KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. House, Senate Bills Introduced To Create New International Development Finance Institution

Devex: Bipartisan bill gives U.S. development finance a boost
“A bill creating a new, expanded United States development finance agency was introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Congress. The Better Utilization of Investment Leading to Development, or BUILD Act, will create a new agency that will combine the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the several private sector oriented parts of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as expand U.S. development finance capabilities. … The bill creating the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation was introduced simultaneously in the House and Senate by Rep. Ted Yoho, a Republican from Florida, and Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington, along with Senators Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, and Bob Corker, [a Republican] from Tennessee…” (Saldinger, 2/28).

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Blue Ribbon Study Panel On Biodefense Report Calls For Biodefense Budgeting Reforms

Homeland Security Today: Panel Finds Biodefense Budgeting Needs Major Overhaul Now
“A committee studying the funding process for America’s defenses against naturally spreading and weaponized pathogens warned that as ‘disease outbreaks, other emergencies, and disasters continue to affect public health security, the nation must take a more businesslike approach to biodefense budgeting.’ … Congress should establish a temporary bicameral and bipartisan Biodefense Working Group to make policy recommendations to House and Senate leaders, the [Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense] report adds. And while foreign aid has become anathema to some on Capitol Hill and in the administration, the strategy calls for ‘sustained U.S. contributions to international programs, including the Global Health Security Agenda’…” (Johnson, 2/27).

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U.S. Cuts Back Some Aid To Cambodia, Citing 'Anti-Democratic' Behavior, But Plans To Continue Assistance For Health, Agriculture

Associated Press: U.S. cuts aid to Cambodia, citing ‘anti-democratic’ actions
“The United States cut back aid to Cambodia Tuesday to protest shrinking democracy in the Southeast Asia nation, where the party of longtime ruler Hun Sen swept Senate elections after facing no serious opposition. The White House said it was suspending or curtailing U.S. programs worth $8.3 million that support Cambodia’s tax department, local government, and military. … The White House said the U.S. will continue projects supporting the Cambodian people, including those promoting health, agriculture, mine clearance, and civil society promotion…” (Pennington, 2/27).

Reuters: Cambodia ‘shocked’ by ‘disrespectful’ U.S. aid cut, says democracy intact
“Cambodia said on Wednesday it was saddened and shocked by a ‘disrespectful’ U.S. decision to rein back aid programs because of perceived democratic setbacks and defended its record on democracy. The White House said on Tuesday it was suspending or curtailing several Treasury, USAID, and military assistance programs that support Cambodia’s military, taxation department, and local authorities — all of which, it said, shared blame for recent instability. … The White House said that … assistance in health, agriculture, and mine-clearing will continue” (Prak, 2/28).

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Vice President Pence Discusses Changes In U.S. Abortion Policy, Cites Reinstatement of Mexico City Policy

U.S. News & World Report: Pence Sees End to Abortion ‘In Our Time’
“Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that he believed abortion could end ‘in our time,’ telling a group of anti-abortion activists they were making historic progress toward their goal of abolishing the procedure. … Pence said President Donald Trump had been the ‘most pro-life president in American history’ and that he believes their administration was presiding over an acceleration of their cause. He pointed in particular to … the reinstating of the so-called Mexico City policy, also called the global gag rule, which prohibits the use of U.S. international aid from going to [foreign] global health organizations that provide education or abortion services…” (Levy, 2/27).

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U.S. Senators Question MCC CEO Nominee Sean Cairncross On Credentials, Experience

Devex: Senators question MCC nominee on qualifications
“In a brief nomination hearing Tuesday, senators on the Committee on Foreign Relations asked Sean Cairncross, the nominee for chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, to outline his relevant credentials — which some in the development community have questioned. … Cairncross outlined three priorities he would pursue at MCC: Maintaining the agency’s model and strong track record of accountable results, he would seek to deepen bipartisan support for the agency; relying on its ‘deeply knowledgeable, talented, and diverse staff,’ he would try to increase collaboration with other U.S. agencies and companies to tap both private sector and domestic partner country resources; and help ‘realize’ regional compacts…” (Saldinger, 2/28).

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CDC Requests Funding To Build New High-Containment Laboratory

STAT: CDC requests funds to build new maximum-security laboratory
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking Congress for money for a new building to house the laboratories that work on the deadliest pathogens known to humankind. The existing building, which went into service in 2005, will need to be replaced by 2023 or so to avoid major disruptions in the work, senior agency staff told STAT. … The request, which is currently in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, is for $350 million. But more will be needed later; the new high containment continuity laboratory, as it is called, would be built on the site of one of only a few parking facilities on the CDC’s main campus…” (Branswell, 2/23).

Washington Post: CDC seeks new labs for bioterror pathogens to replace aging facility
“…CDC officials flagged the need for a new facility during the Obama administration with officials at the Health and Human Services Department and the White House, but this is the first official request to Congress by any administration. … An appropriations committee aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget process is ongoing, said [February 22] that it’s too soon to know what requests will receive serious consideration. ‘Everything is open for negotiation,’ the aide said, adding that ‘public health is definitely a priority.’ Former CDC director Tom Frieden called the labs ‘an essential line of defense against the deadliest health threats.’ He noted that 15 years is a long time in the life span of such crucial high-containment units. ‘Although the age of the labs has not contributed to any lapse in health security,’ he said, ‘CDC needs the upgrades to avoid future problems and to keep pace with improving technology and evolving threats.’ … During an agencywide meeting Friday, CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat said the new facility would address issues that have arisen over the years as well as the aging of several automated systems…” (Sun, 2/23).

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World Facing 'Crisis Of Legitimacy,' Threats To Achieving SDGs; U.N. Must Reform, SG Says At ECOSOC Opening

U.N. News: With proposed reforms, U.N. closer than ever to a development system that is ‘fit for purpose’
“There are serious threats to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the United Nations, especially its development system, must be effectively reformed in order to be able to limit the impact of those threats, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday. In his address to the opening of the annual operational segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Mr. Guterres warned that the world is facing a crisis of legitimacy, confidence, and trust, rooted in legitimate fears…” (2/27).

Xinhua News: U.N. chief: serious threats challenge implementation of 2030 development goals
“…The meeting marks the beginning of formal consideration by U.N. member states of the secretary general’s proposals for the U.N. Development System’s reform. The three-day session will provide an opportunity for the states to debate key areas of transformation and related proposals found in his December 2017 report…” (2/28).

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Leading Up To U.N. High-Level Meeting, WHO Releases New TB Guidelines Aimed At Boosting Global Efforts To Reduce Disease Burden

Devex: In the year of TB, advocates want more than a political commitment
“The World Health Organization has issued new guidelines for expanding testing and improving the treatment times for people with latent tuberculosis infection. The move is in response to countries’ request for guidance on how to scale up preventative measures for people who may not currently show symptoms of illness, but are susceptible to incurring and developing active TB infection. … The guideline is hoped to provide an additional boost in efforts to reduce TB burden worldwide, and comes in the lead-up to what advocates hope will be the most important political meeting on the disease to date — the first United Nations high-level meeting on TB…” (Ravelo, 2/28).

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Unsuccessful 'Humanitarian Pause' In Syria Prevents Delivery Of Aid, Evacuations

New York Times: ‘Humanitarian Pause’ in Syria: More Fighting, More Death
“In Damascus suburbs that have been under ferocious attack by the Syrian government, the first day of a Russia-declared cease-fire on Tuesday failed to yield the promised results: Civilians did not evacuate, the wounded were not ferried out, humanitarian aid did not flow in, and fighting persisted…” (Homsi et al., 2/27).

Reuters: Fighting in Syria’s Ghouta stops aid, 1,000 medical evacuations — U.N.
“Fighting and shelling continued in Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday, preventing any aid from reaching the besieged Syrian enclave during a five-hour pause ‘unilaterally’ declared by Russia, the United Nations said…” (Nebehay, 2/27).

U.N. News: Syria: ‘Actions, not words’ needed to save lives in East Ghouta — U.N. humanitarian wing
“… ‘The U.N. is ready to move convoys into East Ghouta, and to evacuate hundreds of casualties, as soon as security conditions permit,’ Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters at Tuesday’s regular press briefing in Geneva. ‘In the current situation, that is not possible,’ he added…” (2/27).

Washington Post: No aid or evacuation for Eastern Ghouta as Syrian bombardments continue
“…Moscow said it was committed to continue the observance of a daily truce between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to allow aid to enter and civilians to leave the besieged Eastern Ghouta area. But aid agencies said the five-hour pause was too short to organize the delivery of food and medicine for 350,000 people across a front line in a war zone. Civilians said they were too afraid of the ongoing bombardments and of what may await them behind government lines once they escaped the area…” (Sly, 2/27).

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With $165M In Financing From Novo, Repair Impact Fund To Support Early-Stage Development Of Innovative Antibiotics

Financial Times: Novo to invest $165m in first ‘superbug’ venture fund
“The first venture fund dedicated to investing in companies fighting superbugs resistant to modern drugs is to be launched on Wednesday, with $165m finance from Novo Holdings of Denmark. The Repair Impact Fund aims to put $20m-$40m a year over three to five years into European and U.S. start-ups and early-stage ventures developing innovative antibiotics aimed at bacteria the World Health Organization regards as the greatest threat to human health…” (Cookson, 2/27).

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Experts Call For Independent Way Of Policing Humanitarian Sector

Devex: Accountability in the aid sector: Humanitarians can no longer be above the law
“In the wake of revelations that some Oxfam aid workers may have committed sexual crimes while working in Haiti after the 2011 earthquake, questions are being asked about how the staff involved managed to avoid prosecution and whether NGO and United Nations staff are in effect above the law when they carry out development or humanitarian work. The revelations have … shone a light on a broader legal vacuum within the sector in which alleged perpetrators are able to avoid investigation from prosecuting authorities for crimes committed while working in humanitarian settings. … [E]xperts are calling for an independent way of policing the humanitarian sector, including the creation of a ‘Special Court Mechanism,’ as proposed by Code Blue, and an international ombudsman…” (Edwards, 2/27).

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Financial Times Special Report Focuses On Rare Diseases

Financial Times: FT Health: The Future of Rare Diseases
“There are few treatment options for orphan conditions, which affect only small numbers of patients. But scientists are zeroing in on particular genes to develop therapies that may give some hope…” This special report includes eight articles on various aspects of research, treatment, and financing of rare diseases, including congenital Zika, leprosy, and cystic fibrosis (Multiple authors, 2/27).

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP News: European surveillance shows high levels of drug resistance in zoonotic bacteria (Dall, 2/27).

CNN Philippines: Sanofi denies hiding Dengvaxia risks from PH (2/28).

Devex: CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves steps down (Cheney, 2/27).

Devex: Save the Children CEO says aid faces a ‘2008 financial crisis moment’ (Edwards, 2/26).

Nature: Promising HIV vaccines could stall without coordinated research (Maxmen, 2/27).

Reuters: Free clinic opens for Yemenis impoverished by war (2/27).

VOA News: Nigeria Gripped by Massive Lassa Fever Outbreak (Schlein, 2/27).

Vox: 20 years ago, research fraud catalyzed the anti-vaccination movement. Let’s not repeat history (Belluz, 2/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trump Administration Should Release National Biodefense Strategy, Ensure Budget Priorities In Alignment

The Hill: American lives are worth budgeting for with biodefense
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-Pa.), co-chairs of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense

“…When it comes to naturally occurring biological threats, we agree with Bill Gates, whose charitable foundation has provided funds to address biological outbreaks. … Naturally occurring pathogens have the power to destroy lives and economies. … We call upon the president to release the National Biodefense Strategy soon and ensure that his next budget request to Congress conforms to the priorities in this strategy, showing how money requested for biodefense programs supports the National Strategy’s goals and objectives. The White House should also establish a new, government-wide, Biodefense Coordination Council composed of senior officials from responsible departments, independent agencies, and independent institutions, as well as private sector and state, local, tribal, and territorial representatives. This council could help identify redundancies and gaps in our biodefense before they wind up costing lives and wasting dollars. Finally, Congress should create its own bipartisan biodefense working group to consider new legislation that would strengthen our national biodefense and hold the executive branch accountable for using federal funding to execute the National Biodefense Strategy responsibly…” (2/28).

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U.S. Investments In Strengthening Developing Countries' Health Systems Vital To Global Health Security

TIME: Why America Could Become Vulnerable to the Next Major Pandemic
Liz Schrayer, president and CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition

“Infectious diseases know no borders. In this age of global hyper-connectedness, a disease outbreak anywhere is a threat everywhere. … The U.S. government is now perilously close to gutting smart and essential initiatives aimed at keeping disease outbreaks from spreading across the globe. The Centers for Disease Control told employees in January that, in anticipation of budget cuts…, it will shutter much of its work helping mostly low-income, developing countries to strengthen their capacity to rapidly detect, prevent, and control infectious disease outbreaks before they spread. … Prevention and early investments can make all the difference in saving lives both abroad and on our shores. … America’s investments to strengthen health systems in fragile states worldwide are far more than a humanitarian expression. Together, our development and diplomatic programs are an essential investment in our own national, economic, and health security — and doing so requires planning, preparation, and resources. Without it, we expose our citizens to grave risks…” (2/27).

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International Community Must Realize Link Between Economic Prosperity, Global Health Security

Global Health NOW: Prosperity Hinges on Health Security
Sulzhan Bali, independent consultant specializing in global health security, and Richard Seifman, member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Technical Review Panel and board member of the National Physicians Alliance

“…In this climate, there is a pressing need to strengthen the investment case for health security. … The sheer scale of potential pandemic-related economic loss makes it essential that the investment case for preparedness is made not just to policymakers but also to policy influencers and power-brokers at community, country, regional, and global levels. This requires government at all levels, the private sector, NGOs, and health professionals to be aware of the prospects of mutual gains or losses from action and inaction. … Simply put, global health security needs to be on the agenda [at the World Economic Forum (WEF)], alongside other prospective economic impact issues for the 21st century, and risks to jobs, cross border trade, and economic growth. Global financial stakeholders must proactively acknowledge the critical links between economic prosperity and global health security. … The overarching message is clear — outbreaks, whether they happen at home or abroad, pose a threat to economies everywhere” (2/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Article Examines, Offers Recommendations For Current Trajectories Of SDG Targets For Maternal, Child Mortality

Brookings Institution: How many lives are at stake? Assessing 2030 Sustainable Development Goal trajectories for maternal and child health
In an article published in the British Medical Journal, John McArthur, senior fellow, and Krista Rasmussen, research analyst, both with the global economy and development program at the Brookings Institution, and Gavin Yamey, director of the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health and professor at the Duke Global Health Institute, assess the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) trajectories for maternal and child health and explore key issues that should be addressed in order to accelerate progress toward SDG targets (2/15).

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Mozambique President Nyusi Becomes First President To Visit UNAIDS HQ, Discusses Global Health With Leaders In Field

UNAIDS: President of Mozambique visits UNAIDS to discuss global health
“UNAIDS has received its first presidential visit. The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, visited UNAIDS headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27 February 2018 to discuss the response to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria with Geneva-based global health leaders…” (2/27).

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McGill Article Examines Use Of DALY Health Metric To Study Global Burden Of Disease

McGill International Review: The Global Burden of Disease: Use and Abuse of Health Metrics
Kody Crowell, graduate student at McGill University, discusses the use of the health metric, the DALY (disability adjusted life year), to understand the global burden of diseases, and writes, “Understanding their imperfections, researchers and countries should supplement indicators like the DALYs with local qualitative knowledge for responsible health priority-setting” (2/27).

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From the U.S. Government

NIAID Publishes New Strategic Plan To Develop Universal Flu Vaccine

NIH: NIAID unveils strategic plan for developing a universal influenza vaccine
“Developing a universal influenza vaccine — a vaccine that can provide durable protection for all age groups against multiple influenza strains, including those that might cause a pandemic — is a priority for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, NIAID officials detail the Institute’s new strategic plan for addressing the research areas essential to creating a safe and effective universal influenza vaccine…” (2/28).

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PMI Releases February 2018 Newsletter

PMI: President’s Malaria Initiative Newsletter: February 2018
This newsletter contains announcements, news articles, and publications from or featured by PMI, including PMI’s response to the release of the World Malaria Report 2017, an article on the formal launch of PMI in Sierra Leone, and an article on how community health volunteers work to address malaria in Madagascar (February 2018).

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