KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. State Department Misses Deadline To Respond To Congressional Request For Information On Cuts To U.S. Foreign Aid To Central American Nations

Devex: U.S. State Department ignores congressional request for Central America aid update
“The State Department has missed a [Dec. 18] deadline to provide Congress with requested information about Trump administration cuts to U.S. foreign assistance to Central America last year. The department has not responded to a letter from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel and Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade Subcommittee Chair Albio Sires sent on Dec. 4…” (Welsh, 1/10).

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DFID Likely To Remain Stand-Alone Department But Lose Secretary Of State Leadership, Raising Concerns About Quality, Focus Among Aid Advocates

Devex: DFID could remain a stand-alone department but lose its secretary of state
“…After the Conservative Party won a landslide victory in December’s election, speculation mounted that a newly empowered Prime Minister Boris Johnson would merge DFID with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office — which it was spun out of 23 years ago — as part of a mooted restructuring of the civil service. Amid strong opposition from U.K. civil society — as well as members of Johnson’s own party — several newspapers reported this week that the plan had been dropped, to the relief of aid advocates. … But the celebrations were short-lived, as just 24 hours later, The Times newspaper reported that while DFID will remain as a stand-alone department, responsibility for it could be taken away from Secretary of State for International Development Alok Sharma — whose post would be scrapped — and handed to the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab. While many aid advocates see this as preferable to eliminating the department completely, it still raises fears about what it would mean for the quality and poverty focus of U.K. aid…” (Abrahams, 1/10).

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Chinese Say Unlikely Possible New Coronavirus Spread Through Human-To-Human Contact; Discovery Raises Questions On Epidemic Preparedness

Devex: Possible new coronavirus raises questions on epidemic preparedness
“Chinese authorities have reported there is no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission linked to the new coronavirus found in patients suffering pneumonia-like symptoms in Wuhan province. But experts argue it’s too early to rule out the possibility. … [The WHO] said China’s ability to preliminarily identify a novel virus in a short span of time is notable and shows the country’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks. … However, not all countries may have the capacity to respond and manage such an outbreak, if it leaks outside China…” (Ravelo, 1/10).

The Telegraph: Have Chinese researchers uncovered the new disease X?
“…So far, just six coronaviruses have ever been identified in humans so an emerging one is an intriguing — and worrying — prospect. … For the moment, information on the new virus in China is limited. Only preliminary tests have been carried out on 15 patients and Professor David Heymann, an infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says that this mysterious pneumonia might not even be a coronavirus. Testing could have picked up a background virus that is circulating in the population but that is not causing any symptoms. What is clear is that the new disease does not yet appear to be easily spreading. And crucially health workers — the most vulnerable in any new infectious disease outbreak — have not been infected…” (Gulland, 1/9).

Additional coverage of the outbreak is available from Bloomberg, CBC, The Guardian, The Hill, MedPage Today, Science, STAT, The Telegraph, and VOA.

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NPR Asks Ebola Responders About Efforts Needed To End DRC Outbreak

NPR: What Will It Take To Finally End Congo’s Ebola Outbreak In 2020?
“…Since the epidemic was declared on Aug. 1, 2018, more than 3,300 people have been infected with Ebola, making the outbreak the worst on record for Congo, and the second worst in human history after the much larger West Africa Ebola outbreak of 2013-2016. So is it possible to finally end this outbreak in 2020? And if so, what will it take? NPR put that question to five people involved in the Ebola response; here’s what they said…” (Aizenman, 1/9).

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Pakistan Records 134 Polio Cases In 2019, More Than 10 Times Number Reported In 2018

DAWN: Six new cases of wild polio virus detected across country bringing 2019 tally to 134
“Six new polio virus cases have emerged from different parts of Pakistan, increasing the overall tally for 2019 to 134. … The government has repeatedly said that polio eradication is one of its top priorities…” (1/9).

Outbreak News Today: Pakistan reports most polio cases in years in 2019
“Two countries in the world continue to report ongoing wild poliovirus transmission (WPV1) — Pakistan and Afghanistan. 2019 saw a big increase in WPV1 cases, particularly in Pakistan. During the past year, Pakistan saw it’s numbers of WPV1 cases rise to 134, more than 10 times the number reported in 2018 … This total is higher than recent years, when 54, 20, 8, and 12 cases were reported in from 2015-2018, respectively…” (1/9).

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More News In Global Health

AP: U.N. to vote Friday on new Syria cross-border aid resolution (Lederer, 1/10).

CIDRAP News: WHO: Flu on the rise in Northern Hemisphere (Soucheray, 1/9).

The Economist: A rare outbreak of polio reflects the Philippines’ poor health care (1/11).

The Guardian: ‘They don’t help’: refugees condemn U.N. over failures that drove them to sea (Hayden, 1/9).

HealthDay News: HIV Triggers Immune System ‘Amnesia’ to Smallpox: Study (Preidt, 1/9).

The Hill: How is a high-end camping company in America changing millions of lives in Africa? (Welch, 1/9).

Homeland Preparedness News: CARB-X awards $1.4M to Centauri Therapeutics for new approach to fighting drug-resistant bacteria (Galford, 1/9).

New York Times: When the Cobra Bites, You’ll Be Glad Someone Sequenced Its Genome (Bakalar, 1/9).

New York Times: The Gene Drive Dilemma: We Can Alter Entire Species, but Should We? (Khan, 1/8).

Reuters: Kenya warns locust swarm is spreading, threatening food security (Obulutsa et al., 1/10).

Science: China delivers verdict on gene editing of babies (Cohen/Normille, 1/10).

Xinhua: Malawi to administer 2nd human papilloma virus vaccine (1/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Anxieties Over Climate, Food Security Must Be Recognized, Addressed, Expert Writes In Opinion Piece

The Conversation: Rising eco-anxiety means we should address mental health alongside food security
Laxmi Prasad Pant, senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich and adjunct professor with the Associated Graduate Faculty at the University of Guelph

“…Eco-anxiety — the difficult emotions caused by environmental conditions and knowledge — is on the rise. … Our food systems have become vulnerable due to the loss of biological diversity of plant and animal species: we are anxious about hunger and food security, safety, and fraud. … Eco-anxiety can further exacerbate food anxiety, which has been provoked by a range of food scares, food poisonings, distancing of food supply chains, hunger, and farming crises. … We need to reframe eco-anxiety to emphasize hope in the midst of human tragedy, social collapse, existential threats, and climate catastrophe. … We obviously need a new generation of competent fighters, science engagement professionals, and community development workers in record numbers. We also need to mobilize mental health counselors, psychotherapists, learning circles, and support groups” (1/9).

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U.K. Senior-Level Government Officials Must Take Lead On Preventing Sexual Violence In Conflict Initiative, Hague Writes In Opinion Piece

The Guardian: Britain must spearhead action against sexual violence or relinquish the reins
William Hague, U.K. secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs

“Rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict are deliberate crimes against humanity, employed as a tactic of war and terrorism to systematically brutalize entire populations. They are entirely preventable, which is why I launched the preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative (PSVI) in 2012 with UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie. … Where countries have fallen short of their previous commitments, there should be a diplomatic campaign to urge them to keep their promises, as well as to generate the political will needed to address current conflicts where sexual violence has been rampant. … The U.K. is still in a position to lead, and the fact that the government plans to hold a major conference this year presents an opportunity to intensify its work. But those efforts will only succeed if led at a very senior level within government. Precisely because this is such a huge issue, affecting the work of foreign ministries, defense departments, developments agencies, and justice ministries, governments find it difficult to mobilize substantive action on it unless their very senior members are determined to do so. If Boris Johnson’s government is ready to do this, it could have a powerful impact internationally. But if it is not, it would be better to let another country take the lead than leave the initiative underpowered…” (1/9).

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National, Local Strategies Need To Improve Disaster Resilience In Haiti 10 Years After Earthquake, U.N. Special Representative Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: OPINION: Ten years after earthquake, Haiti still vulnerable to disasters
Mami Mizutori, U.N. special representative of the secretary general for disaster risk reduction

“Haiti has had little reprieve from disasters in the past 10 years since 220,000 people perished on January 12, 2010 in an earthquake which exposed the country’s lack of resilience in cruel fashion. … Since then Haiti has had to contend with ongoing drought, a cholera epidemic, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the 2018 earthquake, and other disasters. These events have exacerbated the country’s vulnerability. Members of the Security Council this week stressed the need for the Government of Haiti to address the underlying causes of instability and poverty within the country. … Ten years on, it is time to remember not only those who perished but to issue a call for national and local strategies to be put in place to mitigate and reduce the risk of the next earthquake or other disaster event. For we know it is not a case of if, but when” (1/10).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Experts Examine Biosecurity Implications Of Body Fluid Samples Taken During Disease Outbreaks

Chatham House: Biosecurity: Preparing for the Aftermath of Global Health Crises
David R. Harper, senior consulting fellow, and Benjamin Wakefield, research analyst, both with the Global Health Programme at Chatham House, discuss the biosecurity implications of the numerous body fluid samples taken during disease outbreaks, including the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1/9).

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Modeling Experts Examine Application Of Decision Analysis To Pandemic Planning, Responses

PLOS Medicine: Infectious disease pandemic planning and response: Incorporating decision analysis
Freya M. Shearer of the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health in Australia, and colleagues examine decision analysis and modeling in planning for and responding to pandemics. Key summary points from the article include, “A decision model for infectious disease pandemics is an appropriate method for integrating evidence from situational and intervention analysis tools, along with the information in policy documents, to provide robust advice on possible response options (including uncertainty). A decision model for pandemic response cannot capture all of the social, political, and ethical considerations that impact decision-making. Such a model should therefore be embedded in a decision support system that emphasizes this broader context” (1/9).

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MSF Report Highlights Haiti's Medical Facilities' Challenges 10 Years After Earthquake, In Face Of Political, Economic Strife

Médecins Sans Frontières: Ten years after Haiti earthquake, medical care is deteriorating
“As the world marks 10 years since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reflects on our response to the disaster a decade ago and highlights the current deterioration of medical care in the country in a new report. … A new report, Haiti: Ten Years On, highlights the challenges for medical facilities to function in the face of political and economic strife…” (1/9).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC Publishes Articles Examining Ebola Outbreaks

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Case Definitions Used During the First 6 Months of the 10th Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — Four Neighboring Countries, August 2018-February 2019 (Medley, et al., 1/10).

CDC’s “Emerging Infectious Diseases”: Public Health Program for Decreasing Risk for Ebola Virus Disease Resurgence from Survivors of the 2013-2016 Outbreak, Guinea (Keita, et al., February 2020).

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