KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Republican House Committee Chair Questions U.S. Funding Of IARC Over Agency's Finding Glyphosate Qualifies As Probable Carcinogen

Associated Press: GOP lawmakers take aim at WHO agency over Roundup ingredient
“Republican lawmakers are threatening to cut off U.S. funding for the World Health Organization’s cancer research program over its finding that the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup is probably carcinogenic to humans. House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith … said he has serious concerns about anti-industry bias and a lack of transparency within the program, which is based in Lyon, France…” (Biesecker, 2/6).

The Hill: GOP chairman questions U.S. funding for international cancer research agency
“…Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) conclusions on the pesticide glyphosate ‘unsubstantiated’ and ‘not backed by reliable data.’ He also accused the agency of using ‘cherry-picked’ information. … The hearing focused on a 2015 conclusion from IARC that found that glyphosate, an extremely common pesticide sold by Monsanto Co. as Roundup, is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans.’ That finding contrasts with studies by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and government researchers in Canada and Europe…” (Cama, 2/6).

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Global Health Organizations Urge Continued Funding For CDC Global Pandemic Prevention Activities In Letter To HHS Secretary

Business Insider: Bill Gates thinks an infectious disease outbreak could kill 30 million people in the next decade — but the U.S. is cutting efforts to prevent global pandemics
“…A group of more than 200 global health organizations wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on [January 29] expressing grave concerns about the scale-back of the global health security programs. … The groups behind the letter hope to encourage Congress and the Trump administration to ensure continued funding for disease surveillance and prevention, which would likely involve congressional approval for additional CDC funding…” (Loria, 2/2).

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U.N. Leaders Call For End To FGM; Media Outlets Continue Coverage Of International Day Of Zero Tolerance

U.N. News Centre: With rising number of girls at risk, world in ‘race against time’ to end female genital mutilation — U.N.
“Female genital mutilation is a violent act that, among other things, causes infection, disease, childbirth complications, and death, said the executive directors of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a joint statement for the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)…” (2/6).

VOA News: U.N. Renews Push to Abolish Female Genital Mutilation
“…The United Nations says more than 200 million girls and women in 30 countries are currently living with the harmful and dangerous consequences of female genital mutilation. Young girls between infancy and 15 years of age are subjected to the practice, which mainly occurs in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The World Health Organization reports FGM confers no benefits, only serious problems, including severe bleeding, infections, complications in childbirth, and increased risk of newborn deaths…” (Schlein, 2/6).

Deutsche Welle: Where does the Arab world stand on female genital mutilation? (Dockery, 2/6).

The Guardian: ‘I believed no man would marry me if I didn’t cut’: battling FGM in Uganda (Okiror, 2/6).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Survivors of female genital mutilation say #MeToo (Batha, 2/5).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Schools act as havens for girls fleeing FGM, marriage in Uganda (Hayden, 2/6).

VOA News: Somaliland Fatwa Forbids FGM (Ahmed et al., 2/6).

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U.K. DFID Launches New Unit To Improve Public Expenditure Transparency

Devex: DFID seeks to tackle declines in global budget transparency
“The United Kingdom Department for International Development has launched a new focus on transparency in its work with developing countries, aiming to open up their budgets to public scrutiny and better oversight. Harriett Baldwin, joint minister of state for DFID and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, set out the new agenda on Wednesday, inaugurating a ‘taxation and finance unit’ within DFID, which will ‘sharpen the focus on transparent and effective public expenditure,’ including work on improving the transparency of extractive industries in developing countries, she said in a speech…” (Anders, 2/7).

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Global Community Doing More To Address Climate Change, Former U.S. VP Al Gore Says

Devex: ‘Sustainability revolution’ is progressing quickly, regardless of politics, Gore says
“Former United States Vice President Al Gore struck an optimistic tone on Tuesday as he posed three questions on climate change action: Must we change, can we change, and will we change? The answer to all three was a definitive — and necessary — ‘yes,’ Gore told a room of investors and climate change experts at the FT Climate Finance Summit…” (Lieberman, 2/7).

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China Taking On Larger Role In Humanitarian Aid, Emergency Relief

Devex: China emerges as a serious player in humanitarian aid
“China is becoming a bigger player in humanitarian aid and emergency relief, but it is still not entirely clear how much this engagement is growing, and how it is driving its work forward…” (Lieberman, 2/7).

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Uganda Investigating Whistleblower Allegations Of Humanitarian Aid Fraud

Reuters: Uganda investigates allegations of refugee aid fraud
“Uganda is investigating allegations that its officials defrauded donors by inflating refugee numbers and diverting food aid, the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday. The East African country hosts more than one million people who fled war in neighboring South Sudan and some 400,000 more from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, a massive aid operation that whistleblowers said had become subject to fraud…” (Biryabarema, 2/6).

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World Urban Forum Opens In Kuala Lumpur, Gathering Urban Leaders Seeking Larger Role In Sustainable Development

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Urban leaders and activists gear up for bigger role in global development
“The world’s largest conference on cities opens on Wednesday as policymakers and activists strive to drive forward an ambitious 20-year road map for sustainable urban development. More than 20,000 delegates are expected at the ninth World Urban Forum (WUF) in Kuala Lumpur…” (Scruggs, 2/6).

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Unlicensed Doctor Reusing Needles Infects Dozens With HIV In India

New York Times: Fake Doctor in India Suspected of Infecting Dozens With HIV
“…[H]ealth officials in Unnao, a primarily rural district two hours’ drive southwest of Lucknow, became concerned last July when an unusual number of patients visiting a government hospital began testing positive in routine HIV screening. … At least 33, they found, tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. All of those who tested positive said they had been treated by the same unqualified medical practitioner…” (Gettleman/Kumar, 2/6).

Washington Post: An unlicensed doctor with a dirty syringe infected dozens with HIV in India, officials say
“…Now dozens of patients in northern India are bearing what could be lifelong costs of HIV infection after the medically unqualified man reused an infected needle, officials said Tuesday, a grim consequence of quacks and unlicensed practitioners filling in the gaps of a health-care system struggling to meet the needs of 1.3 billion people. Rajendra Yadav used a dirty syringe to infect nearly 40 people with the virus that can lead to AIDS, said SP Chowdhary, the chief medical officer for the city of Unnao, where the patients were infected. Authorities expect to find more victims…” (Horton, 2/6).

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP News: Host of unregulated antibiotics sold in India, study says (Dall, 2/5).

Devex: Despite efforts to train health professionals, Malawi’s government isn’t hiring (Jerving, 2/6).

Intellectual Property Watch: Medicines Innovation And Access: Swiss Stimulate New Thinking (Saez, 2/6).

NPR: It’s A Miracle: Teenagers Take Out The Trash (Gharib, 2/6).

Reuters: UNICEF appeals for $17 million to rebuild Iraq health facilities (Chmaytelli, 2/7).

Reuters: Gaza health facilities face closure due to fuel shortage: U.N. (al-Mughrabi, 2/6).

Washington Post: Why car horns, planes and sirens might be bad for your heart (Bever, 2/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

If U.S. Retreats From Global Health Leadership Role, Canada Should Fill In Gaps

The Tyee: How Trump Is Making a Global Pandemic More Likely
Crawford Kilian, contributing editor of The Tyee

“…President Trump’s desertion of [certain developing countries] will hurt the Americans’ reputation around the world. [Canada’s] reputation will suffer too if we don’t expand our contributions. And both Canada and the U.S. — and other countries around the world — will be at greater risk of pandemics that kill thousands, or millions. So for political, as well as health reasons, Canada will have to do more than it has. … Perhaps our best bet would be to contribute some of our top health experts to a handful of countries like Haiti as teachers and trainers, building up local resources and strengthening local skills. We could offer scholarships and fellowships for promising students at Canadian universities, with the understanding that graduates would return home to suitable employment — if necessary, funded by Canadian subsidies. This would be helpful but politically boring; when public health is working, nothing happens. … Still, until the U.S. comes to its senses we’re all more exposed than we need to be. The sooner we face that fact, and act on it, the safer we’ll be” (2/7).

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Ending FGM Requires Global Efforts, Political Commitment

This is Africa: Together, We Can Stop FGM
Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA regional director for East and Southern Africa

“…Anti FGM-campaigners and activists, community-level leaders such as teachers, pastors, [youth health workers], [and] political leaders are playing and continue to play a critical transforming role in changing cultural norms and swaying attitudes against the ill effects of female genital mutilation. … Journalists and media organizations are also crucial to the global effort to eliminate FGM by reporting on FGM and other harmful practices respectfully and ethically. … As we mark the 2018 … International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, we need to continue to accelerate efforts that raise awareness of the FGM issue against the worrying backdrop of the rising numbers of girls at risk. We need to advocate for political commitment aimed at stopping this harmful practice across African countries…” (2/6).

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Reducing Cholera Cases By 90 Percent By 2030 Requires 'Tremendous Political Change' In Global South

Al Jazeera: Cholera in a time of neoliberalism
Jonathan Kennedy, lecturer at Queen Mary University of London

“…[A]t the end of last year, the Global Task Force on Cholera Control — a WHO-led coalition of U.N. agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions — vowed to reduce cholera cases by 90 percent by 2030. … [Cholera e]pidemics occur because of the failure of political actors to provide the world’s poorest people with safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and rudimentary health care. … Many states in the Global South have neither the will nor the capacity to build water, sanitation, and health systems. Moreover, it is unlikely that donor countries will help because they are far more concerned with the potential threat posed by airborne diseases such as Ebola. Challenging this iniquitous neoliberal system is beyond the remit of global health actors, but as long as it prevails, their role will be limited to treating the symptoms of our sick society. In this sense, it is quite likely that unless there is a tremendous political change in the Global South, the WHO and its partners will be unable to eradicate cholera in the coming decades” (2/7).

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Focus On 'Better Nutrition' Needed To Improve Global Malnutrition, Food Security

Project Syndicate: Putting Nutrition Back on the Menu
Eduardo Nilson, vice coordinator of food and nutrition at Brazil’s Ministry of Health

“…[W]ith obesity and diet-related diseases on the rise, and hunger and malnutrition affecting more people than ever before, scientists are focusing not only on how to feed the planet, but on what to feed it. … Fortunately, global efforts are underway to help humanity eat better. … But global summits and regional commitments are only part of the solution. If the world’s dietary devolution is to be corrected, at least three additional measures are urgently needed. First, people and policymakers must properly define what ‘nutrition’ means. … Second, bias in food science research needs to be addressed. … Finally, improving nutrition requires changing behaviors, policies, and attitudes toward food. … Dedicating ourselves to better nutrition … is the least that our bodies deserve” (2/7).

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Dengue Vaccine Controversy In Philippines Could 'Erode Public Confidence' In Country's Health Endeavors

SciDev.Net: Dengue vaccination: when being the first is a bad idea
Crispin Maslog, founding member and current chair of the Board of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre

“When the Philippines launched its dengue vaccination program on 4 April 2016, using Sanofi Pasteur’s newly approved ‘Dengvaxia,’ there was great fanfare and optimism. This week, the Public Attorney’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the company, seeking compensation for the death of a 10-year-old girl it says has died as a result of the vaccine. It follows an investigation of the halted program by the Philippine Senate. … [A]s Philippine scientists and politicians fight over the failure of Asia’s first mass dengue vaccination program, the biggest casualty may be people’s trust and confidence in vaccination and other government-led public health programs as an effective way to fight diseases. … The Philippine government could have been more conservative in adopting the new vaccine, especially in this case, since it involves children. … In hindsight, it looks like Filipino children became unwitting guinea pigs in the rush to roll out a new dengue vaccine, with the scientific and health community’s reputation taking a hit as well” (2/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Birx Discusses DREAMS Initiative At Wilson Center Event

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator: DREAMS Program Reduced HIV/AIDS Among Adolescent Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa
Yuval Cohen, an intern with the Maternal Health Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson Center, summarizes comments made by U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx “at a recent Wilson Center event on efforts to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa.” Birx discussed the DREAMS program, which she said helps create “a health care system where young people interact in a proactive and positive way” (2/6).

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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 330 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter includes articles on various topics, including Ukraine’s transition from Global Fund support, the private sector’s role in the Global Fund’s TB grants to India, and the expansion of Guyana’s HIV program (2/7).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Reflects On PEPFAR's Efforts Over Past 15 Years

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: #PEPFAR15: 15 Years of Saving Lives through American Generosity and Partnerships
Ambassador Deborah Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State, reflects on PEPFAR’s efforts over the past 15 years, writing, “We are proud that PEPFAR is widely regarded as one of the most effective and efficient U.S. foreign assistance programs. … For the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to control a pandemic without a vaccine or a cure, and lay the groundwork for eventually eliminating or eradicating HIV. Thanks to the American people and American leadership, we are closer than ever to ending AIDS as a public health threat around the world” (2/6).

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U.S. Renews Call For Zero Tolerance To FGM

U.S. Department of State: Observance of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
In this press statement, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert says, “February 6 marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). The United States stands in solidarity with governments and communities around the world working to end this human rights abuse. … Today, we renew the call for zero tolerance to end this harmful procedure that affects women and girls in far too many places across the globe” (2/6).

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