KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Transition Team's Questionnaire On Africa Viewed As Skeptical About Humanitarian, Health Aid, Including PEPFAR

The Atlantic: Tragedy Would Unfold if Trump Cancels Bush’s AIDS Program
“…Last Friday, Helene Cooper at the New York Times reported that the [Trump] transition team sent a four-page questionnaire to the State Department about America’s relationship with Africa, on topics ranging from terrorism to humanitarianism. Several questions indicated ‘an overall skepticism about the value of foreign aid.’ Two mentioned PEPFAR in particular: ‘Is PEPFAR worth the massive investment when there are so many security concerns in Africa? Is PEPFAR becoming a massive, international entitlement program?’ … Defunding the program would be catastrophic…” (Yong, 1/17).

Globe and Mail: Rex Tillerson’s dealings in Africa criticized as ‘questionable’
“…Mr. Trump rarely speaks about Africa, and his policies toward the continent are unclear. But some analysts believe the Tillerson nomination [to secretary of state] is a foreshadowing of a Trump policy that will emphasize U.S. commercial and security interests in Africa, at the expense of democracy and good governance. At his Senate nomination hearing last week, Mr. Tillerson said little about Africa. He spoke briefly about U.S. foreign aid for Africa, heaping praise on a U.S. program known as PEPFAR … But a list of Africa-related questions to the State Department, submitted by the Trump transition team, is highly negative in its tone about PEPFAR and other U.S. aid programs…” (York, 1/15).

New York Times: Trump Team’s Queries About Africa Point to Skepticism About Aid
“President-elect Donald J. Trump’s views of Africa have, until now, been a mystery. But a series of questions from the Trump transition team to the State Department indicate an overall skepticism about the value of foreign aid, and even about American security interests, on the world’s second-largest continent. A four-page list of Africa-related questions from the transition staff has been making the rounds at the State Department and Pentagon, alarming longtime Africa specialists who say the framing and the tone of the questions suggest an American retreat from development and humanitarian goals, while at the same time trying to push forward business opportunities across the continent…” (Cooper, 1/13).

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Financial Times Examines How Trump Administration, Brexit Implementation Could Impact 6 Health Care Policy Areas

Financial Times: Health care: six policy areas Trump and Brexit wins will affect
“Health in 2017 will be significantly affected by two of last year’s most striking events: the U.K. referendum to leave the E.U. and the U.S. election of Donald Trump. Because of matters such as international aid payments and the global fight against diseases, the impacts of the changes these will bring will be felt far beyond these countries’ borders. Here are six areas vulnerable to buffeting by the changing political winds. 1. Health care coverage … 2. Development funding … 3. Migrants and health … 4. Global health leadership … 5. Health efficiency … 6. Spread of infectious diseases…” (Jack, 1/17).

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Nature Profiles Several Potential Candidates To Head NIH

Nature: Surprising contenders emerge for Trump’s NIH chief
“Could U.S. president-elect Donald Trump be close to choosing a leader for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? Current NIH chief Francis Collins and Representative Andy Harris (Republican, Maryland), both front-runners for [the] job, met separately with Trump on 11 January, as did billionaire surgeon Patrick Soon-Shiong on 10 January. Several people familiar with the Collins and Harris meetings described them as job interviews. Other rumored candidates include Geoffrey Ling, a retired Army neurosurgeon and former director of biotechnology at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA), and John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University in California who has pushed for reproducibility in biomedical science…” (Reardon, 1/13).

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News Outlets Interview CDC Director Tom Frieden About Successes, Challenges Of Leading Agency, Future Uncertainties

Vox: Why CDC head Tom Frieden is actually optimistic about public health under Trump
“…With President-elect Donald Trump taking office this week, there’s a lot of uncertainty about how the U.S. will handle public health and respond to potential future pandemics. There’s also uncertainty about what will happen to the CDC budget and vaccine coverage rates under a president who spreads vaccine conspiracy theories. And [current CDC Director Tom] Frieden’s own future is currently in limbo, as [he] submitted his resignation as director on January 20. But when we met Frieden at the CDC offices in Washington, D.C., last week, he was optimistic…” (Belluz, 1/16).

Washington Post: Outgoing CDC chief talks about agency’s successes — and his greatest fear
“…While in Washington late last week to take part in a National Security Council exercise for top officials across agencies who are coming or leaving, Frieden talked with the Washington Post about the accomplishments and frustrations of his tenure. He spoke about the successes in reducing smoking in this country, the importance of continued global leadership on fighting diseases abroad — the best way to protect Americans at home, he said — and the challenges ahead…” (Sun, 1/16).

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Devex Publishes Q&A Articles With WHO Director-General Candidates Douste-Blazy, Nabarro

Devex: Q&A: WHO candidate Philippe Douste-Blazy
“Philippe Douste-Blazy has focused his energy over the past decade on exploring alternative means to fund development causes. Now, he is making these efforts the centerpiece of his candidacy for the World Health Organization director general. … In this Q&A, Douste-Blazy speaks about his strategy for convincing member states to increase WHO’s budget, as well as his priorities for the organization and what he intends to do to restore member states’ full confidence in the institution he is hoping to lead…” (Ravelo, 1/16).

Devex: Q&A: WHO candidate David Nabarro
“David Nabarro is coming off several high-profile roles as U.N. special envoy heading into his candidacy for the World Health Organization. Ban Ki-moon’s representative for the Ebola crisis, and subsequently for the Sustainable Development Goals, Nabarro is a high-profile candidate with vast experience across the U.N. system. … In this Q&A, Nabarro discusses the linkages between his work on the SDGs and the path he is pursuing now as director general of WHO, the critical work of the U.N. agency, and the values he aims to instill within the organization to boost trust and confidence in the institution, particularly among donors investing in the organization…” (Ravelo, 1/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

WHO Director-General Candidate Tedros Adhanom Discusses Leadership Credentials, Vision For Agency

The Huffington Post: My commitment to ensuring a strong, coordinated, global response to health emergencies
Tedros Adhanom, minister and special adviser to the prime minister of Ethiopia, and candidate for WHO director general

“…Strong leadership is essential in the face of health crises. Complex public health emergencies demand a collective response with high-level political and diplomatic engagement at both the national and global levels. Local and international authorities must work together to put health at the center of their security, economic, and development agendas. … Two weeks remain before the Member States of the WHO Executive Board convene to short-list the top three candidates for director general. I am running because WHO has the power to make tangible and positive impact[s] on the lives of billions of people. I believe in WHO’s mandate, I know what it takes to serve those who need the most care yet receive the least, and I believe I can lead WHO to fulfill its potential. First, I am passionate about improving the health of people around the world … Second, I have proven experience addressing the greatest health challenges of our time at their roots at both the national and international levels. … Third, having served as Ethiopia’s minister of health and minister of foreign affairs — as well as in several board leadership positions — I have the political leadership and diplomatic skills that WHO needs. … I truly believe that together we can create a healthier world” (1/15).

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Clinical Laboratory Networks Play Critical Role In Strengthening Health Systems, Global Health Security

The Lancet Global Health: Global health security: how can laboratories help?
Editorial Board

“‘How did Ebola happen and could it happen again?’ is a question asked countless times over the past three years. More often than not, the catastrophic failure of health system coherence and capacity in the three most affected countries in West Africa is fingered as the inevitable culprit … From a global perspective, there is now a comprehensive program in place to strengthen countries’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies of international concern, including from the perspective of laboratory systems. … A functioning clinical laboratory network is an indispensable part of the health system, being vital to disease burden estimation, timely diagnosis, and monitoring of treatment response. It is also an essential component of global health security. Africa should treasure its dynamic [African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM)], its new CDC, and its committed young laboratory professionals in its collaborative journey towards a world safe from future health threats” (February 2017).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO DG Candidate Bustreo Discusses How BRICS Nations Play Crucial Role In Confronting Complex Challenges To Global Health

The BRICS Post: The Building BRICS for a Healthier Future
Flavia Bustreo, Italy’s candidate for WHO director general and current assistant director general of the WHO, discusses the role the BRICS bloc of nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — can play in global health cooperation, writing, “The diversity of the BRICS and their commitment to improving the standard of living of their people make them an important multilateral forum for encouraging cooperation. The BRICS can be the building blocks for a healthier future, helping the international community to confront the increasingly complex challenges to global public health” (1/16).

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Vaccination Coverage Critical To Preventing Infectious Disease Outbreaks In Syria

BMJ Blogs: Seth Berkley: The new priority in Syria is preventing epidemics
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, discusses the threat of epidemics and the need for vaccine coverage in Syria, as well as Gavi’s commitment of $25 million a year for the next two years to support Syria. Berkley writes, “[T]here is an urgent need to get vaccines into Syria before [the ceasefire agreement] slips away and before the suffering of people in Syria is made even worse by the growing threat of deadly infectious disease” (1/17).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC-Funded Project Aims To Protect Newborns From Infections Acquired In Health Care Settings

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Protecting newborns from infection in health care settings
Rachel Smith, medical epidemiologist for the CDC’s Division of Health Care Quality Promotion’s International Infection Control Program, discusses the challenge of preventing infections in newborns in health care settings, highlighting a CDC-funded project through the “Johns Hopkins University Center for Global Health to investigate these infections, determine ways to prevent them, and identify strategies to improve survival of newborns in intensive care units” (1/13).

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