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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Bill, Melinda Gates Call For Strengthened Investments In Global Health Initiatives

Axios: Gates: World’s youngest are being saved by global health funds
“Global health funds play a key role in improving the world’s health — with the deaths of children under five dropping by more than 50 percent over the past couple decades when investment strengthened, Melinda and Bill Gates told a press conference Wednesday…” (O’Reilly, 1/17).

Reuters: Invest in health for global security and growth, Gates urges donors
“…Ending epidemics of infectious diseases such as malaria, polio, HIV, and malaria is proving tough, they said, but dramatic progress made by global aid mechanisms in recent decades means the world’s people are now healthier and more productive. … The [Gates] Foundation is seeking to encourage international donor governments such as the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Britain, and many others to replenish four key global funds in the next 18 months so they can continue their work. The funds include the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), [Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,] and the Global Financing Facility for child and maternal health…” (Kelland, 1/17).

Additional coverage of the Gateses’ press conference is available from Business Insider (2) and Quartz.

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Nature Examines Washington State's Role In Global Health Sector

Nature: Washington state’s tech billionaires pour cash into global health
“The U.S. state of Washington, in the Pacific Northwest, was once the epicenter of the information-technology world, thanks to Microsoft and its founder, Seattle-born Bill Gates — until the dotcom boom sent investors down the coast to Silicon Valley. Now, Gates and other high-profile Microsoft alumni, along with other wealthy donors, are elevating the state as a major player in another sector: global health. One survey, from the Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA), an industry body that encourages collaboration between global-health organizations in the state, revealed that 207 local bodies see some of their activities as pertaining to global health…” (Smaglik, 1/16).

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Valerie Huber Moves To HHS Global Affairs Office As Senior Policy Adviser On Sexual, Reproductive Health

POLITICO: POLITICO Pulse
“…Valerie Huber moved to global affairs office. The prominent abstinence advocate, who at one time steered HHS’ family planning funds, will now serve as the office’s senior policy adviser focused on sexual and reproductive affairs, POLITICO scooped. Huber is expected to strip references to sexual and reproductive health as well as sex education from the agency’s global health documents…” (Culliver, 1/16).

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U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Creates Uncertainty Among Humanitarian Groups Working To Deliver Aid

IRIN: Trump pullout plan leaves aid groups in northeast Syria scrambling
“As the United States and Turkey trade barbs over the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, humanitarians operating in the country’s northeast say the diplomatic chaos has thrown open a Pandora’s Box of unpredictable security risks that threaten their ability to deliver aid to civilians…” (Lund, 1/16).

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Climate Change Could Lead To Increased Number Of Deaths Worldwide, NEJM Report Says

CNN: 250,000 deaths a year from climate change is a ‘conservative estimate,’ research says
“Climate change could ‘halt and reverse’ progress made in human health over the last century. The grim analysis comes from one of the authors of a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests rising global temperatures could lead to many more deaths than the 250,000 a year the World Health Organization predicted just five years ago. … In reviewing the research on the topic, study co-author Sir Andrew Haines thinks our health is much more vulnerable to climate change — and he believes 250,000 deaths is a ‘conservative estimate.’ … An editorial accompanying the report urges medical professionals to take this report seriously. Its co-author, Dr. Caren Solomon, suggests doctors have a ‘special responsibility to safeguard health and alleviate suffering,’ and that mission should include working quickly to curtail greenhouse gas emissions…” (Christensen, 1/16).

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EAT-Lancet Commission Publishes 'Planetary Health Diet' To Help Improve Global Nutrition, Support Environmental Sustainability

CNN: New ‘planetary health diet’ can save lives and the planet, major review suggests
“An international team of scientists has developed a diet it says can improve health while ensuring sustainable food production to reduce further damage to the planet. The ‘planetary health diet’ is based on cutting red meat and sugar consumption in half and upping intake of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. And it can prevent up to 11.6 million premature deaths without harming the planet, says the report published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet…” (Avramova, 1/17).

Deutsche Welle: Pass the beans, hold the beef to save yourself and the planet
“…Researchers from the EAT-Lancet Commission said that if people followed the ‘Planetary Health’ diet, more than 11 million premature deaths could be prevented each year, greenhouse gas emissions would be cut, and more land, water, and biodiversity would be preserved. … The diet is the result of a three-year project commissioned by The Lancet and involving 37 specialists from 16 countries…” (1/17).

Newsweek: ‘Civilization is in Crisis’: Experts Create Diet to Protect Our Health and Planet
“…In an editorial published alongside the paper, The Lancet editors Tamara Lucas and Richard Horton argued: ‘Civilization is in crisis.’ ‘We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources. For the first time in 200,000 years of human history, we are severely out of synchronization with the planet and nature,’ they wrote…” (Gander, 1/16).

New York Times: New Diet Guidelines to Benefit People and the Planet: More Greens for All, Less Meat for Some
“…The report took pains to say that it wasn’t trying to prescribe to people what to eat or how to eat. It laid out global targets for what constitutes a healthy diet, based on an average intake of 2,500 calories a day. That includes 14 grams, or about half an ounce, of beef or lamb a day. That’s roughly the equivalent of a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder every eight days…” (Sengupta, 1/16).

Additional coverage of the EAT-Lancet Commission report is available from Associated Press, BBC News, The Guardian, NBC News, Reuters, and USA TODAY.

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Health Care Workers Continue To Face Challenges In Ebola Outbreak In Violence-Prone Areas Of DRC

CNN: Ebola outbreak continues in the Congo as obstacles challenge health care workers
“The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak, which began August 1, is continuing unabated in the new year. The total number of probable patients is now 663, while 407 deaths are likely attributable to the viral illness, the Ministry of Health said Wednesday. … The latest outbreak has a case fatality rate of 60 percent. The current outbreak is the second-deadliest and second-largest in history, topped only by one in West Africa in 2014, when the disease killed more than 11,000 people, according to the World Health Organization…” (Scutti, 1/16).

IRIN: Inside efforts to prevent a regional Ebola crisis in central Africa
“…[The outbreak response] now involves hundreds of Congolese officials and World Health Organization staff, as well as hundreds of local and international aid and health workers. But a lesser-known parallel effort is also underway — within Congo but also in neighboring countries — to ensure that a regional epidemic like the one that claimed more than 11,000 lives in West Africa in 2013-2016 isn’t repeated. Weeks of IRIN reporting, including trips to assess efforts in border areas, revealed some intensive monitoring and tight collaboration, especially between Congo and Uganda, but also a realization from health officials of the extreme difficulty of policing thousands of kilometers of porous frontier in a busy trading area prone to spiraling violence…” (Mahamba/Ismail, 1/16).

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UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO Urge Western, Central African Nations To Step Up HIV Prevention, Treatment, Detection Efforts

Xinhua News: U.N. agencies urge to ramp up efforts against HIV in western, central Africa
“UNAIDS, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries in western and central Africa on Wednesday to do more to stop new HIV infections among children and adolescents, and increase HIV testing and treatment coverage. In a high-level in Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday, the U.N. agencies urged the regional countries to unpack the challenges, share best practices and innovative approaches to address the persisting bottlenecks, agree on corrective actions, and ensure commitment to action from countries and partners…” (1/16).

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WHO DG Tedros Confirms Office Of Internal Oversight Investigating Charges Of Misconduct Within Agency

Associated Press: AP Exclusive: U.N. health chief orders probe into misconduct
“The head of the World Health Organization has ordered an internal investigation into allegations the U.N. health agency is rife with racism, sexism, and corruption, after a series of anonymous emails with the explosive charges were sent to top managers last year. … Last month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told staffers he had instructed the head of WHO’s office of internal oversight to look into the charges raised by the emails. He confirmed that directive to the AP on Thursday. Critics, however, doubt that WHO can effectively investigate itself and have called for the probe to be made public…” (Cheng/Keaten, 1/17).

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More News In Global Health

aidsmap: HIV and schistosomiasis programs should be combined to reduce the spread of HIV (Carter, 1/15).

Bloomberg: Billionaire Donors Team Up for Global Impact Fund (Gordon, 1/15).

Devex: The World Bank presidential race heats up (Igoe, 1/17).

Devex: Oxfam internal inquiry finds ‘pervasive’ culture of bullying (Edwards, 1/17).

The Guardian: Oxfam failed to address sexual misconduct and bullying, finds review (Ratcliffe, 1/17).

The Guardian: Sexual abuse of boys often overlooked by state laws, global study warns (Ratcliffe, 1/16).

U.N. News: ‘Proving our worth through action’: 5 things Guterres wants the U.N. to focus on in 2019 (1/16).

U.N. News: Iran: women hunger strikers entitled to medical care, U.N. rights experts urge (1/16).

U.N. News: Mali: ‘Dire’ humanitarian situation, ‘grave’ security concerns challenge fragile peace (1/16).

Xinhua News: Palestinian officials warn of fatal threats of power crisis in Gaza hospitals to patients (1/16)

Xinhua News: Somalia, U.N. agency launch major nutrition survey for children, women (1/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Government, Private Investments Critical To Ensuring Continued Success Of Global Health Initiatives

Wall Street Journal: Bill Gates: The Best Investment I’ve Ever Made
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Over the past two decades, my wife Melinda and I have put a total of $10 billion into organizations that do … challenging [global health] work, including three big ones: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund; and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. … Without more funding over the next 18 months, all three of these institutions will have to dramatically scale back their efforts to fight disease and keep people healthy. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. These organizations are not trivial or expendable. In fact, they are probably the best investments our foundation has ever made. … Decades of data and experience suggest that money is the most important thing in the fight against disease. The correlation is extremely strong between levels of foreign aid for health and decreasing death rates for some of the deadliest diseases. As contributions go up, deaths retreat. The world now has to decide if it wants to continue that remarkable trend. … Institutions such as Gavi, the Global Fund, and GPEI are the closest things that we have to surefire bets to alleviate suffering and save lives. They are the best investments that Melinda and I have made in the past 20 years, and they are some of the best investments the world can make in the years ahead” (1/16).

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Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss Threat Of, Need For Action To Address Climate Change

Washington Post: More studies show terrible news for the climate. We should be alarmed.
Editorial Board

“Another day, another study showing terrible news for the climate. There is a danger that scientists’ findings are coming so often and sounding so dire that even thoughtful observers will tire of being alarmed. But alarm is the only reasonable reaction. … These findings, particularly the new ocean warming estimates, underscore a crucial point in the climate debate. … By doing too little to respond to the warming threat, humans are effectively betting their future on the notion that the climate consequences of their behaviors will fall on the relatively benign end of the spectrum of possibilities. But they could also fall on the far more severe end. World leaders should be scrambling to buy insurance against that risk by investing in emissions-free technologies. Instead, President Trump ignores the issue except to dismiss it, and even leaders who acknowledge the problem do too little. Future generations will find it unthinkable that the world responded so weakly in the face of such clear warnings” (1/16).

STAT: Climate change is affecting health now. Our leaders must take action
Richard Carmona, 17th surgeon general of the United States and volunteer member of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, and David Satcher, 16th surgeon general of the United States

“Among the scientific and policy highlights of 2018 were landmark reports on climate change and human health. These brought more insight and urgency to the reality that climate change is happening now and harming our lives in a host of ways. How the U.S. and the rest of the world respond in 2019 will chart the course for our future. … Failing to act will hasten the spread of harmful health effects, putting all Americans at increased risk. Now is the time to act by urging elected officials to develop robust plans to lessen the impact of global warming and start improving health conditions in the United States. If the string of milestone reports isn’t enough, deadly hurricanes and wildfires serve as brutal warnings. No matter where Americans live, climate change — through hurricanes, wildfires, heat, flooding, and the spread of disease — is harming our health, just as it is harming the health of people around the globe. We’re all at risk and our leaders must lead on global warming. Now” (1/16).

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PSI President/CEO Outlines Key Global Health Issues For 2019

Devex: Opinion: What we’ll be celebrating — and mourning — this time next year
Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International

“…Fast forward with me to my 2019 ‘look back’ at what we will be rightly celebrating as global health successes and recognizing as global health challenges. … The Trump administration’s continued efforts to reduce and restrict the United States’ role in global development — and particularly reproductive health — will have been stymied, again, by the U.S. Congress. But new champions will have emerged to defend global health progress as the U.S. continued to struggle to define a coherent stance. … The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Journey to Self-Reliance strategy will have had its first full year of operation in 2019. … Health security will demand our attention over and over again. … Women Deliver 2019 will have gathered the largest-ever collection of global champions for the power of women in health, industry, business, politics, education, security, and just about every field of endeavor tied to the Sustainable Development Goals. … Will we look back at 2019 with satisfaction that our reasons for cheer outpace our reasons for tears? My bet is yes” (1/16).

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Cost-Benefit Analysis Could Play Critical Role In Ensuring Efficient Use Of Development Funding, Achieving SDGs

Project Syndicate: Making Every Development Dollar Count
Bjørn Lomborg, visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

“…[I]f current trends hold, the world will fail to achieve the SDGs’ targets for 2030 in a host of areas … But instead of allocating development funding to try to speed up progress in these areas, much of it is being directed elsewhere. … How could development funds be better used? Cost-benefit analysis can play a vital role in shining a light on interventions and investments that achieve the most for every dollar spent. … [T]he clock continues to tick toward 2030, and the world is behind schedule on many of its development targets. If we ignore economic efficiency, we risk failing to make needed progress against humanity’s greatest challenges” (1/16).

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Migrants Play Vital Role In Health Sector

Devex: Opinion: As the world seeks migration solutions, the health sector can help
Naoko Yamamoto, assistant director general for universal health coverage and health systems; Ranieri Guerra, assistant director general for special initiatives; Jim Campbell, director of the health workforce department; and Ibadat Dhillon, technical officer in the Department of Health Workforce; all at the WHO

“Last month, at a conference in Marrakech, Morocco, an overwhelming majority of United Nations member states adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. … In opening the Marrakech conference, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks point to the importance of the health sector as focus shifts to the implementation of the global compact. … Secretary-General Guterres’ opening remarks echo the report of the UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health that challenges the preconception of migrants as a drain on the economy and social services, and as carriers of disease. The UCL-Lancet Commission instead evidences the role of migrants in bolstering health and social services.  … [M]igrant workers in the health sector — motivated by their quest for a better life and to make life better for others through the care they provide — can lead us down a path of dialogue, cooperation, and innovation that delivers the kinds of solutions that are envisioned in the global compact. Working with them, and by strengthening support to established instruments and platforms in the health sector, we can help realize the vision and cooperative framework of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” (1/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Profiles New Leadership, Members Of 116th Congress's Senate Foreign Relations Committee

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: 116th Congress: Senate Foreign Relations Committee gets new Chair, three new Republican members
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer at “Science Speaks,” discusses new leadership in the 116th Congress, including Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who is the new chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chair of the Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee (1/16).

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IntraHealth International Highlights 10 Key Global Health Issues To Watch In 2019

IntraHealth International’s “VITAL”: 10 Global Health Issues to Watch in 2019
Margarite Nathe, principal editor/writer at IntraHealth International, highlights 10 key global health issues that IntraHealth International will be watching and responding to in the coming year, including food security, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), violence and the health sector, PEPFAR, health and artificial intelligence, data, family planning, drug resistant sexually transmitted infections, nurses, and climate change (1/16).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 348 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter includes articles on various topics, including an interview with Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands, who discusses the upcoming Global Fund replenishment and the priorities laid out in his first Report to the Board of Directors; results from an OIG investigation and audit; and the announcement of the Global Fund’s $14 billion target for its next three-year funding cycle (1/16).

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