KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Government Reports 4 Prime Partners Decline To Comply With Mexico City Policy; Numbers Ignore Important Context, Advocates Say

Devex: Global health security’s ticking clock, ‘Global gag rule’ at 6 months and Abraaj: this week in development
“…The U.S. State Department released its first review of implementation and challenges associated with the expansion of the Mexico City policy early last year. … This first review reported that, ‘it is too early to assess the full range of benefits and challenges of the [Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA)] policy for global health assistance,’ but sought to address some of the concerns groups have raised about the policy so far. The review included a number of ‘action’ items the State Department intends to take as increasing numbers of organizations fall under the new policy’s purview…” (Igoe, 2/8).

The Hill: Most groups agree to stop abortion services in exchange for U.S. aid
“A Trump administration decision to put new abortion restrictions on international health funding has prompted four nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and 12 of their local partners to not renew their requests for the aid. President Trump last year reinstated the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans the use of foreign aid for international family planning organizations and NGOs that provide or promote abortions. He also went a step further than previous presidents by extending the policy to cover all global health assistance programs furnished by all U.S. departments or agencies…” (Hellmann, 2/8).

Rewire: Trump Administration’s Global Gag Rule Review ‘Ignoring the Evidence’ on Policy’s Danger
“…The administration’s review stressed that only four prime partners out of 733 awards up for renewal declined to accept the terms of the expanded global gag rule. But that rundown ignores key context, according to [a] Planned Parenthood press release. Two of the four prime partners are International Planned Parenthood Federation, ‘which delivers more than 300 services every minute of every day,’ and Marie Stopes, which provides ‘contraceptive services to millions of women, girls and communities across Africa and Asia,’ per the release. The rest of the nearly 1,300 awardees have yet to face the impending decision, according to a background call with reporters. … The six-month review didn’t mention reproductive health experts’ assessments, only that several ‘stakeholder groups,’ including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. political arm of the Vatican, voiced support for the policy…” (Grimaldi, 2/8).

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U.S. Lawmakers Expected To Propose Creation Of New Development Finance Institution

Devex: Exclusive: New U.S. DFI expected to get strong White House support
“A long-awaited, bipartisan bill in the United States calling for the creation of a new development finance institution is expected to be introduced as soon as next week in the Senate and House of Representatives. … If lawmakers do move a new U.S. development finance institution from proposal to reality, it will stand as a major aid reform accomplishment at a time when many development programs are facing White House pressure to cut back. The new institution would also mark the arrival of development finance in a more central role in U.S. global development policy, having overcome political battles that hindered efforts to strengthen these institutions in the past…” (Igoe, 2/9).

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Uganda Suspends Several Aid Officials In Alleged Fraud Investigation; U.S. Calls For 'Swift' Action

The Guardian: ‘They exaggerated figures’: Ugandan aid officials suspended over alleged fraud
“The Ugandan government has suspended [at least] four officials at the start of an investigation into alleged mismanagement of funds meant to support refugees. The U.K., E.U., and U.S. are threatening to withdraw aid and stop programs…” (Okiror, 2/8).

Reuters: Uganda says suspends officials suspected in relief scandal
“…U.S. Ambassador Deborah R. Malac said Uganda needed to conduct investigations urgently, ensure the restitution of any lost funds, and prosecute anyone found to be involved in fraud. Failure to act would make it hard for governments to trust Uganda as a partner, she said. ‘We cannot stress enough the fierce urgency for swift and definitive action,’ she said at a meeting between donors and Ugandan officials on Thursday…” (Biryabarema, 2/9).

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U.N. FAO Seeks $1.06B To Help Crisis-Hit Nations Protect Against Famine

U.N. News Centre: U.N. seeks $1.06 billion to help fragile countries create ‘firewall against famine’
“Ongoing conflicts and climate-related shocks have left millions of people on the brink of starvation, the United Nations agriculture agency warned on Thursday as it launched a $1.06 billion appeal to save lives and livelihoods, and tackle acute hunger in 26 countries. … FAO’s 2018 humanitarian appeal focuses on assisting crisis-hit, vulnerable people in 26 of the world’s most food insecure countries, including Yemen, the Democratic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Syria, and Somalia…” (2/8).

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Controversy Surrounds Tobacco Industry-Supported Research Grant Money

Science: Big tobacco’s offer: $1 billion for research. Should scientists take it?
“…Accepting tobacco money for research was widely seen as acceptable until the 1990s. But revelations about the way the industry hid data on the risks of smoking from the public and used science to sow confusion and doubt made such funding increasingly taboo for academics. Many universities now shun direct industry funding, and some journals no longer publish tobacco-funded research. Major funders such as the Wellcome Trust and Bloomberg Philanthropies bar their grant recipients from also accepting tobacco money. But [Derek Yach, head of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, funded by Philip Morris International,] says industry and scientists should work together on ‘harm reduction’ strategies for reducing tobacco’s health risks…” (Enserink, 2/8).

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Global Fund Approves $515M In Grants For Mozambique To Address HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria

Reuters: The Global Fund grants Mozambique $515 mln to fight AIDS, TB and malaria
“International financing organization, the Global Fund, has approved $515 million in new grants for Mozambique to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, it said on Thursday…” (Mucari, 2/8).

Xinhua News: Mozambique gets 515 mln USD aid to fight HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria
“… ‘HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria remain responsible for high morbidity and mortality in the country,’ Mozambique’s health minister, Nazira Abdula, told the official launching of the triennial program…” (2/8).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: West African nation of Guinea reports Lassa fever death (Larson/Diallo, 2/8).

Devex: Aid to Yemen blocked by banks, suffocating local organizations, report finds (Anders, 2/9).

Global Health NOW: An Open Pharma Approach Targets a Terrible Disease (Simpson, 2/8).

The Lancet: National Health Protection Scheme revealed in India (Chatterjee, 2/10).

Nature: Wild primates threaten efforts to wipe out skin disease (Laursen, 2/8).

Nature: Health officials push for vaccine against neglected tropical virus (Butler, 2/8).

New York Times: In Sweeping War on Obesity, Chile Slays Tony the Tiger (Jacob, 2/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Understanding Genetic Diversity Critical To Preventing Diseases, Improving Global Health

Orlando Sentinel: Commentary: Understanding genetics key to improving global health
Nancy J. Cox, past president of the American Society of Human Genetics

“…[D]iversity of the human experience and our gene pool is not a liability but a strength to mine as we explore new genetic treatments for disease. If we are to embrace the benefits of genetic diversity, we also must insist that we mirror the genetic variation that exists among humans by ensuring diversity among research participants. This helps ensure fair and equitable benefit from research findings. Without pursuing an understanding of how genetic variation and the environments we create and live in combine to impact health and disease, it will be impossible to respond optimally to treat and ultimately prevent infectious diseases like Zika, as well as chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. That is something that can and should unite us worldwide” (2/8).

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Development Of Effective Transmission-Blocking Vaccine Could Prevent Spread Of Malaria

Thomson Reuters Foundation: To eliminate malaria it’s vital we vaccinate … mosquitoes?
Will Stone, researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“…[W]hat if we could flip the malaria control paradigm: what if a vaccine could prevent mosquitoes getting malaria from humans? … [W]e are now better able to understand which people contribute to the spread of malaria. For a number of proteins, we are now investigating whether they could have potential as a transmission-blocking malaria vaccine. If they work in the lab, the major challenge for vaccinologists will be making the vaccine adequately powerful and long lasting to reduce malaria transmission in human populations. Ultimately it’s not one approach that will end malaria. However a transmission-blocking vaccine, combined with effective drugs, mosquito control, and a vaccine like RTS’S [(the world’s first malaria vaccine)], could prevent its spread and bring eradication of this deadly disease one step closer” (2/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Discusses U.S. State Department's 6-Month Review Of Protecting Life In Global Health Assistance Policy

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: State Department Global Gag Rule ‘review’ focuses on training, compliance measures
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses the release of the U.S. Department of State’s first review of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, also known as the Mexico City policy. Barton writes, “The report refers to ‘internal and external feedback,’ focus groups with in-country programs, calls and meetings with agency staff and affected partners, and written feedback from 31 ‘stakeholder groups,’ but provides just one direct quote from all feedback, [in which] the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called the restriction ‘one of the most significant policy initiatives on abortion ever taken by the United States in an area of foreign assistance'” (2/8).

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Global Public Will, Local Leadership Vital To Ending Hunger

Agri-Pulse: Opinion: Is Global Public Will Enough to End Hunger?
Ertharin Cousin, Payne distinguished lecturer at Stanford’s Spogli Institute and visiting fellow in their Center on Food Security, and distinguished fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, discusses how global public will, as well as leadership at the local level, could help “encourage the investments, partnerships, research, and demands for transparency needed to develop and implement local policies capable of ending hunger” (2/8).

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International Vaccines Task Force Gathering Ideas On How To Strengthen Research Capacities For Epidemic Preparedness

World Bank’s “Investing in Health”: Strengthening national clinical research capacities is key to epidemic preparedness and saving lives
Marie-Paule Kieny, director of research at Inserm; Richard Sezibera, member of the Senate of Rwanda; and Mukesh Chawla, adviser for health, nutrition and population at the World Bank and coordinator at the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, and all members of the International Vaccines Task Force, discuss the importance and challenges of strengthening research capacity for epidemic preparedness. The authors note, “The International Vaccines Task Force will deliver its final report in May 2018, in time for presentation at the World Health Assembly. We are open to ideas — and if you have thoughts and suggestions that we should consider on how best to strengthen national clinical research capacity, we would be delighted to hear them. Leave a comment, or email us at ivtf@worldbank.org” (1/25).

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Physicians For Human Rights Says Health Workers Have Responsibility To Advocate For Patients' Rights

Physicians for Human Rights: The Difference Doctors Make
DeDe Dunevant, director of communications at Physicians for Human Rights, discusses the work of PHR in delivering health care to Rohingya refugees and documenting human rights violations, writing, “[H]ealth workers have a responsibility not only to treat their patients, but to advocate for their rights and to demand justice” (2/8).

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PAHO, WHO Launch Study Surveying Migration Trends Of Health Workers In Caribbean Region

PAHO/WHO: PAHO launches new study on migration of health workers in the Caribbean
“The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has launched a new study that will survey current migration trends of health care workers in the Caribbean region. The results of the survey will be used to develop recommendations on migration within the health sector of the countries involved…” (2/8).

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IntraHealth Works With Partners In Central America To Accelerate Progress Toward Ending AIDS

IntraHealth International: In Central America, Health Workers and Communities Achieve Big Progress in the Fight against HIV
This post discusses IntraHealth International’s work over the past two years collaborating “with government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society groups in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama to accelerate progress toward reaching the UNAIDS Fast-Track targets and ending the AIDS epidemic” (2/7).

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Skilled Midwives Critical To Preventing Maternal Deaths In Myanmar

UNFPA: A safe pregnancy is every woman’s right: Midwifery care saves lives in Myanmar
This post discusses the importance of scaling up the midwifery workforce in preventing maternal deaths and how “UNFPA is working to professionalize midwifery in Myanmar” (2/7).

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