KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Women In U.S. Congress Introduce Bill To Permanently Repeal Mexico City Policy

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Women in U.S. Congress move to repeal abortion gag rule
“Women in the U.S. Congress took formal steps on Thursday to lift a gag rule imposed by President Donald Trump…, introducing legislation that would permanently shut down the controversial policy. … The proposed law would permanently repeal the rule, which has been used by U.S. presidents for decades to signal their stance on abortion rights, a touchstone issue in U.S. politics. … Under Trump, the gag rule was expanded beyond family planning to funding for all global health assistance, including programs for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and immunizations…” (Wulfhorst, 2/7).

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U.S.-Supported Emergency Aid For Venezuela Stuck At Colombian Border As Tensions With Maduro Loyalists Escalate

Associated Press: U.S. emergency aid for Venezuela arrives at Colombian border
“Trucks carrying U.S. humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela arrived Thursday at the Colombian border, where opposition leaders vowed to bring them into their troubled nation despite objections from embattled President Nicolás Maduro…” (Armario/Haberkorn, 2/7).

Reuters: Venezuela aid trucks arrive in Colombia as E.U. calls for dialogue
“…The arrival of the aid convoy, which includes supplies provided by the United States, has increased the pressure on Maduro hours after a European Union-backed group called for dialogue and elections and warned against interventionism. Maduro has rejected the aid convoy as a ‘political show’ and vowed to remain in office despite dozens of nations around the world disavowing his leadership and recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s rightful head of state…” (Bocanegra, 2/7).

Washington Post: Tensions escalate over delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela
“…Even as seven truckloads of aid from the United States began arriving at warehouses in the key border crossing of Cucuta, Colombia, Maduro loyalists pledged to use force if necessary to keep it out. Elliott Abrams, the State Department special envoy to Venezuela, said at a Thursday news conference that, while determined to deliver the aid to the Venezuelan people, the United States and other opposition supporters would not do so by ‘force’…” (Faiola et al., 2/7).

Additional coverage of the humanitarian and political crises in Venezuela is available from the Associated Press, BBC News, DevexFinancial Times, IRIN, NBC News, and New York Times.

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Ivanka Trump Launches Women's Global Development And Prosperity Initiative Aimed At Helping 50M Women With Initial Investment Of $50M From USAID

Washington Post: Ivanka Trump’s empowerment plan aims to help 50 million women. So far, $50 million has been pledged.
“Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the president and a senior White House adviser, announced a new global effort Thursday to help 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. … For the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, the U.S. government will team up with several private companies such as UPS and Pepsi to ‘facilitate complementary private-sector investments to achieve our shared goals,’ Trump [wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal]. But despite the initiative’s ambitions, it is unclear how the White House-led fund would fit into the president’s broader skepticism about foreign aid. Notably, the government funding for the project will come from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — an organization whose funding President Trump has repeatedly tried to cut. The relatively small sum the U.S. government has allocated for the fund — $50 million designed to help 50 million people — also stood out to critics…” (Taylor, 2/7).

Additional coverage of the W-GDP initiative is available from ABC News, Associated Press, CBS News, Devex, Fortune, and HuffPost.

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Philippines Declares Widespread Measles Outbreak, Urges Parents To Vaccinate Children

Agence France-Presse: Philippines hit by deadly measles outbreak
“A growing measles outbreak in the Philippines killed at least 25 people last month, officials said Thursday, putting some of the blame on mistrust stoked by a scare over an anti-dengue fever vaccine…” (7/2).

BBC News: Measles outbreak declared in Philippines
“…As of 26 January there have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths, according to the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau. That is a 74 percent increase from 2018. … There is now increasing concern for the 2.4 million unvaccinated children…” (2/7).

CNN: Measles outbreak declared across the Philippines, citizens urged to get vaccinated
“… ‘We are expanding the outbreak from Metro Manila to other regions as cases have increased in the past weeks and to strengthen surveillance if there are new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant,’ Health Secretary Francisco Duque said…” (McKirdy/Sidhu, 2/7).

New York Times: Measles Outbreak in Philippines Spreads Beyond Capital
“…Salvador Panelo, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte, said on Thursday that the immunization rate for measles was low because the Dengvaxia scare had undermined public confidence in the government’s vaccination program. … He said Mr. Duterte had ordered a ‘massive immunization program’ for children in response to the measles outbreak…” (Gutierrez, 2/7).

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India's Decriminalization Of Gay Sex Will Help LGBT+ Population Access More Health Services, Including HIV Prevention, Global Fund Head Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: India takes ‘big step’ in AIDS fight with gay sex ruling: Global Fund chief
“No longer shamed as criminals, millions of LGBT+ people in India will be less at risk from HIV/AIDS following the legalization of gay sex, the head of a global health fund said on Thursday. … ‘Criminalization of communities … demonstrably increases their vulnerability to diseases like HIV because it creates barriers to accessing health services,’ said Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria…” (Banerji, 2/7).

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Prior Dengue Infection Might Have Protective Effect Against Zika, Study Shows

CIDRAP News: Study: Dengue immunity may have offered protection against Zika in Brazil
“A new study published [Thursday] in Science shows that prior dengue infection may have protected some Brazilians from severe Zika infections during the 2015-2016 epidemic in the Americas. The study findings could have major implications for both Zika and dengue vaccine developments…” (Soucheray, 2/7).

Reuters: Prior dengue infection may protect against Zika — study
“…Overall, the study found that Zika affected 73 percent of study participants, and the high infection rate in this corner of Brazil explains the high numbers of infants later born with microcephaly, said Albert Ko of the Yale School of Public Health, one of the study’s lead authors. Women in this study who had previously been exposed to dengue, however, were less likely to get Zika…” (Steenhuysen, 2/7).

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Human Diet Drugs Make Mosquitoes Less Likely To Feed, Spread Diseases, Study Shows

BBC News: Mosquitoes ‘put off biting’ by human diet drugs
“Scientists say they may have found a way to reduce the appetite of blood-hungry mosquitoes, by giving them human diet drugs. This left them feeling full and bloated and put them off biting, U.S. researchers said. They said the technique could be used to prevent illnesses such as Zika, yellow fever, and malaria. But their research is still in its early stages, the study in the journal Cell reports…” (2/7).

Additional coverage of the research is available from The Atlantic, Gizmodo, Nature, and NPR.

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: Barely alive after IS, Syrian babies haunted by malnutrition (Gebeily, 2/8).

Devex: Conflict expected to deepen Africa’s hunger crisis in 2019 (Roby, 2/8).

Devex: Weeks before Brexit, Europe ends aid funding for non-E.U. NGOs (Chadwick/Edwards, 2/8).

New York Times: U.N. Warns That Grain to Feed Millions Could Rot (Walsh, 2/7).

U.N. News: Measles in Europe: infection rates highest in a decade, says U.N. health agency (2/7).

U.N. News: Million across Yemen ‘just a step away from famine,’ with food available but inaccessible (2/7).

U.N. News: More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges (2/7).

U.S. News & World Report: Study: Suicide Rates Decline Globally While U.S. Rate Rises (Newman, 2/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress Should Pass Global HER Act, End Mexico City Policy

NBC News: Trump pushes an anti-abortion agenda abroad while paying lip service to women’s empowerment
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

“…The need to pass this legislation has never been as clear or urgent. We cannot defend free speech, improve health and sustainable development outcomes for developing countries, and ensure the security and stability of vulnerable populations by silencing medical professionals and subverting the private and sensitive physician-patient relationship. Forcing doctors to essentially commit malpractice is weakening the effectiveness of our foreign assistance by severing long-standing relationships and collaborations. By passing the [Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act (Global HER Act)], Congress can ensure that the health of vulnerable women and families around the world no longer rests on the president’s machinations but in the hands of our most capable and effective international partners. And then those women can take advantage of the economic empowerment programs the president seems so keen to promote” (2/7).

Rewire.News: The Global Gag Rule Has Put Women in Danger for Decades. Here’s How We Can Stop It.
Vanessa Rios, program officer for learning, monitoring, and evaluation at the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), and Nina Besser Doorley, senior program officer for U.S. foreign policy at IWHC

“…The Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights Act (Global HER Act) provides an opportunity to end, once and for all, the … global gag rule [also known as the Mexico City policy]. … The act … would remove — in perpetuity — the U.S. president’s power to restrict health care for millions of women with merely a signature. … Women, no matter where they live, have the right to make their own health care decisions. … [T]he U.S. Congress has an opportunity to pass legislation that prioritizes reproductive health, upholds a patient’s right to informed decision making, and restores U.S. global health leadership. The … reintroduction of the Global HER Act gives Congress an opportunity to take definitive action to end a devastating policy, and positively impact the lives of women and girls around the world” (2/7).

Rewire.News: Dr. Leana Wen: It’s Time to End the Global Gag Rule
Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund

“…The global gag rule is playing politics with women’s lives around the world … The global gag rule doesn’t just drastically limit access to safe and legal abortion, it jeopardizes access to all health care offered by the same providers, who are often the most qualified experts in their respective region. The policy hits hardest those populations that already face barriers to care — including people of color, families with low incomes, youth, and the LGBTQ community. It places the trust of the physician-patient relationship in jeopardy, gags advocates, violates free speech, and bucks global trends recognizing that reproductive health care is health care and health care is a human right. … It is time for Congress to pass the Global HER Act and end the global gag rule once and for all” (2/7).

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To Ensure Progress Against HIV, TB, Malaria, Donors Must Continue To Invest In Global Fund

Devex: Opinion: The world must invest in the fight against HIV, TB, malaria
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO

“…Globally, the world has made incredible progress against HIV, TB, and malaria. But the job is not done. … Which is why we still need a strong and well-funded Global Fund. … [I]f current trends persist, we will miss [the Sustainable Development Goal targets of ending these three epidemics by 2030]. Progress against malaria has stalled, while the decline in HIV and TB cases and deaths is not moving fast enough. … In New Delhi this week, health leaders from around the world will gather to discuss the Global Fund’s investment case and its estimates of the impact that could be achieved if it meets its replenishment targets. … Despite the progress we have made against HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, these three diseases remain a cause of enormous and preventable suffering and death. Apart from the lives they claim, they exact a heavy toll on health systems, sapping productivity and eroding economic growth. In New Delhi this week, the question is not whether the world can afford to invest in the Global Fund — it’s whether the world can afford not to” (2/7).

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Ensuring Gender Equity In Science, Medicine, Global Health 'Is Everyone's Responsibility'

The Lancet: Feminism is for everybody
Editorial Board

“…The Lancet [February 9 issue is] a theme issue on advancing women in science, medicine, and global health, with the aim of showcasing research, commentary, and analysis that provide new explanations and evidence for action towards gender equity. This theme issue is the result of a call for papers that led to over 300 submissions from more than 40 countries. The overwhelming conclusion from this collection of work is that, to achieve meaningful change, actions must be directed at transforming the systems that women work within — making approaches informed by feminist analyses essential. … Gender equity is not only a matter of justice and rights, it is crucial for producing the best research and providing the best care to patients. If the fields of science, medicine, and global health are to hope to work towards improving human lives, they must be representative of the societies they serve. The fight for gender equity is everyone’s responsibility, and this means that feminism, too, is for everybody — for men and women, researchers, clinicians, funders, institutional leaders, and, yes, even for medical journals” (2/9).

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WEF Annual Meeting In Davos Could Serve As Opportunity To Bring Humanitarian, Development Issues Into Spotlight

IRIN: Director’s Dispatch: Aid and the elite
Heba Aly, director of IRIN News

“…[T]he real concern with [the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in] Davos goes beyond the hypocrisy of eating canapés while discussing hunger or paying thousands of dollars for a mattress on a floor in a shared room. [Non-profits] are aware of the well-trodden critique: that for all the willingness of today’s titans of technology and finance to put climate change and income disparity center stage, their eagerness to solve the world’s problems lasts only as long as the solutions don’t threaten their own wealth and power. Those fears can run deeper ‘on the inside,’ for instance that even the presence of civil society at gatherings like Davos risks legitimizing an approach that avoids real transformation of the system — a system that underpinned the rise of the elite and caused most of the world’s problems in the first place. … But in attending meeting after meeting, I am realizing that these opportunities are what you make of them. It’s up to those of us who have a seat at the table to ensure our presence isn’t just window dressing. As a media organization, for instance, it is up to us to effectively use this platform to bring the stories of those affected by crises to the so-called elite. We have an opportunity to provide newer players in this space access to the critical debate around ideas that can inform their behaviors, and to inform all those seeking to better understand the issues — regardless of their motivations…” (2/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Experts Discuss Potential Impacts Of Global HER Act

Guttmacher Institute: The Global HER Act Would Repeal the Harmful Global Gag Rule
Heather D. Boonstra, director of public policy at Guttmacher, discusses several potential impacts of the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act (Global HER Act), if passed, writing, “Importantly, the Global HER Act would prevent future antiabortion administrations from easily re-imposing the global gag rule through executive order. This, in turn, would greatly reduce the likelihood that family planning aid and other global health assistance will continue to be treated as a political football by antiabortion ideologues — never mind the severe real-world consequences” (2/7).

Human Rights Watch: Pushing Back Trump’s Attack on Reproductive Choice
Amanda Klasing, senior researcher in the Women’s Rights Division at HRW, discusses the reintroduction of the Global HER Act, writing, “It looks likely to pass the House and in the Senate, as Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have joined the majority of female senators as two of the 45 original co-sponsors. It is long past time to protect the rights of women around the world and empower women to make their own reproductive choices — regardless of who is in the U.S. White House” (2/7).

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CGD Experts Discuss Future Of Gavi, Childhood Vaccination Coverage In MICs Transitioning From Support

Center for Global Development: Gavi Going Forward: Immunization for Every Child Everywhere?
Amanda Glassman, chief operating officer and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and secretary of the board, and Liesl Schnabel, CGD program associate, discuss the future of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, writing, “The share of children who have received all eight WHO-recommended vaccinations by 12-23 months remains critically low in large middle-income countries (MICs) that are no longer eligible for Gavi support or are being phased out from support in the near future. … The real issue is whether Gavi’s job is done once the GNI-related eligibility transition period ends, or whether progress on the core mandate — every child everywhere reached (as well as global health security and elimination goals) — needs to be considered in deciding on eligibility and continued support…” (2/7).

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India Hosts Preparatory Meeting Of Global Fund's 6th Replenishment

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Partners Commit to Step Up the Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria
“At the kick-off meeting of the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment, leaders, global health organizations, civil society groups, and people affected by the diseases vowed collective action to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria and accelerate progress toward universal health coverage. Hosted by the Government of India, the Preparatory Meeting of the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment brought together governments, donors, technical partners, and civil society groups in a demonstration of global solidarity to pursue Sustainable Development Goal 3, ‘health and well-being for all’…” (2/8).

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MSF Supports Patent Challenge To Prevent Johnson & Johnson Extending Protections On TB Drug

Médecins Sans Frontières: TB activists challenge patent in India, in bid to prevent J&J from extending monopoly
“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is supporting a patent challenge filed in India this week by two tuberculosis survivors, to prevent pharmaceutical corporation Johnson & Johnson (J&J) from extending its monopoly on the tuberculosis drug bedaquiline. … MSF is urging J&J to refrain from attempts to extend its monopoly that will further delay the availability of quality-assured generic versions of bedaquiline in India, South Africa, and other countries” (2/8).

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CSIS Releases February 2019 Issue Of Global Health Policy Center Monthly Newsletter

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Global Health Policy Center Monthly Update
In the February 2019 CSIS Global Health Policy Center Newsletter, J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of CSIS and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center (GHPC), highlights recent publications, podcast episodes, and upcoming events hosted by CSIS. The newsletter includes links to a report by Katherine Bliss, non-resident senior associate at the CSIS GHPC, discussing Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s mid-term review; a podcast episode hosted by Robert David Newman, non-resident senior associate at the CSIS GHPC, who speaks with Philip Welkhoff, director for malaria at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about the Gates Foundation’s new malaria strategy and the importance of U.S. funding and leadership in malaria efforts; and an upcoming event on gene editing in mid-March (February 2019).

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Film Producer Discusses How Virtual Reality Videos Could Play Role In Addressing HIV Stigma

Open Society Foundations’ “Voices”: Can a Virtual Reality Video Help Fight Anti-HIV Stigma?
Film producer Sydelle Willow Smith discusses the role of virtual reality (VR) videos in addressing HIV stigma, writing, “Projects like this are vital to help address the myths and misinformation that fuel the stigma and discrimination that prevent many people from getting an HIV test. While no single piece of media will single-handedly close the treatment gap, VR may prove to be an effective educational intervention — helping viewers walk in the shoes of those before them” (2/7).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Officials Release Statements On Launch Of Women's Global Development And Prosperity Initiative

U.S. Department of State: Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative
In a press statement on the launch of the U.S. Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo notes, “The initiative will advance women’s economic empowerment through a whole-of-government approach to reach 50 million women globally by 2025. … Advancing the rights of women and girls worldwide is integral to our national security and a priority for the United States…” (2/7).

USAID: Statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green on the Launch of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative
USAID Administrator Mark Green states, “Under the Initiative, USAID will establish and manage the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Fund with an initial allocation of $50 million to finance and scale programs that promote women’s ability to participate in the economy equally with men — whether as employees, managers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, or investors” (2/7).

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U.S. State Department Fact Sheet Outlines U.S. Support To Venezuela To Address Humanitarian Crisis

U.S. Department of State: The United States Supports the Venezuelan People With Humanitarian Assistance
This fact sheet discusses Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis and outlines U.S. efforts to support Venezuelans through emergency humanitarian aid (2/7).

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From KFF

KFF Fact Sheet Examines Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis And Malaria, U.S. Government's Role In Fund

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. & The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
This updated fact sheet examines the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), including donor pledges and contributions to the fund, its funding model and organizational structure, achieved results, and the U.S. government’s role in the fund’s governance, oversight, and financial support (2/7).

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