KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Cut In Funding For U.N. Agency Assisting Palestinian Refugees Will Harm Health, Education, Food Access, UNRWA Head Says

Reuters: Schools, health could be hit by U.S. cut for Palestinian refugee funds: UNRWA chief
“A cut in U.S. funding for a U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees will affect regional security and could put vital health, educational, and food services at risk, its chief said on Wednesday, adding he would appeal for world donations…” (Lubell/al-Mughrabi, 1/18).

U.N. News Centre: U.S. funding cuts for U.N. Palestine refugee agency put vital education, health programs at risk
“The decision by the United States to withhold more than half its annual funding commitment to the United Nations relief agency providing aid for Palestine refugees threatens ‘one of the most successful and innovative human development endeavors in the Middle East,’ the head of the body said Wednesday, warning that the rights and dignity of an entire community are at stake. In a statement Wednesday, Pierre Krähenbühl, the commissioner general of UNRWA, said [the] U.S. government announced a contribution of $60 million for the U.N. agency, down from $350 million total contribution by the country in 2017…” (1/17).

Washington Post: ‘A death sentence’: Palestinians slam U.S. decision to cut aid as U.N. pleads for new donors
“…The U.S. decision to reduce funding to the U.N. aid agency makes good on President Trump’s threat this month to withhold money if the Palestinian Authority refuses to take part in a peace process being prepared by the administration…” (Balousha et al., 1/17).

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U.N. SG Guterres Outlines Top Priorities For 2018 In Informal General Assembly Speech

NPR: U.N. Head Lists His Top Global Concerns For 2018
“…In an informal address to member states at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, [U.N. Secretary-General António] Guterres said ‘peace remains elusive’ — and ‘in fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse.’ In his speech, he shared his top priorities for the U.N. in 2018 — many of which touch on themes we cover in our blog about global health and development. … Find justice for the Rohingya Muslims … Keep U.N. peacekeepers safe … Address the conflict in Yemen … Help Africa solve its own problems … Promote gender equality…” (Gharib, 1/17).

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African Nations Must Mobilize More Domestic Resources To Meet Development Goals, Brookings Report Says

Devex: Brookings calls for Africa to improve domestic resource mobilization
“As external financing conditions are expected to worsen in the medium term, the African continent needs to focus on domestic resource mobilization in order to meet development goals, according to ‘Foresight Africa: Top priorities for Africa in 2018,’ a recently released report from the Brookings Institution…” (Jerving, 1/18).

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Environment, Cybersecurity Top List Of Concerns In WEF's 2018 Global Risk Report

Devex: Climate, cybersecurity top list of global threats in new report
“A range of environmental risks and cybersecurity threats top the list of concerns in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Risk Report, even as economic issues diminish amid continued growth. … The survey found that all five risks in the environmental category were ranked higher than average on both likelihood of happening and on impact over the next 10 years…” (Saldinger, 1/18).

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Private Sector Investing More Than Previously Thought In Efforts To Address Antimicrobial Resistance, Report Shows

Devex: Funding outlook shifts in fight against antimicrobial resistance
“Twenty-two research-based biopharmaceutical companies — including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck — invested more than $2 billion in research and development to counter antimicrobial resistance in 2016, according to a survey released Thursday, potentially upending widespread perceptions that the private sector is trailing institutional donors in tackling AMR…” (Anders, 1/18).

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U.N. WFP Warns Food Ration Cuts In East Africa Due To Funding Shortages Increase Risk Of Malnutrition, Crime

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Risk of hunger and crime as U.N. cuts food for refugees in East Africa
“Cuts in food rations for 1.5 million refugees in East Africa, due to funding shortages, could increase school dropouts, crime, and malnutrition, a United Nations official said on Wednesday. With humanitarian needs soaring around the world, donors are prioritizing crises in Syria, Yemen, and Bangladesh, said Peter Smerdon, the World Food Programme (WFP)’s East Africa spokesman…” (Bhalla, 1/17).

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New GlaxoSmithKline CEO Pulling Back On Predecessor's Expansion Plans For Africa

Reuters: Drugmaker GSK cuts back in Africa to hone emerging markets model
“GlaxoSmithKline is cutting back operations in Africa as its new Chief Executive Emma Walmsley seeks to make the British drugmaker more competitive in emerging markets by ditching her predecessor’s expansion plans for the continent…” (Hirschler, 1/17).

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Zambia Health Minister Says Nation Experiencing 'Drastic Reduction' In New Cholera Cases

Associated Press: Zambia says new cases dropping in deadly cholera outbreak
“…Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya this week said there has been a ‘drastic reduction’ in the number of new cases in the outbreak which has killed more than 70 people in the southern African nation since October, most of them in the capital, Lusaka. The provision of fresh water, education in waste disposal and personal hygiene, and other preventive measures are being taken, the minister said…” (Torchia, 1/18).

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Brazilians Wait In Long Queues To Receive Yellow Fever Vaccination Following WHO Warning, Fatal Cases

Reuters: Brazilians rush to get yellow fever vaccinations amid fatal cases
“Brazilians lined up for hours to get yellow fever vaccinations in Brazil’s largest states, alarmed by the increase in the number of fatal cases of infection and a warning from the World Health Organization to tourists visiting parts of the country…” (Boadle, 1/17).

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More News In Global Health

NPR: Pioneering HIV Researcher Mathilde Krim Remembered For Her Activism (Neighmond, 1/17).

Reuters: Gunmen in Pakistan kill two women working to eradicate polio (Yousafzai, 1/18).

Reuters: India plans to raise health spending by 11 percent in budget; less than requested (Kalra, 1/18).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Toothpaste ingredient could fight malaria, research shows (Kelland, 1/18).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: FEATURE-Down to business: Drought-hit Kenyan women trade their way out of poverty (Rioba, 1/18).

STAT: PhRMA is angered by Colombia’s move to cut prices for hepatitis C drugs (Silverman, 1/16).

U.N. News Centre: Intensified fighting across Syria having ‘devastating’ impact on civilians, warn U.N. agencies (1/17).

U.N. News Centre: World cannot stand idle as millions in DR Congo ‘suffer in silence,’ says U.N. agency (1/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trump Administration's Efforts To Cut Funds, Redirect Priorities Of U.S. Health Agencies Put World At Risk

Business Day: Trump’s aim to shrink U.S.’s health puts the world at risk of epidemics
Wilmot James, visiting professor in (nonclinical) pediatrics and international affairs at Columbia University and special adviser to the Working Group on Global Health Security and Diplomacy

“…[T]he Trump administration seeks to vacate its global health leadership role and reduce all of its effort to a self-defeating nationalism by taking on merely a defensive posture, as evidenced by its budget proposals and the steady and certain preparations being made to place the U.S. on a war footing. … In 2014, when HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched the Global Health Security Agenda with a special appropriation injection of $1bn (to be spent over five years), additional funds to deal with health catastrophes were brought into the global health mix, most of it to be used to help developing countries strengthen their capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to pandemic disease outbreaks, which are increasing in incidence, severity, and scale. … A new professional discipline called health diplomacy emerged. … It is this capable machinery Trump wants to diminish. It is capable because key staff are subject matter experts — scientists — who support and enable generalist career diplomats, bringing two cultures together to take advantage of their complementary assets to fight disease outbreaks. To pull the CDC back from its global role and restrict its capabilities … would leave the world, and the U.S., dangerously exposed…” (1/18).

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U.S. Can Learn From African Nations' Positive Health Examples

New York Times: What We Can Learn From ‘S-Hole Countries’
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

“Despite President Trump’s reported call to reject immigrants from ‘shithole countries,’ people from these countries actually have plenty to teach us. Let’s start with a quiz: Which country was the first in the world to ban government discrimination against gays in its constitution? … Answer: It’s the so-called s-hole country, South Africa. It also bans discrimination based on gender and disability. Someday all the world will be so enlightened. Here are other examples we can learn from: … Sierra Leone’s president has committed the country to providing free health care for children under five and for pregnant women, including prenatal care and deliveries, although care still lags. … Rwanda may eliminate cervical cancer before America, for Rwanda vaccinates virtually all girls against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer. … African health officials have strongly promoted breastfeeding to make sure that babies get the healthiest possible start in life. … African governments have conscientiously followed recommendations of the World Health Assembly to curb infant formula marketing that discourages breastfeeding; the U.S. has not. … ‘Africa, like any continent, has its problems,’ notes Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch. ‘But it also has its areas where it excels. We diminish ourselves when we dismiss entire nations with an epithet rather than open ourselves to the positive examples they set'” (1/17).

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U.S. Should Increase Hunger Relief Funds To Africa

New York Daily News: Trump’s bigger Africa problem: He ignores a growing food crisis
William Lambers, author

“President Trump’s vulgar comments about Africa are bad enough. Far more disturbing is his lack of action fighting world hunger, especially that continent’s famine threat. … U.S. leadership is needed to defeat famine, as we did in Europe and Asia after World War II. But Trump last year proposed eliminating the U.S. Food for Peace program, our main tool for fighting world hunger. … Trump also proposed eliminating the McGovern-Dole school lunch program, which feeds children in Africa and other impoverished nations. Trump is not doing what a president should do when a food crisis strikes: increase hunger relief funds. Instead, he talks about funding questionable border walls and nuclear weapons, which we don’t need more of. … The president … needs to start enacting a strategy for peace. It starts with food. The world is watching. We must act and save Africa from famine” (1/17).

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Effective Tax Policies Can Help Improve Global Health

Washington Post: If we want to improve global health, we need to tax the things that are killing us
Lawrence H. Summers, professor at and past president of Harvard University

“…Improving global health is no longer primarily about combating infectious diseases. Today, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and I announced the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health. We are bringing together fiscal-policy, development, and health leaders from around the globe, including ministers of finance, to address the enormous and growing health and economic burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The hope is to identify underused fiscal-policy tools to lighten that burden. Given the human and economic toll, the prevention of NCDs — cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and diabetes — should be of great interest to us all. … The task force will examine the growth of NCDs in LMICs and the evidence to support excise-tax policies and develop recommendations on fiscal policies for health. … Our task force aims to help ministers of finance around the globe understand the importance of their role in setting effective tax policies to save lives in their countries. Taxes are what makes a government function. Taxing ‘bads’ like tobacco and sugar over ‘goods’ like savings and income is as close to a free lunch as you can get in economics. This is low-hanging fruit that makes people’s lives better and makes the world a better place” (1/18).

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Investing In R&D To Boost Agricultural Productivity, Rather Than Relying On Climate Policies, May Be More Effective In Addressing Global Hunger

Project Syndicate: Is Global Warming Making Us Hungrier?
Bjørn Lomborg, visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

“…Unfortunately, there are worrying signs that the global response [to malnutrition] may be headed in the wrong direction. … Relying on climate policies to fight hunger is doomed. … In fact, well-intentioned policies to combat global warming could very well be exacerbating hunger. … There are effective ways to produce more food. One of the best, as Copenhagen Consensus research has shown, is to get serious about investing in research and development to boost agricultural productivity. … Investing an extra $88 billion in agricultural R&D over the next 32 years would increase yields by an additional 0.4 percentage points every year, which could save 79 million people from hunger and prevent five million cases of child malnourishment. … By the end of the century, the extra increase in agricultural productivity would be far greater than the damage to agricultural productivity suggested by even the worst-case scenarios of the effects of global warming. … We are at a turning point. After achieving dramatic gains against hunger and famine, we run the risk of backsliding, owing to poorly considered choices. The stakes are far too high for us to pick the wrong policies” (1/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Health Affairs Blog Post Examines Changing Landscape Of Global Health, China's Role

Health Affairs: China’s Emerging Role In Global Health
Elanah Uretsky, assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services; Jennifer Bouey, associate professor at Georgetown University’s Department of International Health at the School of Nursing & Health Studies; and Rebecca Katz, associate professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services discuss the changing landscape of global health, considering U.S. shifts in funding priorities and China’s approach to development assistance for health. The authors write, “As we watch the future trends in [development assistance for health (DAH)], it will be essential to monitor China’s global health engagements and assess how its approach to the assistance impacts not only population health around the world but geopolitical alliances as well” (1/17).

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Brookings Institution Experts Examine Global Impact Bond Market Developments Of 2017, Beyond

Brookings Institution: Paying for social outcomes: A review of the global impact bond market in 2017
Emily Gustafsson-Wright, fellow in global economy and development at the Brookings’ Center for Universal Education, and Izzy Boggild-Jones, research analyst at Brookings, examine the social and development impact bonds market, providing “a snapshot of what we have seen this year, as well as where we see the field moving.” The authors note, “This year [2017] saw considerable growth of impact bonds in the health sector, with eight new impact bonds contracted — more than half of the total impact bonds for health contracted to date. These included an impact bond for maternal and newborn health in Rajasthan, and an impact bond in the Netherlands for re-integrating cancer patients into the workforce…” (1/17).

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Blog Post Examines Study On Mortality Rates Among HIV Patients In Zambia

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Study finds deaths among Zambia HIV patients on treatment underestimated, and up to 20 times higher than among patients in Europe
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses results from a study published in PLOS Medicine that show that death rates among HIV patients in Zambia vary among clinics and, in some cases, are up to 20 times higher than among patients in Europe. Barton notes, “The findings indicate gaps, at some facilities more than others, in medical services that include diagnostic capacities and advanced care, the authors write” (1/17).

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