KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

USAID Administrator Green Discusses Agency's 'Transformation' In Capitol Hill Hearing

Devex: USAID chief deliberates West Bank and Gaza assistance, teases agency ‘transformation’
“U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green would welcome the opportunity to work with Congress on changes to the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act that resulted in the termination of USAID funding to the West Bank and Gaza. The USAID chief broached the subject on Wednesday during a wide-ranging hearing on Capitol Hill, in which he also provided an update on the status of the agency’s ongoing reorganization. … USAID is in the implementation phase of the transformation, the administrator said. The change that is furthest along is the creation of a new Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance that will combine the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Food for Peace…” (Welsh, 2/28).

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BBC News Examines Humanitarian Aid Situation In Venezuela; U.N. Official Cites Worsening Infant Mortality, Warns Against Aid Politicization

BBC News: Venezuela crisis: How much aid is getting in?
“The Venezuelan government has denied entry at its borders to hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian aid. Lorries containing supplies from the United States, Brazil, and Colombia were turned away. … But despite the recent stand-off, not all international assistance has been rejected. The Venezuelan government has praised Russia, an ally of president Nicolás Maduro, for sending aid and said 300 tonnes of it had been transported to Venezuela. There are also a number of international humanitarian organizations working inside the country. BBC Reality Check looks at what aid is getting in and how it’s used…” (Goodman, 2/28).

The Guardian: Infant mortality in Venezuela has doubled during crisis, U.N. says
“Infant mortality in Venezuela has soared by roughly 50% during the prolonged political crisis in the country. Briefing the U.N. Security Council, the U.N.’s political and peace building chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, depicted a devastating collapse in Venezuela’s health system. She warned that 40% of medical staff had left the country and said hospital stocks of medicine had dwindled to 20% of the required level. … Commenting on the recent politicization of aid efforts to Venezuela, DiCarlo said the U.N. was coordinating efforts to deliver assistance as close as possible to Venezuelans in need. She added that aid delivery should be free ‘from political objectives and delivered on the basis of need’…” (Beaumont, 2/27).

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Assailants Attack 2nd DRC Ebola Clinic; MSF Calls For Reexamination Of Approach To Response Efforts

Associated Press: Ebola medical center attacked in Congo for 2nd time in week
“The mayor of a city in Congo and medical aid group Doctors Without Borders say intruders wreaked havoc at an Ebola treatment center in the eastern city of Butembo, the second Ebola clinic in the region attacked in a week…” (2/27).

CIDRAP News: Unknown forces attack Butembo Ebola treatment center
“…The region is home to dozens of paramilitary and rebel forces, most notably the Allied Democratic Forces. Since the outbreak began last August, numerous outbursts of violence against health care workers and attacks on clinics have been reported. The rebel forces have also conducted disinformation campaigns about how Ebola is transmitted and treated…” (Soucheray, 2/27).

Devex: MSF mulls response in DRC Ebola hotspot after attacks
“Two attacks on Médecins Sans Frontières Ebola treatment centers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo within a span of four days have pushed the organization to rethink its strategy to gain trust among the local community. … The incidents have prompted the organization to recognize the need for Ebola response actors to do a better job on community engagement…” (Ravelo, 2/28).

The Guardian: Arsonists attack Ebola clinics in DRC as climate of distrust grows
“… ‘Within the response, and ourselves, MSF, we need to think what more we could have done, because right now it’s clear that we do not have enough trust within the community,’ said Pierre Van Heddegem, project coordinator of the Ebola response in Katwa, adding that all agencies needed to engage in greater consultation with communities…” (Ratcliffe, 2/28).

Reuters: Congo Ebola center set on fire after armed attack
“…The identity and motive of the assailants were unclear. … The health ministry said in a statement that 38 suspected Ebola patients and 12 confirmed cases were in the center at the time of the attack. Four of the patients with confirmed cases fled and are being looked for, it said…” (Mahamba et al., 2/27).

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Mosquitoes Exposed To Antimalarial Drug Do Not Transmit Malaria Parasite, Study Shows, Proposes New Concept For Treated Nets

Agence France-Presse: Study finds potential new weapon in fight against malaria
“For years, insecticide-soaked mosquito nets have helped dramatically lower malaria infections, but insecticide resistance has driven a search for alternatives and a new study may have uncovered one option. The weapon is a familiar one: an antimalarial drug already used by humans to prevent them contracting the disease, and researchers now envisage using it on netting like insecticides…” (2/27).

Nature: Battling disease by giving mosquitoes an antimalarial drug
“…Writing in Nature, Paton et al. report a non-insecticidal intervention that stops mosquitoes from transmitting malaria and that might offer a way to reduce the reliance on insecticides alone as a means of malaria prevention. … The authors found that the antimalarial drug atovaquone, which inhibits the mitochondrial protein cytochrome b — as well as other types of cytochrome b inhibitor drug — could kill parasites in a mosquito host…” (Hemingway, 2/27).

NPR: Promising New Bed Net Strategy To Zap Malaria Parasite In Mosquitoes
“…[Flaminia Catteruccia, a lab head at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public and co-author of the study,] says these results are a proof of concept that antimalarial-treated bed nets could be a powerful new tool. She and colleagues argue that adding both antimalarials and insecticides to bed nets could considerably improve control efforts…” (Lambert, 2/27).

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More Than 12K People Infected With Measles In Philippines, 203 Deaths In 2019, U.N. Agencies Report, Citing Vaccine Hesitancy

PhilStar: In less than two months, measles kills 203 in the Philippines
“More than 12,000 people have contracted measles while over 200 have died due to the highly contagious disease in nearly two months, according to the report of World Health Organization and the United Nations Children Fund…” (2/27).

SciDev.Net: Philippines battles spike in measles cases
“…In January, the World Health Organization (WHO) included vaccine hesitancy — the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate — among the top ten health threats facing the world in 2019. Vaccine hesitancy has contributed to outbreaks of measles in the United States and other countries. It is also being cited by authorities in the Philippines as one of the causes for the recent spike in measles cases…” (Felongco, 2/28).

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World Food Programme Investigating How Substandard Nutritional Porridge Meant For Mothers, Children Passed Through Quality Inspection Process

IRIN: U.N. probes substandard food aid for mothers and children
“The World Food Programme is investigating how up to 50,000 tonnes of nutrition-boosting porridge mix it purchased for distribution to nursing mothers and malnourished children in Somalia, Yemen, Bangladesh, and elsewhere was of substandard quality, despite its quality inspection process…” (Parker, 2/27).

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: 5,000 cases of tropical parasite in Libya: ministry (2/27).

Devex: The midwives at the forefront of the birthing crisis in Cox’s Bazar (Kumar, 2/28).

Inside Philanthropy: Who is Tackling the World’s Biggest Overlooked Health Crisis? (Dickow, 2/25).

Inter Press Service: U.N. Accused of Failing to Move Aggressively Against Sexual Abuse (Deen, 2/27).

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Eliminating hepatitis C (Burki, March 2019).

New Era: WHO probes possible Guinea worms in Omusati [Namibia] (Ashipala, 2/27).

Reuters: U.N. seeks $234 million in aid for drought-hit Zimbabwe (Dzirutwe, 2/28).

Reuters: Epidemic group invests $34 million in potential vaccine printer tech (Kelland, 2/27).

U.N. News: Stateless Rohingya refugee children living in ‘untenable situation,’ UNICEF chief (2/27).

U.N. News: Yemen: ‘A great first step’ U.N. declares as aid team accesses grain silo which can feed millions (2/27).

U.N. News: ‘Comprehensively include migrants’ or sustainable development won’t happen, warns General Assembly President (2/27).

VOA News: WFP Airlifts Food to Thousands in Central African Republic (Schlein, 2/27).

VOA News: Malawi Vaccinates Young Girls Against Cervical Cancer (Masina, 2/27).

Vox: Bill Gates: I’ve paid $10 billion in taxes. I should have paid more (Piper, 2/27).

Wall Street Journal: Beijing Designs New Rules After Gene-Edited Baby Fiasco (Rana et al., 2/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Responses To Venezuela's Economic, Political Situation

IRIN: Why Venezuelan migrants need to be regarded as refugees
Alexander Betts, professor of forced migration and international affairs at the University of Oxford

“Some 3.4 million Venezuelans have now fled economic and political collapse. More than 1.1 million of them are in Colombia. And yet the Colombian government has recognized that displaced Venezuelans don’t have to be a burden; they can contribute economically, provided the right policies are adopted and there is adequate international support. … Arguably the most successful precedent of channeling development assistance to support refugees comes from the region. The International Conference on Refugees in Central America (CIREFCA) of 1989 outlined a range of development programs to support refugees’ economic integration. … Crucially, the conference was not a one-off pledging conference but a multi-year process that built trust and credibility, and included concrete follow-up mechanisms. … Of particular relevance, CIREFCA focused not just on ‘refugees,’ but also ‘externally displaced persons’ and ‘internally displaced persons.’ Might a similar ‘International Conference on Venezuelan Migrants,’ for example, serve as a catalyst for a development-based approach? … Regardless of whether there is consensus for such a process, international engagement for both humanitarian and development [responses] is urgently needed. … What is at stake is not only the needs of millions of Venezuelans but also the future stability and prosperity of the region” (2/27).

New York Times: Backup Plan Is Needed to Prevent Venezuelan Famine
Dorothy Kronick, assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania

“…Last month, the United States imposed economic sanctions designed to hasten [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro’s exit. If he goes, the world will rejoice. If not — if Mr. Maduro hangs on to power — the sanctions will deepen Venezuelans’ suffering. To prevent this, the United States needs a backup plan. … Without a Plan B, Washington has made a bet that’s safe for President Trump and dangerous for the Venezuelan people. If sanctions contribute to a quick Maduro exit, Mr. Trump will look like a hero. And if they don’t, the United States president will wash his hands of the whole mess. He can’t be blamed if Venezuelans starve, can he? Weren’t Venezuelans starving before the sanctions? You say sanctions made things worse. Mr. Trump says fake news. Some have argued that depriving the Venezuelan government of cash is a moral imperative, because not doing so amounts to paying a hostage-taker. We should not reward hostage-takers like Nicolás Maduro, the thinking goes. But of course, in practice, the international community has done it, in Iraq and elsewhere. We pay hostage-takers not because it feels good or right. We do it when the alternative is worse” (2/28).

The Hill: There’s nothing humanitarian about politicized aid to Venezuela
Gladys McCormick, assistant professor of history in Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

“…The U.S. government’s ties to humanitarian aid to Venezuela are deeply suspect and it’s common knowledge that it’s intended to fast track the military’s defection of current President Nicolás Maduro. It is not surprising that Maduro turned the aid away. If it truly is to be humanitarian aid, the Trump administration needs to decouple it from its aggressive, militaristic agenda. Such aid needs to be handed over to reputable, multilateral organizations with the necessary know-how to navigate the politics involved at the border zones with Colombia and Brazil and get it to those living inside Venezuela. There are several organizations already working on the ground in Venezuela — primarily tied to the United Nations — that Maduro regime has allowed in for several years. If the Trump administration doesn’t stand down from its unilateral posture of parking aid at the border, it risks jeopardizing the work of these and other organizations. … The Trump administration needs to tread carefully with their rhetoric because, if they so aggressively dismiss diplomatic solutions, it leaves only one other viable alternative on the table: military intervention. The U.S. government’s long track record of such interventions in the region is abysmal at best and requires us, as Americans, to urge our leaders not to go down this pathway again because it never ends well” (2/27).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Role Of Development Banks, Need For Finance Reform To Achieve SDGs

Devex: Opinion: Development requires a new type of project. Here’s what it looks like.
Bandar M. H. Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank

“If we are ever going to tackle the current funding gap and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must rethink how we finance development. … The biggest potential driver of short- and long-term development is the private sector, and as president of the Islamic Development Bank, I am advocating for a paradigm shift in the development community — one that places utmost importance on the value of unlocking private finance. … We should … look to the private sector, where efficiencies and economies of scale are made, and transfer this knowledge and expertise to the public sector, in particular to global infrastructure projects in our member countries. … [Public-private partnership (PPP)] financing enables competitive advantage, higher quality, and efficiency. Importantly, it reduces the burden on state budgets to complete investment-intensive development and infrastructure projects, optimizing the distribution of risks between the two sectors. At the Islamic Development Bank, we urge international governments to enhance private sector inclusiveness to support revenue-based infrastructure through PPPs. This will be critical in the future to maximize development impact” (2/27).

Devex: Opinion: Multilateral development banks need reforming. Here’s how.
Takehiko Nakao, president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and chair of ADB’s board of directors

“There has been much discussion recently about the value of multilateralism. I am a strong believer that the multilateral system, which includes [multilateral development banks (MDBs)], plays many important roles to support the global community. The multilateral system does not conflict with the national agenda. At its root, it relies on the coordination and support of national governments and their taxpayers. … For MDBs to effectively pursue their missions, they must continue to reinvent and reform themselves. Since the ‘Making the Global Financial System Work for All’ report by the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance was published last October, there has been renewed interest in how to reform MDBs. I would like to share my thoughts on three important areas mentioned in the EPG report. First is collaboration among MDBs. … Strong collaboration is key to achieving greater development impact. … Second is a stronger focus on mobilizing private sector resources. … The third element of MDB reform is that … MDB governance itself needs to be brought up to date, reflecting the complexity of MDB strategic challenges and the needed shift in business models. … National interests and multilateralism go hand in hand because, in the longer run, we need international cooperation and collective actions for the interests of people in all nation states. By reforming MDBs, we will continue to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives in the global community” (2/27).

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Political Commitment Exists For Disability Inclusion In SDGs But More Action Needed

Devex: Opinion: Enabling the SDGs through disability inclusion
Amina J. Mohammed, deputy secretary general of the United Nations

“…In December, the United Nations published its first-ever flagship report on disability and development. The report takes stock of how the SDGs have been implemented to date by, for, and with people with disabilities. The report found that people with disabilities remain at a disadvantage in terms of inclusive development in comparison to those without disabilities. … To address these challenges and meet the SDGs, governments, as well as international and national development programs, will need to prioritize disability-inclusive development. 1. We need to eliminate the barriers causing exclusion of persons with disabilities … 2. Mainstreaming disability into the implementation of the SDGs is also a must, by prioritizing areas that catalyze progress across all SDGs. … 3. Investing in monitoring and evaluation of progress toward the SDGs for people with disabilities is also crucial. … Some countries have already made important strides. … These good practices can be scaled up with political commitment and adequate resources. … [W]e know that the political commitment exists for disability inclusion. But we need to accelerate action on the ground…” (2/27).

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Mali's Community Health Program Could Serve As Example For Other Nations' Primary Health Care Schemes

Financial Times: Mali’s ‘astounding’ community health program should be emulated
David Pilling, Africa editor at the Financial Times

“…Mali’s government this week announced it would provide free primary health care to all pregnant women and children under five nationwide. It will also offer free contraception and employ community health workers … across the country. The experiment marks a sharp reversal. … The reform, to be phased in over four years, will cost the Malian government an estimated $120m extra a year by 2022. It has committed to increasing the amount it spends on health care, but it will also receive funding from bilateral partners and the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The need for external funding might suggest the scheme is too expensive — and thus unsustainable. Costs in Yirimadio run at an extra $6-13 per resident a year. But that is amazing value for money if the results can be replicated nationwide. … It is obvious, but spending on health (and education) is the basis of development. … In rapidly urbanizing Africa, where people live in ever denser clusters, it should be easier and more cost-effective to provide basic health. Mali’s initiative can — and should be — the start of a new trend” (2/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

UNAIDS Recognizes Zero Discrimination Day, Calls For Action To End Discriminatory Laws, Practices

UNAIDS: UNAIDS urges action to change discriminatory laws in order to restore dignity and respect and save lives
In observance of Zero Discrimination Day, recognized on March 1, “UNAIDS recalls the equal dignity and worth of every person, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is calling for action to change discriminatory laws and practices, which are a significant barrier for access to health and other services. … UNAIDS is actively working with United Nations partners, governments, and civil society organizations to change those laws as part of the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination” (3/1).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 351 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter includes pieces on various topics, including a news article on Global Fund Board approvals of $36 million for country and multicountry grants; a feature on two multicountry Global Fund grants in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, for TB and HIV; and an announcement regarding the development of a webpage by the Global Fund Advocates Network listing resources related to the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment (2/27).

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DefeatDD Intiative Post Discusses New Rotavirus Vaccines, Implications For Global Efforts To Address Disease

PATH’s “DefeatDD Blog”: India’s Rotavirus Vaccines Are Going Global
Laura Edison Kallen, scientific communications officer at PATH, discusses rotavirus vaccines, including two new vaccines made in India that received WHO prequalification, “a stamp of approval that opens the door for global procurement of the vaccines through United Nations agencies and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.” Kallen writes, “With increasing vaccine market diversity and informed decision-making, countries will be better able to access, afford, and distribute rotavirus vaccines to save the most lives from deadly rotavirus diarrhea” (2/27).

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GAIN Experts Examine Linkages Among Water, Sanitation, Food Production, Nutrition

Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Guest Commentary: All Systems Go for Better Nutrition
As part of a new Chicago Council blog series titled “Uncharted Waters,” Greg S. Garrett, director of food policy and financing, and Sharada Keats, senior associate of policy and advocacy, both at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), examine the linkages among water, sanitation, food production, and nutrition “through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — and discuss efforts of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and our partners to improve nutrition through better access to nutritious foods and clean water.” The authors outline three examples of GAIN’s current and prospective work on food, water, and nutrition, including mother and child nutrition, water for horticulture, and financing safe water enterprises (2/27).

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