KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. State Department To Explore Changes To Obama-Era Order Requiring Consideration Of Climate Change In International Development Programs

Reuters: U.S. State Department says may ask Trump to scrap another Obama climate order
“The U.S. State Department said in a report released by the investigative arm of Congress on Thursday it may recommend President Donald Trump revoke an Obama-era order directing federal agencies to consider climate change in international development programs. … The State Department said in the General Accountability Office, or GAO, report published Thursday that its foreign assistance and budget bureaus ‘will begin working with stakeholders to consider whether to recommend that the Secretary (Mike Pompeo) ask the President to rescind’ the order. The State Department’s comment came in response to a GAO recommendation that it improve guidance to foreign bureaus on the geopolitical risks of climate change. … The State Department said ‘it does not oppose’ the GAO’s recommendation. But if Trump reverses Obama’s executive order, it would not be required to improve the guidance…” (Gardner, 1/17).

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OMB Misses Deadline For Response To Congressional Letter Requesting Information On Compliance With Foreign Aid Transparency And Accountability Act

Devex: U.S. government misses foreign aid accountability deadline as shutdown continues
“As the U.S. federal government remains shut down, the Trump administration has missed a deadline of congressional oversight on the implementation status of foreign aid transparency requirements. The Office of Management and Budget has yet to respond to a Dec. 13 letter sent by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives requesting information about administration progress to comply with the 2016 Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act…” (Welsh, 1/18).

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169 U.S. House, 49 Senate Members Send Letters To Trump Urging Protection Of 'Pro-Life Policies'

Breitbart News: Members of Congress Urge Trump to Protect Pro-Life Policy
“Members of the U.S. House and Senate have written to President Donald Trump, urging him to uphold federal pro-life policy. On Tuesday, 169 members of the House — led by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) — and 49 senators — led by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — sent letters to the president asking him to veto any legislation that weakens federal pro-life policy…” (Berry, 1/16).

Catholic News Agency: Pro-life Congress members ask Trump to veto any bills that expand abortion
“…While both letters offered praise for Trump’s various pro-life policies throughout his time in office, the House letter emphasized the importance of the Hyde Amendment and the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy…” (Rousselle, 1/16).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Expected To Last At Least 6 More Months, Could Cross Borders; More Research Needed Into Why More Women Contracting Virus

CIDRAP News: WHO expert: Ebola outbreak to continue at least 6 more months
“In an interview, Peter Salama, MD, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) deputy director general for emergency preparedness and response, said the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is likely to continue for at least another six months, as DRC officials [Thursday] confirmed five new cases…” (Soucheray, 1/17).

The Guardian: Ebola cases in Congo expected to double amid fears outbreak could cross borders
“The number of Ebola cases recorded each day in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is expected to more than double, with concern mounting that uncertainty over how the virus is being transmitted could result in it spreading to neighboring countries. On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated its warning that there is a very high risk of the outbreak spreading not only across DRC but also to Uganda, Rwanda, and even South Sudan…” (Ratcliffe, 1/18).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: More women catch Ebola in Congo in ‘unexpected’ twist of gender roles
“About two-thirds of patients in Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak have been women, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, calling for more focus on gender in disease control and prevention. … In past Ebola outbreaks, including the largest which killed 11,300 people in West Africa in 2014-2016, the proportion of women and men affected was roughly equal, WHO experts said. … ‘This is unexpected,’ said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, calling for more research…” (Peyton, 1/17).

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Lancet Special Series On Security, Public Health Urges Greater Cooperation Among Sectors

Australian Associated Press: Calls for security, police, health to link
“Police and security services should strive to work in conjunction with health authorities, rather than being seen as intruders, Australian researchers say. An article published in The Lancet on Friday warns global decision-makers risk lives and financial cost if segregation of the sectors continues. Co-author University of Melbourne’s Nicholas Thomson says through a combined effort millions of people’s lives could be saved…” (McGinn, 1/17).

ScienceInsider: Q&A: The odd — and sometimes tense — intersection of cops, soldiers, and public health
“…Thomson … realized that the intersection of public health and security, which involves both the police and the military, reached far beyond HIV/AIDS, and today affects responses to polio, Ebola, Zika, malaria, mental health, bioterrorism, and disasters. That rarely acknowledged intersection is the topic of a special series of three papers that Thomson coordinated and were published online [Thursday] in The Lancet. ScienceInsider spoke with Thomson about the topic and the changes he’s advocating…” (Cohen, 1/17).

The Telegraph: Health and military personnel must work together in conflict and disasters
“The military has a key role to play in helping to avert outbreaks of infectious diseases during conflicts and humanitarian disasters, the former surgeon general of the U.K. army has said. Lieutenant-General Louis Lillywhite has called for military and humanitarian agencies to work more closely in advance of emergencies such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and conflict. … Lt. Gen. Lillywhite, a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Health Security at the think tank Chatham House, is one of the authors of two papers in The Lancet medical journal urging greater cooperation between the police, military, and health services…” (Gulland, 1/17).

Additional coverage is available from El País.

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Development Community Fights For Attention At World Economic Forum, As World Leaders Focus Elsewhere

Devex: As Davos gathers, the development community struggles for attention
“The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, marks the beginning of what promises to be a hugely consequential year for global efforts that depend on functional international cooperation. … [W]ith many influential leaders focused elsewhere, the development community faces an uphill battle to ensure enough of the world’s attention — and money — remains fixed on finding and funding solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing the planet…” (Edwards/Cheney, 1/18).

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Shift In Political Will Threatens Progress Toward Sustainable Development Goals, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Global leadership deficit leaves development goals in doldrums
“The world has made far too little progress on the global goals governments agreed in 2015 to end poverty and hunger and tackle climate change, with a rising tide of nationalism acting as a wrecking ball, architects of the goals said on Thursday. Helen Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister who headed the United Nations Development Program from 2009-2017, said the foot-dragging on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — due to be met by 2030 — ‘has gone under the radar.’ … Changes in the world’s political landscape have also made the 2030 goals more elusive. … Both [Jeffrey Sachs, a U.S. economics professor who advised governments and the United Nations on the SDGs,] and Clark said the problem lay not with a lack of solutions to the world’s ills — whether using clean energy or getting basic services to those in need — but governments’ abdication of responsibility toward citizens, many of whom are trying to push ahead…” (Rowling, 1/17).

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Bill Gates Discusses Global Health Investments; Melinda Gates To Highlight Maternal Mortality In Upcoming Annual Letter

Business Insider: Melinda Gates reveals a disturbing U.S. trend that will be highlighted in her 2019 annual letter
“The U.S. has the worst death rate for women during pregnancy or childbirth of any developed country. … In an interview with Business Insider, Gates acknowledged that the U.S. childbirth mortality rate is ‘incredibly disturbing.’ She said she planned to weigh in on childbirth health issues in her and her husband’s forthcoming annual letter for 2019…” (Shontell, 1/17).

CNBC: Billionaire Bill Gates says this is the best investment he’s ever made
“…Wednesday, Gates revealed the best investment he has ever made in an essay in the Wall Street Journal. It’s the $10 billion he’s invested, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, into three particular organizations that increase access to vaccines and medicines for people who need them around the world. Gates says investing $10 billion in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund; and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,  … has been a rewarding experience because unlike other kinds of investments, they are consistently successful…” (Clifford, 1/17).

Additional coverage of the Gateses’ discussion of global health investments and their upcoming annual letter is available from Fortune, GeekWire, USA TODAY, and Xinhua News.

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Media Outlets Continue Coverage Of WHO's Top 10 Global Health Threats In 2019, Including Addition Of Vaccine Complacency

ABC News: Vaccine hesitancy, climate change, Ebola among top 10 ‘threats to global health’ this year, WHO says
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has named people who oppose vaccination among the top 10 ‘threats to global health’ this year…” (Winsor, 1/17).

Fox News: Anti-vaxxers among top ‘threats to global health,’ WHO says
“…The organization in a recently released list said that while vaccines are ‘one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease,’ there are several reasons — including ‘complacency, convenience, and confidence’ — that are to blame…” (Darrah, 1/17).

Gizmodo: Ebola, HIV, Antivaxxers: The World Health Organization Names 2019’s Global Health Threats
“…The new inclusion (it wasn’t on WHO’s 2018 list) is the latest recognition of how dangerous the antivax movement has become…” (Cara, 1/17).

USA TODAY: People choosing not to vaccinate is now a global health threat, says WHO
“…WHO said that vaccines prevent two million to three million deaths a year and that improved global coverage on vaccinations could stop an additional 1.5 million deaths annually…” (Molina, 1/17).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: Syria’s war: Who is responsible for the dying children of Rukban? (Vohra, 1/18).

Business Insider: Mosquito-borne diseases kill millions of people each year. A team of scientists think genetic manipulation could wipe out the worst of them (Kotecki, 1/16).

The Economist: Vaccine researchers are preparing for Disease X (1/17).

Financial Times: How to change your diet to save the planet (Cookson, 1/17).

Healio: WHO raises concern about infectious disease risk in Syrian settlement (Bortz, 1/17).

IRIN: As Venezuela’s denied crisis deepens, local aid groups shift tactics (Schulman, 1/17).

The Lancet: Health-care inequity a challenge for Brazil’s new government (Alves/Fraser, 1/19).

Washington Post: Tiny Indian state proposes world’s biggest experiment with guaranteed income (Masih, 1/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

Health Workers, Security Forces Should Partner, Engage With Each Other To Improve Public Health

STAT: Health workers and security forces must collaborate, not collide
Nicholas Thomson, co-director of the Security and Health Executive Leadership Institute at the University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health and research fellow at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Louis Lillywhite, former surgeon general of the United Kingdom armed forces and senior consulting fellow for the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House; and Auke van Dijk, senior strategist with the police of the Netherlands

“Health care workers, police officers, and members of the military share the goal of keeping people safe. … As we and 17 others write in The Lancet Special Series on Security and Health, it is time to explore how all countries can prosper from partnerships that bridge health and security silos based on this shared vision: engagement of security forces, including police and the military, in public health is synergistic and beneficial. … Currently health workers and security forces are often thrown together yet are flying blind because there is no global framework or investment to facilitate their engagement. … [W]e need to engage and help govern and define how and where and when militaries and police can and do provide support for an enabling environment for public and global health. To that end it is vital that we make a case for investment in the kind of partnerships that going forward make it possible for both the security and health sectors to train their personnel with the skills and understanding to operationally engage with each other in pursuit of better global and public health outcomes” (1/17).

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Guyana, Other Countries Must Ensure Young People Have Access To Comprehensive Sexual, Reproductive Health Services

Project Syndicate: Saving Children from Having Children
Patricee Douglas, medical doctor, recipient of the 120 Under 40 award for leadership in family planning, and member of Women Across Differences

“…Guyana can lower its rate of teen pregnancy. But it will require significant changes in how Guyanese think about and address the issue of adolescent sexual activity. For starters, Guyana must implement comprehensive sex education and work to ensure that teachers have been trained to provide unbiased data and information. … Moreover, communities need to increase access to contraceptives and other sexual-health services … These reforms are essential to improve the life prospects of Guyana’s young people. If more teenagers had access to sex education and contraception, fewer girls would have their lives interrupted by pregnancy. Only by empowering women and girls with the resources to control their reproduction will the grim statistics that have long burdened Guyana — and many other countries — begin to change for the better” (1/17).

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The Lancet To Approach Nutrition From Several Perspectives In 2019

The Lancet: 2019: the year for nutrition
Editorial Board

“Poor nutrition is a key driver and risk factor for disease. … In 2019, we are approaching nutrition from several perspectives. Published [on Wednesday], Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets for Sustainable Food Systems links nutritional targets with environmental sustainability. … On Jan. 27, The Lancet will publish a second Commission that explores additional aspects of nutrition and food systems. … Building on these two Commissions, later in 2019 The Lancet will publish a series of papers on the Double Burden of Malnutrition, led by WHO and informed by approaches including evolutionary anthropology and economics. Future series will include papers on adolescent-specific nutrition. Nutrition is a vast subject that needs a multisectoral approach. Throughout this year, nutrition will be a special focus at The Lancet family of journals. Sustainable food systems that ensure health-promoting nutrition for all need urgent attention and will benefit people and planet alike” (1/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Retiring Director For Coordination Unit At Ouagadougou Partnership Discusses Expanding Access To Contraceptives In Africa

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “The Optimist”: Fatimata Sy on Partnering to Expand Access to Contraceptives
Ruchika Tulshyan, author, educator, journalist, and contributor at The Optimist, speaks with Fatimata Sy, retiring director of the Coordination Unit at the Ouagadougou Partnership, which was launched in 2011 and set the goal of increasing the number of women using modern contraceptives by at least 2.2 million in nine francophone West African countries by 2020. Sy reflects on the partnership’s efforts and discusses the future of the family planning sector, as well as her own future goals (1/15).

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28 Human Cases Of Guinea Worm Reported In 2018, Down From Previous Year

Carter Center: Guinea Worm Wanes to 28 Cases Globally; Ethiopia, Mali Report Zero Human Cases
Emily Staub, associate director and press liaison to health programs at the Carter Center, discusses the center’s leadership efforts to eradicate Guinea worm, noting, “Just 28 human cases of Guinea worm disease were reported in 2018, down slightly from 30 cases reported in 2017.” Staub also provides details on countries’ efforts to eradicate the disease and notes that Ethiopia and Mali reported zero human cases in 2018 (1/17).

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IRIN To Become 'The New Humanitarian' At End Of March

IRIN: Exciting news from IRIN
IRIN Director Heba Aly announces that at the end of March, IRIN will officially become The New Humanitarian. Aly notes, “Our mission remains the same: to inform the prevention of and response to humanitarian crises. But we seek to build on our historical audience of decision-makers and practitioners in the humanitarian sector by taking the urgency and importance of these issues to a much wider audience. … We will be redesigning our web platform to be more user-friendly, revamping our newsletters, and producing more of the investigative journalism you have said you value so much” (1/17).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Releases 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: National Health Security Strategy 2019-2022
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released its 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy, which “provides a vision for strengthening [the] nation’s ability to prevent, detect, assess, prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from 21st century health security threats” (January 2019).

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MMWR Discusses CDC's Efforts To Address Recent Typhoid Fever Outbreak In Harare, Zimbabwe

Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Notes from the Field: Typhoid Fever Outbreak — Harare, Zimbabwe, October 2017-February 2018
Hammad S. N’cho, Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, and colleagues discuss the CDC’s efforts to address a typhoid fever outbreak that occurred in Harare, Zimbabwe, from October 2017-February 2018 (1/18).

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From KFF

KFF Experts Contribute To Lancet Article Examining Roles, Approaches Of Militaries In Global Health

Kaiser Family Foundation: Militaries and Global Health: Peace, Conflict, and Disaster Response
In this article for The Lancet, Joshua Michaud, associate director, and Kellie Moss, senior policy analyst, both with the global health policy team at KFF, and 11 co-authors examine the varied roles, responsibilities, and approaches of militaries in global health, drawing on examples and case studies across peacetime, conflict, and disaster response environments. The article was published online on January 17, and is part of a special section on security and global health in The Lancet (Michaud/Moss, 1/17).

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