KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

HHS Secretary Azar Denounces Efforts To 'Normalize' Reproductive Rights Terminology, Says 'No International Right To Abortion' In Speech To Representatives Of 30 Nations

Washington Times: HHS Secretary Alex Azar says ‘no international right to abortion’
“Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke to representatives from more than 30 nations Thursday morning in Washington, promoting a ‘positive vision for women’s health’ that, he added, doesn’t include abortions. … In Thursday’s speech, Mr. Azar decried efforts, in his words, to ‘normalize’ terms such as ‘reproductive rights’ and ‘sexual and reproductive health’…” (Vondracek, 1/16).

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Women's March Global Demanding Rights To Bodily Autonomy Ahead Of January 18 Events

IPS: Women Activists Escalate Demand for “Bodily Autonomy” as 19 Nations Dissent
“The United States and 18 other U.N. member states have come under fire for denying a woman’s legitimate right to ‘bodily autonomy’ — the right to self-governance over one’s own body without coercion or external pressure. The Executive Director of Women’s March Global, Uma Mishra-Newbery, told IPS the United Nations has worked towards progress in fighting for women’s rights. But many countries on the Human Rights Council continue to negotiate women’s human rights off the table, she pointed out. … As part of a global campaign for women’s reproductive rights, Women’s March Global has called attention to the ‘dangerous and alarming repeal of women’s rights to bodily autonomy, bringing international attention to these pressing issues’…” (1/17).

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2nd Patient Dies Of New Coronavirus In China; Thailand Reports 2nd Imported Case; German Researchers Develop Diagnostic Test

AP: German researchers develop 1st test for new virus from China
“German researchers said Thursday they have developed the first diagnostic test for a new virus that has emerged in central China. The virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year and cases have since been reported in Thailand and Japan…” (1/16).

CIDRAP News: Second family cluster found in Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak
“A few more details emerged from the probe into a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak linked to a market in Wuhan, China, including news of another family cluster — who may have been exposed to the same source — and more information on positive environmental specimens taken from the market. In another development, an expert group that compared what’s currently known about 2019-nCoV and SARS and MERS-CoV said the new virus poses a significant threat to global health, but so far the clinical illness appears to be milder than both SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus)…” (Schnirring, 1/15).

Reuters: Thailand finds second case of new Chinese virus, says no outbreak
“Thailand has found a second case of a new Chinese coronavirus, authorities said on Friday, as they ramped up checks on Chinese visitors, nearly a million of whom are expected for Lunar New Year holidays next week…” (Thepgumpanat et al., 1/17).

The Telegraph: Second patient dies as mystery virus spreads to Japan
“A second person has died in the outbreak of a mystery new virus that has hit a city in central China, authorities have confirmed. Officials in the city of Wuhan said that a 69-year-old man died in the early hours of January 15 after contracting the novel coronavirus on December 31. … The news comes after Japanese officials said a man treated for pneumonia after returning from China tested positive for the disease…” (1/16).

Additional coverage of the coronavirus outbreak is available from Devex, The Economist, New York Times, Reuters, Science, and Science Speaks.

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WHO Confirms 3 New Ebola Cases In DRC Outbreak As MSF Warns Of Increase In Violence In Region

CIDRAP News: Three new Ebola cases confirmed as MSF warns of instability
“The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) online Ebola dashboard shows 3 newly confirmed cases [Thursday] in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), raising the outbreak total to 3,409. Officials also noted 1 new fatality, which boosts the death toll to 2,236. Officials are still investigating 516 suspected cases. Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned that the outbreak is still out of control. And in research news, a study [published Thursday] explores the link between ongoing violence in the outbreak region and virus transmissibility…” (Soucheray, 1/16).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak is available from PBS NewsHour and VOA News.

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New Study Examines Canadian Efforts To Develop Ebola Vaccine, Says Federal Funding Cuts Hurt Research

CBC: Canada’s Ebola vaccine almost didn’t happen, new study reveals
“A new study published this week tells a darker story about one of Canada’s key scientific discoveries — the development of the world’s first approved Ebola vaccine. Dalhousie University law professor Matthew Herder used Canada’s Access to Information Act to obtain hundreds of documents to track the development of the vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV) from the first experiments at Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory in the early 2000s through to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. The documents reveal Canadian government scientists struggling against federal funding cuts and industry indifference to push the discovery forward…” (Crowe, 1/17).

Globe And Mail: Ineffective private-sector partner, federal funding cuts hampered Canada’s efforts to develop Ebola vaccine: study
“…The report, published Thursday in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, is the culmination of five years of work … At the end of 2019, rVSV-ZEBOV became the first Ebola vaccine to be approved by regulators in Europe and the United States. But that landmark could have been reached sooner, the authors argue, if Canada had not relied on the private sector to develop an experimental vaccine that was unlikely to turn a profit…” (Grant, 1/16).

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AMR Industry Alliance Report Calls On Governments To Step Up Funding For R&D Of New Antibiotics, Other Products

CIDRAP News: Industry urges more government action on antibiotic development
“The level of funding for late-stage research and development of new antibiotics and other products to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is insufficient to meet global health needs, and governments need to step up to the plate, according to an industry report released [Thursday]. … The companies in the [AMR Industry Alliance, which published the report,] are responsible for roughly one third of the global antibiotic supply chain, and nearly 50% of the AMR-related products in preclinical development. They say they can’t sustain a viable pipeline of products to address the growing threat of drug-resistant infections on their own…” (Dall, 1/16).

SciDev.Net: Fight against antibiotic crisis stymied by lack of R&D spend
“…AMR is estimated to result in 700,000 deaths annually, a figure that is forecast to surge to 10 million by 2050 if solutions are not found, according to the U.N. The vast bulk of this impact is predicted to hit developing countries, with Africa and Asia accounting for almost 90 percent…” (Willmer, 1/16).

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Researchers Genetically Modify Mosquitoes To Resist All Dengue Types

HealthDay: Researchers Alter Mosquitoes to Resist Dengue Infection
“Mosquitoes that can’t be infected by or spread dengue virus have been created by scientists. The researchers genetically engineered the mosquitoes to be resistant to all four types of dengue, a mosquito-borne virus that’s a significant global health threat. … The findings were published online Jan. 16 in the journal PLOS Pathogens…” (Preidt, 1/16).

Additional coverage of the study is available from ABC and Science.

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Sepsis Causes 1 In 5 Deaths Globally, Double Previous Estimates, Study Shows

The Hill: Sepsis kills more people than cancer around the world
“A new study finds that 1 in 5 deaths around the world is caused by sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, many more than previously estimated by medical experts. The study, led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington schools of medicine, was published Thursday in the journal The Lancet. It estimates that in 2017, there were 48.9 million cases of sepsis worldwide and 11 million deaths. That means nearly 20 percent of all deaths globally were sepsis-related. Previous studies have estimated that sepsis is partly the cause for 1 in 10 deaths globally…” (Guzman, 1/16).

Additional coverage of the study is available from BBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR, and U.S. News & World Report.

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More News In Global Health

AP: U.N. official warns Yemen could face brink of famine again (Lederer, 1/16).

AP: Menstruation huts destroyed in Nepal, where exile persists (1/17).

Devex: Humanitarianism is a ‘fallen angel,’ says MSF president (Root, 1/17).

Devex: Can self-care health interventions help countries reach UHC? (Jerving, 1/17).

Devex: Q&A: Nigeria is finally getting serious about WASH (Root, 1/17).

The Guardian: China’s birthrate falls to lowest level despite push for more babies (Kuo, 1/17).

The Guardian: Locusts swarm into Kenya as U.N. warns of ‘extreme danger’ to food supply (Hervey, 1/17).

The Hindu: Tuberculosis control program renamed, to focus on elimination (Prasad, 1/17).

The Lancet: Bushfires expose weaknesses in Australia’s health system (Cousins, 1/18).

New Humanitarian: Aid organizations fail to protect LGBTQI+ aid workers in the field (de Serrano, 1/16).

New Humanitarian: Why Rohingya women and girls are risking dangerous smuggling routes (Quinley, 1/16).

Reuters: Record 45 mln people across Southern Africa face hunger — U.N. food agency (Dludla, 1/16).

Today News Africa: Buhari: I’m committed to ending child marriage in Nigeria (Adesina, 1/16).

U.N. News: Tackling femicide in Argentina: a U.N. Resident Coordinator blog (Valent, 1/17).

Xinhua: Health sector suffers most from reduction of cross-border aid delivery for Syrians: U.N. (1/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Piece Discusses Potential Impact Of Trump Administration's Fetal Tissue Research Rule On Science, Scientists

Washington Post: So much for Trump’s pro-life legacy
Robert Gebelhoff, assistant editor and opinions contributor at the Washington Post

“For the better part of a century, scientists have used fetal tissue for biomedical research. They used it to develop the polio vaccine. They used it to develop treatments to help children with cystic fibrosis. And HIV/AIDS. And cancer. And sickle cell disease. In all, research using fetal tissue has saved tens of thousands of lives and improved countless others. It’s this history that makes the Trump administration’s decision to throw bureaucratic hurdles at such research so disheartening. … The most frustrating result of this debate has been the demonization of scientists. As The Post reported, many researchers are fearful of speaking publicly out of concern that anti-abortion activists would go after them. That’s a sad indictment of our current political climate, and it’s a moment for the Trump administration and the pro-life movement to realize a fundamental truth in politics: If scientists have become your enemy, you’re targeting the wrong people” (1/16).

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Development, Approval Of Ervebo Ebola Vaccine Offers Several Lessons, Experts Write In Opinion Piece

STAT: The public science behind the ‘Merck’ Ebola vaccine
Matthew Herder, director of the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University; Janice E. Graham, university research professor of medicine at Dalhousie University; and Richard Gold, professor of medicine and law at McGill University

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved an important vaccine against Ebola … Alex Azar, who heads the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, quickly congratulated his department’s funding and ‘American global health leadership’ for the vaccine, which is called Ervebo. As recently detailed in STAT, the reality is quite different: Canadian public institutions and funding outside the United States were primarily responsible for the vaccine. … The story of Ervebo offers several lessons. It illustrates that health research is international and that the United States does not always lead. It shows how even precarious public-sector science can do so much more than pure discovery research. It reveals how tired our approach to medical innovation has become. And it underscores growing concerns that important interventions like lifesaving vaccines may be neglected, delayed in development, or priced beyond reach unless and until we entertain alternative ways of bringing innovations to market” (1/16).

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Regulations Could Be More Effective Public Health Tool Than Bans, Global Health Law Expert Says In Opinion Piece

Science: Do bans help modern public health?
Lawrence O. Gostin, O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law and professor of medicine at Georgetown University, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law Center, and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law

“…There are no easy answers, but strict regulation of unsafe products is a more flexible tool to decrease behavioral risks, while avoiding social harms (a black market or discriminatory enforcement). Regulations are often more politically viable than bans … It is deceptively simple to criminalize a hazardous activity. But bans can create unforeseen social and political risks. The public does not support a government that tells individuals what they can or cannot do for their health. Yet government’s greatest responsibility is to safeguard the public’s health. It can do that through a well-regulated society — that is, with evidence-based interventions to ‘nudge’ the public to adopt healthier and safer behaviors” (1/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

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, has published Issue 371 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter features articles on the Global Fund Board’s approval of $18.5 million in interventions from the Unfunded Quality Demand (UQD) Register, the addition of five countries to the Global Fund’s 2020 eligibility list, and a report highlighting transition and sustainability issues in the Latin American and Caribbean response to HIV, TB, and malaria (1/15).

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UNAIDS Feature Story Discusses HIV/AIDS Response In Thailand

UNAIDS: Turning the tide of the HIV epidemic in Thailand
This piece discusses the history of the HIV/AIDS response in Thailand and highlights the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre’s work in addressing the epidemic (1/17).

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WHO Reports Highlight Declining Private Investment, Lack Of Innovation In New Antibiotic Research

WHO: Lack of new antibiotics threatens global efforts to contain drug-resistant infections
“Declining private investment and lack of innovation in the development of new antibiotics are undermining efforts to combat drug-resistant infections, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Two new reports reveal a weak pipeline for antibiotic agents. … The reports (Antibacterial agents in clinical development — an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline and its companion publication, Antibacterial agents in preclinical development) also found that research and development for antibiotics is primarily driven by small- or medium-sized enterprises with large pharmaceutical companies continuing to exit the field…” (1/17).

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Muhlenberg College Assistant Professor Discusses Effects Of Climate Change On Children's Health

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Warning: Climate change will bring major new health risks for kids
Kathleen E. Bachynski, assistant professor of public health at Muhlenberg College, discusses a recent Lancet report on climate change and human health and highlights the effects of climate change on the health of children. Bachynski writes, “Protecting children from air pollution, heat-related deaths, infectious diseases, malnutrition, and mental health effects associated with climate change will involve the mobilization of all sectors of society to drastically reduce emissions and invest in health systems and infrastructure…” (1/17).

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Science Perspective Article Discusses Potential Role Of Transmissible Microbiota In NCDs

Science: Are noncommunicable diseases communicable?
B. Brett Finlay, professor at Michael Smith Laboratories and the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues discuss how some noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) could have a microbial component and thus might be communicable via the microbiota, writing, “[T]he microbiota could be a causal and transmissible element in certain diseases that have been traditionally classified as NCDs. … As the potential role of transmissible microbiota in NCDs becomes better defined, it will provide new opportunities to address these complex diseases” (1/17).

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From the U.S. Government

HHS Secretary Azar Reaffirms Trump Administration's Support For International Right To Life In Blair House Speech

HHS: Secretary Azar Hosts Foreign Officials to Reaffirm Trump Administration’s Support for Protecting Life in Global Health Policy
“[Thursday], January 16, 2020, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar hosted ambassadors and high level officials from more than 30 countries representing more than 1.7 billion people at the Blair House for a meeting to further advance the Trump administration’s work within global health policy to promote a positive vision for women’s health, protect the lives of the most vulnerable, defend the important role of the family, and encourage respect for national sovereignty. … During the meeting, Secretary Azar reaffirmed the Trump administration’s support for an international right to life and opposition to efforts by organizations like the United Nations to use diplomatic channels and declarations to undermine the sovereignty of individual nations on these matters…” (1/16).

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