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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration Seems Set To Continue PEPFAR Support But Unclear How Mexico City Policy Expansion Affects Programs, The Atlantic Reports

The Atlantic: Trump Seems to Support Bush’s AIDS Program for Now
“Despite concerns raised during the presidential transition, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) seems poised to continue its work. … Though keeping [Obama-appointee Deborah Birx, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy,] in her post seems to demonstrate that the [Trump] administration values PEPFAR, they may also have endangered its ability to function. Three days after Birx was asked to stay on, Trump issued a presidential memorandum re-instating the Mexico City policy, also known as the ‘global gag rule.’ … It’s unclear how the new global gag rule will be implemented, and how PEPFAR’s support of other organizations will be affected…” (Frankel, 2/8).

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8 Nations To Contribute To Initiative Aimed At Filling Gap Left By U.S. President Trump's Expanded Mexico City Policy

Reuters: Eight countries sign up to counter Trump’s global anti-abortion move
“Eight countries have joined an initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls caused by President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S.-funded [foreign] groups around the world providing information on abortion, Sweden’s deputy prime minister said. Isabella Lovin told Reuters a conference would be held on March 2 in Brussels to kick-start the funding initiative to help non-governmental organizations whose family planning projects could be affected…” (Scrutton, 2/9).

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U.K. Foreign Aid Fraud Investigations Rise As More Funding Goes To 'Fragile' Countries, More Rigorous Approach Taken

The Guardian: U.K. foreign aid fraud investigations ‘quadruple in last five years’
“Fraud investigations involving foreign aid have quadrupled over five years as more public money is given to ‘fragile’ countries, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has found. … In a report released on Thursday, the [National Audit Office (NAO)] said it was ‘particularly challenging’ to detect fraud in more than half of the spending of the Department for International Development (DfID) spend because the money was routed through other international organizations, such as the United Nations or World Bank. … Priti Patel, the international development secretary, said the rise in the number of inquiries has coincided with a more rigorous approach to fraud over the past three years…” (Syal, 2/8).

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Announces First Grants To Fund 47 Researchers

The Guardian: Ambitious Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to combat disease is about to be tested
“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious $3bn aim to ‘cure, prevent, and manage’ all disease in one generation is about to take shape in a $600m ‘Biohub’ in Silicon Valley. The project’s conceit, that encouraging audacious science will usher in a ‘new era of accelerated progress in science and health,’ is about to be tested. The first 47 researchers to receive grants, announced Wednesday, have a head-spinning diversity of specialties — from fields as far-flung as big data computer science to the biochemistry and nutrition of wheat…” (Glenza, 2/8).

Nature: ‘Riskiest ideas’ win $50 million from Chan Zuckerberg Biohub
“…Forty-seven investigators will receive up to US$1.5 million each in the next five years from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a partnership between the couple’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and three universities: Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. Together, the biohub grants announced on 8 February total more than $50 million…” (Maxmen, 2/8).

ScienceInsider: Chan Zuckerberg Biohub funds first crop of 47 investigators
“…Biohub co-president and UCSF infectious disease specialist Joe DeRisi says the goal is not to supplement what researchers are already doing, but to allow them to explore ‘blue-sky’ areas. Although some awards went to already-well-funded faculty, many winners are young scientists striving to get grants, he says…” (Kaiser, 2/8).

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Thailand Could Serve As Model For Elimination Of Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission, Review Says

International Business Times: HIV: Thailand becomes first country in Asia to eliminate mother-to-child transmission
“In 2016, Thailand became the first country in Asia to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The story of how the country secured this remarkable achievement may serve as a model for other countries in the region, to stop the virus being transmitted to infants. … In an article now published in the journal Paediatrics and International Child Health, a scientist from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand has retraced the different initiative taken by the country’s health authorities to eradicate transmission from mother to infant…” (Surugue, 2/8).

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CNN Video Series Examines Hunger, Malaria, How Gates Foundation Working To Address Issues

CNN: Looking Forward with Bill Gates
“Despite widespread global problems like hunger and malaria, Bill Gates has an optimistic outlook on the planet’s future — along with a few ideas on how to make it even better. In this video series, CNN meets the men and women bringing those ideas to life…” (Marc et al., 2/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trump Administration Should 'Embrace,' 'Expand' PEPFAR

New York Times: Bill Frist: The Case for Keeping America’s AIDS Relief Plan
Bill Frist, former Republican Senate majority leader from Tennessee, chair of the executive board of Cressey & Company, senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and co-chair of the center’s work on health innovation

“…By embracing and expanding [the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)], President Trump could make the world’s next generation AIDS-free. He and his administration should render PEPFAR not only more efficient but also more strategic by aligning it with clear national security goals. For example, while continuing to focus on eradicating AIDS in Africa, President Trump could deploy additional health dollars to fight diseases and win hearts and minds in countries where traditional diplomacy isn’t an easy option. PEPFAR is the greatest humanitarian effort undertaken by the United States in more than 60 years. But it also makes us safer by making afflicted countries stronger, more stable, and more grateful to us. And it can prevent the disease from re-emerging at home in a more virulent form. President Trump has the chance to make America even greater by making the world AIDS-free” (2/9).

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Investments In Efforts To Address NTDs 'Well Worth Making'

STAT: Neglected tropical diseases are finally getting the attention they deserve
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Although we are closer than ever to a world without [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)], our work is not yet done. … [S]ignificant gaps remain in funding for both the delivery of existing drugs and the development of new tools. Investments to tackle NTDs are well worth making — both in human and economic terms. … At a time when questions loom large about funding global health and development, the success against NTDs is a powerful reminder of the incredible impact we can have when all of us — the public, private, and philanthropic sectors — work together. With the right partners and the political will, I’m convinced that not too far in the future, tropical diseases that are today known as neglected because they have traditionally gotten so little attention from the world will be the success story that everyone is talking about” (1/30).

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Zika Prevention Efforts Must Take Into Account Gender, Socioeconomic Inequalities

The Conversation: The campaign to eradicate Zika has trampled over women’s rights
Pia Riggirozzi, associate professor at the University of Southampton

“…[S]hifting responsibility for [Zika] to women’s behavior isolates the disease from other socioeconomic factors that influence its transmission, such as sanitation or environmental issues. It means responses have tended to focus on the ‘immediate’ health care problem, while the gender inequality that underpins the prevailing unhealthy conditions is considered ‘beyond’ the capacity of public health interventions. … The delivery of health care programs in Latin America should be anchored in an understanding of the inequalities, discrimination, and power relations that prevent many people from accessing them. Governments should remember that they have legal and ethical obligations under international law to ensure the best possible provision of services for all” (2/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

On CSIS Podcast, Kaiser Family Foundation Expert Discusses Reinstatement, Expansion Of Mexico City Policy, Possible Implications For Global Health Programs

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Take as Directed”: The Mexico City policy and implications for global health
Janet Fleischman, senior associate with the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS, speaks to Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health & HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, about the reinstatement and expansion of the Mexico City policy and its potential implications for global health programs (1/27). Other global health-related podcasts from CSIS can be found here.

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CSIS Podcast Examines Role Of Global Health In U.S. Diplomacy

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Take as Directed”: Why should global health matter to U.S. ambassadors?
Janet Fleischman, senior associate with the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS, speaks with U.S. Ambassador Mark Storella, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State, “on the opportunities and challenges of global health diplomacy and how global health can advance U.S. priorities” (2/6). Other global health-related podcasts from CSIS are available here.

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Pharmaceutical Companies Can Improve ROIs, Reputations By Expanding Access To Medicines

Harvard Business Review: How Pharma Can Fix Its Reputation and Its Business at the Same Time
Damiano de Felice, deputy director of strategy at the Access to Medicine Foundation, discusses how research-based pharmaceutical companies can improve their return on investments and improve their reputations by “transform[ing] ‘access to medicine’ from a relentless activist slogan to a fully-fledged business strategy.” He writes, “[P]harma companies should develop innovative treatments for pervasive unmet medical needs; avoid corruption, collusion, and other unethical marketing practices; and make sure that their products reach as many patients around the world as possible…” (2/3).

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Joint Polio Efforts By Afghanistan, Pakistan Suggest Eradication Achievable 'Very Soon'

Humanosphere: ‘All systems in place’ for Afghanistan to eradicate polio, says WHO
Joanne Lu, writer and editor at Humanosphere, discusses efforts to address polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the progress made and challenges ahead. Lu writes, “Afghanistan only had 13 recorded cases [of polio] last year, down from 20 the year before and 28 in 2014. Pakistan’s improvements are even more dramatic — from 306 cases in 2014, to 54 cases in 2015, and finally only 20 cases in 2016. … Afghanistan and Pakistan’s joint robust efforts suggest that global eradication could be achieved very soon” (2/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.