KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Lawmakers Take Several Actions In Response To Novel Coronavirus Outbreak; Media Outlets Examine Broader U.S. Response

The Hill: U.S. lawmakers push WHO to recognize Taiwan as independent state as coronavirus outbreak continues
“U.S. lawmakers are pushing legislation that would work toward granting Taiwan recognition in the World Health Organization (WHO) in light of the coronavirus outbreak that has left Taiwan subject to flight bans and limited information…” (Moreno, 2/4).

The Hill: Democrats urge emergency funding for coronavirus outbreak
“House Democrats on Tuesday urged Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to request a package of emergency supplemental funding to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. ‘Further resources will be necessary to support an aggressive and comprehensive government-wide response to the 2019 novel Coronavirus, both domestically and internationally,’ House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) wrote Azar in a letter…” (Elis, 2/4).

Homeland Preparedness News: Sens. Warren, King inquire as to why infectious disease program was closed
“Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Angus King (I-Maine) recently requested information on why the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) PREDICT program was ended…” (Druga, 2/4).

Homeland Preparedness News: Nuclear Threat Initiative lays out action plan for U.S. to fight Coronavirus outbreaks
“The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has offered recommendations for the United States to prevent and respond to potential biological catastrophes, such as the novel coronavirus. NTI officials say global biological catastrophes may not only impact millions of lives but could have a huge impact on the global economy. Thus, they must be treated as a threat to global peace and security, as well as an international public health challenge…” (Kovaleski, 2/4).

Additional coverage of the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus is available from CBS, NPR, TIME, and WIRED.

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WHO Works To Stem Misinformation Surrounding Novel Coronavirus Outbreak, Improve Data Sharing Among Officials

Devex: Q&A: WHO’s global strategy to tackle health misinformation
“The World Health Organization’s digital health team has been working to help combat misinformation about the 2019 novel coronavirus. And they are working with technology companies to ensure search engines show results with reliable and accurate health information. … But what exactly is the scope of WHO’s digital health work? In October, [Bernardo Mariano, WHO CIO and director of the department of digital health and innovation,] told Devex there are two processes in place: one is the change within WHO and the other is supporting countries in their digital health journey…” (Ravelo, 2/4).

Reuters: WHO calls for improved data-sharing on virus, says sending team to China
“The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday urged all health ministers to improve data-sharing on coronavirus immediately and said he would send a team of international experts to work with Chinese counterparts…” (Nebehay, 2/4).

U.N. News: Coronavirus: U.N. health agency moves fast to tackle ‘infodemic’; Guterres warns against stigmatization
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has taken steps to ensure that the coronavirus epidemic that has claimed hundreds of lives in central China does not spark a dangerous social media ‘infodemic’ fueled by false information. And in the face of concerns that people of Chinese descent are being discriminated against as fears grow over the spread of the disease, U.N. chief António Guterres called for international solidarity and an end to any ill-founded discrimination of the outbreak’s victims…” (2/4).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s efforts to stem misinformation surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and improve data sharing among officials is available from CNBC, The Hill, and Newsweek.

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Unknowns About Coronavirus Transmission Complicate Decisions On Control Efforts, Experts Say

AP: Unknowns of the new virus make global quarantines a struggle
“Health authorities are scrambling to halt the spread of a new virus that has killed hundreds in China, restricting visitors from the country and confining thousands on cruise ships for extensive screening after some passengers tested positive. But with important details about the illness and how it spreads still unknown, officials and medical personnel are struggling…” (Tong-Hyung, 2/5).

BBC: Coronavirus: Window of opportunity to act, World Health Organization says
“The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is a ‘window of opportunity’ to stop the deadly new coronavirus becoming a broader global crisis. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the steps China took to fight the virus at its epicenter were a good way of stopping its spread. The praise comes as Chinese officials have been widely criticized for their initial handling of the outbreak…” (2/5).

New York Times: Even Without Symptoms, Wuhan Coronavirus May Spread, Experts Fear
“…Doctors in China claimed asymptomatic transmission was possible, and a letter published Jan. 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine appeared to back them up. … But now health officials in Germany have raised doubts about the accuracy of that report. … Whatever the inaccuracies in the journal report, many experts remain concerned about the potential for coronavirus to be spread by asymptomatic individuals, in large part because of anecdotal information received from their colleagues in China…” (Rabin, 2/4).

POLITICO: Coronavirus quarantine, travel ban could backfire, experts fear
“The Trump administration’s quarantine and travel ban in response to the Wuhan coronavirus could undercut international efforts to fight the outbreak by antagonizing Chinese leaders, as well as stigmatizing people of Asian descent, according to a growing chorus of public health experts and lawmakers. The World Health Organization’s top official on Tuesday repeated concern that moves that interfere with transportation and trade could harm efforts to address the crisis, though he didn’t directly name the United States…” (Ollstein, 2/4).

Washington Post: Key evidence for coronavirus spread is flawed as public health decisions loom
“…The essential question public health experts are grappling with is how easily the virus spreads, particularly from people who have mild symptoms. And despite the error in the report from Germany, it’s still possible that people can spread it before they have symptoms. Public health measures that depend on isolating people who could transmit the virus could become difficult to implement if the virus spreads before people realize they have been infected…” (Johnson/Sun, 2/4).

Additional coverage of detection, diagnosis, transmission, and control strategies of the novel coronavirus is available from CNBC, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Reuters (2), Science, and STAT.

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Media Outlets Examine China's Response To Novel Coronavirus, Impact Of Bureaucratic Structures

The Guardian: Taking credit, avoiding blame? Xi Jinping’s absence from coronavirus frontline
“The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has been noticeably absent from public view as his government scrambles to fight the coronavirus outbreak … His most recent public appearance was on 28 January when he met the director general of the World Health Organization in Beijing and said he was ‘personally commanding’ the response to the outbreak. Yet Xi does not appear to be the face of the government’s fight against the virus. … For a leader whose face and words decorate banners and signs across the country and feature in state media daily, the low-key approach during a time of national crisis seems out of character…” (Kuo, 2/4).

New York Times: Coronavirus Crisis Shows China’s Governance Failure
“…So many officials have denied responsibility that some online users joke that they are watching a passing-the-buck competition. … The Chinese people are getting a rare glimpse of how China’s giant, opaque bureaucratic system works — or, rather, how it fails to work. Too many of its officials have become political apparatchiks, fearful of making decisions that anger their superiors and too removed and haughty when dealing with the public to admit mistakes and learn from them…” (Yuan, 2/4).

Quartz: The coronavirus reveals China’s weakness in handling public health crises
“…This pattern of initial downplay by local authorities and draconian interventions from the central government is a familiar one. … So why does China seem to make the same mistake over and over even though the state shares the same goal as the international community in addressing public health crises? This special episode of Because China dives deep into why China keeps failing at identifying emerging problems and communicating critical public health information. The problem is baked into the way China’s bureaucratic structure is set up” (Niu/Lin, 2/4).

Wall Street Journal: China Marshals Its Surveillance Powers Against Coronavirus
“…China’s government has launched an unprecedented effort to track the fast-spreading virus … Much of the work is being done by armies of neighborhood monitors and managers of residential complexes, tasked with checking on people believed to have recently traveled to Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, and reporting their findings to authorities. But the human virus trackers have help. Authorities are sifting through information from phone companies, railroads, and airlines as they tackle the country’s biggest public-health crisis since an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, almost two decades ago…” (Lin/Jie, 2/4).

Additional coverage of China’s response to the novel coronavirus is available from CNN, NPR, Quartz, and Washington Post (2).

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Ambassador Deborah Birx Discusses PEPFAR Priorities, Funding In Devex Interview

Devex: PEPFAR seeks coordination with other aid donors, says U.S. AIDS chief
“Ambassador Deborah Birx, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, says she is not worried about the Trump administration’s repeated proposals to slash her budget, but that is not stopping her from looking for other sources of funding wherever she can find them. This year, for the first time, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is actively pursuing opportunities to enlist other countries’ official development assistance in its efforts to control the epidemic, Birx said in a discussion with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar on Tuesday. … Birx has repeatedly downplayed the impact of these proposals on PEPFAR’s programs. On Tuesday, she said that an administration’s budget is not the sole indicator of its support for a given program. She pointed to President Donald Trump’s endorsement of efforts to defeat AIDS within the U.S. ‘and beyond’ in his 2019 State of the Union address…” (Igoe, 2/5).

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U.N. SG Guterres Outlines 2020 Priorities, Warns Of Global 'Wind Of Madness'

AP: U.N. chief warns ‘a wind of madness is sweeping the globe’
“U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday that ‘a wind of madness is sweeping the globe,’ pointing to escalating conflicts from Libya and Yemen to Syria and beyond…” (Lederer, 2/4).

Devex: Guterres’ U.N. priorities for 2020 and responding to the ‘wind of madness’
“…The secretary-general also addressed the insufficient responses to two other growing risks — coronavirus and climate change — and U.N. engagement on these challenges. The U.N. has made ‘strong’ recommendations calling for U.N. staff to limit travel to impacted areas to ‘what it is absolutely needed,’ Guterres said, and for people to submit themselves to self-isolation when they do ‘travel in those circumstances’…” (Lieberman, 2/5).

U.N. News: 2020’s ‘wind of madness’ indicates growing instability: U.N. chief
“…The vicious cycle of poverty and inequality also must be broken, and Mr. Guterres reminded journalists that the U.N. this year kicked off a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). … Said the Secretary-General: ‘We know that progress on one Goal can generate progress on all — the virtuous circle we know is possible and that can point the way toward growth and prosperity for all'” (2/4).

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Experimental HIV Vaccine Clinical Trial Halted In South Africa After Disappointing Results

The Hill: Promising HIV vaccine trial in South Africa fails
“Researchers have halted a trial of a potential HIV vaccine because initial results found the treatment was not effective. The study enrolled just over 5,400 volunteers across South Africa beginning in 2016, but U.S. health officials on Monday said it has failed…” (Weixel, 2/3).

Additional coverage of the trial is available from New York Times and Reuters.

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More News In Global Health

AFP: HIV drugs touted as weapon in war on coronavirus (2/4).

Borgen Magazine: Lowering the Maternal Mortality Rates in Haiti (Pugh, 2/5).

Devex: U.K. launches COP26 with no leader and no obvious strategy (Worley, 2/5).

Devex: Pilot program tackles ‘problematic’ data requirements for gender-based violence (Rogers, 2/4).

The Guardian: African countries rush to reinforce ‘fragile’ defenses against coronavirus (Burke, 2/4).

Reuters: E.U. medicines agency to support coronavirus vaccine, drug development (Hussain, 2/4).

SciDev.Net: Cancer burden could balloon in poorest countries (Vesper, 2/4).

TIME: This Doctor Was Vilified After Contracting Ebola. Now He Sees History Repeating Itself With Coronavirus (Chan, 2/4).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Novel Coronavirus Outbreak, Response

Scientific American: Coronavirus Is a Reminder: The Best Defense against a New Viral Outbreak Is Early Detection
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

“…Infectious disease knows no borders, so when it comes to controlling outbreaks, timing is everything. … That’s why it is so important to detect threats as early as possible, before they spread, and why good disease surveillance is so important. … There are no guaranteed solutions to ensure infectious diseases are always detected early, before they reach densely populated areas. But we do have one cost-effective way of widening the net, through increased government investment in primary health care, particularly in lower-income countries. … No matter how we achieve it, primary health care must be strengthened at a global level to reach every community if we are to widen the surveillance and response net and be fully prepared for these kinds of outbreaks. Until we have a resilient and universal primary health care system, we will be leaving some communities out. And when the next emerging infectious disease strikes, that may simply not be enough” (2/4).

TIME: Why We Are So Ill-Prepared for A Possible Pandemic Like Coronavirus
Michael T. Osterholm, Regents professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and Mark Olshaker, writer and documentary filmmaker

“…If we are serious about protecting ourselves [from possible pandemics], governments of the world must make long-term, proactive investments in pharmaceutical agents, medical equipment, supplies, and basic research. … [H]ow do we prepare for a possible pandemic? First, stop messaging that [the coronavirus outbreak is] a low-risk situation for the U.S. — as if we somehow have an impenetrable border to viruses. … Now is the time for every local and regional health care system to plan for the potential wave of patients needing hospital beds, many requiring intensive care. … Most of all, we should regard this crisis as a test case for far larger and deadlier outbreaks surely to come. … Don’t bet that the century’s worth of scientific progress since 1918 alone will save us any more than we could fight a major war without a fully supplied standing army, weapons systems, and battle plans already in place. And if we are surprised again, there may be hell to pay” (2/4).

The Atlantic: My Hometown Is Being Ravaged by the Coronavirus
Xinyan Yu, journalist (2/5).

The Guardian: The coronavirus lays bare the limits of WHO’s health diplomacy with China
Peter Beaumont, senior reporter on the Guardian’s Global Development desk (2/5).

New Humanitarian: Race, epidemics, and the viral economy of health expertise
Adia Benton, associate professor of anthropology at Northwestern University (2/4).

New York Times: The Subtle Muckrakers of the Coronavirus Epidemic
Maria Repnikova, author (2/5).

U.S. News & World Report: The Great Coronavirus Wall Is Breached. Let’s Now Prepare For Its Arrival
Gregory C. Gray, infectious disease epidemiologist, physician, and professor at Duke University (2/3).

Wall Street Journal: Stop a U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak Before It Starts
Luciana Borio, vice president at In-Q-Tel, and Scott Gottlieb, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (2/4).

Washington Post: The coronavirus outbreak shows the vulnerability of the ‘Chinese model’
David Ignatius, columnist at the Washington Post (2/4).

Washington Post: The coronavirus reawakens old racist tropes against Chinese people
John Pomfret, former Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing and author (2/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CFR Brief Describes U.S. Response To Coronavirus Outbreak

Council on Foreign Relations: Coronavirus Outbreak: What Is the U.S. Public Health Response?
Lindsay Maizland, writer and editor at CFR, discusses the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, including an overview of which agencies are leading the U.S. response, what U.S. health authorities are advising, how the U.S. is contributing to global efforts, and whether the U.S. is equipped to respond if the outbreak worsens (2/4).

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IWHC Associate Director Of Advocacy, Policy Urges U.S. Members Of Congress To Support Global HER Act

International Women’s Health Coalition: IWHC to U.S. Congress: Protect Women’s Health
In a statement submitted to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nina Besser Doorley, associate director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, discusses the impact of the Trump administration’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, also known as the global gag rule, on women’s health. Doorley writes, “As the Committee examines challenges to women’s health globally, IWHC strongly urges Members to consider the evidence around the devastating impacts of this policy, and to pursue a permanent legislative solution to ending it. The Global HER Act (HR 1055) would permanently end the global gag rule and ensure that facts and best practices … drive U.S. funding decisions. The Global HER Act would make sure that organizations cannot be disqualified from receiving U.S. funding because they provide legal abortion services with their own, non-U.S. government funding. IWHC strongly supports this legislation and urges the Committee to advance this important bill…” (2/5).

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IRC Report Discusses Impact Of Ebola Outbreak In DRC On Sexual Reproductive Health

International Rescue Committee: Not All That Bleeds is Ebola — how the DRC outbreak impacts reproductive health
This IRC report discusses the impact the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has had on sexual reproductive health (SRH) services and provides recommendations for improving SRH service provision and access during the current outbreak and future outbreaks (2/3).

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Global Health Community Releases Pieces On Security, Humanitarian Response Efforts In Emergency Settings

Conflict and Health: Mobile clinics in humanitarian emergencies: a systematic review
Catherine R. McGowan, humanitarian health adviser at Save the Children U.K. and research fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and colleagues discuss the use of mobile clinics in humanitarian settings (1/30).

Insecurity Insight: Delivering Aid and Emergency Health Care in Insecure Settings
This resource provides an overview of working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the context of the Ebola emergency response, highlighting security challenges faced by response actors and recommending the use of a security risk management framework (February 2020).

Insecurity Insight: Security Challenge: Abduction of Health Workers
This resource discusses the abduction of health care workers in the DRC during the Ebola outbreak and provides recommendations on how organizations should prepare and respond to possible abduction of staff members (February 2020).

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Professor Discusses Importance Of Improving Child Development Measurements To Achieve SDGs

BMJ Opinion: Melissa Gladstone: To move forwards from ensuring children globally not only survive but thrive, we need better ways of measuring child development
Melissa Gladstone, professor of international child health and neurodevelopmental pediatrics at the University of Liverpool, discusses the importance of improving child development measurements for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting a new study published in BMJ Global Health that discusses inequalities in early childhood care and development in low- and middle-income countries (2/4).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. State Department Fact Sheet Provides Overview Of U.S. Assistance To Venezuela

U.S. Department of State: Delivering Life-Saving Humanitarian Relief to Venezuelans in Need
This fact sheet provides an overview of U.S. assistance to Venezuela, noting, “Since 2017, the United States has provided over $656 million in aid to the Venezuela crisis, of which nearly $473 million is humanitarian assistance for the close to 4.8 million Venezuelans who have been forced to flee their country and those facing acute humanitarian needs inside Venezuela” (2/4).

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From KFF

KFF Senior Vice President Provides Testimony Before House Committee On Foreign Affairs On U.S. Government Role In Women's Global Health

KFF: Testimony: The U.S. Government Role in Women’s Global Health and Key Challenges
Jennifer Kates, senior vice president and director of KFF’s Global Health & HIV Policy program, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs on February 5, 2020, as part of a hearing on Unique Challenges Women Face in Global Health. Her testimony describes the role of the U.S. government in women’s global health, including U.S. programs on global maternal and child health/nutrition, family planning and reproductive health, and HIV (PEPFAR), and highlights challenges and opportunities to strengthen these efforts (2/5).

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