Learned, Opportunities Arising From Drought

Brookings Institution’s “Africa in Focus”: Day Zero on the back of drought in Southern Africa: Lessons for the future
Dhesigen Naidoo, chief executive officer at the South African Water Research Commission, discusses drought and water scarcity in Africa, particularly Cape Town. He highlights the economic, social, and environmental impacts of drought episodes and discusses potential solutions through water innovations (2/23).

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Yale Works With Liberia To Strengthen Country's Health Care System

Yale News: After Ebola crisis, Yale works to strengthen Liberian health system
Adam Gaber, director of communications at Yale University, discusses how Yale faculty continue to work with the Liberian government to rebuild its health care system following the Ebola crisis. Gaber writes, “The effort … focused on strengthening three core areas of the Liberian health care system: hospital management, pre-clinical medical education, and postgraduate residency training in internal medicine” (2/23).

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FT Health Discusses Air Pollution, Features Interview On Campaign To Address Eyecare

FT Health: Action on air pollution
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the issue of global air pollution. The newsletter also features an interview with James Chen, founder of Clearly, “which is behind a book and a campaign to tackle eyecare,” and provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Dodd/Jack, 2/23).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Issues Remarks On U.N. Security Council Resolution Calling For Ceasefire In Syria

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution on a Ceasefire in Syria
“The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to adopt UNSC Resolution 2401 calling for a ceasefire in Syria. Following the vote, Ambassador Nikki Haley delivered remarks urging the ceasefire in the resolution be implemented immediately and calling on the Assad regime and its allies to stop the assault on eastern Ghouta and to allow food and medicine to reach innocent civilians affected by the crisis…” (2/24).

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