KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

TRF Speaks With Head Of Planned Parenthood Global About Mexico City Policy, New Report

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Boost in women at top of U.S. politics could fight abortion gag rule
“A record number of women in U.S. Congress and pro-choice presidential contenders could strike back at a gag rule imposed by President Donald Trump … After November’s elections, nearly a quarter of the House of Representatives — 102 members — are women …, said Latanya Mapp Frett, head of Planned Parenthood Global. … Frett spoke ahead of the release of a report by Planned Parenthood Global on the global gag rule…” (Wulfhorst, 1/23).

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Rewire.News Examines Valerie Huber's Move To HHS Global Affairs Position, Reactions From Reproductive Health Experts, Advocates

Rewire.News: Valerie Huber’s New Role at HHS Could Bring Abstinence-Only Agenda to Global Policy
“Abstinence-only proponent Valerie Huber will move to a new position in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Global Affairs, worrying reproductive health advocates and experts who believe she could push her agenda into the global arena. Huber’s new role as the Office of Global Affairs’ senior policy adviser, first reported by POLITICO, was confirmed by HHS in a tweet last week…” (Yurcaba, 1/23).

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DRC Confirms One-Day Record 14 Ebola Cases, Pushing Total To 713; Merck Announces Shipment Of 120K More Experimental Vaccine Doses

Al Jazeera: DR Congo confirms record number of Ebola cases in one day
“The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday confirmed 14 new cases of the Ebola virus in its eastern borderlands, the largest one-day increase since the current outbreak was declared in August…” (1/23).

Associated Press: The Latest: Merck to ship 120,000 more Ebola vaccine doses
“…Drugmaker Merck says it will ship another approximately 120,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to Congo by the end of next month amid the second deadliest outbreak in history. Associate Vice President Lydia Ogden told the World Economic Forum that the company is committed to having a ready stockpile of 300,000 doses and already has shipped 100,000 to the World Health Organization…” (1/22).

CIDRAP News: With 14 more cases, DRC Ebola outbreak tops 700
“[On Wednesday] the ministry of health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported 14 newly confirmed cases of Ebola, which lifts outbreak totals to 713, including 439 deaths. Officials are still investigating 203 cases. … The WHO notes that 13 of 18 health zones identified in the outbreak are active, meaning there has been at least one confirmed case recorded in the past 21 days…” (Soucheray, 1/23).

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Researchers Find Ebola Genetic Material In West African Bat, Liberian Health Officials Announce

New York Times: Deadly Ebola Virus Is Found in Liberian Bat, Researchers Say
“For the first time, the type of deadly Ebola virus responsible for recent epidemics has been found in a bat in West Africa, Liberian health officials announced on Thursday…” (Grady, 1/24).

Science: This bat species may be the source of the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa
“…Near the mouth of an abandoned mineshaft in Liberia, [scientists] caught a bat that was likely infected with Ebola Zaire. The researchers didn’t isolate the virus itself but found about one-fifth of its genome in the animal; it’s too early to tell whether it’s exactly the same strain as the one that ravaged the [West Africa] region…” (Kupferschmidt, 1/24).

Washington Post: Scientists find deadly Ebola virus for first time in West African bat
“…The discovery represents a major step forward in understanding where human Ebola cases come from, one of the biggest unanswered questions surrounding these outbreaks, said Jonathan Epstein, a scientist with EcoHealth Alliance, a global nonprofit that is part of the research team. … But Epstein and others cautioned that much more research is needed…” (Sun, 1/24).

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Funding For Neglected Diseases R&D Hits Record High In 2017, G-Finder Report Shows

BBC News: Global health research money reaches ‘record high’
“Funding to tackle 33 significant diseases has reached its highest level since figures were taken, says a survey which has tracked this for 11 years. The G-Finder report found that money invested in research and development reached $3.5bn (£2.8bn) in 2017. The total is a seven percent increase on the previous year…” (Dreaper, 1/23).

Nature: Neglected-disease research funding hits record high
“…Anna Doubell, director of research at Policy Cures Research, says that the launch of several trials testing new Ebola drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa between 2014 and 2016 might be giving donors hope that investments into neglected diseases pay off. ‘The amount of progress made in a short period of time after the Ebola outbreak might have brought in optimism about what is possible,’ Doubell says…” (Maxmen, 1/23).

Additional coverage of the G-Finder report is available from Business Day, The Telegraph, and The Wire.

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High Prices Of Cancer Drugs 'Impairing' Access To Treatment, WHO Report To Be Presented At Executive Board Meeting Says

Devex: Discord looms over WHO board meeting
“The World Health Organization is expected to confront two controversial issues during the executive board’s 144th session, opening Thursday, as stakeholders gather to discuss its reports on access to medicine, as well as proposals on its engagement with nonstate actors. As in previous years, member states are likely to spend considerable time on the issue of access to medicines, vaccines, and other health products. The source of discontent this time surrounds WHO’s draft roadmap on the issue for 2019-2023, and its report on cancer medicines…” (Ravelo, 1/24).

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO Cancer Report Stirs Debate On Eve Of Board Meeting
“As the World Health Organization Executive Board gathers [Thursday] for its annual January meeting, health industry and advocacy groups have seized on a WHO report to be presented to the Board that finds high prices for cancer medicines are ‘impairing’ governments’ ability to provide affordable treatments. One issue they may have in common is a desire for more transparency in analyses of prices…” (New, 1/23).

STAT: The World Health Organization says cancer drug prices are ‘impairing’ access to treatment
“In a sobering report, the World Health Organization concluded that pricing for cancer medicines is ‘impairing’ the ability of governments to provide affordable treatments and recommended a host of potential measures for widening access, such as greater transparency about discounts and R&D costs, differential pricing among countries, and short-term price caps, among other things…” (Silverman, 1/23).

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Britain's Health Secretary Announces U.K. Plan To Reduce Antimicrobial-Resistant Infections, Spur New Drug Development

BBC News: Antibiotic resistance plan to fight ‘urgent’ global threat
“…[U.K.] Health Secretary Matt Hancock, launching the government’s 20-year vision at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, will say: ‘Each and every one of us benefits from antibiotics but we all too easily take them for granted and I shudder at the thought of a world in which their power is diminished. Antimicrobial resistance is as big a danger to humanity as climate change or warfare. That’s why we need an urgent global response’…” (1/24).

CNN: Superbugs ‘as big a global threat as climate change and warfare’
“Drug-resistant superbugs are as big a threat to the world as climate change or wars, Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned during a speech at Davos in which he unveiled a five-year action plan for the U.K., and a 20-year vision, to tackle the threat of antimicrobial resistance by 2040…” (John, 1/24).

Financial Times: Matt Hancock outlines plan to counter resistance to antibiotics
“The U.K. government will give incentives to the pharmaceutical industry to develop drugs to counter resistance to antibiotics, as the health secretary warned that the world was on the cusp of a new reality where ‘a simple graze could be deadly’…” (Neville, 1/23).

The Guardian: Pharma firms to be incentivized to develop new superbug drugs
“…Under the plans, the inappropriate use of antibiotics would also be cut by 15 percent, reducing resistant infections and potentially saving thousands of lives in the U.K. … The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and NHS England will explore how a new payment model could pay pharmaceutical companies for drugs based on how valuable the medicines are to the health service, rather than on the simple basis of the sheer quantity of antibiotics sold…” (Busby, 1/23).

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Bono Calls On International Community To Turn Attention To HIV, Resist Populism, Better Promote SDGs

The Guardian: Bono: western world turning its back on HIV fight
“The world is at risk of losing the battle against HIV due to a backlash against aid triggered by a sense that western governments need to solve problems in their own countries, the musician and development campaigner Bono has said. Speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the U2 singer said populism in the rich north was the result of people being chewed up by capitalism…” (Elliot, 1/23).

Irish Times: ‘Capitalism is not immoral — it’s amoral,’ Bono tells Davos audience
“…Bono, co-founder of ONE, a global campaign and advocacy organization with more than 10 million members seeking to end extreme poverty, said that the negative forces of unfettered capitalism have driven an international move towards populism. The singer said public-sector spending — [such] as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for example, [which] is currently seeking to raise $14 billion to save an estimated 16 million lives — is the most vulnerable as governments in developed states in Europe grapple with domestic problems such as homelessness…” (Brennan, 1/23).

Yahoo Finance UK: Bono tells Davos sustainable development goals ‘sound like a sexually transmitted disease’
“…The U2 frontman and anti-poverty campaigner hit out at the aid industry for ‘making exciting ideas look really boring’ at the annual conference for top business, political, and charity leaders in the Swiss alps. … The singer went on: ‘It’s amazing advertisers spend most of their time trying to make boring ideas look really exciting, but in the development community we seem to spend most of our time making exciting ideas look really boring. And it’s not boring. This is what real change looks like’…” (Belger, 1/23).

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Global Community Must Work Together To Achieve SDGs, U.N. Deputy SG Mohammed Says

U.N. News: ‘No country, no region’ can tackle global challenges alone says U.N.’s Mohammed
“Against the backdrop of seemingly endless challenges across the world, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a conference of development-minded partners in Nigeria that ‘no country, no region’ could tackle them alone. ‘In the regions today, no country is alone. Our borders don’t make any difference in the Sahel when we talk about issues of terrorism, migration, and climate change,’ Ms. Mohammed said on Tuesday at the opening of the Kaduna State Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Acceleration Conference 2019…” (1/23).

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ICRW Issues Report Card On U.N. SG's Progress Toward Gender-Equitable United Nations

Devex: Guterres improves grade on Feminist U.N. Campaign agenda
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has made ‘slow but steady progress’ in achieving a more feminist U.N., raising his grade from a C+ to a B-, according to a report card evaluating progress on issues such as promoting gender parity and addressing a culture of sexual harassment. The report card was the second annual issued by the Feminist U.N. Campaign, a coalition of women’s rights advocates and U.N. watchers led by the International Center for Research on Women…” (Welsh, 1/24).

New York Times: U.N. Leader’s Grade From Feminist Group: B-Minus
“…In a 39-page report card titled ‘Progress Under Threat,’ the women’s group commended Mr. Guterres for advancing gender parity — including among his executive staff — and for taking steps to combat sexual exploitation and harassment within and outside the United Nations. … But the group faulted what it described as a penchant for opacity and secrecy in the United Nations bureaucracy that has not significantly changed under Mr. Guterres…” (Gladstone, 1/23).

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Children With Prior Dengue Infection Less Likely To Show Zika Infection Symptoms, Study Says

CIDRAP News: Prior dengue in kids may protect against Zika symptoms
“Prior dengue infection may protect children from Zika illness symptoms, an international research team reported [Tuesday], based on data from a longstanding dengue cohort study in Nicaragua. The scientists found, however, that dengue immunity doesn’t seem to generally protect against Zika, which in many cases is asymptomatic…” (Schnirring, 1/23).

Miami Herald: Prior dengue infection may protect against symptomatic Zika disease, study finds
“…Experts had worried that prior dengue infection could worsen Zika disease, but the new findings published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine suggest that prior dengue immunity in children may protect against symptomatic Zika, which can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes…” (Chang, 1/22).

Scientific American: Prior Dengue Infection Protects Children against Zika Symptoms
“…Children with prior dengue infection had 38 percent less risk of showing symptoms when infected with Zika than those who were dengue-free. … The study was an epidemiological survey to determine if cross-protection was present, but it was not designed to uncover a mechanism for how that protection works, says one of the paper’s co-authors, Lionel Gresh, a molecular biologist currently working for the Pan American Health Organization…” (Ponchner, 1/23).

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More News In Global Health

Bloomberg: Bill Gates on Global Health Initiatives, Technology, Innovation (Lacqua, 1/23).

CNBC: Bill Gates: My ‘best investment’ turned $10 billion into $200 billion worth of economic benefit (Belvedere, 1/23).

Financial Times: South Africa’s drug ATMs offer formula to treat chronic illness (Mhlungu, 1/23).

Global Health NOW: For India’s Women, Safety in Numbers (Shufro, 1/23).

NBC News: Here’s how smart toilets of the future could protect your health (Baggaley, 1/23).

New York Times: Woman Stabbed 23 Times in Pakistan Wins Appeal Against Assailant’s Acquittal (Masood, 1/23).

NPR: Why Burundi Is Kicking Out Aid Groups (Beaubien, 1/23).

Quartz: Watch: Quartz interviews U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres live in Davos (1/23).

Reuters: Sex traffickers hold 20,000 Nigerian women and girls in Mali, agency says (Akwagyiram/Christensen, 1/23).

U.N. News: Sudan: Amidst deaths, injuries, imprisonments, UNICEF stresses children’s protection ‘at all times’ (1/23).

Washington Post: We can fix global warming, says the voice of “Planet Earth.” But humans must hurry (Epstein, 1/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Rep. Foxx Of N.C. Introduces Bill Aimed At Codifying Trump Administration's Protecting Life In Global Health Assistance Policy

Winston-Salem Journal: U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx: Legislating for life, 46 years after Roe
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)

“…I have introduced two bills that will protect life … The Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Act of 2019 … codifies the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (formerly known as the Mexico City policy). This policy prohibits U.S. foreign health assistance funds from going to [foreign] organizations that promote or perform abortions. … In Congress, I am determined to advance pro-life policies and prevent any backward steps…” (1/20).

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BUILD Act, Increased Attention Toward Cultivating Diplomatic Networks Vital To U.S.-Africa Policy

Foreign Policy: Spite Won’t Beat China in Africa
Lina Benabdallah, assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University

“…If the Trump administration wants to set the United States on a steady footing in Africa, it has to make more credible efforts to strengthen its relations with African governments and citizens of African countries. Although not exclusively directed at Africa, the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, which passed in 2018 and established the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, has drawn a lot of attention in U.S.-Africa policy circles. The Center for Strategic and International Studies called the initiative, which is designed to boost U.S. investment in low- and lower-middle-income economies, ‘the most important piece of U.S. soft power legislation in more than a decade.’ However, if the Trump administration is going to learn anything from the Chinese influence that it is trying so hard to counter, a focus on new avenues for development finance should be paired with a marked increase in the flow of attention and resources toward the cultivation of enduring diplomatic networks. … Rather than reducing U.S.-Africa policy to a reaction to China-Africa relations, the Trump administration would be better off cultivating durable and stable relationships with all African countries, not just the ones that matter to its rivalry with China. … Beijing’s diplomatic approach is not only outplaying Washington’s but leaving a lasting impression across Africa” (1/23).

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WHO Executive Board Must Take Inclusive, Consensus-Based Approach To Make Greatest Impacts On Global Health

Devex: Opinion: WHO executive board meetings must be driven by inclusion and collaboration
Kenneth E. Thorpe, Robert W. Woodruff professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University and chair of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

“…When the WHO board meets, it would be wise to heed the lessons about what can be accomplished when a collaborative approach is pursued. Global institutions working with private stakeholders have launched initiatives that have had massive positive impacts on global health. … Institutions such as WHO have succeeded in part thanks to their openness to partnerships with a wide range of private- and public-sector stakeholders to improve global health outcomes. Unfortunately, in recent years, such institutions have moved away from these successful partnerships in favor of unproven and less effective policies pushed by a small group of special interests. The upcoming meeting in January offers WHO an opportunity to correct course and follow [a] consensus-based approach … It is time they choose a more inclusive approach and make strides towards a healthier future” (1/24).

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Private Finance Could Play Key Role In Funding, Achieving SDGs

Financial Times: Governments won’t fund sustainable development. Will private finance step in?
Gillian Tett, U.S. managing editor at the Financial Times

“…[H]ow will the U.N. plug [the funding] gap [to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]? In an era of Donald Trump, surging populism, and rising debt, no western government is rushing to devote more of its budget to aid; but without a lot more cash, those SDGs risk looking like pious, pie-in-the-sky ambitions. So this week at the [World Economic Forum’s (WEF)] annual gathering in Davos, some of the global elite have been tossing around a striking idea to fill the gap: using the trillions of dollars of funds currently sitting inside the west’s pension funds, insurance groups, endowments, and family offices to back investment projects that both produce returns and support the SDGs. … There are still some formidably big obstacles to overcome. … But enthusiasts … insist that industry groups … are scrambling to create industry standards and to increase transparency, using the same playbook that previously turned other nascent financial products into proper mature markets. … [I]f forums such as the WEF can help turn even part of this lofty rhetoric into action — into, in fact, those missing trillions — that would be an impressive achievement” (1/23).

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Global Community Must Ensure Children Have Access To Malaria Treatment

Devex: Opinion: Why we must prioritize malaria treatment for children
Pierre Hugo, senior director for access and product management at the Medicines for Malaria Venture, and Elizabeth Chizema, director of the National Malaria Elimination Centre at the Zambia Ministry of Health

“…Although children are the main victims of malaria, few antimalarial medicines have been developed with their needs in mind. … Today, child-friendly antimalarials are available, but those medicines are still not reaching the children that need them. … The use of better medicines for children needs to be maximized. … Better medicines for children do exist and their correct use at the right time makes the difference between life and death. Their use alongside appropriate diagnostics can ensure that children receive the best care possible. Dedicated players, including drug developers, policymakers, health care professionals, and procurement agencies all have key roles to play. We must all continue to collaborate to maintain and accelerate the gains made in treating children with malaria” (1/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Planned Parenthood Global Report Describes Impacts Of Expanded Mexico City Policy

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Planned Parenthood ‘Global Gag Rule’ report is latest to diverge sharply from State Department assessment that policy does no harm
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer at “Science Speaks,” discusses findings from a Planned Parenthood Global report describing impacts of the Mexico City policy, which was reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration in 2017. Barton notes, “The Planned Parenthood report, which combines observations from earlier reports [and interviews of] 22 individuals affected by the [current] policy across seven countries, was prompted by the February 2018 release of the State Department’s six-month review of the policy’s impacts, which the department concluded were insignificant…” (1/23).

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World Economic Forum Publishes Several Articles On SDGs As Part Of Annual Meeting

World Economic Forum: We should care more for each other — it’s good for our health (Daswani, 1/21).

World Economic Forum: We’re phoning it in on sustainability. It’s time for a worldwide wake-up call (Apostolatos, 1/17).

World Economic Forum: We can make sure Globalization 4.0 leaves no one behind. This is how (Brende/Milliband, 1/17).

World Economic Forum: Stepping up to the challenge of sustainable and inclusive growth (van Houten, 1/17).

World Economic Forum: How the digital finance revolution can drive sustainable development (Ramos/Steiner, 1/16).

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GPEI Chairs Issue Joint Statement To Polio Eradicators To 'Reach Very Last Child With Polio Vaccine' To End Disease

Global Polio Eradication Initiative: “To Succeed by 2030” — Extraordinary Joint Statement to Polio Eradicators
“In an extraordinary joint statement by the chairs of the main independent, advisory, and oversight committees of the GPEI, the chairs urge everyone involved in polio eradication to ensure polio will finally be assigned to the history books by 2023. … The statement … issues an impassioned plea to everyone to dedicate themselves to one clear objective: to reach that very last child with polio vaccine…” (1/23).

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From the U.S. Government

NIH Director Discusses Undetectable=Untransmittable Concept

NIH Director’s Blog: For HIV, Treatment is Prevention
NIH Director Francis Collins discusses the Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U) concept, which establishes that “people who take [antiretroviral therapy (ART)] daily as prescribed, and who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood), cannot sexually transmit the virus to others,” and highlights studies that confirm this finding (1/22).

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